Skip to Content

Can I substitute spaghetti noodles for stir fry?

Quick Answer

Yes, you can substitute spaghetti noodles for stir fry noodles. The key is to use thin spaghetti, as thicker spaghetti noodles won’t cook through properly or absorb the stir fry sauce as well. Make sure to break the dry spaghetti noodles in half or into shorter pieces before cooking to approximate the size and texture of traditional stir fry noodles. Cook the spaghetti for 1-2 minutes less than the package directions to account for further cooking in the wok. Then add the parcooked spaghetti to your stir fry ingredients and sauce and cook for another 1-2 minutes until heated through.

Factors to Consider

When substituting spaghetti for stir fry noodles, there are a few factors to keep in mind:

Noodle thickness

Thinner spaghetti noodles will work best to mimic the texture and noodle-to-sauce ratio of traditional stir fry noodles like ramen, rice noodles or lo mein. Look for spaghetti noodles labeled “thin” or with a diameter of 1/8 inch or less. Avoid using thicker spaghetti noodles, as they won’t soften and absorb flavors as well when stir fried.

Noodle length

Traditional stir fry noodles are cut fairly short to make them easier to eat with chopsticks. Long spaghetti noodles won’t coat properly in the sauce or mix well with stir fried vegetables. Break dry spaghetti noodles in half or into shorter 2-3 inch pieces before cooking. This makes them better sized for stir frying.

Cooking time adjustments

Since stir frying cooks foods very quickly over high heat, the spaghetti will require less cooking time than boiling it normally. Undercook the spaghetti by 1-2 minutes less than the package directions. It will finish cooking when you add it to the hot wok. Don’t overcook it initially or the noodles will get mushy.

Pairing with sauces

The sauce is what gives stir fries their signature flavor. Look for sauces that adhere well to noodles like soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, hoisin sauce, teriyaki sauce or sweet and sour sauce. Thick sauces like curry pastes also work well. Avoid watery sauces or the flavor may get diluted.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Follow these steps for easy spaghetti noodle stir fry:


– 8 oz thin spaghetti
– 1 tablespoon oil
– 1 lb protein (chicken, beef, shrimp, tofu)
– 2 cups mixed stir fry vegetables
– 1/4 cup stir fry sauce


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook for 2 minutes less than the package directions.
2. Drain the parcooked spaghetti and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside.
3. Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add the oil and stir fry the protein for 2-3 minutes until mostly cooked through.
4. Add the vegetables and continue stir frying 3-4 minutes until tender crisp.
5. Give the wok a quick wipe if needed, then reheat it over high heat.
6. Add the parcooked spaghetti and sauce. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes until the noodles are heated through and coated in sauce.
7. Adjust seasoning with soy sauce, salt, or chili-garlic sauce if desired.
8. Serve the spaghetti stir fry immediately, garnished with scallions, sesame seeds or cilantro if desired.

Choosing the Best Spaghetti Noodles for Stir Fry

Not all spaghetti noodles work equally well in stir fries. Here are some types of spaghetti to look for or avoid:

Better Options

Type Description
Thin spaghetti Very thin noodles (1/8 inch or less) cook quickly and absorb sauce.
Angel hair pasta The thinnest spaghetti, with a delicate texture when stir fried.
Capellini Slightly thicker than angel hair but still quite thin.
Gluten-free spaghetti Often made from rice flour, these noodles have an authentic stir fry texture.

Types to Avoid

Type Description
Regular spaghetti Too thick to properly absorb sauce and cook through.
Whole wheat spaghetti The extra fiber can make these noodles tough if undercooked.
Fresh spaghetti Doesn’t hold up well to high heat stir frying.
Super thick spaghetti The oversized noodles won’t cook evenly or absorb flavors.

Substitution Ratio

* 1 pound stir fry noodles = 1/2 pound thin spaghetti

Stir fry noodles are often made from rice or wheat starch so they weigh less than traditional wheat flour spaghetti. Use about half the amount of thin spaghetti by weight to substitute.

For example, if a stir fry recipe calls for 1 pound noodles, use 1/2 pound thin spaghetti instead.

The Difference Between Stir Fry Noodles and Spaghetti

While you can substitute one for the other in a pinch, there are a few differences between traditional stir fry noodles and spaghetti:


Spaghetti Stir Fry Noodles
Semolina or wheat flour Rice flour, tapioca starch, wheat starch
Water Water, egg

Spaghetti uses a simple dough of wheat flour and water. Stir fry noodles often contain rice flour, starches or eggs for a slippery texture.


– Spaghetti: Long, thin, round strands
– Stir fry noodles: Short, thin, flat strands

Cooking method

– Spaghetti: Boiled in large pot of water
– Stir fry noodles: Soaked, briefly boiled, then stir fried


– Spaghetti: Firm, chewy
– Stir fry noodles: Soft, silky

Stir frying makes the noodles more tender than traditional boiled spaghetti. The egg in some stir fry noodle recipes also gives them a softer consistency.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use spaghetti for Pad Thai?

Yes, thin spaghetti or angel hair pasta can substitute for Pad Thai rice noodles. Break up the strands into 2-3 inch pieces to approximate the right size and shape. Soak in hot water for 10 minutes before stir frying to soften. The eggs and sauce in Pad Thai will coat the spaghetti nicely.

What about using spaghetti for Lo Mein?

Lo Mein is commonly made with wheat flour noodles, so spaghetti is a great substitute. Opt for thin spaghetti and break into shorter strands before cooking. The thick soy sauce-based sauce will adhere well. Just parcook the spaghetti slightly less since Lo Mein cooking time is shorter.

Can I use pasta noodles for Chow Mein?

Chow Mein is typically made with crisp deep fried noodles. But in a pinch, boiled spaghetti can work. Rinse with cold water after boiling to prevent overcooking. Then add to the stir fry last and cook briefly just to heat through and absorb flavors.

Is there a gluten free option?

Gluten free spaghetti or pad thai rice noodles are good alternatives for people avoiding gluten. Look for noodles made from rice, quinoa, buckwheat or lentil flour for the best texture and flavor. Cook time may be slightly shorter than wheat noodles.

Can I use fresh pasta instead?

Fresh pasta has a softer texture than dried pasta. It tends to overcook and get mushy when stir fried. Stick to dried thin spaghetti for the al dente firmness needed in a good stir fry. Fresh pasta is better suited for gentler cooking methods like sautéing or baking casseroles.


While traditional stir fry noodles provide the ideal chewy-soft texture, several types of thin Italian pastas make solid substitutions. The key is choosing a thinner pasta and taking care not to overcook it. With the right preparation and cooking technique, spaghetti can indeed stand in for specialized Asian noodles when necessary. A great stir fry is all about the flavors of the protein, vegetables and sauce coating the noodles. So consider keeping some thin spaghetti on hand to make impromptu stir fries any night of the week.