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WHAT: The untimely demise of your pre-summer diet. An instant dandan noodle sauce that will create, for you, this iconic Sichuan street food, any time any day, in under one hello-cellulite! minute.

WHY: Because I now have a huge jar dangerously in my possession, constantly tugging my soul in between responsibility and liberation, misery and happiness. And they both want company.

HOW: There are as many variations to dandan noodles as the number of people making it, each altering the ratio between sauce and noodle, the style and intensity of the seasonings, the types of noodles and toppings, all to their own particular likings. I, for example, have published this dandan noodle recipe a long time ago, which was decidedly soupier and negotiated its way towards the peanut-y route back when I discovered my sesame intolerance (it’s like lactose intolerance but only more niche). I didn’t even find out about my intolerance until later on in life after having a food intolerance test. I just thought the bloating and fatigue was just part of me but now I know the real reason behind my body playing up. Now, this version, aside from the difference that it is meticulously designed as an all-in-one sauce mix, is actually more authentic to the flavors that I often found myself slobbering over when I was still living in China, more sesame-based, assembled together more as a sauce than a soup, filled with savory beef-bits that are freckled with ground Sichuan peppercorns, and it doesn’t call for doubanjiang (broad bean chili paste).

Well, authentic, up until the pickled jalapeño comes in.

Now, why American pickled jalapeño as opposed to Chinese pickled mustard greens as authenticity would’ve commanded? Well, A) I don’t care about authenticity. And B) Even in Asia, Chinese pickled mustard greens tend to vary greatly in quality, saltiness and taste, making it a very unfriendly ingredient in recipe-development. Then last and certainly not least C) I happen to decide that, in this particular instance, pickled jalapeño actually works more marvelously than its traditional counterpart, more acidic than salty, more ready-to-use, and more fragrant in terms of the much desired peppery-ness that beautifully integrates and aids the layering of flavors in this beloved Sichuan dish. Each seasoning functions as an distinct entity, accurately marking their highs and lows, sharp and creamy, spicy and numbing on the tempo of their own choosing, but ultimately all comes together as a harmonic yet active, single organism.

Is this the best dandan noodle you’ll ever have? I dare not say that myself. But you just might.

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  • 0.75 lb (320 grams) ground beef
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 3 cloves of garlics, grated
  • 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 packed cup finely mined pickled jalapeño
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 3 scallions, smashed and cut into segments
  • 4 cloves of garlics, smashed
  • 5 tbsp Sichuan chili flakes
  • 1/2 star anise
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp ground Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp medium white sesame paste/tahini (see note *)
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp chicken powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 8 cloves of garlics, grated
  • Store-bought or homemade low sodium chicken stock
  • Finely minced pickled jalapeno
  • Finely diced scallions
  • My ultimate chili oil to serve


  1. MAKE BEEF MIXTURE: In a large bowl, mix ground beef, fish sauce, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, ground Sichuan peppercorns, cornstarch, grated ginger, grated garlics and ground white pepper until even, then set aside. In a NON-STICK skillet, heat canola oil over medium heat. Cook the finely minced jalapeño until shriveled and almost crispy (partially cover the skillet to prevent splattering), about 2 minutes. Drain it through a fine sieve, reserve the crispy jalapeño, and return the oil back into the skillet. Add the ground beef-mixture, breaking it up into small chunks with a wooden spoon, until they are evenly browned and caramelized. Add the crispy jalapeño back in and turn off heat. Set aside.
  2. MAKE CHILI OIL: In a small pot, cook canola oil, scallions and garlics over medium heat, until the scallions are deeply browned on all edges. Remove the solids with a slotted spoon, drain well, and discard. In a spice-grinder, process Sichuan chili flakes, star anise, ground coriander, ground cumin and curry powder until thoroughly powderized. Transfer the spice-mixture into the oil, along with white sesame seeds, and return the pot to medium heat. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the color of the oil turns from a bright red color to a dark maroon color, about 1~2 minutes. Turn off heat, and stir in the ground Sichuan peppercorns. The residual heat will continue to cook the mixture. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  3. FINAL MIXING: In a large bowl, add the ground beef-mixture, chili oil (do not drain), medium white sesame paste, soy sauce, smooth peanut butter, light brown sugar, chicken powder, balsamic vinegar and grated garlic. Mix with a large fork until evenly mixed. Transfer into an air-tight container and keep refrigerated for up to 3 weeks (estimate). Can be divided into smaller portions and stored in the freezer as well. Thaw to room-temperature and mix well before using.
  4. TO SERVE: Be quite generous with the sauce:noodle ratio, making it almost semi-soupy!! I like to use ramen noodles for this particular dish, but you can choose any noodles that you prefer. Over the stovetop or in the mocriwave, mix equal part of instant dandan noodle mix with equal part of low-sodium chicken stock BY VOLUME until hot (there's no need to let it come to a boil). So if you need 1 cup of sauce for your noodles, you'll mix 1/2 cup noodle mix with 1/2 cup chicken stock. Then pour it over the cooked noodles. I urge you to add a tbsp of this chili oil on top. Garnish with finely minced scallions and more finely mined pickled jalapeño.


* What I mean by "medium" sesame paste/tahini is sesame paste that is darker than the very pale Middle Eastern tahini, but much lighter than the very dark Chinese-style sesame paste. Which means I always go for Japanese-style white sesame paste (such as this one) that is perfectly in the middle. And from the look of it, this Trader Joe's tahini looks about right as well.

  • Heidi

    June 8, 2018 at 1:20 AM Reply

    Dandan sauce is my FAVORITE noodle sauce and I’m so excited you made it part of your instant noodle sauce series! One quick question about the Sichuan chile flakes in the chili oil. If I don’t have that handy (I plan to order it), can I just grind Sichuan peppercorns very finely to make the flakes? I do have Korean chile flakes (gochugaru) on-hand that I could substitute, but I don’t want to miss out on the mouth-tingle. Thoughts?

    • Karen

      June 8, 2018 at 11:15 AM Reply

      I’m not Mandy, but Sichuan chili flakes are an entirely different beast than Sichuan peppercorns. Using 5 Tbsp more in the oil on top of the 2 Tbsp that are already there would probably be overwhelming. Use the Korean chili flakes you have or order the Sichuan chili.

      • mandy@ladyandpups

        June 8, 2018 at 12:50 PM Reply

        Heidi, Sichuan chili flakes and Sichuan peppercorns are not the same thing! Sichuan chili flakes are dried Scihuan chili, toasted with oil then ground. Sichuan peppercorns looks like budding peppercorns. They numb your tongue but is NOT spicy. So 5 tbsp of Sichuan chili flakes provides heat and aroma, and the Sichuan peppercorns provides the tingling and fragrance. Completely different purposes. I find Korean chili flakes less spicy than Sichuan chili flakes, but you can substitute it FOR SICHUAN CHILI FLAKES (NOT PEPPERCORNS) if you like.

        • Heidi

          June 10, 2018 at 7:20 AM Reply

          Thank you so much, Mandy! I’ll definitely get some.

        • Mikaela Fuchs

          June 22, 2018 at 9:46 AM Reply

          Yeah so the numb tongue is normal? Not sure I like it. Next time I make this I’ll dial the peppercorns way back. But hold on- it just occurred to me- was the 2 tbs ground peppercorns in the chili oil 2 tbs once they’re ground, or 2 tbs whole peppercorns, ground? I did the former and I felt like my mouth was having a reaction.

          I”m a big fan of the bunker crack slurp from way back, so I’m excited to try that one next!

      • Heidi

        June 10, 2018 at 7:19 AM Reply

        Thanks, Karen!

  • Pamela

    June 8, 2018 at 7:01 AM Reply

    Mouth watering! I loooove Dan Dan Noodles! This looks and sounds sooooo amazing!

    About how many tablespoons of the instant mix per serving, I wonder?? To make my life easier, I may just add some of your Chili Oil ingredients to the Japanese Ra-Yu, a Japanese chili oil often added to ramen here, that I have – a sneaky Pete move, I know. Sorry! Smile!!

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      June 8, 2018 at 12:53 PM Reply

      Pamela, dandan noodle suppose to have a generous amount of sauce. “Per serving” really depends on the amount of noodle you use, which is why it’s hard to dictate. The LARGE BOWL in the photo that you see here, will require about 3~4 tbsp of the sauce mix + 3~4 tbsp of chicken stock.

  • Sonja Rienderhoff

    June 9, 2018 at 12:49 AM Reply

    Just made it and inspire of missing some ingredients its just wonderfully ……..Sichuanese
    Used to live in Chengdu and it’s definitely a trip down memory lane, albeit a bit more ‘manageable’.
    Thank you so much for your wonderful blog and amazing recipes, it’s such a pleasure!
    Best regards,
    Sonja from Portugal

  • Sonja

    June 9, 2018 at 12:53 AM Reply

    PS normally I don’t like to leave comment but since I read you read every one I just wanted to show my appreciation.
    Have been following your blog for years?

  • thefolia

    June 9, 2018 at 7:53 PM Reply

    Love me some noodles with a kick…happy slurping!

  • Alice

    June 15, 2018 at 12:54 PM Reply

    Thanks for this! Your dan dan recipe is my favorite and my go-to, so I’m psyched to see a refresh! I’ve made it with ground beef, ground pork, and even vegetarian-ish with crumbled tofu and mushrooms, sometimes more soupy and sometimes less soupy, and it’s always, always delicious. Please keep sharing deliciousness!

  • Jo Pham

    June 16, 2018 at 3:17 PM Reply

    This looks amazing!

    What kind of noodles do you use/recommend?

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      June 17, 2018 at 2:06 AM Reply

      Jo, I feel like most noodles would work. I personally used Japanese ramen noodles, but Asian dried noodles, fresh mid-thickness noodles will be great too. maybe avoid rice noodles.

  • ShuennKee

    June 21, 2018 at 12:16 AM Reply

    Do you know where I can buy sichuan chill I flakes in Hong Kong??

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      June 21, 2018 at 12:14 PM Reply

      Shuennkee, I always buy mine from China through Taobao. But you could also look into wet markets and see if they carry it.

  • Mikaela Fuchs

    June 22, 2018 at 9:48 AM Reply

    Yeah so the numb tongue is normal? Not sure I like it. Next time I make this I’ll dial the peppercorns way back. But hold on- it just occurred to me- was the 2 tbs ground peppercorns in the chili oil 2 tbs once they’re ground, or 2 tbs whole peppercorns, ground? I did the former and I felt like my mouth was having a reaction.

    I”m a big fan of the bunker crack slurp from way back, so I’m excited to try that one next!

    • Mikaela Fuchs

      June 22, 2018 at 9:51 AM Reply

      sorry for the duplicate comment!

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      June 22, 2018 at 12:38 PM Reply

      Mikaela, yes the numbing on the tongue is totally normal, and that’s what special about Sichuan peppercorns! I did mean 2 tbsp ground peppercorns. If you think that’s too much for you, you can dial it down however you like, but you’ll lose that Sichuan peppercorn fragrance as well :)

  • Melissa

    July 10, 2018 at 3:32 AM Reply

    Mandy, I have to tell you after living on the west coast of Ireland for two years these noodle recipes are a lifesaver. I have been making this dan dan noodle almost non-stop, and am about to try pho bo! Thank you so much!

    • Louy

      May 25, 2021 at 10:56 AM Reply

      Dan Dan noodles!
      Who knew? I first made the crack slurp years ago and in this cold were experiencing, dan dan seemed just right! I chewed on one of the peppercorns to make sure I had the right stuff. OMG! Lip & tongue numbing! But the soup is mild competitively!
      I’ve lost my taste and smell so I’m flying blind, so to speak! My husband’s resounding appreciation is astounding. Thank you for this spicy, salty complex noodle!

  • Lizzie

    September 18, 2018 at 11:06 PM Reply

    This looks incredible – Quick q, are we completely comfortable with leaving this cooked beef in the sauce for 3 weeks…?

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      September 19, 2018 at 2:25 AM Reply

      Lizzie, the shelf life is a rough estimate but the sauce is extremely salty and therefore should last awhile.

  • Marlies

    March 19, 2019 at 8:21 PM Reply

    Hi Mandy, is there a reason, why you omitted ya cai? Imho it is crucial to the real dan dan taste.

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      March 19, 2019 at 11:52 PM Reply

      Marlies, hmmm I’ve never had yacai in Dan Dan noodles when I was in Beijing though.. but you can always add it if that’s what you like;)

  • Alexandra Donica

    April 25, 2019 at 2:53 AM Reply

    I tried the recipe and it worked out amazingly:-) do ramen noodles refer to noodles with or without egg? which one do you prefer in this recipe?

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      April 25, 2019 at 10:36 AM Reply

      Alexandra, with or without egg is fine, basically a thin noodle of your choosing.

  • Renee

    November 6, 2019 at 10:16 AM Reply

    Hi! What proportion of noodles to everything else do you recommend?

  • Brittany

    November 19, 2019 at 4:16 AM Reply

    I made this last week and its so good! it seems like a lot of steps, but it really did make a lot for future uses.

  • Hannah Flack

    February 24, 2020 at 2:02 PM Reply

    Honestly I don’t think I could live without having both gray days and sunny ones! California has had a long, rainy winter so I am definitely looking forward to sunshine. However, once we start hitting 90 degrees in the summer months, I will be looking forward to that rain again! Things I am also looking forward to this –> making this frittata!

  • Yiorgos Chatziioannidis

    April 11, 2020 at 7:24 PM Reply

    Just tried this and it came out GREAT, thanks for the recipe :)
    Am I wrong in thinking that omitting the beef mixture would increase the mixture’s shelf life by a lot and wouldn’t need to be refrigerated?

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      April 12, 2020 at 12:45 AM Reply

      Hi it will keep longer but I would still refrigerate it though!

  • Kecia Stewart

    May 10, 2020 at 10:33 AM Reply

    Hi, is the packed cup of finely mined pickled jalapeño necessary? If so, where can i find this? I know about jalapenos but I am not sure about mined pickled jalapeno. Thanks so much!! Love your recipes!!!

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      May 10, 2020 at 1:08 PM Reply

      Kecia, no you buy pickled jalapeño (usually sliced) and mince it yourself

    • Sandra

      March 17, 2021 at 3:54 AM Reply

      Hi, Kecia- pickled jalapeños are completely different from fresh jalapeños & cannot be substituted one for the other. They are a Mexican (not American, although very popular in the US) ingredient, and can probably be found in any Latino market & I’m sure online. If you are in the US, you can find them anywhere, in the condiment aisle or Latino products section. Other countries, would just depend where in the world you are. A good rule is if it comes in a jar or a can, it’s pickled.

  • Mo Wenz

    October 17, 2021 at 1:49 AM Reply

    Hey all! Have made this so many times and realized that I’ve only used the middle eastern tahini. Of course it’s still delicious but wanted to ask what flavor profile I’m missing by using the light tahini and if there are any additional ingredients I can use to round it out. Thanks so much!

  • Shelly Shaw

    December 31, 2021 at 10:31 AM Reply

    Hi Mandy,
    Help! I made this recipe yesterday and had some tonight. It is very spicy and very salty.. is there anything I can do to take these two elements down now that it’s made? It’s just too much for me as it is but I don’t want to throw it out. think this would be excellent if the salt and spice was cut down by at least half. Thank you for your recipes and videos, love them!

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      January 2, 2022 at 2:17 PM Reply

      Hi Shelly, I’m very sorry for the late reply! Dandan noodle is supposed to be an intense dish but you could always add more stock to thin it out? or use it as a soup noodle topping?

  • Amber

    August 23, 2022 at 7:05 AM Reply

    This may have already been answered but… first – the video says to use pork but the recipe says beef, I am guessing either is fine (?). Also, approximately how many servings does the recipe make? And last – can the extra sauce be frozen? This is the first time I have watched one of your videos, so great to watch.

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      August 23, 2022 at 12:57 PM Reply

      Amber, yes both pork and beef is fine. I didn’t specify the portion because everyone’s portion size vary widely but there’s specific amount to use in the instruction. I believe the sauce can be frozen yes.

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