Noodle noshers and pasta-loving people, this fast food guide is for you! With 410 locations around the United States, this rising star of the starch-filled menu could be a vegan food-lover’s dream. But, is it? Want to find out what’s vegetarian, plant-based, dairy-free, and vegan at Noodles and Company? Keep reading, friends!
It makes sense to associate pasta noodles with plant-based foods. At restaurants like this, though, it’s more what’s put on the noodles than the noodles themselves. If they only offered plant proteins and dairy-free sauces, all would be well in the world.
Because of this, managing the Noodles and Company menu is not as easy as it could be. You have to weave around the un-eatables and venture far out for the vegetables. Mixing and matching, swapping and substituting is the game for eating grub at this grill. Are you ready for an oodley-noodley adventure? Let’s go!
What’s on the Noodles and Company Menu?
When you’re facing the menu at this starch-based fast food joint, you may feel like either everything (or nothing) is available to you as a vegan. It can be overwhelming, especially if you’re hungry and about to hit the floor from a lack of food. Just follow our lead and you’ll be eating your lunch in no time.
Here’s what we suggest:
- Know Your Noodles – Noodles are key. Choose from the list below, but they’re all vegan-friendly except the egg noodles and tortellini (which contain egg and/or cheese).
- Designate a Dressing (or Select a Sauce) – Although there are only two dressings for salads, there are many sauces that fit the bill. Go wild and choose a few!
- Say “Yes” to a Salad – If you’re really wanting to be full of food, add one of the veganized salad options to go with your noodles. Or, get a salad and add all the veggies. Oh, yeah!
- Volumize With Veggies – With so many vegetable toppings, you just have to include a huge variety. Are we right?
- Fill Up With Fruit or Satisfy With Starch – For “dessert”, select sliced apples or applesauce. If you want a little starchy snack, buy the baguette.
Veganized Main Meals
Since most of the menu items at this restaurant contain either dairy-rich sauces or animal products, there’s not an easy vegan option. Although there are a number of veggie and sauce choices for adding to the dishes, the main meals are mostly a miss. But, never fear, this is a list of meals that you can order with a few tweaks:
- Spaghetti & Meatballs – Ask for marinara sauce with no cheese and no meatballs.
- Japanese Pan Noodles – Request added tofu.
- Spicy Korean Noodles – Swap the marinated meat for tofu.
- Grilled Orange Chicken Lo Mein – Leave out the chicken and replace with tofu.
- Cauliflower Rigatoni Fresca – No cheese or shrimp.
Vegan Salad Options
Any salad option at this restaurant is all about the leave-outs and the add-ins. If you don’t mind some complicated ordering, then give these greens a go. FYI, it’s actually easier to order them online.
- Asian Apple Citrus Salad – The easiest of the bunch. Just ask for no chicken and swap in tofu if you’d like.
- Grilled Chicken Caesar – The most difficult of the lot. You can only get the greens and kale lettuce blend with citrus dressing. No caesar dressing, no croutons, no cheese, no chicken.
- Mexican Street Corn Salad – No chicken, no feta cheese, no cheese dressing, and no tortilla strips (they have dairy in them). Select the citrus or balsamic vinaigrette dressing instead and add tofu.
- The Med Salad – No chicken, no feta cheese, and no dressing. Ask for the citrus or balsamic vinaigrette dressing instead and add tofu.
Which Noodles Are Vegan at Noodles and Company?
Except for a few noodles (such as the egg noodle and tortellini), the rest are accidentally vegan. So, my friends, there are oodles of noodles to nosh on. Which one is your favorite?
- Cauliflower Rigatoni
- Lo Mein
Note: The Pipette pasta is made with corn, so it’s a good choice for anyone who is gluten-sensitive.
This is a surprisingly short list, if you don’t count the veggies and toppings.
- Apple Slices
- Oyster Crackers (our personal favorite)
We love that you can choose from so many vegetables, either raw or cooked. Make sure to include all the ones you adore so that your lunch or dinner will be extra appetizing and surely more satisfying.
- Corn, roasted
- Cucumber, sliced or diced
- Green Onion
- Kalamata Olives
- Mushrooms, raw white or roasted
- Red Onion
- Seasoned Tofu
- Snap Peas
- Zucchini, roasted
Add a little pizzaz to your dish with any of these pleasant tasting picks.
- Asian Seasoning
- Black Sesame Seeds
- Crispy Jalapeños (yup!)
- Italian Seasoning
- Red Pepper Flakes
- Smoulder From Boulder
Vegan Dressing and Sauces
Although most of the dishes themselves are not vegan, there are a number of savory sauces to choose from that can add more flavor to your meal.
- Balsamic Vinaigrette
- BBQ Sauce
- Buffalo Sauce
- Citrus Dressing
- Fresca Sauce
- Japanese Pan Sauce
- Korean BBQ Sauce
- Marinara Sauce
- Orange Sauce
- Potsticker Sauce
- Soy Sauce
- Vegetable Broth
Are the Noodles and Company Kids Meals Vegan-Friendly?
The food choices for kids’ meals are pretty sad. Here’s what they can order, but we can almost guarantee they’ll be hungry later. You can always double the order, but another option is to buy a side order of salad or other noodle dish to satisfy.
- Main Meal – Spaghetti & Meatballs with no meatballs or cheese.
- Sides – Choose two sides—either broccoli, apple slices, or applesauce.
- Beverage – Only choices are orange juice or possibly a water bottle.
Nothing new here, just the usual.
- Coca-Cola fountain drinks
- Fresh Brewed Iced Tea
- Minute Maid Lemonades
- Orange Juice
NOT Vegan At Noodles & Co.
- All Classic Noodle Dishes (all contain meat and also a milk or cheese-based sauce)
- World Famous Macs (all contain dairy cheese and/or animal products)
- Flatbread (contains milk)
- Garlic Croutons (contains milk additives)
- Pad Thai Sauce (has fish sauce as an ingredient)
- Potstickers (made with chicken, but the potsticker sauce is vegan-friendly)
FAQs About Vegan Options
This one is a disappointment, but not a surprise. Both of the cookies and the rice crispy all contain dairy.
That’s a no go for this noodle dish. The Pad Thai sauce that they use contains fish sauce, which is not vegan-friendly. At small chain or local Thai restaurants, they sometimes can leave out the fish sauce, but for larger restaurants like this, the sauce usually comes pre-made.
Sorry to say that none of them are plant-based. The Tomato Bisque contains dairy and the Chicken Noodle has, of course, chicken and chicken broth. We’d love to see a vegetable soup or a bean chili added to the menu!
None of the appetizers (or shareables, as they call them) are vegan. They all contain either dairy and/or meat.
Helpful Hints When Ordering Vegan at Noodles & Co.
- Browse the Noodles & Company menu before ordering. You can also print out the menu here.
- If ordering Noodles & Co. online or through a delivery service, make sure you clearly specify any substitutions you would like. If you’re worried that your request may not be honored (or seen by the server at Noodles and Company), it might be a better idea to go there directly to order.
- Check out their Nutritional and Allergen and Ingredient Information pages to make sure that you are purchasing a vegan-friendly item. The menu items offered at Noodles & Company don’t seem to change very often, but you may want to double check before you visit.
- Be careful when new and exciting seasonal products are offered at Noodles and Company. Double-check the allergens and ingredients to make sure the item is vegan before purchasing.
Historic Vegan Moments in Noodles and Company History
- None yet! Let’s keep hoping they’ll start to add a plant-based protein other than tofu.
Fascinating Facts About Noodles and Company
- Miso Soup and Spicy Cold Peanut Noodle Salad used to be on the menu, but are sadly no longer offered.
- Founder Aaron Kennedy worked at Pepsi Cola Company and Oscar Meyer before starting this own business.
- There’s no tipping allowed at this restaurant.
- At some of the Canada locations, they have a breakfast menu.
- Aaron Kennedy founded Noodles & Co. in 1995 after being inspired by all of the NYC Thai noodle shops.
Creating a Kinder and More Accessible Noodles & Company Vegan Experience
Even though Noodles and Company have not yet added any plant-based protein alternatives to their menu, we can still live and dream. Since there are so few vegan-friendly pasta places to choose from, let’s hope that they get their act together and add some options soon. Imagine all of the appetizing alternatives they could include – like vegan meatballs, dairy-free cheese, or even a plant-based pad thai. In the meantime, we can always write to, call, or contact the managers of any location to make our requests.
Have you found any other Noodles & Company options to be veganizable? Did you find something amazing that we missed? Let us know by tagging #worldofvegan and sharing your favorite vegan-at-noodles-and-company creations with all of us!
How To Order Vegan Lunch at Other Fast Food Chains:
This article is not sponsored and we are in no way affiliated with Noodles & Company. At the time of this article, the menu items mentioned above are vegan. Since restaurants constantly update their menus and add or take away items, please keep this in mind when ordering your food. There may be new items that are vegan at Noodles & Company and not listed or items listed here as vegan, which are no longer vegan. Take care to double-check.
This vegan at Noodles & Company guide was written by Gina House and edited by Michelle Cehn and Amanda Meth. Please note that this article may contain affiliate links which means shopping through them really helps to support World of Vegan!