Easy Vietnamese-Style Noodle Bowls with Chicken are the perfect meal in a bowl. Made with vermicelli rice noodles, chicken, fresh herbs and vegetables, and a tangy rice vinegar dressing.
Photography Credit:Sheryl Julian
An entire meal in one bowl is a brilliant system. That’s one reason the bowl trend has taken off and shows no signs of declining.
Another is the ease. You can put a bowl together without any heavy lifting, and at the end of your assembly line you have happy eaters.
Here is a riff that I like to do on Vietnamese “bún” – one of the original meals in a bowl! This is a cold salad of vermicelli rice noodles, chicken, fresh herbs and vegetables, and a tangy rice vinegar dressing.
Vermicelli noodles are now widely available at most grocery stores, or you can find them online. When shopping, make sure to get vermicelli noodles made with rice, not mung beans.
The two noodles look similar, but mung bean noodles tend to be sticky once cooked and are better suited to other dishes. Rice vermicelli separates into fine threads after cooking, which are easier to pick up with chopsticks or a fork.
The meat for making bún is often grilled, but for an easy weeknight meal, I like to just cook it in the oven. First I coat the chicken with a mix of oyster sauce and hoisin (a combination that I like), then I bake it covered with foil. This helps keep the chicken moist as it cooks.
When it’s done, I sear the breasts quickly in a skillet to caramelize the outside and add some charred flavor.
By the way, if you do want to grill your chicken, I recommend using bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts. Cook it without sauce over high heat, then transfer to low heat, baste with the sauce, and finish cooking.
The chicken noodle bowls are finished with a simple rice vinegar dressing seasoned with ginger, and garnished with fresh mint, cilantro, scallions, and chopped peanuts. (Many bún recipes use lime in the dressing, but I like squeezing fresh lime over the top instead.)
You get crunch and sweetness, a hit of vinegar, a soft pillow of noodles, and bites of caramelized chicken – all in one bowl. This is a “meal in a bowl” at its best!
Vietnamese-Style Noodle Bowls with Chicken Recipe
If you need to make this recipe gluten-free, be sure to check your bottles of hoisin and oyster sauce to make sure they are gluten-free.
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, or more to taste
- 1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 piece (1-inch) fresh ginger, cut into 2 thick slices
- 1 clove garlic, halved
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 1 pound or 1/2 kilo)
- 8 ounces rice vermicelli noodles
- 2 carrots, grated
- 2 cups fresh bean sprouts (6 ounces or 170 grams)
- 1 jalapeno or other chili pepper, cored and thinly sliced
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
- 1/4 cup peanuts, coarsely chopped
- 1 lime, quartered, for garnish
- 8x8 baking dish or other small baking dish
- 12-inch nonstick skillet or well-seasoned cast iron skillet
1 Make the dressing: In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, rice vinegar, fish sauce, ginger, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, just until bubbles appear at the edges and the sugar has dissolved. (Alternatively, microwave in 30-second bursts until the sugar has dissolved and the dressing is hot.)
Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. With a slotted spoon, remove and discard the ginger and garlic.
Taste the dressing for seasoning and add more sugar, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, if you like. The dressing should be a nice balance of vinegary and sweet.
This can be prepared several days in advance; keep refrigerated.
2 Bake the chicken: Warm the oven to 400F. In a bowl, combine the hoisin and oyster sauces with the canola oil. Add the chicken and turn well to coat all over.
Arrange the chicken in an 8x8 baking dish in one layer. Cover with foil and cook for 35 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the middle of the breasts registers 165F.
3 While the chicken bakes, cook the noodles: Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Remove from heat, add the noodles, and let stand for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the noodles are tender when you taste one.
Drain into a colander, rinse with cold water, and shake the colander to remove excess water. (If the chicken isn't quite ready yet, cover the noodles with cool water to keep them from drying out. Drain before serving.)
4 Sear the chicken: Heat a large nonstick or well-seasoned cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Arrange the cooked chicken breasts in one layer and cook 2 minutes. Turn and cook 2 minutes more. Watch carefully so they do not burn.
Remove from the pan, and allow to cool briefly. Slice the chicken thinly, keeping the slices together if possible.
5 Assemble the salad: Divide the noodles among 4 large bowls. Top with sliced chicken, carrots, bean sprouts, jalapeno, and scallions. Sprinkle with a few spoonfuls of dressing, then garnish with cilantro, mint, and peanuts. Serve with lime and remaining dressing on the side.
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Vietnamese Noodle Bowls: the recipe for a delicious, fresh-tasting meal
You can't go wrong with a one-bowl meal, and Vietnamese noodle bowls are one of the best, freshest tasting options out there! This easy Vietnamese-style noodle bowl recipe takes little effort to make and its bold, bright flavors are fantastic when you're in the mood for a healthy dinner or a make-ahead meal. The sensational dressing adds a delicious tangy-sweet flavor to the vermicelli noodles, while the chopped herbs bring a vibrant freshness to the dish. All in all, it's a real winner and it's so easy to find noodles at the grocery store these days that you have no excuse to try this delicious dish anymore!
Asian Style Chicken Noodle Bowls
These chicken noodle bowls are loosely based on Pho, a dish my husband and I have been fortunate enough to enjoy at our friends’ house. They do a traditional Vietnamese recipe with beef. The dish has a flavorful beef broth, topped with fresh aromatics and vegetables.
I decided to make this version for my husband who has been sick all weekend with a terrible cold. The ginger root provides a homeopathic element to the broth.
- FOR THE SOUP:
- 6 Chicken Thighs
- 2 Inches Ginger Root, Sliced Into 1/4-inch Rings
- 3 cloves Garlic, Peeled
- 6 cups Water
- 2 teaspoons Salt
- 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
- 1 package (5.29 Ounce Package) Bean Thread Noodles
- ½ pounds Raw Shrimp, Peeled And Deviened
- FOR THE OPTIONAL GARNISHES:
- Bean Sprouts
- Sliced Button Mushrooms
- Chopped Green Onion
- Soy Sauce
- Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce
1. In a large slow cooker, place the chicken, ginger, garlic, water, salt, black pepper and crushed red pepper. Put the lid on the crock. Set to cook on high setting for 5 hours or low setting for 8 hours.
2. After the cooking time, carefully remove the thighs from the broth. (I use a handled strainer because the chicken will fall apart.) Place the cooked thighs on a plate and allow them to cool for 5 minutes. Remove the ginger root and garlic cloves from the broth.
3. While the chicken is cooling, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place the bean thread noodles into the boiling water and remove pot from heat. Allow the noodles to sit for 20 minutes. Then drain them. As the noodles cook, continue with the remainder of the preparation.
4. Use your hands to remove the skin and bones from the chicken. Discard them. Pull the chicken into shredded pieces. Set aside.
5. Place the shrimp into the chicken broth that’s still inside of the slow cooker basin. Allow the shrimp to cook for 10 minutes.
6. To assemble the bowls, place desired amount of noodles into the bottom of a large bowl. Top with shredded chicken. Ladle the broth over the noodles and chicken, making sure to get a few shrimp. Top with bean sprouts, cilantro, mushrooms and onions. Add soy sauce and Sriracha to desired saltiness and heat.
Healthy Recipe: Vietnamese-Style Grilled Chicken Bowls
Full of cool veggies, tender rice noodles, and lemongrass grilled chicken, these bowls are the perfect summer supper. To mince lemongrass, trim off the tough ends and smack the stalk with a mallet or rolling pin a few times to make it easier to chop. You can find fish sauce at the grocery store on the international aisle. Just check labels for sodium, as some brands are higher than others.
¼ cup (2 oz/60 g) minced lemongrass (see note above)
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon brown sugar, firmly packed
4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1½ lb (750 g) boneless, skinless chicken thighs, fat trimmed
4 oz (125 g) daikon radish, peeled and shredded or julienned (about ¼ medium)
2 large carrots, peeled and shredded or julienned
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
8 oz (250 g) thin brown rice noodles (also labeled rice vermicelli)
4 cups (4 oz/125 g) shredded romaine lettuce
½ cup (½ oz/15 g) chopped fresh mint (loosely packed)
½ cup (½ oz/15 g) chopped fresh cilantro leaves (loosely packed)
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped roasted unsalted peanuts
For the dressing:
2¼ teaspoons fish sauce (see note above)
1½ tablespoons rice vinegar
4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar, firmly packed
1 clove garlic, mashed to a paste
1 red Thai chile, finely chopped or 1½ teaspoons finely chopped Serrano chile
In a zip-top plastic bag, combine the lemongrass, garlic, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, and 4 teaspoons lime juice. Add the chicken and massage to coat. Seal the bag, refrigerate, and marinate for at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours.
In a small bowl, combine the daikon, carrots, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, remaining 1 teaspoon brown sugar, and a pinch of salt. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
Preheat a grill over medium-high heat (or preheat a grill pan over medium heat) and lightly oil the grate. Remove the chicken from the bag and discard the marinade. Place the chicken on the cooler side of the grill, cover, and cook until no longer pink in the center, about 4 minutes per side. Move the chicken to the hottest part of the grill and cook, uncovered, until lightly marked on the edges, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board, loosely cover with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice the chicken across the grain.
While the chicken is resting, make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, 1½ tablespoons rice vinegar, 4 teaspoons lime juice, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, garlic, and chile. Set aside.
Prepare the noodles according to package instructions. Rinse with cool water and drain well. Divide the lettuce between 4 large bowls and top with the noodles. Arrange the chicken, daikon-carrot salad, mint and cilantro, green onions, and peanuts on top. Serve the noodle bowls with the dressing on the side.
Makes 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
Protein 29 g
Total fat 10 g
Saturated fat 2 g
Carbs 63 g
Fiber 11 g
Total sugar 13 g
Sodium 430 mg
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- ⅓ cup sweet chili sauce (such as Mae Ploy)
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1 (8-oz.) pkg. uncooked rice vermicelli noodles
- 1 pound large peeled, deveined raw shrimp
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- Matchstick carrots, thinly sliced English cucumber, thinly sliced romaine lettuce hearts, chopped fresh cilantro, chopped fresh mint, and chopped roasted peanuts, for topping
Stir together ½ cup water, chili sauce, lime juice, vinegar, and fish sauce in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Cook rice noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
Pat shrimp very dry with paper towels. Place cornstarch, brown sugar, pepper, and salt in a large ziplock plastic bag. Seal and shake to combine. Add shrimp seal and gently shake to coat.
Heat a wok or large cast-iron skillet over high until very hot. Add 1 ½ tablespoons oil swirl to coat wok. Add half of shrimp to hot oil. Cook, separating shrimp with tongs to ensure even browning and turning once, until shrimp are crisp, lightly browned, and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove shrimp to a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat procedure with remaining oil and shrimp.
Divide noodles and shrimp among bowls. Add desired toppings drizzle evenly with chili sauce mixture.
Step by step instructions
Prep the Marinade:
① In a blender, combine sugar, garlic, shallots, and lemongrass and process to a fine mixture. Then, add the pepper, soy sauce, fish sauce, and oil. Blend to combine well to get that smooth texture.
② Vermicelli noodles topped with your favorite veggies and Vietnamese lemongrass chicken. Laced with Nuoc Cham, the famous dipping sauce that’s served with everything in Vietnam.
③ Place the chicken in a ziplock bag, pour the marinade mixture. Toss and turn to coat the chicken well. Seal the ziplock bag and marinate for about an hour or refrigerate up to 24 hours (recommended).
Grill the Chicken:
④ Once ready to use, let the marinated chicken sit at room temperature or 30 minutes to remove some chill before grilling.
⑤ Preheat a grill to medium-high. Grill the chicken for 6-8 minutes turning them on both sides or until cooked.
Nick with a knife to test the doneness and transfer to a plate once ready.
Nuoc Cham Sauce:
⑥ In a bowl, combine all the ingredients and stir well to dissolve the sugar. You can adjust the spiciness, the sweetness and lime according to your taste. Set aside for 20 minutes to let the ingredients mend together.
⑦ Soak the vermicelli noodles in hot water (or check the package instructions). But I cooked the vermicelli for 7 minutes as per package instructions. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop the noodles from sticking together.
⑧ Arrange the noodles in a bowl, top with the toppings and the sliced chicken. Drizzle with the Nuoc Cham sauce (2-3 tbsp or more according to your taste) and serve with lime wedges.
Lemongrass Chicken Rice Noodle Bowls: Bun Ga Nuong
A recipe for Vietnamese style rice noodle bowls – bun ga nuong – with vermicelli rice noodles, a fragrant lemongrass chicken, plenty of fresh vegetables and herbs, and a lime-based chile-spiked sauce for the top.
There’s a shopping list scrawled in the corner of our monthly calendar. The items are revolving, updated frequently, or left to sit, forgotten. As soon as a few items are removed, others are added for the next trip.
For the past three weeks, the one item that held steady on the list was baking powder. It wasn’t with any sort of intention omitted from our weekly shopping trips, the six of us piling in the car and then out once we reach the store, the kids picking out produce as I tell them what we’re buying, our bodies taking up too much space in between mounds of grapefruit and narrow aisles, the shopping cart providing the home base for our unit as we make our way towards the register.
Instead, it was my inability to bring the list with me. It’s attached to a wall on a calendar. It doesn’t travel well, this place where I choose to write my list. My desk wall is covered in sticky notes, my desk top a scattered wasteland of scrawled black ink. Drawings line the edges, are fit in between the to-do lists, recipe notes, ideas, things to remember. They dance along between the words, these tiny sketches, patterns of lines, scribbles turned purposeful. Filling in the blank spaces.
Ole picked one up from the counter last week, notes on the back of an envelope. “Is this garbage? You don’t need it, right?” Incredulity sneaking into his voice as he asked.
“Yes I need it. It has a recipe on it.” I take the envelope from his hand, turn it over, and point to a small 1″ square at the top-right-to-middle of the mess. I feel his eyes judging this system, the corners creased with love.
My shopping list, though, isn’t on a sticky note. It’s on a wipe-board hung on the wall. It is a constant in the kitchen. It doesn’t come to the store with us, where I’m distracted, not by filling the margins with lines and shapes, but by crayon-colored displays of food, purple potatoes, red peppers, green cucumbers. By bumping bodies, jostling their own carts of kids or walking hand in hand with their significant other through the aisles.
This is how it happens, as I stand in front of the pepper display, dreaming up dinner ideas while I stare at their shined, waxy exteriors – some bumpy, some smooth – that I forget the baking powder a few aisles over, and instead, I send my kids scattering through the store in search of ingredients for an entirely different meal than the one we had planned.
The farmers market not yet open for spring, I find myself drawn to the Asian market up the road, their bundles of verdant herbs and bags of crisp bean sprouts working to fill the void of the market stalls for a few more weeks.
These Vietnamese rice noodle bowls, called bun ga nuong – bun for the noodles, ga nuong for grilled chicken – are filled with these herbs. You needn’t serve them with as many as I have here, but an herb or two, something clean and crunchy (like a cucumber, carrots, or bean sprouts), and something rich and savory with the roasted peanuts or fried shallots provide a good mix of contrasting flavors, all topped with the sweet-sour-spicy sauce. This meal is best served as piles of noodles in a bowl, the fixings in the center of the table for everyone to pile on as they prefer.
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- ½ cup rice vinegar, or to taste
- ½ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons mirin
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup water
- 1 cooked chicken breasts, shredded
- ¾ pound baby bok choy, quartered lengthwise
- 3 (3 ounce) packages dried ramen noodles
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 4 eggs
- 1 jalapeno pepper, sliced, or to taste
- 2 green onions, chopped, or to taste
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro, or to taste
Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger cook about 30 seconds more. Add rice vinegar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, mirin, fish sauce, and sriracha sauce stir to combine. Add chicken broth and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 5 minutes. Add chicken and bok choy simmer gently until bok choy is just tender, about 2 minutes.
Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil. Add ramen noodles and return to a boil. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until noodles are tender yet firm to the bite, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and drizzle with vegetable oil to prevent sticking.
While ramen is cooking, fill a pot with enough water to cover the eggs and bring to a boil. Gently lower eggs into the boiling water and cook until yolks are barely set, about 7 minutes.
Fill a large bowl with ice water. Transfer soft boiled eggs to the ice bath to stop the cooking process let sit about 3 minutes. Drain eggs, carefully peel away shells, and slice in half.
Divide ramen between 4 bowls. Add broth. Top each with jalapeno, green onions, cilantro, and soft boiled egg. Serve immediately.
Spice up your cooking
When I cook, I always rely on my pantry of spices — I even wrote a guide to making homemade spice blends.
Once you get get comfortable with using different spices, you’ll find it’s a journey to delicious food.
It doesn’t take much work to transform your everyday cooking into something really special just by using some key ingredients.
The base of this fantastic soup couldn’t be simpler. First, make an infused chicken broth with garlic, ginger, shallot and a trio of spices and then quickly simmer boneless chicken in it. Here’s what you need:
- Chicken broth (prepared low-sodium is recommended)
- Fish sauce
- Tamari sauce
- Fresh ginger
- Fresh garlic
- Hot green chili (serrano or jalapeno)
- McCormick Gourmet Organic Ground Saigon Cinnamon: Adds rich, spicy-sweet flavor typical in Southeast Asian cooking.
- McCormick Gourmet™ Whole Cloves: Cloves have a beautiful warm, sweet scent that adds an appealing background to the broth.
- McCormick Gourmet™ Organic Ground Cayenne Pepper: Just a small amount livens up the dish with a small amount of heat.
Pour the flavorful broth over cooked rice noodles, crunchy raw carrots, baby bok choy, and fresh herbs and it’s ready to serve.
Vietnamese Noodle Bowls with Lemongrass Tofu
- Author: Jessica Hoffman
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 30 mins
- Yield: 2 – 4 servings 1 x
- Category: Entree
- Method: Cook
- Cuisine: Vietnamese
- Diet: Vegetarian
These Vietnamese noodle bowls are loaded with rice noodles, lemongrass tofu, and salad for a simple healthy and delicious meal!
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tbsp coconut sugar
- 1 stalk lemongrass, minced (*remove the tough outer layer and discard.)
- 1 block tofu (extra-firm), cut into cubes
- 2 tbsp avocado oil for frying
- 1/2 pack vermicelli or rice noodles (approx 6 oz ), cooked according to package directions
- 1 cup lettuce, shredded
- 1/2 cup purple cabbage, shredded
- 1/4 cup carrots, shredded
- 1/4 cup sliced cucumbers
- 1 handful cilantro, roughly chopped
- Lime, sesame seeds hoisin sauce and sriracha to serve (optional)
- Marinade the tofu: Mix the marinade ingredients together in a shallow dish then add the tofu. Let sit and marinate for at least one hour or overnight
- Cook the tofu: Remove the tofu pieces from the marinade then add to the pan with oil on medium-high heat. Do not discard the marinade sauce. Fry the tofu until golden brown on each side. Once the tofu pieces are browned, discard the lemongrass from the marinate and pour any leftover marinade sauce into the pan with the tofu, and stir to coat. Discard the chunks of lemongrass
- Prep the dressing: Mix the dressing ingredients together. Set aside
- Assemble the bowls: Place the noodles at the bottom of the bowl then top with the tofu and salad. Pour the dressing everywhere and garnish with cilantro
Don’t forget to remove the outer layer from the lemongrass and cut the inner layers very finely. The outer layer of lemongrass can be very tough and stalky and isn’t enjoyable to eat.
Marinade the tofu for at least 1 hour, though if you have the time I’d recommend letting the tofu marinade overnight. This will really intensify the flavour! If you only marinate it for 30 minutes you won’t get much flavour from the marinade.
Use a non-stick pan to cook the tofu and make sure you’re pan is well coated with oil to prevent the tofu from sticking. You can also alternatively bake the tofu if you prefer at 450 degrees F for 25 minutes, flipping it halfway through.
- Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe
- Calories: 250
- Sugar: 3g
- Fat: 17g
- Saturated Fat: 2g
- Carbohydrates: 16g
- Fiber: 2g
- Protein: 9g
Keywords: Vietnamese noodle bowl, vegan noodle bowl, vermicelli noodle bowl