Jun 11

How to make handmade udon noodles—it’s easier than you might think!

in Japan, Japanese, Main Course, Product Reviews, Recipes By Region, Recipes by Type, Rice & Noodles

I am in love with this udon noodle bowl I got from the company Flavour Design Studio.  Isn’t it gorgeous?  I love the way it’s designed to be easy to hold, with a hole for your thumb to fit through, and I love the grooves and holes cut out for your chopsticks to sit in so they don’t roll away from you!

Flavour Design Udon Noodle Bowl

I decided that I needed to make some homemade udon noodles to properly break in the bowl.  It would have been a shame to eat store bought noodles out of such a gorgeous handmade vessel!  Udon noodles are one of the many varieties of noodles found in Japan.  Udon are the thickest of the noodles and are made by kneading wheat flour, salt, and water together.  Udon can be eaten hot or cold and are cooked in a variety of ways.  We love udon, and while living in Japan we often visited our favorite udon restaurant in Tokyo.

Nabeyaki Udon

My favorite bowl of udon was nabeyaki udon—udon noodles in a flavorful broth made from dashi and chicken stock, and filled with lots of vegetables, poached chicken, tempura shrimp, and a poached egg.  Mr. Fuji’s favorite bowl of udon was “creamy udon”—the noodles were served in a creamy white soup.

Huge bowl of creamy udon

For my handmade noodles, I decided to make Kake Udon—udon served in a broth, made from dashi, soy sauce, and mirin, and topped with sliced scallions.  This is a simple preparation that celebrates the wonderful flavor of the handmade noodles.  Handmade noodles are like homemade bread—they are SO MUCH BETTER than the store bought version.

Fresh udon in a simple broth

Take it from me, homemade udon makes for a very happy family!

Homemade noodles make Squirrel and Bug happy

How To Make Handmade Udon Noodles

Making udon noodles is a simple process.  You start by mixing wheat flour (I use a combination of bread flour and all-purpose flour), water and salt in a bowl.  The dough at this point is very rough and shaggy.

Mixing the dough

Then you begin to knead the dough by hand.  The dough will slowly come together into a more cohesive ball.

Kneading the dough

Then you put the dough in a large ziploc bag, and wrap the bag in a thick towel.

Put the dough in a large plastic bag and wrap the bag in a thick towel

This is where the fun really begins.  Now you get to do the rest of the kneading with your feet!  If you have kids that are anything like Squirrel, they will love helping with the kneading.

Knead the dough with your feet!

You could continue kneading with your hands, but the stiff dough becomes soft and pliable much quicker through using your feet!  The kneading helps give the noodles their wonderful chewy texture.  You knead the dough this way by walking on it with your whole foot (not just your heel) and turning as you go, so that all of the dough is worked on.  You alternate kneading and then rolling the dough out,

Rolling out the dough

and folding it.  The more you knead and fold, the smoother and neater your dough will become, and you can work towards forming it into a rectangle.

Folding the dough

Then you knead it one more time and leave it in the bag, wrapped in the towel, to rest for 3 to 4 hours.  After the dough has rested, you shape the dough into a ball,

Form the dough into a ball

put it back in the bag and knead it one last time.  Then you roll out the flattened dough, trying to make it roughly rectangular in shape.  Then you fold it into thirds, and use a sharp knife to slice it into1/8″–1/4″ ribbons.  I made our slices a bit thicker because Mr. Fuji loves thick chewy noodles.

Cutting the noodles

Then you add the noodles to a pot of boiling water, using some chopsticks to lightly stir the noodles and help separate them.  After the noodles have cooked for about 6 minutes, and are translucent and firm without a hard core, drain the noodles and then rinse them under cold running water so that they cool rapidly, and continue rinsing them to ensure that all the starch is removed from the surface.  Don’t worry if your noodles aren’t perfect—they will still look beautiful and be delicious!

Cook the noodles in boiling waterUdon noodles cooked and rinsed

Once your noodles are done, you separate them into bowls and pour hot broth over them, top them with sliced scallions, and add a bit of shichimi togarashi if you want a bit of spice!  The chewy noodles are delicious with the simple broth, and you’ll find they quickly disappear.

Homemade udon noodles in a simple shoyu broth

Print This Recipe Print This Recipe

Handmade Udon Noodles

Recipe adapted from Harumi’s Japanese Home Cooking, by Harumi Kurihara

Makes 4 servings

4 teaspoons salt
8 ounces (1 cup) warm water
2 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
bread flour, for dusting (in step 6)

1. Add the salt to the warm water and stir until it has dissolved.  Put the bread flour and all-purpose flour in a large bowl, and whisk the flours together.

2. Pour the salty water into the bowl with the flour.  Using your hands, mix the flour and water together lightly until the mixture is crumbly.  Pull the dough up from the bottom of the bowl and press down, and repeat until the flour and water are well combined and a rough ball is formed.

3. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead it forcefully on a board for 5-10 minutes until the dough has smoothed out and a lumpy ball is formed.

4. Transfer the dough to a large plastic ziploc bag, and then wrap the bag in a thick towel.  Put it on the floor and walk on it with flat feet (not just the heel).  Turn as you walk, so that all the dough gets flattened.  When the dough feels flat, remove the dough from the bag and roll it out.  Then fold it up, put it back into the bag and repeat the process. The should become more and more smooth with each repeat.  Repeat 3 or 4 times.  On the last repeat, leave the dough in the bag, wrapped in the towel, and let it rest for 3 to 4 hours (during the winter, leave it in a warm place).

5. When the dough is done resting, take it out of the bag, reshape it into a ball, then return it to the bag and walk on it one last time.  Try to spread the dough with your feet, turning around 360 degrees.

6. Dust your work surface with a bit of bread flour, then place the flattened dough on top and roll it out, working from the middle out.  Rotate the dough 45 degrees and repeat until the dough is about 1/8-inch thick, and approximately a rectangle measuring about 1 foot wide by at least 1 1/2 feet long.*

7. Dust the top of the dough with bread flour and then fold it into thirds.  Using a long sharp knife, cut the dough into 1/4-inch to 1/8-inch thick ribbons.  If the dough gets very sticky, dust it again with bread flour.  Dust the noodles with bread flour before moving them from the work surface.

8. Cook the noodles: Fill a large pot with water and bring to a rapid boil.  Lightly shake any excess flour from the noodles and add them to the boiling water.  Using cooking chopsticks, or a wooden spoon, stir the noodles to prevent them from sticking to each other.  Cook the noodles for 6 — 7 minutes, or until they are translucent and firm without a hard core.  Drain the noodles in a sieve and rinse under cold running water so they cool rapidly.

9. Once the noodles are cool enough to handle, separate them with your hands and rinse them again in cold water to make sure that all of the starch is removed.

*Rolled out dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 2 weeks.  Bring the dough to room temperature before sprinkling it with flour and continuing on with step 7.

Kake Udon

Makes 4 servings

For the mentsuyu sauce:
1 cup water
2 cups soy sauce
1 1/2 cups mirin
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1.8 ounces katsuobushi (dried fish flakes)

6 3/4 cups dashi
1 batch udon noodles (recipe above, or enough store bought noodles for 4 servings)
finely sliced scallions, to taste
shichimi togarashi or chili powder, to taste (optional)

1. Make the mentsuyu sauce: In a large pot, combine the water, soy sauce, mirin, and sugar.  Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low, and add the katsuobushi.  When the mixture comes to a boil again, turn off the heat and let the mixture stand for 2 minutes.  Then strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve, or a sieve lined with a double layer of cheesecloth, and discard the katsuobushi. Pour the mentsuyu into a sterilized container. (It will keep for approximately 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.)

2. Separate the udon noodles into 4 separate deep bowls.

3.  Mix the dashi with 1/3 cup of the prepared mentsuyu and heat over high heat.  When the mixture comes to a boil, turn the heat off and pour it over the udon noodles.  Sprinkle with scallions and shichimi togarashi, to taste and serve.

{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

Victoria June 11, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Haha! I love the idea of kneading the dough with your feet! It looks like your daughter had a lot of fun helping out :)


Paula - bell'alimento June 11, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Seriously, is there anything you CAN’T do? WoW! That dough is gorgeous & that bowl & squirrel & bug & just WOW!


Sarah June 11, 2010 at 5:44 pm

I have a similar bowl (I’m not sure its made by the same company but it looks very similar) that I love. I’ve never had udon in it, but I love it for soups and stews because it is so easy to hold in my hands. There’s something about holding a warm bowl of soup in your hands on a cold day that makes the soup taste even better!


Lyndsey June 11, 2010 at 6:26 pm

What a beautiful bowl and you broke it in right! Looks like a lot of family fun, making udon noodles….how could anyone resist?


Fuji Nana June 11, 2010 at 7:49 pm

Okay, these look good, but those cute little feet stomping on your dough make me want to hop in my car and drive on over for a bowl.


Belinda @zomppa June 11, 2010 at 7:56 pm

YOU make it look easy! Lovely photos and those faces! Who can resist?


Fuji Mama (Rachael) June 16, 2010 at 5:33 pm

@Belinda @zomppa, Belinda– It is easy!


Kim at Rustic Garden Bistro June 11, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Wow – it never occurred to me to make udon noodles from scratch! And now that I’m adding “props” to my collection, thanks also, for the noodle bowl discount and recommendation. :)

And the little Fujis are adorable!



Nigel Fogden June 11, 2010 at 10:45 pm

Wow. I live in Japan and I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve made pasta by hand over here but never udon. In my head I *know* it’s not that hard but somehow I’ve always been a little intimidated. However! You have given me courage! This will be bookmarked for later action…


Michelle@TastyThailand June 12, 2010 at 11:13 am

I have a similar bowl that I bought here in Bangkok. They’re wonderful for eating noodles and not dropping sticky chopsticks on the table cloth. Love the post about making udon noodles but I’m lazy and can buy them up the street for 40 baht ($1.20) for a bowl, so probably NOT worth it for me. :) In the US though, I’d say definitely give it a try.


Fuji Mama (Rachael) June 16, 2010 at 5:29 pm

@Michelle@TastyThailand, Michelle, It’s not that much more expensive for me to purchase noodles at the store here, and just a bit more expensive to go eat them at the restaurant. The allure in spending the time making them is that they taste SO MUCH BETTER when they are handmade, plus I enjoy the process! Mmmmm, but I would love to be able to go and buy handmade noodles for only 40 baht!


Steve June 12, 2010 at 11:57 am

This was a great post. You’re starting to sound like Rouxbe teaching a new technique.


Fuji Mama (Rachael) June 16, 2010 at 5:27 pm

@Steve, Thanks Steve! What a compliment!


bunkycooks June 12, 2010 at 2:52 pm

How much fun to knead dough with your feet! I am all over that. I bet your daughter had lots of fun. The hubs would love a big noodle bowl filled with all sorts of chicken and shrimp and fresh noodles, so I guess I better print this recipe!


Elaine June 12, 2010 at 9:46 pm

Thanks for the recipe Rachel ! loooooove udon !


Mrs Beans June 13, 2010 at 8:37 pm

That is one nifty bowl!!

You have one of the best food blogs ever — seriously, I just love it!


Fuji Mama (Rachael) June 16, 2010 at 5:21 pm

@Mrs Beans, Aaaaaw, thank you Mrs Beans! You are now one of my most favorite readers EVER! :)


Lynne at CookandBeMerry June 13, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Those noodles look so chewy and delicious. I have never had them that thick, so now I will have to make some myself. I’m looking forward to the foot action. Thanks.


Jen @ Tiny Urban Kitchen June 14, 2010 at 5:44 am

Ha ha, my husband was grossed out the first time I made this when I told him I was stomping on it with my feet. He still ate it anyway, because the texture is just that much more amazing!


Janet @Gourmet Traveller 88 June 14, 2010 at 8:40 am

Homemade udon is on my to make list! Read in Harumi’s cookbook. I love chewy udon in particularly. You make it more convincing for me to try out ; )


Jenny Flake June 14, 2010 at 9:00 am

YUMMY! I think I’ll just come to your house for some homemade udon noodles! They look so good! Love your little ones helping :)


Michelle @ Brown Eyed Baker June 14, 2010 at 10:36 am

This is an awesome post! Great tutorial and fabulous photos!


Noriko June 14, 2010 at 10:28 pm

Your favorite udon shop = Tsurutontan? I LOVE that place!!


Maggy June 15, 2010 at 7:22 am

I would love to make these – in fact, I would ENJOY making these, particularly walking on the dough part ;) These look so good. Great photos!


OurPrivateKitchen June 15, 2010 at 8:21 am

This looks insanely fun; thanks for the step by step! This is definitely added to my to-do list!


Brie June 15, 2010 at 1:18 pm

wow, this looks incredible and so delicious! so wonderful to see homemade noodles. i will definitely be making this recipe soon – thanks!


Jen @ How To: Simplify June 16, 2010 at 8:06 am

I’m in love with this post! This is so helpful and informative!


Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction June 16, 2010 at 10:14 am

What a beautiful bowl! Your udon noodles look wonderful, too!


suki June 16, 2010 at 3:29 pm

those udon noodles look so yummy! it’s a lot of work for something you can get for cheap at the store, but i guess it’s worth it too. ;)


Fuji Mama (Rachael) June 16, 2010 at 5:20 pm

@suki, Yes, but it’s like the difference between storebought bread and homemade bread, or a store bought tomato and a homegrown tomato…the effort yields such better taste! :)


JulieD June 18, 2010 at 6:19 pm

Wow! What an amazing looking recipe and dish. Love the photographs!


Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite June 20, 2010 at 3:58 pm

I am so impressed at how easy you make this look! Mind you, you make everything look easy! If I try them, I might have to borrow Squirrel for the kneading part – no doubt that’s what made them so spectacular!


Liz June 21, 2010 at 2:14 pm

It’s great to see noodle recipes that don’t need a pasta maker.

Thanks for the beautiful pictures! My favorite is the one with those tiny, hardworking hands…precious!


Kirbie June 22, 2010 at 10:10 am

Wow, your noodles look beautiful and delicious. I didn’t realize that the noodles are so easy to make. I’ll have to try it out sometime (when my siblings are around to do the labor. heehee)


cakebrain June 23, 2010 at 10:14 pm

my daughters are udon-crazy! they have it at least once a week and I really ought to make some fresh! what a concept. It looks fun!


ivoryhut June 25, 2010 at 7:53 am

I love udon noodles, and your daughter is so cute helping out with the kneading. I’m intrigued by the method, and can’t wait to try it. Especially since my hands recently started reacting to wheat dough whenever I knead it. But I’m pretty sure my feet won’t mind a folded towel!


Cassaendra June 27, 2010 at 3:32 pm

This has definitely given me no excuse to not (try to) make my own udon. All my lamenting over the loss of my pasta maker — out the window. I agree that home/handmade udon is incomparably delicious! I’ll be making tanuki udon soon! Thank you for the shove in the right direction. ;)


Daniel July 6, 2010 at 2:20 pm

You just changed my life forever.


Brenda Miller October 24, 2010 at 10:38 pm

Awesome post! Unfortunately the udon bowl being sold by Flavour Design is a blatant and unauthorised copy of an original design by Keith Lehman of The Poplar Studio. He recieves no credit or royalties from Flavour for his work. Ironically Flavour’s website says,”I want people to say, why didn’t I think of that?” Both designers and shoppers should watch out for this company.


clara January 23, 2011 at 1:54 pm

will it be ok to make this the night before and let it rest overnight? (I do all my cooking in the morning as I have night school) thanks.


Fuji Mama (Rachael) January 23, 2011 at 9:50 pm

@clara, Yes! After finishing step 6, the rolled out dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 2 weeks. Bring the dough to room temperature before sprinkling it with flour and continuing on with step 7.


dana March 1, 2011 at 7:11 pm

would a combination of whole wheat flour and all purpose flour get you the same textured noodle?


Anthony May 15, 2011 at 6:04 pm

I love your recipie, In fact I’m eating it right now and tossed in some of my favorite vegetable. Feels like I’m eating at my favortie Japanese resturant. Indeed simple to make, as I was cooking for two, so I reduce the soup base ingredients by half and still it was too salty for me so I had to cut it with a cup and a half of more water and balanced it out with by adding some rice wine vinegar. Thanks for sharing this with me, I love that we live in a digital age now. My all means I’m going to make this again and tell all my friends.


Noreen May 17, 2011 at 11:58 pm

I was SO excited to discover your website and have loved what I’ve tried so far (udons and tofu!), since here in Spain it’s difficult to find Asian foods for a good price. Of course it’s much yummier as well, and healthier because you know where it all comes from.

Just a question about using other types of flour for the udons–would it work to make the noodles with other non-wheat flours?

Thanks Rachel–can’t wait to try more of your great recipes! :)


Fuji Mama (Rachael) May 20, 2011 at 12:18 pm

I haven’t personally tried any other flours. If you did substitute, it would take quite a bit of tweaking to get the consistency right, since different flours have different textures and absorb liquid differently!


Anthony May 28, 2011 at 6:16 pm

New Update:

I make this recipie with real dark soy (Lee Kum Kee). I find dark soy has a more higher sugar content and it seem to be thicker almost like oil. I like my soup base thinner so I went back to regular Kikko Man, it was perfect. Thats the thing about this recipie we can be so versitle, we can customize it to our own liking. Indeed, Burger King was right “Make It Your Way”. Another tip; a teaspoon of wakame seaweed (if your serving for one) hits the spot. Again thats why I love living in the digital age so we can share our thoughts so speedily.


Bryce June 28, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Thank you so much for this recipe. I just had my first taste of shrimp tempura with UDON the other day, and though usually I am not a fan of spaghetti or noodles, THESE WERE THE EXCEPTION! Thank you for giving step by step instructions on how to hand make them! It is greatly appreciated since udon noodles are impossible to find in Ocala, Florida. Thanks again!


Chantell July 10, 2011 at 8:44 pm

These turned out great!!! Thank you so much for the recipe.


pink @ baby center online July 29, 2011 at 9:24 am

wow, i’m very grateful to find your blog. i want to make the udon myself too, but for the broth, there r lot of ingredients that i’ve never heard. and i dont feel confidence to find it in supermarket too. Maybe i’ll improvise the broth myself haha :)
thanks for sharing


tioedong July 29, 2011 at 11:05 pm

great recipe LInked.


asdf December 9, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Recipe looks great. I’m not sure if I’m interpreting this correctly, but…
did you actually name your offspring “Squirrel”?


Fuji Mama (Rachael) December 10, 2011 at 10:19 am

I use nicknames for all of my family here on my website. The only real name I use is my own. So Squirrel is her real nickname!


Diane ( Created by Diane) January 9, 2012 at 10:18 pm

Thus is going to the top of my list of things to make!!! The noodles look delicious.


Dana January 13, 2012 at 10:25 am

I have been thinking about making udon for a while. These look phenomenal!


Emily January 29, 2012 at 7:05 pm

These look delish! I wonder if you could freeze them…


Kana Watanabe February 3, 2012 at 7:12 am

Looks like kishimen to me, but thanks for the recipe!


Fuji Mama (Rachael) February 3, 2012 at 8:06 am

@Kana Watanabe, They are a bit wide (I had my 3 year old helping make them remember!), but my experience with kishimen is that it is much flatter. These were not! Either way, since kishimen is just a regional variation on udon, I think we’re safe. ;)


Hayden February 17, 2012 at 5:17 pm

I’m going to try to make this amazing udon tomorrow. Does it make a difference if I use unbleached flour or bleached flour?


Fuji Mama (Rachael) February 18, 2012 at 10:24 am

I personally think unbleached flour makes a better pasta, but you can use either!


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