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This cold sesame noodle recipe with homemade Szechuan chili oil will have you saying, forget take-out! Cold sesame noodles in a flavorful peanut sauce is then drizzled with chili oil for ultimate flavor.
Szechuan Chili Oil
Szechuan peppercorns are such an interesting spice. They come from China from Chinese ash trees and have an interesting mouth numbing effect. Don’t let that scare you off, it is one of my favorite spices. The heat level is actually not as hot, which allows you to enjoy the mouth tingling sensation when eating Szechuan dishes.
For the chili oil, we are using sesame oil, toasted sesame oil, garlic, ginger, Szechuan peppercorns, and red pepper flakes. One of my favorite hacks, is for peeling fresh ginger. I use a spoon to scrape the skin off and this is not only quick, but allows you to get in the nooks and cranny’s.
Preparing chili oil
I grated the garlic and ginger using a microplane. If you don’t have one, you can mince them. For the peppercorns, you can use a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle above. I started with two tablespoons of whole peppercorns, not to be confused with two tablespoons of ground peppercorns (that would be too hot).
Now for cooking the chili oil. Add all the ingredients on low heat in a sauce pot and allow the flavors to meld together for about 5 minutes. You’ll start to smell the garlic in the air (which obviously smells so good). Do not heat too high, you do not want the oil to burn.
Carefully transfer the chili oil into a heat safe jar, such as a mason jar. Place in the refrigerator and allow it to chill. This will allow the flavors to infuse even more while you prepare the sesame noodles.
Cold Sesame Noodles
Cold sesame noodles are the one thing I always gravitate to when I am out to eat. All cold sesame noodles are not created equal, which is why I wanted to recreate one of my favorite dishes at home.
First we are going to make a sesame paste. I took toasted sesame seeds and two tablespoons of sesame oil. Blend in a food processor until smooth. This is where the sesame noodles get their sesame flavor. If you can find it in the grocery store, you can also use store bought sesame paste.
Next you are going to add the rest of the ingredients: garlic, fresh ginger, sesame oil, honey, rice vinegar, low sodium soy sauce, creamy peanut butter and sambal chili sauce. If you don’t make the Szechuan chili oil, you can add more sambal chili sauce for the heat factor. Blend all of these ingredients until smooth, you can taste and adjust flavors after this.
For the noodles, I used udon noodles because it is what I had on hand. You can use lo mein noodles or egg noodles if you would like. I prepared them al dente, then rinsed them with cold water to stop the cooking, followed by some sesame oil to avoid them sticking together.
In a large bowl, add the noodles. Using tongs, start pouring the sesame sauce while tossing the noodles until they are well coated. Then take the chili oil out of the fridge, add a few spoons, and continue to toss. I do not add too much of the chili oil since everyone likes different amounts, so reserve the rest for serving with each plate. I reserve some of the sesame sauce as well, because the noodles will soak a lot of it up when stored in the refrigerator.
As for garnishes, I chop up cucumber because it cuts the heat, adding a fresh note to the dish. I also add freshly chopped cilantro and serve with a lime wedge as well.
Store in the refrigerator. Note that the sauce will not be as silky due to the noodles soaking up the sauce while in the fridge. You can add more reserved sesame sauce to further coat throughout the week (although you’ll eat them all before that).
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Szechuan Chili oil
Cold Sesame Noodles
- 8 ounces dry udon noodles
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (+ more for garnish)
- 4 tablespoons sesame oil (divided)
- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 inch ginger (roughly chopped)
- 2 teaspoons sambal chili sauce (see note)
- Half a Cucumber (peeled and julienned)
- Fresh cilantro (chopped)
- Toasted sesame seeds
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Szechuan Chili Oil
- In a small sauce pot, over low heat, add the sesame oil, grinded szechuan peppercorns, crushed red pepper flakes, grated garlic, and grated ginger. Heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until garlic becomes fragrant. Carefully pour into a heat safe jar, such as a mason jar, add the toasted sesame oil, seal jar, shake, and place in refrigerator.
Cold Sesame Noodles
- In a large pasta pot, bring water to a boil, and cook noodles according to package instructions to al dente consistency. Remove from pot, drain, rinse with cold water, add 2 tbsp sesame oil and toss to coat noodles. Set aside.
- In a food processor, add in 2 tbsp of toasted sesame seeds and 2 tbsp of sesame oil. Blend on high for 30 seconds until seeds are made into a paste. Add the remaining ingredients in with the sesame paste: creamy peanut butter, rice vinegar, soy sauce, honey, garlic, ginger, sambal chili sauce.Blend on high for 30 seconds until smooth. Taste and adjust flavor if necessary, i.e. more peanut butter if desired.
- Transfer noodles to a large bowl, start slowly pouring the sesame sauce onto the noodles, while tossing noodles with tongs to coat all the noodles. Reserve about 1/4 cup (see note). Grab szechuan chili oil, give it a shake, add 2-3 spoons into the noodles, toss to coat. Reserve the rest for those who want to add more individually to their dish.
- Garnish with fresh julienned cucumber to cut the heat and fresh cilantro leaves. Serve with lime wedges and enjoy!
- If not making the szechuan chili oil, you can use 1 tbsp of the sambal chili paste to increase the heat in the dish
- Reserve some sesame sauce, the noodles will soak up a lot of the sauce when in the refrigerator so you can add more to coat. Silky consistency may change when storing.
- Discard chili oil after 1 month