Sesame and Cilantro Vermicelli Salad

Asian pasta salad with thin vermicelli pasta, sesame oil, soy sauce, crushed red chili pepper, honey, and cilantro.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 8


Honey Soy Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil or corn oil
  • 3 Tbsp dark sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper or chili powder
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce (less if using tamari which is more concentrated than soy sauce)


  • 8 ounces of vermicelli, thin spaghetti, or angel hair pasta
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/4 cup sliced and chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds


1 Cook the pasta in a large saucepan in salted boiling water, according to directions on pasta package. Drain but do not rinse.

2 While the pasta is cooking, prepare the dressing. In a microwave-safe dish, heat the vegetable oil, sesame oil, and red pepper, in the microwave on high heat for 2 minutes. Add the honey and soy sauce and mix well.

3 Combine the drained pasta with the dressing in a large bowl until the pasta is well coated. Cover and chill for several hours.

4 When ready to serve, mix in the cilantro, peanuts, green onions and bell pepper. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

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  • jonathan

    Looks good. Question: For the honey-soy dressing, you list grapeseed or corn oil. In the preparation, you write vegetable oil. Can you clarify? Also – beyond preserving their freshness, texture or individuality of their flavors, is there any reason the other ingredients can’t be mixed in with the pasta and dressing before chilling? Thanks, Elise…stay cool! It’ll be over 100 here in NYC this week – ugh.

  • g

    To jeff: Actually, both corn oil and grapeseed oil are vegetables oils. Vegetable oil is not an oil per se. Actually, even sunflower oil and olive oil are. You can find a definition here

    So when you see ‘vegetable oil’ just use the one you choosed.

  • Sibyl

    I just made this tonight and its delicious! I used canola oil – it was fine. The recipe made plenty for 4 side dishes, but it was so good we all had seconds and its gone. I also only chilled it for an hour with all ingrediants added. Easy, fast and so good! I bet the recipe could be doubled too.

  • Samantha

    I made this with rice noodles, and it definitely needs time to marinate, so that the noodles have time to soak up the dressing. Otherwise, it will be too oily. I also added cubed pan fried chicken breasts, yum! Thanks for the recipe!

  • Annie

    This looks yummy. I was looking for some yummy salad. I don’t want to heat up my kitchen as much as possible. One question, is there a reason why you have to micrwave the oils?
    Thanks for giving me ideas for salad other than same ol’ green salad!

  • stephanie

    this was really very good. i made it with rice noodles from the Asian market, and because i didn’t have the peanuts, i put in about a 1/4 c. of Asian peanut sauce. my husband is not a pasta person, but we loved the fresh flavor with a bit of spice.

  • beth

    Very yummy! Thanks for the recipe, Elise. I’d actually made something along these lines the night before, thinking about your post but hadn’t printed out the recipe. It wasn’t nearly as good as yours, which I made the next night. :) The dressing on this one is light, and lovely.

  • Tammy

    I made this last night (with two substitutions: a little tahini for the dark sesame oil in lieu of another trip to the store and an addition of stir-fried chicken for my carnivorous husband)… WONDERFUL! And I get to enjoy the rest for lunch! Thnaks for the fantastic idea on another nasty, hot day in Ohio!

  • Joel

    To answer why the oils were microwaved, I believe it is because the chili flavors are more infused into the oil upon heating. You could do this in a skillet or something too, but I guess a microwave’s flash heating works. I am definetly going to give this salad a try, and it would be great bed for a chili-lime marinated chicken breast or a nice asian tofu dish.

  • sara

    This is the best salad! I made it and have since shared it with friends. Everyone loves it. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Claire

    This was great! I reduced the oil a bit and added some grilled chicken for protein and it all worked well. Thanks for the recipe.

  • Nathan

    Not to cast a shadow on your other excellent recipes, but I think this one might be the best, most robust recipe you have yet posted. I make it all the time.

  • typome

    Wow this was so good! I was actually sad when I took my last bite, that’s how good it was.

  • Michelle

    I tried this one with angel hair–I could have reduced the oil by A LOT! It was really greasy. Interesting flavors, though–I’d recommend cutting the veg. oil by half–don’t lose the sesame flavor, though! I added tofu and it was very tasty.

  • Catherine Morell

    Wonderful! I agree that there should be less corn oil added, maybe a tad less honey…just a tad, and the recipe should be doubled indeed! YUM!

  • Ryan

    This looks EXTREMELY delicious! It’s so hard to find decent recipes for vegetarians. You either get something that looks delicious and tastes awful or vice versa. This dish, however looks and Im guranteeing it tastes delicious!

  • nicole

    I’m hoping to make this soon — it looks so yummy!
    Since it’s a cold salad, did you rinse the noodles after draining them?

    No, no need to rinse. ~Elise

  • Nathan

    Suggest adding:

    To sauce:
    1 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar (good quality like Lucini Gran Riserva Balsamico)

    To salad:
    1 chicken breast (~0.9 lb), cubed (oil/salt/pepper, broiled)

  • Renee

    This was a REALLY good recipe. My take on it was to use macadamia honey and teriyaki chicken.

  • Uma

    I tried this out last week and it was very good. I mixed everything the previous night including mixing in the peanuts and cilantro and it was very good when I had it for lunch the next day. Perfect work lunch.

  • Lea

    Sooooooo yummy! I added some shredded cabbage to the pasta during the last minute of cooking, and also some fresh edamame to the finished product. I have been eating this for lunch all week – delicious. Thanks for your awesome website!

  • Laura

    I made this salad too and I loved it. I think I’ll try it with some chicken and maybe mango next time.

    Thanks so much Elise! I love your blog :)

  • Claire

    I make this recipe all the time, since first discovering it here a couple of years ago. I always serve it with the Ginger Soy Whiskey Chicken from Steamy Kitchen, which is a great asian-fusiony complement. This is a great dish for dinner parties because you can make it in advance, it doubles easily and makes a lot, and everyone LOVES it. Elegant, creative, yet accessible.

  • Diane

    Tried this last week & loved it!…Tasty & refreshing. :)

  • Tomoko

    Yet another party favorite from your amazing recipe collection.

    No left overs and several requests for recipe secret!

    Thanks for always brightening everyone’s meals!

    LOVE LOVE LOVE your website! :)

    Thanks! So glad you are finding the site useful. :-) ~Elise

  • RD

    I love cold sesame noodles and this recipe is easy to prepare and delicious. It has been hot here in Walnut Creek, CA (around 100F today) so I made this for dinner last night. I used 9 oz. of soba buckwheat noodles as that was what I had in the pantry. Will definitely make it again. Might add a couple of cups of cut up chicken next time. And you can always play around with the vegetables (peas pods, bean sprouts, julienne-cut carrots, etc.)

  • Angie

    This is one of my favorite salads of all time. It’s good, light and so easy to make.

  • Lisa Morgan

    This is just what the doctor ordered during this heat wave! Beautiful. Thanks, Elise.

  • Claire

    I love this recipe and have made it many times. I want to bring it to school (I’m a teacher) tomorrow for a potluck, but must leave out the peanuts since many students have an allergy. What do you recommend replacing it with – maybe almonds or cashews? Or just leaving nuts out entirely?

    • Elise

      Hi Claire, I would leave the nuts out entirely, the salad will not suffer.

      • Claire

        Great, thanks for the quick response! I’ve been a lurker for about 8 years, and yours is a daily go-to site for me. Many of your recipes have become oft-requested family favorites, especially the tuna-arugula pasta, the tuna noodle casserole, and this dish! Thank you so much for your wonderful, tried-and-true recipes and stories about your family.

  • Tracy

    This is a fantastic salad recipe. Made it for a BBQ and everyone loved it. I added 1 clove of crushed garlic to the dressing after heating and it was a nice addition.