Shrimp Yaki Udon is a super flavorful, restaurant-quality Japanese-inspired noodle stir-fry that’s better and healthier than take-out! It’s packed with veggies, thick and silky udon noodles and seared shrimp and super quick and easy to make.
What is yaki udon
Yaki Udon is a Japanese stir-fried noodle dish made with udon noodles, a soy-based stir fry sauce, vegetables and protein (usually pork). Udon noodles are thick, soft, chewy, incredibly satisfying and perfect for soaking up the flavorful sauce. “Yaki” means “to fry” so Yaki Udon translates to “stir-fried udon noodles”.
Though typical Yaki Udon is made with pork and veggies, such as cabbage, peppers and carrots, for this version I went with shrimp and mushrooms and the effect is an amazingly flavorful one-skillet dish that’s quick and easy to prepare.
Types of udon noodles and where to find them
There are a couple different types of udon noodles available at grocery stores:
- Packaged udon noodles: this is probably what you’ll find at any larger grocery store. Look for them in the international or Asian foods aisle. These noodles are pre-cooked and packed into clear plastic. They usually come with a flavor package (sort of like instant ramen) but you won’t need the flavoring for this recipe.
- Dried udon noodles. These noodles need to be boiled before using in this recipe which isn’t a bad thing because you can control how soft you want them to be. I find that this brand of dried udon noodles is really good and use it often in my kitchen.
- Fresh udon noodles: look for fresh noodles in the refrigerated section of your local Asian market. These will give you the best results (as any fresh pasta!) but packaged and dried udon noodles will also work great!
I usually buy pre-cooked packaged udon noodles at my local grocery store or in an Asian market. If you have a well-stocked Asian market nearby, the prices will most likely be better and you may be able to get fresh udon noodles but as I mentioned, any type of udon will work for this recipe!
Why you will love this recipe
- Better than take out! This dish is cheaper and healthier than any noodle take out that’s typically made with lots of oil and sodium.
- Highly customizable. Add whatever veggies you have on hand, swap shrimp for chicken or tofu and make it work for you!
- You will only need one pan. Because who loves washing dishes?
- Kid-friendly. Even if your kids don’t like shrimp, they’ll sure slurp up the noodles (and the added veggies).
Yaki udon sauce
To make Shrimp Yaki Udon sauce you will need some staple Asian pantry ingredients. You can get most of them at any grocery store or Asian market, where prices tend to be lower.
You will need:
- Oyster Sauce: this thick dark and sweet sauce is a must for Yaki Udon!
- Soy Sauce: use any soy sauce you like, or swap for tamari (gluten-free soy sauce) or coconut aminos. If you can find dark soy sauce, it will give your sauce a nice brown color that authentic yaki udon usually has but regular soy sauce will be equally delicious!
- Rice Vinegar or Mirin: mirin is sweet cooking wine that’s more traditional for Japanese dishes but if you don’t have any, just use unseasoned rice vinegar.
- Toasted Sesame Oil: a little bit goes a long way! Can be substituted for more neutral tasting oil, such as avocado oil, if you prefer.
- Honey: for a hint of sweetness. Maple syrup or date syrup will also work.
- Salt & Pepper: to season the sauce.
Mix everything in a small bowl and set aside. A mini whisk does a great job but you can also just use a spoon.
How to make it
STEP 1: Boil the noodles in a pot of water according to package instructions. Dry noodles usually boil in 8 minutes, while fresh vacuum packed noodles will be ready in about 1-3 minutes. Drain, toss with 1 teaspoon oil and set aside.
STEP 2: Make the sauce according to instructions above.
STEP 3: Cook the veggies. Heat up oil in a large skillet and add sliced mushrooms. Cook on high heat until softened and browned. Add onions, carrots and coleslaw mix (or cabbage). Stir fry for a couple minutes. Add fresh garlic and cook a minute or so longer. Then remove the veggies from the pan and set aside.
STEP 4: Sear the shrimp. Add a teaspoon of oil to the now empty skillet and cook shrimp until it's pink, about 2 minutes per side. Set aside.
STEP 5: Stir fry everything together. Bring the sauce to a boil, add cooked veggies and noodles and cook until heated through and the noodles are coated in sauce. Then add shrimp and give everything another stir. Give it a taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
STEP 6: Sprinkle with sliced scallions and serve hot!
Expert Tip: if you are using pre-cooked packaged udon noodles, the packaging often tells you to drop the noodles directly into the stir-fry. While it's fine to do so if you are short on time, I HIGHLY recommend dropping the noodles into a pot of boiling water for at least a minute to 3 minutes to help them separate. If you drop them directly into the skillet (without pre-boiling), there is a high chance that they will break and turn to mush by the time the dish is hot (been there, done that!).
Serving and storage suggestions
Serve Shrimp Yaki Udon immediately sprinkled with fresh green onions or store in an air-tight container for up to 4 days in the fridge. When ready to eat, reheat the dish in a skillet for a couple minutes (be careful not to overcook the noodles or they’ll start to fall apart). You can also microwave the dish for a minute or so just until heated through.
Substitutions and variations
This Shrimp Yaki Udon is highly customizable and can be made into a recipe that fits all kinds of diets. Here are some suggestions on how to alter it to fit your dietary needs:
- Add whatever veggies you like! Baby corn, snap peas, sugar peas, broccoli, green beans and bok choy will all be great in this recipe!
- Skip the mushrooms or swap for shitake mushrooms if you like.
- If you like spicy noodles, add some chili garlic paste or sriracha to the sauce.
- Though this recipe calls for shrimp, you can use whatever protein you like. Chicken, pork or tofu will all be great. You can also stick to only veggies for a vegetarian version of this flavorful stir-fry.
- If you can’t find udon noodles but really want this dish, use ramen, soba, wide rice noodles or even thick spaghetti instead.
No. Yaki udon is a Japanese noodle stir-fry made with thick and chewy udon noodles. Yakisoba, on the other hand, is also a noodle-stir fry but made with Chinese ramen-style noodles. It’s a bit confusing because soba usually means Japanese noodles made with buckwheat but in the case of yakisoba, the “soba” part describes Chinese noodles made with wheat. They are thinner than udon.
No. Udon noodles are made with wheat so they are not gluten-free.
Most grocery stores will have dry or vacuum packed udon noodles in the international foods aisle. The vacuum packed noodles usually come with a flavor packet (similar to instant ramen soup) but you won’t need it. Another great and often cheaper place to get udon noodles is an Asian market, if you have one nearby.
It’s a matter of preference. I typically use packaged udon noodles but if my grocery store doesn’t have any, I boil this brand of dried udon noodles and I actually really like them because you can cook them slightly al dente and they won’t break or turn to mush when stir frying.
If you don’t have any oyster sauce, use equal amount of hoisin sauce, Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce.
More Asian inspired dishes
- Cauliflower Tofu Fried Rice
- Furikake Salmon Buddha Bowl
- Egg Roll in a Bowl (with ground meat)
- Vegan Egg Roll in a Bowl (with Tofu)
- Low-Carb Sushi Bowl with Smoked Salmon
- Quinoa Poke Bowl
If you try my Shrimp Yaki Udon recipe, be sure to leave me a comment and give this recipe a rating. I would love to hear from you and see how it turned out for you! You can also share and tag me on Instagram!
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Shrimp Yaki Udon
- 8 oz dry udon noodles or 14 oz vacuum packed fresh udon noodles
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon avocado or vegetable oil divided
- 1 lb raw shrimp peeled and deveined
- ½ lb coleslaw mix or sliced cabbage
- 1 onion sliced into half circles
- 1 cup matchstick carrots
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 8 oz sliced white mushrooms
- 2 scallions chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar or mirin
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper
- Place the noodles in a pot of boiling water. Boil according to package instructions (dry usually boil for 8 minutes, fresh for about 3 minutes). Drain on a colander, place in a bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon oil. Set aside.
- Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
- In a large skillet or wok heat up 1 tablespoon oil. Add mushrooms and cook on high heat until softened and browned. Then add onions, carrots and cabbage or coleslaw mix. Stir fry for a couple minutes.
- Add garlic and cook another minute, stirring.
- Transfer cooked vegetables into a bowl or plate and set aside.
- In the now empty skillet add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and cook shrimp until pink and very lightly browned, stirring often. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
- In a now empty skillet pour in the sauce and quickly bring to boil. Add cooked vegetables and cooked and drained noodles into the skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring, until the noodles are evenly covered in sauce and the stir-fry is heated through. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir in the cooked shrimp.
- Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with sliced scallions.