Asian Recipes/ Chicken Recipes/ Recipes/ Salad/ Vietnamese

Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Salad – Bun Ga Nuong

04/02/2021 (Last Updated: 05/02/2021)

Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Salad (Bun Ga Nuong) is light, refreshing and bursting with flavour. Packed with vermicelli noodles, fresh herbs and marinated chicken, this noodle bowl is so easy to prepare and bonus: it’s gluten free too.

A bowl of Vietnamese chicken noodle salad showing the layers of noodles, herbs, veggies and chicken.

Why We Love This

Full of bright colours, crunchy textures and contrasting flavours just like our Indonesian gado gado. It tastes so good you’ll forget you’re eating vegetables!

The nuoc cham dressing can be poured on or served separately when you eat it, making this easy noodle salad bowl perfect as a healthy work lunch. Store in a separate container and you’ll never have to worry about soggy salads again.

Two bowls of chicken noodle salad on a tray next to a bowl of nuoc mam cham.

What is Bun Ga Nuong? 

This classic Vietnamese noodle salad starts with a base of rice vermicelli noodles, fresh mint and coriander/cilantro, and crunchy vegetables such as carrot and cucumber. It’s topped with grilled chicken marinated in an aromatic mix of lemongrass, shallots, garlic and ginger, with a little fish sauce and honey added to bring out the salty sweet flavour and caramelisation.

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In Vietnam there are lots of variations to this recipe, with regional difference in the North and South when it comes to ingredients and presentation. Some versions are topped with grilled pork or beef (bun thit nuong) instead of chicken, while others use shrimp, tofu, or Vietnamese crispy fried spring rolls (bun cha gio).

A spicy Vietnamese sauce called nuoc mam cham amps up the noodles and vegetables and brings everything together in the final dish. This is usually served separately in a small bowl, and you can choose whether to enjoy it as a dipping sauce or pour it straight over the salad!

What You’ll Need

For the Chicken & Marinade

  • Chicken – Thighs are best because they’re extra juicy and soak up all the flavour. You can use chicken breast if you prefer, they just won’t be quite as tender and juicy. Use whole pieces, or slice into bite size chunks. We cook ours in a frying pan, but you can grill or bake instead if you prefer.
  • Lemongrass – Fresh lemongrass will give you the best flavour in the marinade. If you can’t source fresh lemongrass, look for jarred lemongrass slices in your local supermarket. Asian grocers often stock frozen lemongrass and/or lemongrass paste which are also great options. We don’t recommend substituting with lemongrass powder.
  • Fish Sauce – This staple Asian ingredient has a strong smell in the bottle, but isn’t fishy in the final dish, adding a delicious salty, savoury flavour to your cooking. You’ll find it at Asian grocers or in well-stocked supermarkets in the international foods section, or online. If you can’t find it or don’t want to use, you can substitute with soy sauce.

For the Salad & Dressing

  • Noodles – The ‘bun’ in bun ga nuong stands for Vietnamese vermicelli noodles, which are not just super delicious but also serve to soak up all that flavour goodness. Sometimes known as rice stick noodles, these are available in two versions: one made with rice and one made with mung bean thread. They are almost identical once cooked, so you can use either. You can possibly find these at your supermarket, otherwise the Asian grocery or online will be your best bet.
  • Veggies – Carrot, cucumber and spring onion are common veggies in Vietnamese salad bowls. Slice or grate, it’s up to you. We prefer a quick julienne slice using our trusty combo slicer/grater. Feel free to swap for any other crunchy veggies you like, such as cabbage, capsicum/bell pepper, spinach, bean sprouts, snow peas, red onion, shredded daikon etc.
  • Herbs – Mint and coriander/cilantro pop up frequently in Vietnamese cuisine and with good reason. These two add a burst of refreshing and aromatic flavour. Use any variety you love or can source easily, no need to rush out to buy Vietnamese mint etc.
  • Nuoc Mam Cham Sauce – This Vietnamese dipping sauce is served with almost everything in Vietnam. Packed with fish sauce, lime juice, rice vinegar, garlic, sugar and sliced fresh chillies, it adds the finishing touch to this tasty noodle bowl. It’s possible to buy store bough dipping sauce, but much tastier to make your own nuoc mam cham at home.
A bowl of noodles and veggies topped with lemongrass chicken.

Wandercook’s Tips

  • Dipping Sauce vs Salad Dressing – Two options here:
    1. Pour it straight over the salad and mix well to coat all the ingredients with extra flavour. This is what we usually do!
    2. Keep the dipping sauce separate and dip as you go. This is helpful if you want to avoid a pool of the sauce at the bottom.
  • Serve a Crowd – Instead of serving pre-assembled bowls for each person, why not lay out the ingredients separately in bowls or on a large platter so everyone can build their own salad bowls?

FAQs

What kind of noodles should I use for Vietnamese noodle salad?

Most Vietnamese noodle salads are made with vermicelli noodles made from rice or mung bean thread. They’re thin, light and great for soaking up the flavours from the salad dressing. They’re much lighter and less bloating than flat rice noodles used in pho or pad thai.

How long does it last?

Once assembled, this salad is best served immediately. If you want to make it in ahead of time, it’s best to store the salad and noodles separately from the chicken and dressing so that everything stays nice and crispy.

Variations & Substitutes

  • Make It Your Way – Feel free to switch out the chicken for pork, prawns, fish or even tofu. You can use the same marinade – it pairs perfectly with any of these options. Or to save time and make it even easier, top with leftover roasted chicken.
  • Amp It Up – Garnish with chopped peanuts, crispy fried shallots, chopped up Vietnamese spring rolls (cha gio), pickled carrots and daikon (do chua), or a sprinkling of sesame seeds.
  • Dressing Alternatives – If you don’t want to use nuoc mam cham, you could try it with a drizzle of sweet chilli sauce or sesame oil instead.
  • Pair It – Make it a big meal and serve it up alongside some piping hot bowls of Vietnamese chicken rice porridge or Vietnamese Ginger Chicken.

More colourful and refreshing salads to try next:

★ Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and star rating below!

Close up shot of the finished Vietnamese chicken noodles salad.

Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Salad – Bun Ga Nuong

Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Salad (Bun Ga Nuong) is light, refreshing and bursting with flavour. Packed with vermicelli noodles, fresh herbs and marinated chicken, this noodle bowl is so easy to prepare and bonus: it's gluten free too.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Servings: 2 bowls
Calories: 599kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $12

Equipment

Ingredients

For the chicken and marinade:

Salad ingredients:

Dressing

Instructions

  • Pop all your marinade ingredients (shallots, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, black pepper, salt, vegetable oil, fish sauce and honey) in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Add in the chicken thighs and coat evenly. Place in the fridge for at least an hour (or overnight) for the flavours to soak through.
    3 shallots, 3 cm lemongrass, 3 cloves garlic, ½ cm ginger, ½ tsp black pepper, 2 tsp salt, 2 tbsp vegetable oil, 1 tbsp fish sauce, 1 tsp honey, 500 g chicken thighs
  • When ready to cook, heat vegetable oil in a frying pan and cook the marinated chicken for 5-10 mins until the chicken is cooked and the marinade starts to blacken and caramelise.
    2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Soak your vermicelli noodles in hot water to soften (or cook according to packet directions), then drain and set aside.
    1 packet vermicelli noodles
  • To assemble your noodle bowl, pop the noodles in first and top with sliced vegetables and herbs. Drizzle with nuoc mam cham, and garnish with fresh chilli slices and lime wedges.
    1 carrot, ½ cucumber, 1 bunch fresh mint leaves, 1 bunch fresh cilantro / coriander, 1 small red chilli, 1/2 cup nuoc mam cham, 1 lime

Recipe Notes

  • Chicken – Thighs are best because they’re extra juicy and soak up all the flavour. You can use chicken breast if you prefer, they just won’t be quite as tender and juicy. Use whole pieces, or slice into bite size chunks. We cook ours in a frying pan, but you can grill or bake instead if you prefer.
  • Lemongrass – Fresh lemongrass will give you the best flavour in the marinade. If you can’t source fresh lemongrass, look for jarred lemongrass slices in your local supermarket. Asian grocers often stock frozen lemongrass and/or lemongrass paste which are also great options. We don’t recommend substituting with lemongrass powder.
  • Fish Sauce – This staple Asian ingredient has a strong smell in the bottle, but isn’t fishy in the final dish, adding a delicious salty, savoury flavour to your cooking. You’ll find it at Asian grocers or in well-stocked supermarkets in the international foods section, or online. If you can’t find it or don’t want to use, you can substitute with soy sauce. 
  • Noodles – The ‘bun’ in bun ga nuong stands for Vietnamese vermicelli noodles, which are not just super delicious but also serve to soak up all that flavour goodness. Sometimes known as rice stick noodles, these are available in two versions: one made with rice and one made with mung bean thread. They are almost identical once cooked, so you can use either. You can possibly find these at your supermarket, otherwise the Asian grocery or online will be your best bet.
  • Veggies – Carrot, cucumber and spring onion are common veggies in Vietnamese salad bowls. Slice or grate, it’s up to you. We prefer a quick julienne slice using our trusty combo slicer/grater. Feel free to swap for any other crunchy veggies you like, such as cabbage, capsicum/bell pepper, spinach, bean sprouts, snow peas, red onion, shredded daikon etc.
  • Herbs – Mint and coriander/cilantro pop up frequently in Vietnamese cuisine and with good reason. These two add a burst of refreshing and aromatic flavour. Use any variety you love or can source easily, no need to rush out to buy Vietnamese mint etc.
  • Nuoc Mam Cham Sauce – This Vietnamese dipping sauce is served with almost everything in Vietnam. Packed with fish sauce, lime juice, rice vinegar, garlic, sugar and sliced fresh chillies, it adds the finishing touch to this tasty noodle bowl. It’s possible to buy store bough dipping sauce, but much tastier to make your own nuoc mam cham at home.
  • Dipping Sauce vs Salad Dressing – Two options here:
    1. Pour it straight over the salad and mix well to coat all the ingredients with extra flavour. This is what we usually do!
    2. Keep the dipping sauce separate and dip as you go. This is helpful if you want to avoid a pool of the sauce at the bottom.
  • Serve a Crowd – Instead of serving pre-assembled bowls for each person, why not lay out the ingredients separately in bowls or on a large platter so everyone can build their own salad bowls?
  • Variations
    • Make It Your Way – Feel free to switch out the chicken for pork, prawns, fish or even tofu. You can use the same marinade – it pairs perfectly with any of these options. Or to save time and make it even easier, top with leftover roasted chicken.
    • Amp It Up – Garnish with chopped peanuts, crispy fried shallots, chopped up Vietnamese spring rolls (cha gio), pickled carrots and daikon (do chua), or a sprinkling of sesame seeds.
    • Dressing Alternatives – If you don’t want to use nuoc mam cham, you could try it with a drizzle of sweet chilli sauce or sesame oil instead.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Salad – Bun Ga Nuong
Amount per Serving
Calories
599
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
21
g
32
%
Saturated Fat
 
3
g
19
%
Cholesterol
 
160
mg
53
%
Sodium
 
5651
mg
246
%
Potassium
 
1541
mg
44
%
Carbohydrates
 
44
g
15
%
Fiber
 
4
g
17
%
Sugar
 
28
g
31
%
Protein
 
58
g
116
%
Vitamin A
 
5901
IU
118
%
Vitamin C
 
77
mg
93
%
Calcium
 
84
mg
8
%
Iron
 
3
mg
17
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Salad - Bun Ga Nuong

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10 Comments

  • Reply
    Adrianne
    05/02/2019 at 10:46 pm

    5 stars
    Wow, this looks so delicious. I love Asian inspired food and I am definitely into this dish. The chicken looks fabulous and I am hungry looking at the pics. Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      06/02/2019 at 4:49 pm

      Ahh you’re speaking our language haha – it’s so much fun to experiment with new flavours, ingredients and techniques!

  • Reply
    Natalie
    05/02/2019 at 7:59 pm

    Looks so delicious! I love how balanced this salad is – a perfect healthy dinner or lunch ♥

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      06/02/2019 at 4:48 pm

      Absolutely!

  • Reply
    Julie
    05/02/2019 at 4:41 pm

    5 stars
    What a fabulous looking salad! I love eating healthy, fresh salads at this time of year.
    Thanks so much for sharing
    Julie

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      06/02/2019 at 4:45 pm

      Totally agree – nothing better than a dish that fills you up without weighing you down!

  • Reply
    Tisha
    05/02/2019 at 4:34 pm

    5 stars
    This looks incredible! Very well put together!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      06/02/2019 at 4:45 pm

      Thanks Tisha!

  • Reply
    Veena Azmanov
    05/02/2019 at 3:06 pm

    5 stars
    This is a complete bowl of health and goodness, so full of nutrition and a complete meal too. Love everything in this amazing bowl.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      05/02/2019 at 3:49 pm

      Thanks Veena, hope you enjoy!

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