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This Napa cabbage recipe is made in less than 30 minutes! It’s a fast and easy dinner starring noodles and a zesty sauce.

Peanut Noodles recipe

Confession: Alex and I are naturally the type of people who start cooking when we’re hungry, not before. (Oops!) The artist sides of both of us cringe at the words “plan ahead”. Our practical, sensible selves have no problem planning for long-term financial security, but planning Thursday’s dinner on Monday? That’s downright impossible. If that’s you too (hands?), here’s a totally doable weeknight meal that’s done in less than 30 minutes: these quick peanut noodles!

Tips on making this Napa cabbage recipe

For weeknights, Alex and I try to pick meals that are fast and easy dinners. These peanut noodles can be made in under 30 minutes! This recipe was inspired by Napa cabbage and red pepper we bought at our local farmers market. Here are a few tips for making it!

  • Use toasted sesame oil in the peanut sauce! Make sure to use toasted sesame oil and not regular sesame oil. The toasted oil has a much nuttier flavor intended for sauces.
  • Use our trick to “cook” the veggies! Instead of dirtying another pan to cook the cabbage and peppers, use our favorite trick. Once the pasta is done, place the veggies in the strainer and then drain the pasta right on top. The heat from the boiling water “cooks” the veggies, making them perfectly tender! It’s a genius trick that we love to use in our recipes.
  • The garnish is essential. Topped with some fresh squeezed lime juice, cilantro, and crushed peanuts, this peanut noodle bowl was delightful!

Are soba noodles gluten free?

This peanut noodles recipe is gluten-free if you make sure the soba noodles you buy don’t contain flour! Soba noodles are made of buckwheat flour which is gluten free. But many brands also include a little bit of all purpose flour in the noodles. Make sure to check the package ingredients! You also can use rice noodles for another gluten free option.

Quick peanut noodles with Napa cabbage

The keys to a great peanut sauce

These peanut noodles are made perfect with a really tasty peanut sauce! What’s in peanut sauce? The secret to this one are bringing in lots of flavors at once: rich, creamy, tangy, nutty, savory, sweet, and spicy. Here are the keys to the sauce:

  • Peanut butter (all natural) as a rich and creamy base
  • Rice vinegar for tang
  • Toasted sesame oil for a nutty undertone
  • Soy sauce (or liquid aminos for soy free) for savory, salty complexity
  • Maple syrup for a little sweet
  • Sriracha for a kick!

What is Napa cabbage?

This recipe calls for Napa cabbage:. What is it? Napa cabbage (also called Chinese cabbage) is light green and oblong-shaped. It has thick, crisp stems and frilly yellow-green leaves. It’s a cruciferous vegetable like other types of cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and kale.

Can you substitute green cabbage for Napa cabbage in this recipe? Well, not really. The Napa cabbage has a mild flavor and delicate texture that makes it uniquely suited for this recipe. Try to find Napa cabbage if you can! (Looking for more about cabbage? Here are all our Best Cabbage Recipes.)

This peanut noodles recipes is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free. For gluten-free, use gluten-free noodles.

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Soba Noodles with Napa Cabbage

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


This Napa cabbage recipe is made in less than 30 minutes! It’s a fast and easy dinner starring noodles and a zesty sauce.


  • ½ pound Napa cabbage, shredded (4 to 5 cups)*
  • 1 red pepper
  • ¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
  • 12 ounces soba noodles (look for 100% buckwheat noodles or rice noodles for a gluten-free option)
  • 2 limes
  • ½ cup crushed peanuts


  1. Shred the cabbage. Thinly slice the red pepper. Chop the cilantro and reserve for a garnish.
  2. Start a pot of water to boil.
  3. In a small saucepan, whisk together the peanut butter, rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, maple syrup or honey, and Sriracha sauce. Cook the sauce over low heat until it is warm and slightly thickened.
  4. When the water is boiling, cook noodles according to package directions.
  5. Meanwhile, place the red pepper in a colander over sink. When the noodles are cooked, drain them over the red pepper in the colander to slightly cook the peppers. Transfer noodles, peppers, and cabbage to a serving bowl, add the sauce, and toss until combined.
  6. To serve, garnish with chopped cilantro, fresh squeezed lime juice (a must!), and a generous helping of crushed peanuts.


*Napa cabbage is also called Chinese cabbage: it’s oblong-shaped and has thick, crisp stems and frilly yellow-green leaves. Do not substitute green or red cabbage in this Napa cabbage recipe! The Napa cabbage has a totally different texture and flavor.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Asian

Keywords: Napa cabbage recipe

Looking for more fast & easy dinner ideas?

We have lots more ideas for fast and easy dinners! Outside of these peanut noodles, here are a few more easy dinner ideas:

Last updated: January 2020

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you’ll want to make again and again.

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  1. Wow, I really must try this it looks awesome. Me and my fiancée always try to plan ahead but then the inspiration comes over us and we still end up doing cooking something other, the food just seems to taste better than if we would have sticked to the original food plan!

  2. Hi, I live in Indianapolis and am wondering where you purchase roasted sesame oil. I have sesame oil but not roasted. I have never made peanut noodles but believe I am in for a treat and will use your recipe. Thanks.

  3. I am always starving so when I cook dinner I make sure to have a carrot or some cucumber to snack on while I’m cooking so that I don’t reach for the oh-so-easy to reach bag of open chocolate chips.
    This dinner looks perfect for the vegetarian and the omnivore in our house, and a perfect bowl for a light but filling dinner after our runs. Thanks for sharing!

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