Real Deal Chinese Sesame Noodles

A bowl of sesame noodles with Chinese spice oil

This recipe is all about personalization

I’ll be honest with you; it’s difficult to properly write up this Chinese sesame noodles recipe because it all depends on how each individual likes it. Some like it plain with just sesame sauce, noodles, a bit of minced garlic, and sliced cucumber. Some people like my husband prefer their sesame noodles swimming in Chinese black vinegar with heaps of Chinese pickled vegetables mixed in. As for me, I like to take it to extremes with loads of garlic and hefty spoonfuls of Lao Gan Ma chili oil. 



a bowl of Chinese sesame noodles

This recipe, unlike others that can be so precise, relies on knowing what you like and going with the flow. This means that if this is your first time making it, proceed with caution, taste as you go, and don’t be afraid to experiment with adding different ingredients.

What is Chinese Sesame Paste?

A bowl of sesame sauce

Sesame paste (芝麻酱) is a frequent staple in Chinese cuisine. It makes a great sauce to spoon over cold vegetable dishes or toss with various Chinese noodles (all delicious, by the way). I first came into contact with sesame paste when I indulged in spicy hot pot where sesame paste was diluted with water and fortified with minced garlic and other fermented sauces. I always went through at least two helpings of garlicky sauce when feasting on Chinese hot pot. 


When living in China, it was easy to pick up a jar of sesame paste at the local market. I often would throw together this recipe in Beijing when I needed a quick and healthy lunch or light dinner. As always, make these noodles your own and serve them with your choice of protein (grilled chicken, sauteed tofu, etc) and your choice of vegetable (sliced cucumber, tasty Chinese pickled vegetables, cilantro, sliced green onions, etc). 


A bowl of Chinese sesame noodles
These noodles are great as leftovers for a cold lunch or light dinner.

Can I use tahini as a substitute for Chinese sesame paste?

In my travels, I have sadly been in places where I could not get my hands on Chinese sesame paste. In my desperation for a tasty bowl of Chinese sesame noodles, I did try to use tahini as a substitute. Unfortunately, this little substitute did not produce the results that I was expecting. 


As it turns out, although both tahini and Chinese same paste are made from ground sesame seeds, they are two very different products. Tahini is made from ground hulled sesame seeds and produces a creamy texture with a slightly bitter aftertaste. Chinese sesame pastes on the other hand from toasted whole sesame seeds and produces a consistency and taste similar to peanut butter.


So, the short answer is this: no, tahini is not a great substitute for Chinese sesame paste. 


Where can I find Chinese Sesame Paste?

I often order my jars of Chinese Sesame Paste online or take a trip to my local Asian grocery in Edinburgh. One jar usually lasts me about 2 full servings of sesame noodles. 

If you would like to try making your own Chinese Sesame Paste, China Sichuan Food has a recipe for it here. For this recipe, all you will need is the basics: white sesame seeds, sesame oil, and salt. Easy as it sounds. 

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a bowl of Chinese sesame noodles

Real Deal Chinese Sesame Noodles

  • Author: Spicepaw
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian


These Real Deal Sesame Noodles are made to order from Chinese sesame paste, soy sauce, black vinegar, and garlic. Great for a light lunch or a meatless dinner. #sesamenoodles #Chinese #vegan #recipe


Units Scale

1 jar (225g) of Chinese sesame paste

500g spaghetti or any other kind of long, thin noodles

27 cloves of garlic (minced)

13 tbsp of light soy sauce

13 tbsp of Chinese black vinegar

12 tbsp of sesame oil

Chinese chili oil (optional)

Chopped cilantro/coriander (optional)

Chopped green onions (optional)


  1. Cook and drain noodles. Let cool.
  2. Mix Chinese sesame paste with equal parts water. Add the water slowly until you have reached the desired consistency. Some people like it thicker whereas others might prefer it more watery. The choice is up to you, just don’t add to much water!
  3. Add soy sauce to taste.
  4. Add Chinese black vinegar to taste.
  5. Add sesame oil to taste.
  6. Toss with Chinese chili oil, chopped cilantro/coriander, and chopped green onions. (optional).
  7. Serve cold with sliced cucumbers and/or your favorite Chinese pickled vegetables.


Go slow when adding the water to the sesame paste. You might find that once you have added water, it becomes drier. Just add more water until you have achieved a creamy consistency.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Main, Noodles
  • Method: Boiling, Mixing
  • Cuisine: Chinese

Keywords: Chinese sesame noodles, spaghetti, noodles, Chinese recipes, soy sauce, black vinegar, garlic, cilantro, green onions, sesame oil, sesame noodles. vegan, vegetarian

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Author: Natasha

I'm just a busy expat mom who has a psychological need to feed people. I enjoy learning about new cultures, (especially the food) and enjoy experimenting with new ingredients and spices

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