What You Need to Know About Udon Noodles

An Ode to Udon

Udon Noodles Nutrition Facts

Japanese cuisine is widely celebrated all over the world, owing to its umami flavors and use of a variety of fresh ingredients. While sashimi and sushi are probably the two most popular dishes, Japanese noodles have also captured the attention of many.

Take note that I’m not referring to the highly processed instant noodles that deliver nothing but empty calories and additives — these can harm your health. Rather, I’m talking about authentic, Japanese noodles like soba, ramen and udon noodles.

Udon, in particular, is being shunned aside in favor of its more popular cousins, but there’s a lot you should know about this Japanese food. Keep on reading to learn more about udon noodles.

What Are Udon Noodles?

Udon noodles are long, thick white noodles that traditionally hail from Osaka and southern Japanese regions.1 According to BBC Food, they are made by kneading strong, white wheat flour, water and salt. In Japan, slurping while eating these slippery noodles is a common practice.2 

The Kitchn describes udon as chewy and soft, with a neutral flavor that make them ideal for dishes with strong flavors.3 They are the thickest Japanese noodle, with a diameter of nearly a quarter inch. In Korea, it’s called “udong.”4 Udon can be enjoyed either hot or cold. When served hot, the noodles are submerged in a strong, rich broth made from soy sauce, dashi (fish broth) and mirin, although the ingredients can vary from one region to another.  

You can buy udon noodles fresh, frozen or dried.5 Fresh is best, of course. According to Bon Appetit, packaged dried udon noodles not only fail to hold up to rich, fatty sauces because they’re thinner and shorter, but they also do not give the chewy and gummy texture that these noodles are known for. If fresh is not available, though, frozen is your next best choice, but make sure not to overcook or undercook the noodles.6

How to Make Udon Noodles at Home

Cooking udon noodles may seem easy, but there are a few useful pointers that will better preserve its texture and flavor. The book “Kansha: Celebrating Japan's Vegan and Vegetarian Traditions,” offers this procedure and cooking tips to make the best udon noodles:7


Udon noodles



  1. Get a large deep pot, and fill it with water. Make sure there’s at least 2 inches of headroom. Put it over steady high heat until it’s boiling.
  2. If cooking fresh or semi-fresh udon noodles, shake off excess flour before lowering the noodles in the boiling water. Fresh udon will need five to six minutes to cook, while semi-fresh will be ready after eight to nine minutes.
  3. If using precooked frozen or refrigerated noodles, add them to the boiling water — no need to thaw. Do not stir immediately, and instead wait for a few minutes until the water has circulated around the noodles. Afterward, gently stir to separate the noodles.
  4. To check if ready, take the pot off the heat. Get a noodle and place it in a bowl of cold water. It must be firm and translucent, but the core should not be hard. The outer surface should be slippery but not overly soft. If you don't see these markers yet, bring back the pot over heat and let boil again, checking every 45 seconds.
  5. If the noodles are going to be used in a cold dish, drain them with a strainer. If serving hot, use a fine mesh strainer to scoop them out. Reserve the water in the pot for reheating.

Additional Tips:

  • A good amount of starch may be removed during cooking, so if you're cooking more than four portions at once, you may need to swap pots with fresh boiling water.
  • Rinsing the noodles under cold running water after cooking can help remove excess starch from the surface. This can be done whether the noodles are going to be served hot or cold.

Are Udon Noodles Healthy?

If you’re struggling with insulin resistance, udon noodles may not be the healthiest food you can consume. Udon noodles are made from wheat, making them a high-carbohydrate food. As a general rule, I advise keeping your net carbohydrates below 15 or 20 grams per day, especially if your body has not regained the ability to burn fat as fuel.

Udon noodles can contain as much as 65 grams of carbohydrates (or more, depending on the manufacturer) per serving, which is beyond my recommendations. Consuming this in high amounts can significantly impair your ability to shift to fat-burning. Hence, in the early days of recovering this ability, you must avoid grains, including wheat. Once you have reached nutritional ketosis, however, you can safely bring back wheat into your diet — but in moderate amounts.

Udon Noodles Nutrition Facts

Udon noodles are not nutritionally impressive. The USDA Food Database notes that a 100-gram serving of udon can give you 2.6 grams of dietary fiber, 3.55 milligrams of iron and 26 grams of calcium8 — but not much else. So if you want udon noodles to be part of a truly nutritious meal, you need to cook them with a variety of healthy, whole food ingredients. For more nutrition facts about udon noodles, check out this table from MyFitnessPal:9

Udon Noodles Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 cup cooked
  Amt. Per
% Daily
Calories 160 kcal  
Calories from Fat    
Total Fat 1 g  
Saturated Fat 0 g  
Trans Fat    
Cholesterol 0 mg  
Sodium 0 mg  
Total Carbohydrates 65 g  
Dietary Fiber 2 g  
Sugar 0 g  
Protein 28 g  
Vitamin A 0% Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 0% Iron 0%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Try This Healthy Udon Noodle Soup Recipe
Udon Noodle Soup With Bok Choy and Poached Egg

As mentioned above, udon noodles don’t contain much nutritional value, so you should consider pairing it with foods that provide an array of vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients. Making noodle soup is one of the most popular ways to use udon. Here’s an easy but healthy udon noodle soup recipe adapted from The Kitchn:10

Udon Noodle Soup Recipe


4 to 5 cups homemade vegetable or chicken broth

2 star anise pods

1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick

2 large pastured eggs

2 medium scallions, thinly sliced

3 to 4 tablespoons organic soy sauce

14 ounces fresh or frozen udon noodles

4 to 5 large bok choy leaves, sliced into ribbons



  1. Place the broth in a medium saucepan — it should be about 2 inches deep inside the pan — and then allow to simmer over medium heat.
  2. Add the star anise pods and cinnamon stick and continue simmering for five to 10 minutes, so that the broth will become infused broth with the spices. Once done, remove the spices with a slotted spoon.
  3. Crack the eggs into separate measuring cups and slowly slip them into the broth, one at a time. Cook for two minutes before adding the udon noodles and bok choy.
  4. Submerge the noodles and bok choy by stirring very gently, but make sure not to break the eggs. Let simmer for another two minutes, until you see that the egg whites are completely set but the yolks are still loose. If you like the yolks set, add another minute to the cooking time.
  5. Take the broth off the heat and then gently stir in the scallions and soy sauce. Taste and add more soy sauce, depending on your preference. Divide the noodle soup between two bowls and consume immediately.

Makes two servings.

If You Want Truly Healthy Noodles, Consider Shirataki Noodles

If you’re truly craving noodles, and want a healthy alternative to udon, shirataki noodles could be your best option. Made from glucomannan fiber taken from the konjac plant’s root (aka devil's tongue yam), these long, white and translucent noodles are the epitome of a low net carb food. They are mostly made of water, have 3 grams of fiber in every 113-gram serving, and have no digestible carbs and calories.11

Shirataki noodles — also known as konjac or miracle noodles — are a type of resistant starch that help improve insulin regulation, lowering your risk of insulin resistance.12 Due to their high fiber content, shirataki noodles also “bulk up” your stools, helping keep your bowel movements regular.13 To learn more, read ”Shirataki Noodles — An Incredibly Healthy High-Fiber, No-Carb Food.”

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Udon Noodles

Q. What are udon noodles made of?

A. Fresh homemade udon noodles are made from wheat, salt and water, which are all kneaded together.14

Q. Are udon noodles gluten-free?

A. No. because they’re made from wheat, udon noodles contain gluten.15

Q. Are udon noodles vegan?

A. Fresh udon noodles are not made from any animal products, so they’re vegan. However, beware of udon dishes served in restaurants, as they are often cooked with eggs and meat.  

Q. Udon versus soba noodles: What’s the difference?

A. While udon is made from wheat flour, soba is made from buckwheat flour, and has a light beige or dark brown color. In terms of thickness, udon is typically thicker, as soba is like a flat spaghetti. Their flavors are different, too. Soba has a strong nutty flavor, while udon has a neutral flavor.16