Noodles vs Pasta

Pasta vs. noodles okay so it’s not really a competition but some people just prefer one over the other. Not me personally I don’t care what you call it I love anything noodley or pasta. Virtually all food cultures around the world have a pasta or noodle dish.

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Difference between noodles and pasta

This is the age old question what the heck is the difference between noodles and pasta? Not only that but can you substitute noodles for pasta?

To many folks noodles and pasta may seem the same, they might taste similiar or look familiar but there are distinct differences.

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Asian noodles tend to use flours such as rice or softer wheat in their recipes. The softer wheat gives the noodle a lighter colour and a softer texture. While Italian pasta is made with durum wheat which gives the pasta a stronger texture and a more golden colour.

Pasta versus noodles

So what makes a noodle a noodle?

Noodles are a type of pasta but pasta is not a type of noodle. Okay I know that sounds really confusing but noodles are traditionally defined as having some egg in the recipe. Noodles are dense and chewy and can be added to soups and stews without becoming a soggy mass of carbs.

The word noodle comes from the German “nudel” and the Latin word “nodus”. The definition means that they are made with unleavened dough and cooked in boiling water.

Noodles vs Pasta - and the winner is? 1 Noodles vs Pasta - and the winner is?

It is believed that noodles came originally from the Han dynasty and have been found in archaeological digs dating back 4000 years.

Noodles can be made from a variety of flours including potato, acorn, rice, buckwheat, mung beans and of course wheat. However, the flour used is finer than the traditional Durum or semolina wheat used in pasta. 

Some Asian noodles do contain egg and others don’t but eggs are the defining characteristic of noodles so nearly all pasta is a type of egg noodle. Your Jewish grandmothers chicken noodle soup will always have egg noodles.

All noodles begin with a dough, usually, Asian noodles use a softer type of flour or various flours as mentioned above. Once the dough is ready the noodles are sliced into their final shape. Some are dried and some are left fresh and refrigerated.

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Asian noodles do vary in width and length. In many Asian countries, the long noodle signifies longevity. The colours range from white to almost translucent, yellow, brown and beige depending on the flour used.  After cooking many  Asian noodles are rinsed with cold water and drained to remove the starch.

30 Types of Asian Noodles

Arrowroot Vermicelli thin white, semi-transparent noodles that are made from arrowroot starch. They are similar to cellophane noodles in appearance.

Rice Vermicelli long, thin, brittle noodles made from rice flour. They are white and translucent in colour. Rice vermicelli is similar to cellophane noodles, except that it is made from rice flour rather than mung bean starch.

Soba Noodles a flat noodle made from a mixture of buckwheat flour and standard wheat flour. Soba has a nutty flavour and the noodles have a slightly flecked colour ranging from light beige to brownish grey.

Ramen everybody loves ramen noodles these are a long thin noodle made with wheat flour. Some ramen noodles also contain eggs. Instant ramen noodles have been deep-fried before they are dried to assist in removing some of the moisture.

Rice Noodles are white translucent noodles made from rice flour, which are available in various widths and thicknesses. The different varieties of rice noodles include rice paper, rice sticks, and rice vermicelli.

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Canton Noodles are long egg noodles that have been precooked and dried before packaged. They are found as flat or round noodles.

Cellophane noodles (mung bean thread noodles) Cellophane noodles are thin translucent noodles made from mung bean starch. Also known as bean thread noodles and glass noodles.

Chinese egg noodles (dan mien) Long noodles made with wheat flour and eggs. They are available as a round noodle in various thicknesses and can also be found as a flattened noodle in various widths. Chinese egg noodles are golden yellow in colour and generally found wrapped tightly in a bundle or nest.

Chinese wheat noodles long round or flat noodles made with wheat, water and salt. They are found in various thicknesses and are generally white or light yellow-beige in colour.

Chuka Soba a long and wavy, dried Japanese noodles made from wheat flour. They have a mild flavour and are fine-textured.

E-fu noodles (yee-fu noodles)long flat egg noodles that have been deep-fried in a flattened nest shape and then dried.

Gook soo (gougsou)a thin, pale colored Korean noodle made with wheat flour. They are available as flat narrow rods or thin round rods. Also found spelled as Kuk Soo.

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Harusame a Japanese noodle that is thin and translucent in appearance, similar to cellophane noodles. They are made from potato, rice, corn, or mung bean starches. Harusame noodles are round or flat thin rods that are generally 5 to 7 inches in length.

Hiyamugi thin, fragile, white Japanese noodles made from wheat flour. They are sold in straight strands that are dried and bundled. Occasionally the bundles will contain a couple brown or light pink strands.

Hokkien noodles thick, meaty fresh egg noodles that are popular for stir-frying because their size allows them to pick up more sauce and provide more flavour. They are long strands of thick spaghetti-like noodles.  

Korean sweet potato vermicelli (dang myun) a Korean noodle made from sweet potato starch. It is a thin long, translucent noodle with a chewy texture. They are similar to cellophane noodles, except they are slightly thicker and tougher.

Korean buckwheat noodles (naeng myun) Korean noodles made from buckwheat flour and potato starch. They are brownish in color with a translucent appearance.  

Miswa (misua)long Philippine wheat noodles, which are very fine and delicate. They are slightly off-white in color.

Rice Macaroni white translucent, slightly curved, thin tubes that are approximately 1 inch long. Rice macaroni is made from rice flour.

Rice Noodles white translucent noodles made from rice flour, which are available in various widths and thicknesses. The different varieties of rice noodles include rice paper, rice sticks, and rice vermicelli.  

Rice Sticks a variety of dried rice noodles similar to rice vermicelli, only they are thicker and wider. They are white and translucent in color and are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, ranging from thin to a width of more than ¼ inch.

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Rice vermicelli (mi-fun) long, thin, brittle noodles made from rice flour. They are white and translucent in color. Rice vermicelli is similar to cellophane noodles, except that it is made from rice flour rather than mung bean starch.

Saimin a long crinkled noodle similar to ramen noodles. The differences are that saimin noodles contain eggs and are not deep-fried.  

Shanghai noodles a thick egg noodle made with semolina flour. It is generally found fresh but is also available in thin dried rods.

Shirataki a thin, long, translucent noodles made from very fine strands of konnyaku, which is taken from the “devil’s tongue plant” (Japanese yam). Their texture is slightly rubbery and they do not have any flavor.  

Somen a thin, round, white noodle made from wheat flour. It is similar to vermicelli.  

Taiwanese noodles very thin, long noodles made in Taiwan. They are generally made with whole-wheat but can be found flavored with yam, green tea, and blue-green algae.

Tofu noodles narrow, flat noodles that resembles a rubber band. They are made from compressed tofu, which provides them with a large amount of protein and nutrients.  

Udon a thick, white noodle made from wheat flour and water. Udon noodles have a slippery texture and are most often served in soups or stews.

Noodles vs Pasta - and the winner is? 2 Noodles vs Pasta - and the winner is?

Wonton noodles are very thin egg noodles, which are available in various widths. Wonton noodles are generally used in soups. They were named after the stuffed wontons that were part of the soups in which the noodles were added.

Pasta vs Noodles

Pasta does not originate from either Italy or China it actually came to us from the Middle East. In Sicily legends has it that Asad ibn al-Furat who landed on the beach in 827 needed food for his troops his cooks gathered sardines from the sea, found wild fennel, pine nuts and currants from the hills and created a dish that included an ingredient they brought with them – pasta.

Since Durum Wheat is one of the world’s oldest foods and early traces of it were found in the Middle East it is believed that this is where pasta originated from.

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The word pasta though does come from an Italian word meaning “paste”. Just like noodles pasta is made with unleavened dough. Most fresh pasta is made with eggs and can be kept for a few days refrigerated but the dried pasta noodles generally don’t have egg and will keep up to 2 years.

Italian food writer Oretta Zanini De Vita’s guide the Encyclopedia of Pasta identifies more than 300 shapes and numerous flavours from squid ink to spinach. Pasta is made with Durum wheat (also known as semolina). Pasta is also organized by distinctive names and each pasta has a particular use in a dish.

To be honest there’s not a lot of difference between noodles and pasta apart from some details that change the way you cook them or what you eat them with. Most pasta is made without salt added which is why when you cook the pasta you are told to add salt to the water. Salt is used in noodle dough which changes the structure of the dough itself making it firmer and tougher when using various flours.

But the most important difference is how they are made: whilst pasta dough is generally extruded through a pasta roller to get its shape noodles tend to be handcut.

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Are Noodles healthier than pasta?

Well that depends on a lot of things but if you check out the labels on each you will see that the carbs in each are pretty close and the nutrition is almost identical. There are minor difference and in some noodles you will find higher amounts of protein and essential amino acids. Having said that many noodles are lower in fibre and have more cholesterol.

If you are a Coeliac and can’t digest gluten then rice noodles may be a way to have your noodle dishes and not miss pasta.

Noodles vs Pasta which is healthier?

Regular pasta (the white stuff) is stripped of the bran and germ during milling and with those items goes the protein, iron, B Vitamins and fibre. Many dieticians warn that dishes that use pasta can be high in carbs which can spike your blood sugar so they recommend using some of the newer “enriched”, whole wheat or ancient grain pastas or noodles.

Whole-Wheat Pasta

In whole-wheat pasta the grain is not stripped and so it retains a higher fibre and protein profile. It does contain gluten though so it is not good for those suffering from gluten allergies like Colaic disease.

Quinoa Pasta

Quinoa is considered an ancient grain but it really is a seed and has been used to make bread and pastas. It contains more protein than other flours, and it is also gluten free and rich in iron and magnesium.    

Buckwheat Noodles

These are also called Soba noodles and usually served cold. The calories in Soba noodles are about half that of regular pasta but you need to read the labels to know if the noodle is all buckwheat or mixed flours. If all buckwheat these are perfect for those avoiding gluten filled regular noodles or pasta.

Sprouted-Grain Pasta

These are relatively new on the market and sometimes harder to find. Sprouted grain pasta or noodles means that the grains have been germinated, split open and actually sprouted. They do tend to have higher protein and fibre profiles along with B vitamins and fewer carbs but beware they can include gluten.

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Spelt Pasta

Spelt is a grain that has been around for thousands of years and used by our ancester millenia ago. It is high in fibre and protein and wheat free but it still contains gluten as it is a close relative of our modern wheat.

Brown Rice Pasta

Brown rice pasta is free of gluten but it isn’t necessarily any more nutritious than other pastas or noodles you can buy. However it has been said that it is easier to digest for those suffering from IBS because it has easily digestable components.  

So in the noodles versus pasta debate one doesn’t really come out on top it just depends on what your prefer and in many cases your recipe.

What are your favourite noodle or pasta dishes?

Noodles vs Pasta - and the winner is? 3 Noodles vs Pasta - and the winner is?

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