This easy 25-minute Vietnamese Noodle Salad is the perfect lunch or weeknight dinner. It is super easy to make and requires very little cooking. Customize it to your tastes by adding your favorite protein and vegetables. All the possible customizations included in this blog post!
When the weather gets a little bit cooler, I always want a Vietnamese Noodle Salad. A Vietnamese Noodle Salad or Bun in Vietnamese is a dish made with vermicelli noodles, assorted vegetables and herbs, and a protein, all drizzled with nuoc cham. This version of a Vietnamese noodle salad only has the herbs and vermicelli because that is all I had in the kitchen. It makes a super simple healthy salad that can be customized to your tastes.
What is a Vietnamese noodle salad or bun?
As mentioned above, a Vietnamese noodle salad (aka vermicelli bowl or bun) is a refreshing mixture of vermicelli noodles, assorted vegetables, and a protein. What you include in your bowl can vary based on your tastes. In terms of vegetables and herbs, I like to include lettuce, carrots (sometimes pickled carrots), mint, and cucumbers. For protein, I like either lemongrass beef (bun bo xao) or lemongrass pork (bun thit xao xa). And finally, for toppings I like either toasted peanuts or fried shallots. Sometimes, I add both to my vermicelli bowl. The constant across all Vietnamese noodle bowls is that it must have vermicelli noodles and the dressing must be nuoc cham.
For this version of bun, I included vermicelli noodles, Persian cucumbers, shredded carrots, green onions, cilantro, bean sprouts, mint, and fried shallots. I wanted to keep it vegetarian, so I didn’t add any protein. I also didn’t have lettuce, so I left that out. The resulting salad was refreshing, healthy, and very flavorful.
Ingredients, Substitutions & Adjustments
- Vermicelli noodles – These are thin rice noodles that you can find at any Asian grocery store. Three Ladies Brand makes my favorite vermicelli noodles.
- Cucumbers – I personally like using Persian cucumbers because I think they’re most flavorful kind of cucumbers. Any kind of cucumbers should work for this recipe.
- Carrots – Use any kind of carrots for this recipe. To cut down on your cook time, use pre-julienned carrots from the store. That’s what I like to use.
- Green onions (scallions) – Adds some freshness to the dish.
- Cilantro – If you don’t like cilantro, feel free to leave it out. This ingredient adds some freshness to the dish.
- Bean sprouts – If you don’t like or can’t find bean sprouts, leave it out. Bean sprouts add crunchy texture to the salad.
- Mint – Adds some extra flavor to the dish, so the dish doesn’t taste so flat. Highly recommend including this herb.
- Fried shallots – Adds savory flavor and some texture to the dish. I like to buy mine from the store or on Amazon, but you can also make them at home.
- Vietnamese dipping sauce (nuoc cham) – This is the dressing for the Vietnamese noodle salad. Use my recipe for nuoc cham.
Different options for proteins, vegetables, and herbs
You can eat this dish with pretty much any Vietnamese style meat. Below are all the ones I have had.
- Lemongrass Beef (Bun Bo Xao)
- Lemongrass Pork (Bun Thit Xao Xa)
- Grilled Lemongrass Pork (Bun Thit Nuong)
- Lemongrass Chicken
- Lemongrass Shrimp
- Vietnamese Egg Rolls (Bun Cha Gio)
- Vietnamese Pork Meatballs (Bun Cha Hanoi)
- Vietnamese Turmeric Fish (Cha Ca La Vong)
- Garlic Butter Salmon
Vegetables and herbs
I would say you can use almost any kind of vegetable or herb in vermicelli bowls. Below are a few I have had.
- Bean sprouts
- Green onions (scallions)
- Perilla leaves
- Thai basil
There are only 2 toppings that I have seen in bun. The one that is used the most is toasted peanuts. The other, lesser-used one is fried shallots.
How to make the best Vietnamese Noodle Salad
First, cook your vermicelli noodles. Bring water to a boil and add the vermicelli noodles. Boil until cooked through. Set aside to cool (5-10 minutes).
While the vermicelli is cooking, cut your cucumbers, carrots, green onions, and cilantro. Add them to a bowl. Add the bean sprouts, mint, and fried shallots to the bowl.
Once the vermicelli noodles are cool, add them to the bowl. Drizzle Vietnamese dipping sauce over the salad. Toss until thoroughly mixed. Serve with an extra topping of fried shallots.
Tips on how to make the perfect Vietnamese Noodle Salad
Use cold vermicelli noodles
I would highly recommend cooling down your noodles before you add them to the salad. Not only does it taste better, but hot noodles tend to soak up the dressing more readily, meaning you will need more dressing. This has happened to me before, and I don’t recommend it.
Feel free to use more dressing or toppings
This is your Vietnamese noodle salad so use as much of the dressing as you want and as much of the friend shallots you want.
Can I make this dish vegan or vegetarian?
Yes, use vegan fish sauce to make your Vietnamese dipping sauce.
How do I store Vietnamese noodle salad?
This dish is best eaten right away or on the same day. I would not recommend saving the completed dish for more than a day. If you are saving this dish for later in the day, store it in an airtight container in the fridge. If you wish to save this dish for more than a day, I would store all the components separately and then right before you eat, put it all together and serve.
Did you make this dish?
If you made this dish, I would love to see!
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25-Minute Vietnamese Noodle Salad
- Bring water to a boil and add the vermicelli noodles. Boil until cooked through. Set aside to cool (5-10 minutes).
- While the vermicelli is cooking, cut your cucumbers, carrots, green onions, and cilantro. Add them to a bowl.
- Add the bean sprouts, mint, and fried shallots to the bowl.
- Once the vermicelli noodles are cool, add them to the bowl.
- Drizzle Vietnamese dipping sauce over the salad. Toss until thoroughly mixed.
- Serve with an extra topping of fried shallots.
- Vegetable and topping substitutions. See blog post above for a complete list of vegetable and toppings you can include in this noodle salad.
- Optional proteins. Sometimes, I like to top this salad with a protein like lemongrass beef, lemongrass pork, or Vietnamese egg rolls (cha gio). See blog post above for a complete list of proteins you can use in this noodle salad.
- Can you make this dish vegan or vegetarian? Yes, use vegan fish sauce to make the Vietnamese dipping sauce.