Which Asian Noodles Are Gluten Free – And Which Are Not?

I’m sure you have the same problem I have at Asian restaurants: which noodles can I eat and which have wheat? I hate looking at all those lovely noodle dishes on the menu and deciding not to have any, just to be on the safe side. So I’ve compiled a checklist of the most common types of noodles found in Asian restaurants.

Yes = rice noodles, meaning wheat allergy sufferers can eat them!
No = wheat noodles, meaning wheat allergy sufferers cannot eat them.

Chow Fun: Sometimes – see comments section below. If you can’t be sure, don’t take a chance on these.
Chow Mein: No
Egg Noodles/Dan Mien: No
Ho Fun/Lai Fen: Yes
Hokkein Noodles: No
Hong Kong Noodles: No
Lo Mein: No
Lo Shee Fun: Yes
Mei Fei: Yes
Ramen: No
Sha He Fan: Yes
Shanghai Noodles: No
Soba Noodles: No
Udon: No
Vermicelli Sheets: Yes
Wonton: No

You can use these resources to check out the full list, complete with Thai, Chinese, Japanese, and other names for each noodle type. The list also includes how to make these noodles, where they are most popular, and what you can substitute for them:

Rice Noodles: http://www.foodsubs.com/NoodlesRice.html
Wheat Noodles: http://www.foodsubs.com/NoodlesWheat.html

And when you’re eating all these lovely noodles, make sure to watch In The Mood For Love, a movie where many noodles are bought and eaten 🙂 Great movie review and brief summary here: http://foreignfilmsfrenzy.wordpress.com/2010/09/22/in-the-mood-for-love/

Or read Family by Pa Chin, which has no noodles, but is the epitome of excellent Asian literature.

14 thoughts on “Which Asian Noodles Are Gluten Free – And Which Are Not?

  1. Chow Fun noodles are not necessarily made only with rice flour…they are known to be rice noodles to Asians. However, as My intestines painfully learned this week through my own research of it’s ingredient label…the Chow Fun noodle is often made with the addition of wheat cake flour so that the noodles hold their shape and firmness. Ouch!

    1. Thank you so much for your comment! I had no idea. When I first did research on gluten free noodles, I didn’t find anything about gluten in chow fun noodles, but now I see that, in addition to what you said, sometimes they can also have wheat starch to help hold their shape. I’ve updated the post accordingly. Thanks again!

      1. I’ve never had a problem with Annie Chun’s, Thai Kitchen, or Explore Cuisine.
        Annie Chun doesn’t offer chow fun noodles but does offer Pad Thai noodles, and personally I’ll use them the same as chow fun. Here’s their product: https://anniechun.com/anniechun-rice-noodles-pad-thai-rice-noodles/
        I’ve found the brand at Whole Foods and Wegmans. They may be in places like Shoprite as well.

        Thai Kitchen makes stir fry rice noodles, which are like Pad Thai noodles. Here’s their page, which doesn’t have much information on it, but you can see in the picture of the box that they’re gluten free: http://www.mccormick.com/thai-kitchen/products/jasmine-rice-and-rice-noodles/stir-fry-rice-noodles
        I’ve found this brand at Whole Foods and Wegmans as well, and I think this is a very common brand among supermarkets.

        If you want something very clean, there are bean-based noodles by Explore Cuisine that are gluten free, organic, and non-gmo. Here’s the page for that, but if you’re looking for only rice noodles, they have those too in gluten free: http://www.explorecuisine.com/en/products/bean-pastas/black-bean-spaghetti.html.

    1. Thanks for that question, Jiro! In all my research, I have found that Shanghai-style noodles are wheat-based noodles, although the Shanghai noodle dish can be made with rice noodles like mdi fun.

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