Learn how to make udon noodles from scratch (with optional pink color using beet juice!). It’s easy & fun and you will be rewarded with delicious homemade noodles that are far more superior than store-bought ones!
One of the easiest Japanese noodles that you can make at home is Udon Noodles (うどん). Today I’ll share with you how to make these popular Japanese noodles from scratch.
Since Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, we’ll make udon noodles pink (It’s optional, of course)! How do we do that? We use homemade natural food coloring – beet juice!
What are Udon Noodles?
Udon is a type of thick wheat flour noodle commonly used in Japanese cuisines. Enjoyed in many ways, the noodles come with a white, thick, chewy yet soft texture. With a neutral flavor, udon noodles can be served in hot dashi soup (made with kombu and bonito flakes), or eaten cold by dipping in a soy-sauce based sauce or stir-fried with meat and vegetables.
Some Popular Udon Noodle Recipes on JOC:
Why Making Udon Noodles?
- Tasty and great chewy texture. – The texture of udon noodles sold in Asian markets are usually not of good quality. Not only the noodles break too easily and have a rubbery texture, but they taste floury and doughy. Homemade noodles are smooth and chewy with an elastic toothsome bite. The freshness is simply unbeatable.
- Just 3 ingredients to make udon noodles. – Flour, water, and salt. The methods to make udon are very straightforward.
- No special kitchen gadget required. – Unlike making pasta noodles, which require a pasta machine, udon noodles require your hands, your feet (read on to find out why), and a sharp knife to make the noodles from scratch!
Sounds great, right? Just to be completely honest, here are two things you might want to know before we begin.
- It takes time. – To be exact, you need at least 4-5 hours including inactive time. Just like making bread, the dough needs to rest to relax the gluten.
- It requires your feet. – No, I’m not joking. Because the dough is pretty hard to knead with hands, traditionally, the Japanese use our feet to roll out the dough!
My family enjoys these homemade udon noodles every time I make them. The taste and texture are much better than any store-bought brands, including the best ones. And there are no preservatives used in homemade udon!
How To Make Homemade Udon Noodles
Making delicious udon noodles at home requires just water, salt, and flour. Nothing beats the flavor and texture of fresh homemade udon.
Measuring for Udon Noodle Recipe
The ingredients and methods for making udon noodles are very simple. I recommend the following measurements for one serving.
1 serving = 100 grams of all-purpose flour + 50 grams of salted water (5 grams of salt and 45 grams/ml of water)
So, for two and four servings, it is as simple as:
2 servings = 200 grams of all-purpose flour + 100 grams of salted water (10 grams of salt + 90 grams of water)
4 servings = 400 grams of all-purpose flour + 200 grams of salted water (20 grams of salt + 180 grams of water)
and so on…
For the best result, please use a kitchen scale. I purposely didn’t include a “cup” measurement (I’m sorry!) as 1 cup of flour varies depending on how you measure it because the flour is compressed while you scoop.
5 Tips and Tricks for Making Udon Noodles
- Do not skip “resting” time. I know, we are all busy but in order to achieve good chewy udon texture, just hang in there!
- Get a 5-gallon Ziploc bag if you are making more than 2 servings. No, those 1-gallon ones are way too small.
- Knead with your feet until the dough is as soft as your ear lobes. Otherwise, it’s going to be much harder to roll with your hands later if your dough is not soft enough.
- Roll out the dough to a square shape so that the noodles will be of equal length.
- Use a sharp knife to cut the noodles. The texture that makes udon unique is its clean edge. If it’s a dull knife, the sides of the noodles will not have a clean cut.
Coloring Udon Noodles Pink
For this recipe, I’m collaborating with other talented YouTubers for Tastemade‘s new “Hero Series“, and the ingredient for this month’s series is beets. At the end of my YouTube video, you will see the playlist of all the beet recipes, so please check them out!
If you are wondering about the taste of these pink udon noodles, you don’t really taste the beets. The shade of pink and the taste of beet really depend on how much beet juice you use.
My daughter LOVED these pink udon noodles. Maybe these pink noodles are fun for some special occasions, like Valentine’s Day or Japanese Gir’s Day.
Last but not least, if you enjoy making food from scratch, don’t forget to try Homemade Gyoza Wrappers, too! Have fun!
For Regular White Udon
- 7 oz all-purpose flour (plain flour) (1 ½ cup + 3 Tbsp; I encourage you to use the kitchen scale; If you use a measuring cup, follow this method: fluff your flour with a spoon, sprinkle it into your measuring cup, and use a knife to level it off. Otherwise, 1 cup of flour ends up with more than 120 g.)
- 6 Tbsp water
- 2 ¼ tsp kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt)
- potato starch/cornstarch (or flour for rolling and dusting; if you're going to freeze udon noodles, you may want to use potato starch/cornstarch as flour tends to be absorbed by udon noodles and stick to each other.)
For Pink Udon
- 7 oz all-purpose flour (plain flour) (1 ½ cup + 3 Tbsp)
- ⅓ cup water
- 2 tsp beet juice
- 2 ¼ tsp kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt)
- potato starch/cornstarch (or flour for rolling and dusting)
For Beet Juice
- 1 beet
- 1 cup water
- Gather all the ingredients.
To Make Regular Udon Noodles
- Combine 90 ml water and 2 ¼ tsp salt and mix until it’s completely dissolved. If you are making white udon, skip to Step 5.
To Make Pink Udon Noodles
- Peel and slice the beet root into ½” (1.3 cm) thickness.
- Put sliced beets and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan and cook for about 20 minutes until the beet juice is reduced to about 2 Tbsp.
- Save the beet juice in a small bowl. Combine 80 g (80 ml) water and 2 tsp of beet juice. Add the 2 ¼ tsp salt and mix until it’s completely dissolved.
To Make the Udon Dough
- Place the flour in a large bowl and gradually add the salted water (for regular udon) or salted beet juice (for pink udon) while mixing with hands.
- Combine the dough until there is no dry flour left and form into a ball. If there is some flour left, add a tiny bit of water. Then place the dough in the large durable plastic bag (such as a 5-gallon Ziploc bag). Close the bag leaving a small air gap and leave it for 20-30 minutes to relax the gluten.
- Just in case the plastic bag breaks, place the bag between 2 kitchen cloths on the floor. Step on the dough with your feet (heels) using your weight. Turn around and press from the inward to outward. You can do this step with your hands, but it will take more effort and time. Stepping udon dough with your feet is a common practice in Japan! Step on the dough until the dough is completely flattened.
- Take out the dough and fold it into a ball again. Place it in the bag and close the bag leaving a small air gap.
- Step again until the dough is stretched and flattened. Take out the dough and fold it into a ball again. Repeat this process one more time (total 3 times), or until the dough is soft just like the ear lobe (that’s how we say in Japan).
- After the 3rd round of stepping the dough, fold it into a ball and place it in the plastic bag. Seal tight and rest the dough for 2 hours (3 hours or overnight in winter).
- Dust the working surface with potato/corn starch and take out the dough. Form a nice round ball and then flattern with your hand.
- Using a rolling pin, stretch the dough into a rectangular shape. Dust the dough with potato starch or cornstarch in between to make sure the dough is not sticky. Turn the dough 180 degree and stretch it evenly.
- Once it’s a nice rectangular shape, turn 90 degrees and stretch to make it into a square. If the dough is square, all the noodles will have the same length when you cut them.
- When the dough is a square shape, roll the dough into a rolling pin and stretch to let the rounded corner into a more pointed tip. Make the dough into 3 mm (⅛”) thickness.
- Dust the potato/corn starch on top of the dough and fold the dough like an accordion.
- Put more potato/corn starch on top and then cut noodles into 3 mm (⅛”) thickness. Pick up some noodles and fluff the noodles to make sure the noodles are covered with the potato/corn starch to prevent sticking to each other.
To Cook Udon Noodles Immediately
- Boil a big pot of water (do not add salt) and cook for 10-12 minutes (depending on the thickness of your noodles). Stir the noodles so they don’t stick to each other. Drain and rinse well with cold water to remove the starch. Drain and they are ready to use for your favorite udon recipe.
To Save Fresh Udon Noodles for Later
- Divide the uncooked noodles into small portions (150 grams per person) and freeze in an airtight container/bag for up to a month. You can refrigerate for a few days but it tastes better when you freeze the fresh udon right away. To cook frozen udon, boil the frozen udon in a large pot of water for 12-13 minutes without defrosting.