Vietnamese Lemongrass Beef Noodle Bowls

A flavour-packed dish that's as easy as it is delicious. Tender steak marinated in a mix of lemongrass, garlic, and ginger, paired with crunchy pickled carrots and a zesty Nuoc Cham dipping sauce. It's a flavour explosion in every bite.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
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Our Vietnamese Lemongrass Beef Noodle Bowls are a flavour-packed dish that’s as easy as it is delicious. Let’s get real – this recipe is a game-changer for busy folks. With just 30 minutes of prep and cook time, it’s perfect for those chaotic weeknights when you need something quick and satisfying on the table.

But here’s the kicker: it’s not just convenient; it’s downright tasty. Picture tender lemongrass beef (or sub with chicken, pork or tofu!) marinated in a mix of lemongrass, garlic, and ginger, paired with crunchy pickled carrots and a zesty Nuoc Cham dipping sauce. It’s a flavour explosion in every bite.

Beef noodle salad with chopsticks and bowl of lime wedges

Why This Recipe Is Amazing

  1. Easy Preparation: With simple steps and readily available ingredients, this recipe is easy to prepare at home. It’s a great option for busy weeknights when you want a delicious meal without spending hours in the kitchen.
  2. Flavourful Marinade: The lemongrass-based marinade infuses the meat with a burst of citrusy, savoury flavours, enhanced by garlic, ginger, fish sauce, brown sugar, and sesame oil. This combination creates a complex and aromatic profile that tantalises the taste buds.
  3. Tender and Juicy Meat: Whether you choose beef or chicken, the marination process not only adds flavour but also tenderises the meat, ensuring it remains juicy and succulent when cooked.
  4. Versatility: This recipe is highly adaptable. You can customise it based on your preferences by adjusting the spice level, swapping proteins, or adding extra vegetables to the bowls. It’s a versatile and flexible dish that can accommodate various dietary preferences and flavour profiles.
  5. Texture Contrast: The combination of tender meat, soft rice vermicelli noodles, crisp vegetables, and fresh herbs creates a delightful contrast of textures in every bite. It makes each mouthful interesting and satisfying.
  6. Healthy and Balanced: Packed with protein, fibre-rich vegetables, and aromatic herbs, this dish offers a balanced and nutritious meal. It’s light yet satisfying, making it perfect for a wholesome lunch or dinner option.
Close up of stick Vietnamese beef noodles

What ingredients are needed

  • Lemongrass Beef (or Chicken, Pork Tofu): Lemongrass brings a citrusy, aromatic flavour to the meat. It infuses the protein with a refreshing and slightly tangy taste, making it incredibly flavourful. Additionally, the marination process tenderises the meat, ensuring it remains juicy and succulent during cooking.
  • Garlic and Ginger: These ingredients add depth and complexity to the marinade. Garlic contributes its pungent, savoury notes, while ginger offers a spicy, slightly sweet flavour. Together, they enhance the overall taste profile of the dish and complement the lemongrass beautifully.
  • Fish Sauce: A staple in Vietnamese cuisine, fish sauce provides a salty, umami-rich base to the marinade. It adds depth of flavour and enhances the savoury notes of the dish. The fish sauce also helps to tenderise the meat while imparting a distinct, authentic Southeast Asian taste.
  • Brown Sugar: Sweetness balances out the savoury and tangy elements in the marinade. Brown sugar adds a subtle caramelised flavour and helps to create a beautifully caramelised crust on the meat when cooked. It also contributes to the overall harmony of flavours in the dish.
  • Sesame Oil: This ingredient brings a nutty aroma and richness to the marinade. It adds depth of flavour and helps to bind the other ingredients together. Sesame oil also imparts a delightful toasted flavour, enhancing the overall taste experience.
  • Pickled Carrots: These provide a crunchy, tangy contrast to the tender meat and soft noodles. The sweetness from the sugar balances the acidity of the vinegar, creating a harmonious flavour profile. Pickled carrots also add brightness and freshness to the dish, cutting through the richness of the protein.
  • Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese Dipping Sauce): This iconic Vietnamese condiment ties the dish together with its bold, tangy, and slightly sweet flavour profile. Fish sauce forms the base, providing saltiness and umami, while vinegar adds acidity. Garlic and chilli pepper contribute to heat and depth of flavour, while sugar balances the acidity and rounds out the taste. Water helps to dilute the sauce to the desired consistency, making it perfect for drizzling over the bowls.
  • Rice Vermicelli Noodles: These light and delicate noodles serve as the base of the dish, providing a neutral canvas to showcase the vibrant flavours of the other ingredients. They absorb the flavours of the marinade and dipping sauce, adding a satisfying texture to each bite.
  • Cucumber, Mint, Coriander/Cilantro, Lettuce, and Spring Onion: These fresh, aromatic herbs and vegetables add layers of texture and flavour to the dish. Crisp cucumber offers a refreshing contrast, while mint and coriander/cilantro impart herbal notes and brightness. Shredded lettuce provides a tender, leafy base, and spring onion adds a mild, oniony flavour.
  • Optional Red Chili: For those who enjoy a spicy kick, sliced red chilli adds heat and additional complexity to the dish. It elevates the overall flavour profile and offers a touch of fiery warmth.
Vietnamese Noodle salad with beef and vegetables

How to make Vietnamese Lemongrass Beef Noodle Bowls

Watch on Instagram @missmolly_makes

Setting You Up For Success – Tips & Tricks

  • Marinate for Maximum Flavour (if you have time!): For the most flavourful meat, marinate it for at least 30 minutes, or preferably overnight, in the lemongrass marinade. This allows the flavours to penetrate deeply into the meat, resulting in a more intense and delicious taste.
  • Slice Meat Thinly: I prefer to pre-slice the beef before marinating but with chicken, I like to keep whole and slice once cooked. Either is fine, but it’s just my own weird thing. Slicing before cooking helps to ensure quick and even cooking. Aim for uniform slices to guarantee consistent doneness throughout.
  • Adjust Spice Level: If you prefer a spicier dish, increase the amount of red chilli in the marinade or add additional sliced chilli to the Nuoc Cham dipping sauce. Conversely, if you’re sensitive to spice, reduce the amount of chilli or omit it altogether.
  • Properly Pickled Carrots: To achieve the ideal texture and flavour in the pickled carrots, ensure they are thinly sliced or julienned. Allow them to marinate for at least 30 minutes, but longer if possible, to fully absorb the sweet and tangy brine. They should still have some nice crunch to them.
  • Cook Noodles Just Right: When cooking rice vermicelli noodles, follow the package instructions and avoid overcooking them, as they can become mushy. Rinse them under cold water after cooking to stop the cooking process and prevent them from sticking together.
  • Customise with Additional Vegetables: Feel free to customise your bowls with additional vegetables such as shredded red cabbage, bell peppers, bean sprouts, or any other favourites you have on hand. This adds variety, colour, and nutritional value to the dish.
  • Use Fresh Herbs Liberally: Fresh herbs like mint and coriander/cilantro are essential for adding brightness and freshness to the dish. Don’t skimp on them; chop them finely and sprinkle generously over the bowls for maximum flavour impact.
  • Double the Dipping Sauce: Make extra Nuoc Cham dipping sauce to have on hand for additional drizzling or dipping. It’s so delicious that you’ll want to have extra on standby!
  • Prep in Advance for Easy Assembly: Prepare the marinade, pickled carrots, and Nuoc Cham dipping sauce in advance to streamline the cooking process. This way, when it’s time to assemble the bowls, everything is ready to go, making mealtime stress-free.
Bowl of Vietnamese beef salad

Troubleshooting Vietnamese Lemongrass Beef Noodle Bowls

  1. Meat is Tough or Dry: If the meat turns out tough or dry, it may have been overcooked. To prevent this, make sure not to cook the meat for too long, especially if it’s thinly sliced. Additionally, ensure that you’ve marinated the meat adequately to help tenderise it before cooking.
  2. Noodles are Overcooked or Clumpy: Overcooked noodles can become mushy and clumpy. To avoid this, follow the package instructions for cooking the rice vermicelli noodles and be sure not to overcook them. Rinse the cooked noodles under cold water immediately after cooking to stop the cooking process and prevent them from sticking together.
  3. Noodles Stick Together: To prevent cooked noodles from sticking together, toss them with a bit of oil after rinsing them under cold water. This will help coat the noodles and prevent them from clumping together while you prepare the rest of the dish.
  4. Pickled Carrots are Too Sweet or Too Tangy: If the pickled carrots turn out too sweet or too tangy for your taste, you can adjust the ratio of sugar to vinegar in the pickling solution. Add more vinegar to increase tanginess or more sugar to increase sweetness, according to your preference.
  5. Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce is Too Salty or Too Sweet: If the Nuoc Cham dipping sauce ends up too salty or too sweet, you can adjust the flavours by adding more water to dilute the sauce or balancing it out with additional sugar or vinegar. Taste as you go and adjust the seasonings accordingly until you achieve the desired balance of flavours.
Kitchen with marble benchtop with bowl of Vietnamese noodle salad

Frequently Asked Questions

When I made this dish on our live cooking show, some community members asked:

Can I use a different protein instead of beef or chicken?

Yes, you can! This recipe is versatile, and you can substitute the beef or chicken with other proteins such as tofu, shrimp, or even pork. Adjust cooking times accordingly based on the protein you choose.

I can’t find lemongrass paste. Can I use fresh lemongrass?

Absolutely! Fresh lemongrass works well in this recipe. Use 2-3 stalks of fresh lemongrass, finely chopped, blended in a food processor or pounded, as a substitute for lemongrass paste. Remove the tough outer layers before using.

Can I make this recipe ahead of time?

While it’s best to assemble the bowls just before serving to maintain optimal texture and freshness, you can prepare components like the marinade, pickled carrots, and Nuoc Cham dipping sauce in advance. Store them separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator and assemble the bowls when ready to eat.

I’m sensitive to fish sauce or I don’t eat fish. Can I use a substitute?

If you’re sensitive to fish sauce or prefer not to use it, you can substitute soy sauce or tamari in equal amounts. Keep in mind that the flavour profile will be slightly different, but it will still be delicious.

Can I adjust the sweetness of the pickled carrots and Nuoc Cham sauce?

Absolutely! Feel free to adjust the amount of sugar in both the pickled carrots and Nuoc Cham dipping sauce according to your taste preferences. You can add more or less sugar to achieve the desired level of sweetness.

Can I freeze the leftovers?

It’s best to consume the bowls fresh, you can freeze leftover components like cooked meat (without the toppings) and noodles. However, fresh herbs and vegetables won’t freeze well and can become limp when thawed. Reheat frozen components thoroughly before assembling the bowls.

How long can I store leftovers in the refrigerator?

Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Reheat thoroughly before serving.

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Vietnamese Noodle salad with beef and vegetables

Vietnamese Lemongrass Beef Noodle Bowls

Servings 2
A flavour-packed dish that's as easy as it is delicious. Tender steak marinated in a mix of lemongrass, garlic, and ginger, paired with crunchy pickled carrots and a zesty Nuoc Cham dipping sauce. It's a flavour explosion in every bite.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


Lemongrass Beef

  • 400 g (.8 lb) Beef Steak, thinly sliced Also try chicken thighs/ breast, pork or tofu! Soo many options!
  • 2 tbsp lemongrass paste
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ tsp ginger grated
  • 3 tbsps fish sauce
  • 2 tbsps brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

Pickled Carrot

  • 1 carrot peeled, cut into thin strips/matchsticks (julienne) or grated
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • ¼ cup warm water

Nuoc Cham – Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2-3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1-2 tsp red chilli finely chopped
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • cup water


  • 200 g rice vermicelli noodles
  • 1 cup cucumber diced small
  • Small bunch mint
  • Small bunch coriander/cilantro finely chopped
  • 1 cup lettuce finely shredded
  • 1 stalk spring onion thinly sliced
  • Optional – red chilli sliced


Marinate the Beef:

  • Mix lemongrass paste, minced garlic, grated ginger, fish sauce, brown sugar, and sesame oil in a bowl. Add beef slices and ensure they're evenly coated. For intensified flavour, marinate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.

Prepare the Carrot Slaw:

  • In a separate bowl, blend sugar, vinegar, and warm water. Add the julienned carrots and toss well. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes until slightly softened.

Cook the Beef:

  • Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Take the beef out of the marinade and cook for 5-7 minutes on each side until it's cooked through. Allow the beef to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

Craft the Nuoc Cham:

  • In a small bowl, whisk together fish sauce, vinegar, minced garlic, optional chopped chilli pepper, sugar, and water. Taste and adjust seasonings according to your preference.

Assemble the Bowls:

  • Divide the cooked rice vermicelli noodles into bowls. Top them with sliced beef, diced cucumber, chopped mint, chopped coriander/cilantro, and shredded lettuce. Add the pickled carrots for a tangy twist.

Bring it all Together

  • Drizzle the desired amount of nuoc cham dipping sauce over the bowls and relish!


  • You can swap beef steak with chicken thighs, but beef offers richer flavour and maintains moisture better. 
  • For a vegetarian twist, substitute beef with tofu cubes marinated in the same lemongrass mixture and grilled.
  • For a spicier kick in the nuoc cham, include a few slices of fresh jalapeno alongside the chilli pepper.
  • Feel free to incorporate other veggies into your bowls like shredded red cabbage, bell peppers, or bean sprouts.


Calories: 990kcal | Carbohydrates: 112g | Protein: 47g | Fat: 39g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 122mg | Sodium: 3244mg | Potassium: 1021mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 5361IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 108mg | Iron: 6mg

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

Recipe Published: March 28, 2024 Last Updated: April 2, 2024
Lauren and Troy George, Creators of MissMollyMakes smiling to camera.

Hiya, I’m Lauren but you can call me Molly!

Former OR Nurse and self-taught home cook passionate about Approachable, No-Nonsense recipes to help you level up in the kitchen. Together with my husband Troy, we create simplified dishes for busy people with easy-to-find ingredients!
To learn more about us, our cooking show and more, click here!

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Leave a Comment

  1. Crystal Murray says:

    5 stars
    This was so easy to make and delicious! This will be put in the monthly dinner rotations.

    1. Miss Molly Author says:

      5 stars
      I am so excited to hear you enjoyed it, Crystal. Thanks for taking the time to review it, I so appreciate it!

5 from 2 votes

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