Beat the heat with this fresh, healthy Vietnamese Noodle Salad (Bún)

Vietnamese Bun - cold noodle salad

As the summer temperatures start to soar, the perfect dish to help you keep your cool is a bright, vibrant Vietnamese noodle salad called bún. And the version we present here is even fresher and healthier than the standard bún: it calls for more than twice the greens, julienned vegetables, and herbs, which makes it more salad and less noodle. Add a protein–shredded chicken, shrimp, and tofu come to mind–and you have a complete meal in a bowl

Bún also makes a tangy side salad for grilled chicken, pork, fish (tuna would be delicious), even burgers. It can be vegan or omnivore so it works well with a mixed crowd.

Bún has everything you want in a summer meal. Cool rice noodles, crisp, hydrating veggies, and lots of fresh herbs. Each bite is a lively taste explosion from the flavorful nuoc cham sauce made with lime juice, fish sauce, a touch of sweetness, and a  kick of chili (if you like).

Many types of rice noodles can be prepared simply by soaking, without cooking, so you can avoid heat in the kitchen, (See this excellent tutorial on rice noodles at  NB: if you buy Vietnamese, rather than Korean or Chinese, rice vermicelli you’ll need to boil it like other pastas. So check your package.

You can adapt it however you like by tweaking the protein, veggies, and herbs. Just make a big batch because these flavors are so tantalizing, you’ll demolish it.

Vietnamese Noodle Salad (Bún)


  • 8 oz. rice vermicelli noodles (2 oz. dry rice vermicelli equals one cup cooked)
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 cup thin cucumber slices
  • 4 cups shredded cabbage or lettuce
  • 1 cup mixed, roughly chopped fresh herbs (mint, cilantro, basil)
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts (optional)
  • Optional: 1 lb cooked shrimp, chicken, or tofu, sliced

For the sauce (nuoc cham)

  • 2 T. brown sugar
  • 2 T. hot water
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce (to make it vegan/vegetarian use soy sauce instead or, if you can find it, vegetarian fish sauce.)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 T. rice vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 Thai chili, thinly sliced, or 1/4 t. chili flakes (optional)


  1. Soak or boil rice vermicelli (see above) until fully cooked and no longer chewy; the time will depend on the size of your noodles, anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour. (See rice-noodles-101)  Drain and rinse under cold water. Let sit on a clean tea towel or folded paper towel to absorb excess water.
  2. Make the dressing by whisking all ingredients together until sugar dissolves.
  3. In a large salad bowl, combine noodles, protein, vegetables, herbs, and peanuts.
    Pour dressing over salad and toss gently to coat.
  4. Serve chilled or at room temperature, garnished with extra herbs and lime wedges.

Servings: Makes enough to feed an army

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