What are Canton Noodles?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Canton noodles are Chinese noodles that are cooked and then dried, making them extremely fast cooking when cooks need to use them. They are popular in dishes all over Asia, especially in the Philippines, and can be found in many Asian markets. Many stir fries call for these noodles, since they can be quickly added and they will not make a stir fry damp or soggy like freshly cooked noodles can. They are typically found in the dried noodle section of Asian markets or in specialty stores.

Canton noodles are a popular feature in Asia cuisine.
Canton noodles are a popular feature in Asia cuisine.

Usually, long egg noodles are used to make Canton noodles. The egg noodles are cooked and then coiled to dry, creating neat packets. They may be flat or round, and vary widely in width. After being completely dried, the noodles are wrapped in plastic and sealed for sale. They keep in a cool dry place for four months or longer, depending on additions to the noodle dough. Should the noodles become damp, they should be discarded, since they can develop mold.

The noodles can be quickly dunked in hot or boiling water to soften them before they are used. They can also be added directly to a stir fry to cook. If the stir fry is dry, a small amount of stock may be added to soften the noodles up. A very popular Philippine dish, pancit Canton, is made with stir fried Canton noodles and a simple sauce. Many families have their own versions of this dish with varying spice levels and ingredients.

The fast cooking noodles can also be added to soups and similar Asian dishes that may call for noodles. For cooks who forget to cook their noodles when making complicated Asian noodle dishes, they can be very handy. Although they are Asian noodles, they do not have to be used exclusively with Asian cuisine. Some may be seasoned with flavorings that would not mesh well with Western foods, but others can be used just like regular egg noodles in things like casserole and chicken noodle soup.

Some companies make Canton noodles with additions like squash and seaweed. In addition to creating a desired flavor, these additions can also make the noodles much more nutritious. Flavorings can shorten the shelf life of the noodles, however, so cooks should always make sure to read packaging and expiration dates carefully when working with them.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


@Talentryto-- If you've cooked with lo mein noodles before, you will not have a hard time cooking with Canton noodles. I think that they're very similar.

There are many recipes out there on how to cook Pancit/Canton noodles. You can prepare them by either blanching them in boiled water for a few minutes first, or by simply adding them to a dish with enough water. They don't require much water or cooking time, so if you add about half a cup of water, that should be enough. The great part about this method is that the noodles soak up more flavor and taste better.


@ddljohn-- Yep, I've tried several different types of instant Canton noodles. Being a student who loves noodles, I always have to have instant noodles at home for a quick meal. I've also had regular Canton noodles at restaurants.

If you have time and can take ten or fifteen minutes to make stir-fry, then I recommend regular Canton noodles. If you don't have time and need a fast meal, instant Canton noodle mixes are a good alternative. Some of the spice mixes that the noodles come with are not very good though. So I suggest trying several different brands and flavors to decide what you like best. Be careful with the spicy mixes because some of them are really over the top.

My favorite is citrus flavored instant Canton noodles. There are also chicken, beef, chili and vegetable flavored noodles. Once you decide on a flavor, you can buy them in bulk online which is much more affordable than buying them individually.


Has anyone here tried instant Canton noodles? Are they any good? I have made Pancit noodles with Canton noodles before, they turned out good. But I've never tried the instant variety.


Talentryto, you can simply substitute other types of noodles with Canton noodles in your recipes. If you like the firmer texture, I think you will be happy with how they work for your recipes. You will also find that it's easier to cook them, because you don't have to worry about the texture becoming too soft.


Does anyone have experience about how to cook canton noodles with American dishes? I like the idea that they do not get soggy like other types of noodles often do, and would like to give them a try with some basic American recipes.

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