Gather round, fellow cooks, while we attempt to solve a mystery together.

Tis the mystery of the slippery noodle and uneven stir fry, a true mind boggler for all ages!

Behold the conundrum: Whenever I attempt to make stir fried noodles I end up with a the same problem - well cooked noodles, good stir fried vegetables and tofu, each sitting on its own side of the plate like a freshly divorced couple. I mix the noodles with the vegetables in the pan, but alas, they do not really mix. In fact, despite my best efforts and vigorous stirring, once plated, you could definitely eat all the noodles without a single vegetable interfering with your eating.

I have tried:

  • Cooking the noodles 3/4 of the way and finishing them with the stir fried vegetables
  • Dicing the vegetables really small
  • Not adding any fat or oil to the stir fry after frying up some onions in about a spoonful of oil
  • Frying the vegetables with no "sauce" (usually a mix of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and oyster sauce), sitrring in the noodles and adding the sauce at the end
  • Changing up the noodles (egg noodles, Udon, rice noodles)

Only thing I can think of that I haven't tried yet is frying the noodles first and then throwing the veggies in, but that just sounds silly.

Gather round detectives, as we together attempt to solve a mystery most foul - why on earth won't the noodles and veggies mix and stay mixed?

  • 3
    "frying the noodles first and then throwing the veggies in, but that just sounds silly" Why does that sound silly? This is pretty common, at least in Thai noodle dishes. Here are some examples: hot-thai-kitchen.com/best-pad-thai, eatingthaifood.com/pad-see-ew-recipe, hungryinthailand.com/chicken-pad-see-ew
    – Juhasz
    Commented Apr 16 at 17:13
  • 1
    I think this is not enough for an answer but I have "my own" stirring technique for things like blognese spaghetti or noodles: people usually stir by taking what's in the sides to put it on top of the center, that usually leads to the sauce/vegetables staying at the bottom. I usually do it the other way: take what's in the bottom center to put it on top of the sides, it spreads the sauce better. Maybe my explanation is not clear, don't know how to say it
    – Kaddath
    Commented Apr 17 at 9:37
  • 1
    heterogeneity!!! :-D
    – Martin
    Commented Apr 18 at 14:50

4 Answers 4


Rinsing the cooked noodles in cold water helps enormously, rather than adding them straight into the pan. The noodles stick together because of loose starches on the outside, rinsing washes that off. You can also dip the noodles in a bowl of ice water after cooking, making sure to swirl them around.

You can also get better distribution if you separate the noodles, if you add them in as a clump they'll tend to stay in a clump. I sometimes use a pair of chopsticks to add the noodles in batches, stirring them in as I go. If they clump up still I'll use chopsticks (long cooking ones) or two forks to pull them apart.

  • Does the temp of the water have any effect? My meal subscription services usually say warm water, and I must not stray from the instructions
    – GammaGames
    Commented Apr 17 at 14:55
  • 2
    I've found cold works better than warm if you're going to dunk them, but if you're going to rinse them it probably makes little difference warm or cold.
    – GdD
    Commented Apr 17 at 15:26

Every time you stir the noodles, it "pulls" them out of the vegetables. You simply will not be able to mix them in with a utensil, because the stirring effectively un-stirs them. Instead, wrist-flip the contents in the pan until they're well-mixed. (This is much easier to do with a wok than with a [flat-bottomed] pan, and is basically impossible to do with an overcrowded pan.)


It's probably wrong like breaking spaghetti is wrong, but I just make sure to have smaller bits of noodle when making such stir fries. Either I smash the entire noodle block to pieces before throwing it in the pot and cooking it, or I use a spatula when stirring the cooked noodles into the vegetables and just 'cut' the noodles into pieces with the edge of it.

As a bonus point, I can just plonk on the couch with my plate of stir fried vegetables and noodles and a fork, as there's no need for a knife for cutting things up.

  • 1
    This is my brother's solution as well -- when he makes spaghettini with anything in it, he first breaks all the noodles into lengths of maybe 1-2 inches. Commented Apr 18 at 0:51

This is a problem in any noodle-centric dish, regardless of cuisine. I think overcrowding the pan does not help, but is not the only issue. The shape of these items generally means they don't mix evenly. During the cooking you mix as best you can. If using a wok this is sometimes easier. If your cuisine does not make use of a wok, it can be more difficult. In my experience the solution is in the plating, rather than the cooking. When plating, I put some noodles (and whatever mix-ins come along) on a plate. Then I go back to the pan for just the mix-ins and add them...then more noodles...etc, trying to create a more even distribution on the plate.

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