Noodles make whipping up a quick meal easy and tasty—they require virtually no Iron Chef America skills since it’s just boil water, cook pasta, drain, and add sauce. And they can adapt to any cuisine by simply changing the toppings. But sometimes you want to give your body a break from all of that wheat or you’re looking for a lower-carb option—or simply a new option.
Of course there are zoodles, those fantastic zucchini noodles. But the summer squash isn’t the only produce you should put through a spiralizer. We found 31 recipes using all kinds of vegetables, beans, and even fruit that are made into spaghetti, fettucine, ravioli, and more. Then they're topped (or stuffed) with delicious sauces and extras. Whether hot, cold, crunchy, or creamy, you’ll never think of pasta the same way again.
Sesame noodles are a takeout favorite, but they’re usually loaded with oil and preservatives. Why not whip up a version that’s both healthier and easier? Crisp cucumber noodles create a perfect bed for a drizzle of spicy sesame soy dressing that’s as beautiful as it is delicious.
Raw cucumbers are great for snacking, but they’re downright amazing when garnished with a sweet and sour dressing. With just six ingredients and a recipe that’s as simple as cutting the cucumber and adding the rest of the ingredients, the only hard things is finding the patience to let it marinate for two hours so the flavors really set in. (Did someone say Netflix time?)
Sometimes it’s nice to have a touch of decadence without going over the top, and this coconut dressing fits the bill perfectly. Spiked with ginger and cumin, it’s sure to wake up anyone’s taste buds and it only takes a few minutes. Slice up the cucumber, toss the dressing ingredients into the blender for a quick whirl, and then shower the whole thing with some black sesame seeds and scallions for a final flourish.
Why do peanuts get all the attention? Cashews are just as delicious and packed with healthy fats that boost levels of good cholesterol. Here they shine in a spicy dressing that wakes up a salad of cucumber and avocado. Who knew salad could taste so indulgent?
Pasta salad is a delicious potluck and picnic staple, but all that mayo tends to cover up the bright flavors. This recipe replaces the usual noodles with cucumber strands tossed in a zesty, homemade Italian vinaigrette. It’s a crisp, flavorful way to really enjoy your veggies and get a taste of summer even in the can’t-feel-your-nose cold of winter.
A rich, savory broth is perfect for noodles because they soak up all of that good flavor, but traditional noodles don’t bring much of their own taste to the party. Swapping in ribbons of sweet potato still offers a satisfying slurp but adds even more complex flavor that pairs wonderfully with the beef and mushrooms. Don’t be turned off by all the spices—it’s worth it for authentic pho broth.
Sometimes chefs stress the importance of presentation by saying we eat with our eyes first. Any culinary guru would be delighted by this gorgeous plate of orange and green. This recipe subs kale for basil in the pesto for a rich, woodsy puree that’s so good, it doesn’t even need cheese. But that doesn’t mean you can’t sprinkle some Parm on top of your dinner.
With a hefty dose of fiber and vitamin A, sweet potatoes are a nutritional powerhouse. They play noodles in this dish that is mixed with an easy DIY sauce, roasted artichokes, and chicken. Think of it as your new go-to, orange-hued pasta with tomato sauce dinner.
For a real punch of flavor, nothing beats a comforting curry. Packed full of chiles, Thai green curry powder may help ward off nasty colds. It also happens to be super tasty. A pop of sweet peas and crunch from cashews make this an entree you’ll make again and again.
Noodles in a cashew sauce may sound fancy, but all that you need for this yummy sauce is cashews, salt, garlic, and water. Just make sure you prep this recipe ahead of time, since the cashews need to soak for about two hours beforehand. A spiralizer is a great tool for making the noodles, but if you don’t have one, slice the sweet potato into thin planks and then cut into strips.
There's no way we would make a roundup of noodle recipes and leave out mac and cheese! This simple gluten-free recipe only takes 20 minutes, so it's perfect for weeknight meals. The blogger already uses almond milk, so you only need to sub in vegan cheese to make it dairy-free.
Other Root Vegetables
With almost twice as much fiber and almost three times as much vitamin C per gram as carrots, parsnips pack a nutritional punch. Turn them into spaghetti and top with this tangy, salty tomato sauce.
Nearly every restaurant has a salad with roasted beets, candied nuts, and either blue or goat cheese. They’re delicious, but they’re also a little boring. This recipe takes beets to a whole new level with Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, balsamic vinegar, and a little bit of bacon. It’s sweet, savory, completely different—and appropriate for Paleos. Omit the bacon for vegans.
Sweet carrot strands are the perfect canvas for tons of different toppings, but they pair particularly well with this gingery peanut sauce. The best part about this recipe? It’s super easy to customize with whatever leftovers are sitting in the fridge. A little bit of chicken, shrimp, or tofu makes this a satisfying Asian meal.
Sometimes the thought of bringing a huge pot of water to a boil for pasta is just too much. Why not throw some beet noodles in the oven for quick bake instead? The root vegetable contains anti-inflammatory betalains—they give beets their ruby hue and may protect again cancer. Antioxidant activity and phenolic content of betalain extracts from intact plants and hairy root cultures of the red beetroot Beta vulgaris cv. Detroit dark red. Georgiev VG, Weber J, Kneschke EM. Plant foods for human nutrition (Dordrecht, Netherlands), 2010, Dec.;65(2):1573-9104. Cytotoxic effect of the red beetroot (Beta vulgaris L.) extract compared to doxorubicin (Adriamycin) in the human prostate (PC-3) and breast (MCF-7) cancer cell lines. Kapadia GJ, Azuine MA, Rao GS. Anti-cancer agents in medicinal chemistry, 2011, Jul.;11(3):1875-5992. Plus the naturally sweet flavor goes wonderfully with tomatoes, mozzarella, and parsley, in this Caprese-inspired dish.
This recipe is perfect for nights when you're looking to get rid of all your leftovers. The blogger uses leftover baked ham, but you can also use pancetta, bacon, or make your own vegetarian version. The parsnip noodles give this recipe a unique twist, and they only take five to seven minutes to cook!
Rutabaga might be a funny-sounding word, but this is one serious veggie that makes some tasty noodles. It’s a cross between a cabbage and a turnip that does the body good with high levels of iron and potassium. And its subtle flavor goes great with the pumpkin seed pesto in this creative dish.
Premade Alternatives to Buy*
This beauty of a dish is ready in 25 minutes, and it’s vegan and gluten-free. But how does it taste? With soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil, mung bean noodles (usually found with other Asian speciality goods), carrots, red pepper, onion, and Chinese broccoli, we’d say quite delish!
Yes, that’s right: pasta made from seaweed (plus sodium alginate—a salt—and water). These strands are a bit crunchy and soak up just about any sauce. Get an entire primer on kelp noodles here, then try this easy-peasy recipe. The tangy, tahini-based dressing has a touch of smoked paprika, which adds to the Southwest flare of the noodles, broccoli, corn, and black beans.
Just because you’re not having traditional noodles doesn’t mean you can’t have a great veggie stir-fry. This awesome dish calls for veggies like edamame, carrots, and zucchini, but feel free to add your own favorites (and some protein too!). The shirataki noodles here are made from a type of yam and offer up some fiber. Look for them near the tofu in your supermarket.
This Korean dish looks just like an Instagram-worthy ramen bowl. You'll simmer onions, garlic, sesame gochujang (look for it in an Asian food market or sub in another sesame sauce), and broth, then add in some classic noodle soup toppings, such as bok choy and eggs.
Low in calories, gluten-free, and appropriate for Paleos and vegans, kelp noodles are also a good source of calcium and high in iodine, an essential mineral that plays a role in thyroid function. Saute some with kale, nuts, and awesome homemade miso sauce for a dish you'll be bragging about for weeks. If you're in a pinch for time, you can also try this five-minute miso dressing recipe instead.
Butternut squash stars in this elegant pasta that’s filled with protein to help fuel muscles and vitamin A to promote good eyesight. A trip to the oven lets the sugars in the squash caramelize before a final toss with black bean noodles, Parmesan, and walnuts. No walnuts? Save the seeds from the squash and roast them instead.
When a craving for stir-fry hits, takeout becomes pretty appealing. The MSG and preservatives? Definitely less appealing. Fortunately, this cucumber, peanut, vegetable stir-fry salad couldn’t be easier to make at home— and it has tons of flavor. Using shirataki noodles instead of wheat-based ones ensures a gluten-free meal.
*If your store doesn't carry these noodles, you can buy them online.
Is this a lot of ingredients? Yes. Is a lot of work? No. Is it delicious? Isn’t that obvious?! Both the cheese and pesto are made by simply blending the ingredients in a food processor or blender. With that done, all that’s left is to layer everything into lasagna or roll them up. We recommend making more of the pesto—it’s a rare and addictive flavor combo.
Make this the next time you are having a guest over that you want to impress. Striped beets are sliced super-duper thin to make “ravioli” filled with a fresh and tangy herbed goat cheese. It’s really not that hard to make, and any color beet will do. The striped just make it even more appealing
Not all veggie noodle lasagnas are raw. Here eggplant (a source of phenolic acids—natural compounds that protect against oxidative stress and the resulting damage to cells) and zucchini are layered with an easy homemade tomato sauce (feel free to add lean ground beef or turkey) and a mix of three cheeses—which means you get the traditional rich, gooey, stringy goodness you expect from the Italian favorite.
This 100-percent raw (read: dairy-free) recipe sounds and tastes like something you’d see on a menu, but it’s not hard to make at home. Rather than using a nut cheese filling, this dish features a creamy green stuffing made from peas, avocado, and fresh herbs. Drizzled with flavored oil, it’s a healthy dinner that makes it seem like spring any time of year.
Make this for your friend who doesn't think vegetable noodles can be meaty and filling. Butternut squash gets pancaked between a beef sauce and "cheese" made from ghee, almond milk, eggs, starch, and seasonings. We know: Really? That's cheese? But it tastes just like the real deal when it bakes up.
Fruit isn't just for breakfast or snack. This awesome Moroccan-style recipe uses apple noodles as the base a pork dinner recipe that's paired with a date and apricot chutney. It might look complicated, but the whole recipe (prep and cook time) only takes 25 minutes!
Coleslaw doesn't always have to be made of veggies! This version of the summery staple uses spiralized apple and pear "noodles" as the base. The honey poppy seed dressing does a great job of complementing these fruits, but it's also an awesome addition to your favorite salads.
Originally published February 2015. Updated May 2016.