Rice noodles are a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine.
Primarily made from rice flour and water, some products also include cornstarch and tapioca to improve the noodles’ texture and appearance.
You can purchase these gluten-free noodles fresh, frozen, or dried. Still, you may be wondering whether they’re healthy and how they compare with other kinds of noodles.
This article reviews the nutrients and health benefits of rice noodles — and provides cooking instructions and recipe ideas, too.
The nutrients in rice noodles may vary slightly, but generally, each serving has moderate amounts of protein and carbs while being low in fat and fiber. It’s fairly high in the mineral selenium, providing 14% of the Daily Value (DV).
One cup (176 grams) of cooked rice noodles contains (
- Calories: 190
- Protein: 3.2 grams
- Fat: 0.4 grams
- Carbs: 42.2 grams
- Fiber: 1.8 grams
- Sodium: 33.4 mg
- Thiamine: 3% of the DV
- Selenium: 14% of the DV
- Niacin: 1% of the DV
- Copper: 7% of the DV
- Iron: 1% of the DV
- Zinc: 4% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 3% of the DV
- Manganese: 9% of the DV
Nutritionally, you’ll want about 2 ounces (57 grams) of dried rice noodles to equal 1 cup (176 grams) of cooked noodles (
How many calories are in rice noodles?
Just 1 cup (176 grams) of cooked rice noodles provides 190 calories, which is comparable to a similar serving size of white rice (
Therefore, they’re fairly moderate in terms of calories.
If you’re looking for a lower calorie option, you could try shirataki noodles or veggie noodles made from zucchini or yellow squash.
Rice noodles provide moderate amounts of calories and carbs. They’re low in fiber but offer several micronutrients, such as selenium, manganese, copper, and phosphorus.
Rice noodles may be associated with several health benefits.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye that triggers an immune response in people with these conditions, leading to intestinal damage and symptoms like cramping, bloating, and diarrhea (
Rice flour products like rice noodles have a taste and texture very similar to those of wheat products, so they’re easy swaps if you follow a gluten-free diet — the recommended eating pattern for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (
Still, it may be best to check for a gluten-free label on your rice noodles, as they could be cross-contaminated with gluten.
Low in sodium
Rice noodles are naturally low in sodium.
The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming less than 2,300 mg of sodium — or about 1 teaspoon of salt — per day (
While rice noodles themselves are low in sodium, you should carefully monitor popular salty ingredients like soy sauce to reduce your overall sodium intake.
A good source of selenium
The amount of selenium in food depends on the region of origin and how much of this mineral was in the soil where the crop grew (
Still, 1 cup (176 grams) of cooked rice noodles provides about 14% of the DV for this nutrient (
May be fortified with vitamin A
Vitamin A aids immune health, vision and eye health, and DNA and cell turnover (
However, many people in regions where rice is the main staple are deficient in this vitamin (
One study showed that fortifying rice flour with vitamin A produced a serving of rice noodles with almost 25% of the DV for vitamin A (
Rice noodles are low in sodium, gluten-free, and a good source of selenium. They’re a particularly good source of carbs for those who follow gluten-free diets.
Rice noodles are perfectly healthy and make a great addition to your diet.
Still, they’re lower in fiber than other noodles, such as whole wheat noodles or spaghetti squash noodles.
For instance, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) — a common gut disorder marked by abdominal cramps and bloating — is linked to inadequate fiber intake (
As such, it’s important to pair rice noodles with foods rich in fiber, such as bok choy or carrots.
Rice noodles are comparatively low in fiber, which is important for gut health, digestion, and blood sugar management.
Rice noodles are generally lower in protein, fiber, sodium, selenium, and niacin than wheat-based noodles. They have a similar number of carbs.
Notably, rice noodles have fewer calories and significantly less fat than wheat noodles.
Compared with spaghetti squash noodles, rice noodles offer similar amounts of fiber and fat — but many more calories and carbs.
Rice noodles have less fat and slightly fewer calories than wheat-based noodles, but they’re notably lower in selenium and niacin. They have far more calories than noodles made from spaghetti squash.
Unlike traditional pasta and noodles, rice noodles are often presoaked in plain water before being added to stir-fries, soups, and other dishes.
Boiling them may make them too soft and mushy to enjoy.
Soaking times vary by type. For instance, vermicelli — the thinnest rice noodle — should soak for 3–5 minutes, while pad Thai noodles, which are broader, may need to soak for 30–45 minutes.
After you drain the noodles, they’re ready to eat. You don’t need to cook them any further, though some recipes may call for quick flash-frying in a pan.
Consult the package for specific soaking instructions.
Here are some dishes made with rice noodles:
- Sawine. This vermicelli and milk dessert is a traditional Muslim dish made in Trinidad and Tobago to mark the end of Ramadan. Rather than being presoaked, the rice noodles in this dish are seared and cooked in water and milk.
- Beef phở. This Vietnamese soup is made with flat rice noodles, broth, and thinly sliced beef.
- Vegetarian pad Thai. To make a vegetarian spin on this popular Thai street dish, use soy sauce in place of fish sauce, tofu instead of meat, and peanuts for an added crunch.
Rice noodles aren’t boiled like traditional pasta but rather soaked and drained. Depending on the dish, you may cook the noodles as well. Popular dishes featuring rice noodles include phở, sawine, and pad Thai.
Rice noodles are low sodium, gluten-free noodles that are easy to prepare and popular in numerous dishes worldwide, including various stir-fries and soups.
Notably, they’re suitable for people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Rice noodles are low in fat and moderate in calories, making them a healthy option. Try pairing them with high fiber veggies and tasty sauces — though you may want to limit your use of high sodium add-ins like soy sauce.