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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

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  • 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

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

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Shiv Roy says:

    Honey isn’t in your ingredients list but then is in the recipe.

    1. Sonja Overhiser says:

      This should be maple syrup or honey. Typo fixed — thank you!

  2. Chan says:

    Good recipe! Its a keeper. When we make it again, we’ll double or quadruple the veggies, and decrease the vinegar.

    1. Sonja says:

      Thank you so much for making it!

  3. Katie @ Whole Nourishment says:

    Yep this was pretty awesome. I’m feeling under the weather but I was already planning to make this tonight. And it happens to be the perfect sick food because it came together so fast and the flavors were amazing, really comforting. Love the idea of straining the pasta over the bell peppers too – it cooks them just enough. Wonderful recipe you guys!

  4. Kelli @ The Corner Kitchen says:

    I love soba noodles and peanut sauce! This is one of my favorite go to dinners….so easy to throw together and so, so tasty!

  5. Susan says:

    I love a good peanut sauce and this one sounds like it’ll be well worth making. Looking forward to trying it. Most peanut sauce recipes I’ve found leave a lot to be desired.

  6. Anne says:

    Ha, ha!! Totally related to your comments about the artistic gene lacking the dinner planning chromosome!

    I was wondering if you have a certain soba noodle brand you like? I once took a class on making them –and they did taste delicious–but since I share the same arty nature, I never seem to have the time when I always wait until I am starved to cook!


  7. Millie | Add A Little says:

    I love peanut noodles and these are no exception – looks full of colour and flavour!

  8. molly yeh says:

    mmmmmmmmmmmm i loooooooooooooooove peanut noodles. at all hours of the day. at all temperatures. during all seasons. get in my belly.

  9. Karishma says:

    I was surprised how easy peanut sauce was to make when I first started making it! Noodles + peanut sauce + cabbage can never go wrong :)

  10. jaime // the briny says:

    (pssst. I really love the towel you photographed the bowl on in the second picture!)

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