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What Are Soba Noodles? The Japanese Low-Carb Pasta Everyone's Talking About

With about half the calories and carbohydrates of regular spaghetti, soba noodles are a smart pasta swap.
soba noodles on white plate

When you're looking for a healthier alternative to classic wheat or rice pasta, look no further than soba noodles. "Soba," which translates to "buckwheat" in Japanese, are thin noodles made from (you guessed it!) buckwheat, a gluten-free grain. However, most soba noodles on the market are made from a blend of buckwheat and wheat flour. They are traditionally served with a sauce in chilled noodle dishes, or hot in noodle soups; however you can use them in place of any pasta.

What are the health benefits?

For many who want to cut back on their gluten intake, these noodles are a perfect alternative. Keep in mind that many brands may still include some wheat flour, so read the individual package ingredients if you're dealing with gluten allergies. Soba noodles also contain high levels of Thiamin, a B-vitamin that aids in energy metabolism.

Cup for cup, soba noodles contain half the carbs of spaghetti, and nearly double the protein of white rice. They're also packed with soluble fiber, which aids in digestion and has been proven to aid in lowering cholesterol and regulating blood sugar levels.

Soba noodle recipes worth trying

As mentioned, these thing spaghetti-like noodles can be swapped into any recipe that calls for this shape of pasta; however, buckwheat's strong nutty flavor pairs better with some flavors over others.

Soba noodle recipe ideas you should try include:

  • miso soup
  • ramen
  • gingery chicken broth
  • toss it with peanut sauce
  • coat with tahini sauce
  • combine with a ginger, honey, soy sauce, and miso paste sauce

How to cook soba noodles

Keep in mind that soba cooks a bit differently than wheat pasta, so follow the individual package directions.

Generally, soba noodles will cook in half the time as regular pasta: between three to five minutes. Keep an eye on it and stir frequently to avoid sticking.

Where to buy soba noodles

Most large grocery stores will sell soba noodles along with other pastas or in a section with other Japanese ingredients like miso paste, nori, and packaged ramen noodles. If available in your area, try an independent Japanese grocery store (Chinese and Korean stores might also carry the noodles) or a larger chain like H-Mart.

There are also plenty of soba brands available on Amazon and other online grocery delivery services. While finding your favorite noodle ultimately comes down to personal preference, King Soba 100% Buckwheat Pasta Noodles (all buckwheat), Hakubaku Organic Soba, and Organic Planet Soba Noodles (which contains wheat and buckwheat flour) are some of the best.

RELATED: Easy, healthy, 350-calorie recipe ideas you can make at home.

Rebecca Firkser
Rebecca Firkser is a food writer and recipe developer. Read more