Yaki Udon (焼きうどん) is Japanese stir-fried udon noodles with vegetables and a protein, seasoned with a flavourful savory sauce. It’s super quick and easy to make, and easily customizable with ingredients you have on hand. (Vegan + Vegetarian friendly)
Yaki Udon is one of our go-to weeknight meals because of quick and easy it is to make while still being delicious & satisfying!!
What is Yaki Udon?
Yaki Udon (焼きうどん) is Japanese stir-fried udon noodles with vegetables and a protein like meat, seafood or tofu, all tossed with a flavourful savory sauce. It’s akin to Yakisoba, which is another popular Japanese stir-fried noodle dish, but with subtle differences.
Yaki Udon vs. Yakisoba
Yaki udon and yakisoba are both popular street and festival foods. You’ll easily be able to spot them on streets with mobile food stalls (called yatai), with the cooks quickly tossing heaps of thick noodles with metal spatulas on a large sizzling grill. Whenever we would go to these yatai streets, we always ordered yakisoba and yaki udon from at least two different stalls because each have their own unique variation and flavour.
So what are their differences?
- Yakiudon: uses udon noodles, which are thick and chewy, and often seasoned simply with mentsuyu (and/or soy sauce), and subtly sweetened with either sugar or mirin.
- Yakisoba: uses chukamen noodles which are Chinese style noodles (the same as ramen noodles). The sauce is more thicker because of the use of Worcestershire sauce, oyster sauce and ketchup. It also tends to be slightly more sweet and sour in flavour.
Ingredients for Yaki Udon
Yaki udon is one of the most customizable dishes with a never-ending list of variations. I’ve never had the same yaki udon dish because of the mix n’ match of proteins and vegetables, so use what you love and have on hand.
- Udon Noodles: While I highly recommend using either fresh or frozen, you can also use dry, instant or vacuum packed udon noodles.
- Protein: Thinly sliced pork or beef is the most common protein of choice, but you can also use tofu, chicken, seafood and any plant based option (ie. the mock ‘meat’ versions).
- Vegetables: Shiitake, cabbage and negi (green onion) is almost always added, but again, you can use anything you have in the fridge! Carrot, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, sugar snap peas, etc.
- Yaki Udon Sauce Seasonings: Mentsuyu, soy sauce and mirin (or sugar) is all you need.
- Toppings: the green tops of scallions, katsuobushi (if not vegan/vegetarian), which are dried bonito flakes and beni shoga (pickled red ginger).
What type of Udon noodles is best for stir fries?
There are 4 main types of udon noodles: fresh, frozen, vacuum packed (instant) and dry.
- Fresh: always the best but usually not as readily available.
- Frozen: Sanuki udon are sold in packs of 4-5 and have the most similar texture to fresh. Just heat in a pot of boiling water, loosen and rinse the excess starch off before stir frying.
- Dried: the noodles tend to be more flat, less thick and not chewy.
- Vacuum packed (instant): these tend to not be chewy but rather… doughy, and break easily especially when stir fried.
How to Make Yaki Udon
The best thing about yaki udon, other than how delicious it is… is how speedy quick and easy it is to make! I times it once, for fun and it took me just under 15 minutes.
- Cook the udon: follow directions on the package and then rinse to remove excess starch.
- Prepare the vegetables and sauce: While waiting for the water to come to a boil, chop up all the vegetables, portion out the protein and whisk the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
- Start stir frying: Add the oil to a wok, cook vegetables starting from the firmest vegetable. Cook your protein, add the udon and then toss with the sauce.
- Serve: Transfer to a plate, add your toppings and enjoy 🙂
Tips for making really good yaki udon
While this dish is straightforward, here are a few tips to easily make really good stir fried udon at home:
- Subtract 1 minute of cooking time: If using instant or dry udon noodles, subtract 1 minute off the cooking time given to prevent them from breaking.
- Rinse your udon noodles: This removes excess starch from the udon noodles to prevent sticking and that starchy mouthfeel of the noodles.
- Use a large wok: With more surface area, it helps prevent sticking and clumping of the udon noodles and even heating throughout all the ingredients. It’s much easier to stir fry with than a small pan with shallow sides.
- Mentsuyu: If you can’t find mentsuyu, you can make it at home following this easy mentsuyu recipe.
More delicious udon noodles to try:
- Curry udon
- Corn Mayo Udon
- Kitsune Udon Noodles Soup
- Cheesy Kimchi Udon
- Chilled Tanuki Udon
- Vegan Mentaiko Cream Udon
If you recreate this Yaki Udon recipe let me know how you liked it by leaving a comment and rating below or by tagging me on Instagram @Okonomikitchen, I love seeing all of your tasty recreations!
Hungry for more? Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter and follow along on Instagram, Youtube and Pinterest for more deliciousness!
Okonomi Kitchen is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. When you purchase something through my amazon affiliate links, I earn a small commission that helps me produce consistent content at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting my plant based kitchen!