Easy Vegetarian Dan Dan Noodles
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Homemade Dan Dan Noodles are so easy to make in just 29 minutes and taste even better than takeout! This vegetarian recipe is made with diced mushrooms, instead of pork, and features a flavorful, authentic, spicy sichuan sauce.
Lo mein or spaghetti noodles are my preferred choice of noodles for this dish, but rice noodles can be used to make the dish gluten free and vegan.
Hello flavor explosion! If you’ve ever ordered Dan Dan Noodles from your favorite Chinese restaurant, then you know what I’m talking about. Dan Dan Noodles are full of rich, umami flavors and plenty of spice from sichuan peppers.
Sichuan cuisine is a style of Chinese cooking that originated in Southwest China and is known for it’s spicy food and bold flavors. One of the most popular components of sichuan cooking is the sichuan pepper. It brings a good amount of spice to every dish it’s featured in.
In the Sichuan area of China, Dan Dan Noodles are a popular street food. And as soon as you try this recipe, you’ll know why they’re so popular!
So, where did the name come from? A “dan dan” is the carrying pole used by walking street vendors who sell the dish. These vendors would carry the pole over their shoulder, with two baskets containing noodles and sauce attached at each end of the pole. The Chinese name for these noodles is “Dan Dan Mian” which translates to “noodles carried on a pole”.
While this Dan Dan Noodles recipe makes a few substitutions from the original to make it easier to create in American kitchens, the authentic spicy sichuan sauce remains the same. If you like to live life on the spicy side, than this dish is for you!
Ingredients you’ll need
Traditional Dan Dan Noodles contain a lot of ingredients found only at Asian grocery stores. This recipe is the most authentic version of Dan Dan Noodles you can make with ingredients found at traditional American grocery stores. This is with the exception of sichuan peppercorn powder.
To get the true flavor of Dan Dan Noodles, you simply can’t leave out the sichuan peppers. I have yet to find sichuan peppers or peppercorn powder at my local grocery store, but it’s easy to order them online or pick them up at a local Asian market. This sichuan peppercorn powder is what I purchased online and used in this recipe. It’s under $10 and will last a very long time!
- The noodles: dried, thin wheat noodles, such as lo mein noodles or spaghetti noodles are my preference in this dish. They are the closest to authentic noodles used in traditional Dan Dan Noodle dishes that you’ll find at your local grocery store. If you want to make gluten free Dan Dan Noodles, you can use thin rice noodles (usually labeled for stir fry or pad thai) or rice ramen noodles, both of which are gluten free and vegan.
- The sauce: this is what gives Dan Dan noodles it’s incredible flavor and spice. The sauce includes tahini, soy sauce, sugar, five spice powder, sichuan peppercorn powder, chili oil and garlic cloves.
- Note: tahini, or sesame paste, is added in the American version of this recipe to tone down the spice of the sauce. If you don’t have tahini on hand, replace it with peanut butter instead.
- Note: if you’re making this recipe gluten free, replace the soy sauce with tamari and always double check the chili oil used to make sure it does not contain wheat.
- The meat: traditionally, Dan Dan noodles contain minced or ground pork. In this recipe, I substituted in diced baby portobello mushrooms to make the dish vegetarian. (And vegan depending on the type of noodles used.) The mushrooms are cooked with hoisin sauce, shaoxing wine (or mirin, which is easy to find at traditional grocery stores), soy sauce and five spice powder.
- Note: Traditional Dan Dan Noodles also feature sui mi ya cai, dried preserved vegetables, sautéed in with the meat mixture. Since we’re using vegetables as the base of this recipe instead of pork, and we’re trying to make this recipe with ingredients found at an American grocery store, I left the sui mi ya cai out of this recipe. I promise, it’s still just as delicious!
- Note: if you’re making this recipe gluten free, you’ll want to use gluten free hoisin sauce. You’ll also want to use mirin instead of shaoxing wine and tamari instead of soy sauce.
- The greens: this recipe contains spinach, which is a traditional green in Dan Dan Noodles. You can also use baby bok choy or mustard greens in this dish, if you’d like.
- The toppings: chopped peanuts and diced scallions add a nice crunch on top of the dish. If you don’t already have scallions, or green onions, in your refrigerator, you can leave them off. They’re mostly just a garnish on top of the dish.
Step by step instructions
This easy 4 step recipe will have you eating Dan Dan Noodles in less than 30 minutes! For a full step-by-step video showing how to prepare the dish, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Prepare the sauce. In a small bowl, whisk tahini, soy sauce, sugar, five spice powder, sichuan peppercorn powder, chili oil and garlic together. Set the bowl aside.
- Prepare the noodles. Bring a large pot of water to boil on the stove. Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook for 4-5 minutes. If using spaghetti noodles, you will need to cook the noodles a little longer. If using rice noodles, you may need to reduce the cooking time. Refer to the package directions for the correct cooking time, based on the noodles used in the recipe. Once the noodles are cooked, remove ¼ cup of the cooking water. Add it to the prepared Dan Dan sauce. Stir to combine. Drain the noodles and set aside.
- Cook the mushrooms. Pour sesame oil into a large skillet or wok, on the stove over medium high heat. Add diced mushrooms and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add hoisin sauce, shaoxing wine (or mirin), soy sauce, five spice powder and spinach. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Finish the dish. Add the noodles and prepared sauce to the wok with the cooked mushrooms. Toss everything together. Transfer to bowls and top with chopped peanuts and diced green onions.
Vegetarian Dan Dan Noodles
Dan Dan Sauce
- Mix all of the ingredients for the Dan Dan sauce together in a medium bowl, besides the cooking water from the noodles. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil on the stove.
- Add the noodles and cook for 4-5 minutes (or according to package directions).
- After the noodles are cooked, remove ¼ cup of the water and add it to the prepared Dan Dan sauce, whisk to combine.
- Drain the noodles and set aside.
- In a large skillet or wok on the stove over medium high heat, add the sesame oil.
- Add the mushrooms and cook 3-4 minutes.
- Add the hoisin sauce, shaoxing wine, soy sauce, five spice powder and spinach.
- Cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the cooked noodles and prepared sauce, toss everything together.
- Serve topped with chopped peanuts and diced green onions.
- To make this recipe vegan:
- Make sure the hoisin sauce and chili oil used do not contain any type of fish sauce or dried shrimp. Most found at traditional grocery stores will not.
- Use a noodle that does not contain eggs and is vegan-friendly.
- To make this recipe gluten free:
- Substitute tamari for the soy sauce.
- Use mirin instead of the shaoxing wine. Most bottles of mirin purchased at the grocery store are gluten free, but always check the label to make sure.
- Some chili oil also contains wheat, so be sure to check the label on the chili oil.
- Use gluten free hoisin sauce.
- Use pad thai rice noodles, rice ramen noodles or gluten free spaghetti noodles, instead of traditional wheat lo mein or spaghetti noodles.
- To make this recipe with pork:
- Instead of the diced mushrooms, substitute in ½ lb. ground pork. Cook the ground pork for 6-7 minutes, then follow the recipe as instructed.
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