Make your next hangout with friends and family even more fun with build-your-own Vietnamese Vermicelli Rice Noodle Salads! Toss together your protein, fresh veggies, and chewy noodles for a healthy and satisfying meal that's cheap and easy to feed big groups. PLUS, I'm spilling the tea on the BEST f*!king marinade with minimal effort!
This Vermicelli Salad Bowl is the perfect refreshing summertime meal that's so good you'll forget you're eating healthy! For this recipe, I'm using Lemongrass Chicken that's incredibly zesty, juicy, and tender.
You could even serve it up with fresh homemade Vietnamese Shrimp Salad Rolls for takeout at home!
Plus, it's so fun to put together for dinner parties. Lay out all the ingredients for friends and family to build their own Vietnamese Vermicelli Rice Noodle Salads together.
Ingredients for Vietnamese Rice Noodle Bowl
I’ll be upfront and let you know there are quite a few ingredients that make up this Vietnamese rice noodle salad... But don’t let that intimidate you! The prep is very easy.
When all the components are brought together, it’s like a symphony of delightful flavors and textures awakening your taste buds!
Vermicelli bowls are made up of:
- Lemongrass: If you've never tried lemongrass, you're missing out! It's fresh, lemony, and bright, so it beautifully balances the sweetness from the marinade. You can find fresh lemongrass at local Asian markets or even Amazon now!
- Protein: This recipe calls for Lemongrass Chicken - it's zesty, smokey, and garlicky. It's super easy to put together and SO good! If you're not in the mood for chicken, check below for alternatives.
- Vegetables: Carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, and bean sprouts are popular choices to mix in Vietnamese vermicelli bowls. Each vegetable adds exciting layers of texture in each bite. You can either cut the carrots and cucumbers into thin match sticks or grate them.
- Fresh Herbs: Sliced ribbons of fresh basil, cilantro, and / or mint add bursts of freshness and depth of flavor.
- Nuoc Cham Sauce: There's incredible flavor created with just a few simple ingredients!
- Fish Sauce: This adds a salty depth of flavor to the dipping sauce. I usually go for the Three Crabs Fish Sauce or Squid Fish Sauce brands.
- Aromatics: Fresh garlic and Thai chilies are a must, but watch out because Thai chilies pack in heat! Adjust to your tastebuds.
- Hot Water: It's important to use warm or hot water for this recipe, otherwise, the sugar won't dissolve and you'll end up with crunchy bits at the bottom of your sauce.
What Noodles to Use
Thin dried vermicelli rice noodles are used for this recipe, however, thin mung bean noodles work just as well.
Vermicelli rice noodles are thicker and bouncier in texture, while the thin mung bean noodles are slightly faster to prepare - both are delicious and can be easily found at local Asian markets.
How to Make it
How to Prepare Lemongrass for the Chicken Marinade
Lemongrass stalks can typically be found in Asian markets, though it’s starting to become more broadly accessible. Choose the freshest-looking green lemongrass as possible.
Prepare the lemongrass by removing the bottom bulb and thin leaves at the top. Then peel off the tough outer leaves until you have a fragrant, tender, white/light green stalk. Lemongrass has a wonderful lemony minty fragrance!
It's also worth noting that its fibers can be quite tough. So, you can either bruise it and leave large chunks to remove later, or finely mince it so it's more edible.
We're going with the latter because it adds significantly more flavor to the marinade when it's ground up with the other aromatics. Trust me, the flavor is insane!
Step 1. Marinate & Cook Chicken
Make the lemongrass chicken marinade by grinding together the marinade ingredients in a food processor or mortar and pestle. Marinate the chicken for at least 1 hour or up to overnight in an airtight container kept in the fridge.
Cooking Method for Lemongrass Chicken
This lemongrass chicken recipe is so flexible and fool-proof that it'll turn out delicious no matter your cooking method! I will say though that it's easier to get nice even charr using some methods over others, so I made a few notes below. But again, no matter the method you choose, your chicken will turn out SO good!
Also, make sure to allow the chicken to rest for 5 - 10 minutes after cooking to keep your chicken nice and juicy.
- Air-Fryer: Get a beautiful char with less cleanup. Pre-heat the air fryer to 400 degrees F. Gently pat dry any excess moisture on the chicken while avoiding removing the bits of lemongrass, garlic, and chilies. Place on a lightly oiled air fryer rack and cook for 7 - 10 minutes, or until charred and cooked through.
- Grill: This is a popular way to cook lemongrass chicken because you get a beautiful char with smokey flavor too! Cook chicken on the grill for 10-15 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked. Flip halfway through.
- Skillet / Cast Iron: Like grilling, you have a stay close by for this method, but I love how beautiful the chicken caramelizes! Heat a lightly oiled large skillet on medium heat. Sear and cook the chicken for about 7 minutes, or until caramelized and fully cooked, flipping halfway through.
- Oven: This is the most hands-off method and easiest cleanup, but I found it's harder to get as nice of char or caramelization compared to other methods - still delicious though! Broil chicken in an even layer on the top rack of the oven. Don't let the chicken overlap, otherwise, they won't get even browning. Focus on browning the chicken on one side. If you try flipping halfway through, the chicken won't have enough time to caramelize on either side.
Step 2. Make Nuoc Cham Sauce & Noodles
Combine hot water with sugar until it's dissolved, then mix in fish sauce, white vinegar, garlic, and Thai chilies for a kick. Allow to cool until ready to serve.
Cook the vermicelli rice noodles in boiling water according to the package's instructions. Drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking process, then set aside.
Step 3. Assemble & Toss
In serving bowls, combine vermicelli noodles, vegetables, herbs, and grilled lemongrass chicken. Drizzle on some of the nuoc cham sauce, toss, and enjoy!
- Critical Step for Maximum Flavor: I HIGHLY recommend using a food processor or mortar and pestle to grind up the lemongrass, garlic, and chilies to release as much of their flavors into the remaining marinade ingredients. Trust me, you do not want to skip this step!
- Ideal Marinating Time: Marinate the chicken for at least 1 hour, up to overnight in the fridge in an airtight container. The longer you marinate it, the more flavor the chicken will absorb.
A Vietnamese vermicelli bowl is the epitome of healthy eating without compromise. Fresh bright vegetables, charred smokey chicken, and zingy Nuoc Cham sauce tie everything together into one beautifully flavorful bowl.
And the beauty of making your own Vermicelli Salad Bowls at home is that you can customize them to your liking. Add in or swap out the protein and veggies for any of your favorites!
Here are a few ideas:
- Grilled pork, shrimp, or beef
- Marinated tofu
- Fried eggrolls
- Shredded red or green cabbage
- Thinly sliced green onions
- Thinly sliced bell peppers
It’s low in fat and if you'd like to reduce the carbs, you can reduce or omit the noodles for one of the most flavorful salads you’ve ever had before!
Make-Ahead & Storage
To make ahead:
- Chicken: Marinate chicken for 1 hour or up to overnight before cooking and keep it in the fridge in an airtight container until you're ready to cook. Alternatively, you can cook the chicken, store it in the fridge, and assemble your vermicelli bowl up to 5 days later.
- Vegetables: Chop vegetables and refrigerate in an airtight container until you're ready to toss together your vermicelli salad bowl.
Store any leftover rice noodles, vegetables, and sauce separately so they don't become sad and soggy while sitting together.
Yes! It's packed with fresh vegetables and lean protein for a refreshing and nutritious meal. The vermicelli bowl includes rice noodles, but if you'd like to make it low-carb, you can swap it with extra lettuce or omit it all together for you to enjoy guilt-free.
The vermicelli is made of dried rice noodles, however, you can swap them up for dried mung bean noodles and your Vietnamese vermicelli rice noodle bowl will be just as yummy!
More Easy & Refreshing Meals!
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Vietnamese Vermicelli Rice Noodle Salad with Chicken
- 2 stalks lemongrass* white parts only, minced (see notes below)
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 3 ½ tablespoons white sugar
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil*
- 1 - 3 Thai chilies* thinly sliced, adjust to spice level
- 1 pound skinless boneless chicken thigh
Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce
- 1 cup hot water
- 3 tablespoons white sugar
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1-2 Thai chili thinly sliced, adjust to your spice level
- 12 oz thin dried vermicelli rice noodles
- 2 cucumbers julienned, seeds removed optional
- 2 carrots julienned or shredded
- 4 cups lettuce shredded
- 3 cups bean sprouts optional
- handful mint leaves optional
- handful cilantro leaves optional
- handful basil leaves optional
Step 1: Marinate & Cook Lemongrass Chicken
- In a food processor or mortar and pestle (see notes), grind together the marinade ingredients.
- Transfer to a large ziplock or airthight container, then stir in the remaining marinade ingredients until the sugar has dissolved. Coat the chicken well in the marinade and let it marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour up to overnight
- Cook in the air fryer at 400 degrees F for 7 - 10 minutes or until cooked through. Cooking time may slightly vary depending on the thickness of the chicken. (You can also check above for alternative cooking methods.)
Step 2: Make Nuoc Cham Sauce & Noodles
- In a bowl, combine the hot water and sugar until it's dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients, then set aside to cool.
- Cook vermicelli rice noodles according to the packaging's instructions. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
Step 3: Assemble Vermicelli Salad Bowls
- Assemble your vermicelli bowl by placing noodles at the bottom of the bowl. If noodles are stuck together, run them through cold water to easily separate them. Layer on veggies, sliced lemongrass chicken, and herbs (if using). When you're ready to serve, drizzle on some Nuoc Cham sauce. Enjoy!
- Lemongrass: Fresh lemongrass from Asian markets works best. Peel and mince the white part of the stalk for the marinade.
- Alternative Cooking Methods:
- Grill: Char with smoky flavor. Cook for 10-15 minutes, flipping halfway.
- Skillet / Cast Iron: Caramelize chicken on medium heat for about 7 minutes, flipping halfway.
- Oven: Broil chicken on top rack for even browning, focusing on one side.
- Time-Saving Swaps: Use rotisserie chicken and pre-cut veggies. Customize vermicelli bowls with leftover vegetables.
- Storage: Keep leftovers separate to avoid sogginess. Store noodles, veggies, and sauce separately.
Exact calculations may vary. For the most accurate nutritional information, use your preferred nutrition calculator, actual ingredients, and quantities used for the recipe. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian if more precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.