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Hand-pulled noodles (la mian 拉面) are springy, chewy and delicious traditional homemade noodles that are rolled and stretched into long strips. |

Hand-Pulled Noodles

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5 from 3 reviews

  • Author: Sam Hu | Ahead of Thyme
  • Total Time: 2 hours 17 minutes
  • Yield: 2-3 servings
  • Diet: Vegan


Hand-pulled noodles (la mian 拉面) are springy, chewy and delicious traditional homemade noodles that are rolled and stretched into long strips.


  • 250 grams all-purpose flour (2 cups)
  • 3 grams salt (1/2 teaspoon)
  • 125 grams water (1/2 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


Prepare the Dough:

  1. Whisk together flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Slowly add water into the mixture and stir well to combine using a silicone spatula until it forms a shaggy dough (and no dry flour is visible in the bowl). Sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl with the spatula.
  2. Transfer the shaggy dough onto a clean and lightly greased surface (The oil will help the dough from sticking to your hands initially). You can also lightly oil your hands. Knead the dough until it is smooth, about 5 minutes. To knead, push the dough down and outward using the palms of your hands. Fold the dough in half toward you and press down. Repeat this motion by pushing the dough down and outward, and then folding over towards you, until the dough ball is smooth.
    • A well-kneaded dough is smooth and can hold its shape. When you give the dough ball a firm poke with your finger, the indentation should bounce right back. If it doesn’t bounce back and stays like a dimple, keep kneading for a few minutes.

Shape the Dough and Rest:

  1. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces with a knife or bench scraper and flatten each piece into a rectangle with a rolling pin. The rectangle doesn’t have to be perfect since it will be cut into strips and the strips will be hand pulled later on.
  2. Space each rolled out dough apart on a parchment-lined baking tray and gently brush vegetable oil over the dough to prevent from it from losing moisture. (You can also wrap each dough separately in plastic cling film).
  3. Cover the dough with plastic cling film and leave it to rest for 2 hours, or refrigerate it overnight, and bring it to room temperature the next day but setting it out on the kitchen counter for about 20 minutes. Resting for  a long period of time helps relax the gluten in the dough completely, which makes it possible to stretch out the dough.

Pull the Noodles:

  1. Place the dough on a lightly oiled chopping board and cut each piece into strips. To make wide noodles, cut into 1.5 to 2-inch thick strips. To make thin noodles, cut into 1/2-inch thick strips.
  2. Hold the ends of each noodle strip using each hand and slowly pull the noodle towards opposite directions. Make sure to pull it slowly to avoid snapping. Gently bounce the noodle against the countertop to help it stretch further.
  3. Fold the noodle and pull again and gently bounce to stretch the noodle. For wide noodles, you can stretch the noodle out to your total arm length, across your body. For thin noodles, you can stretch them out about one arm's length. 

Cook the Noodles:

  1. In a large cooking pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil over medium high heat. Add the pulled noodles into the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes.
  2. Drain the noodles with a spider strainer or a colander and place it into a bowl.
  3. Serve the noodles immediately with seasoning or sauce to avoid the noodles sticking from together. Use the thin noodles to make traditional Shanghai scallion oil noodles or spicy dan dan noodles. Use the flat noodles to make authentic biang biang spicy noodles (Xi'an chili oil noodles) or spicy cumin lamb noodles.


How to store noodle dough: Once you have give the noodle dough enough time to rise, you can wrap it tightly in plastic cling wrap and store in the refrigerator for up 3 days before use. To use, allow the dough to come to room temperature before slicing into strips, about 20 minutes.

How to store raw noodles: These noodles have to be cooked immediately once you have pulled them. To store uncooked noodles, you will have to use flour to coat them to prevent them from sticking together, and the texture of the noodles will change.

How to store cooked noodles: Hand-pulled noodles are best served fresh. Once the noodles start going cold, they will stick together and get stiff. If you have leftovers that you want to store, you can store them in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator, but the noodles may clump together. To reheat, I prefer to steam the noodles rather than heating directly on a pan as it will release more starch into the pan and change the texture even more.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes (+ 2 hours rest time)
  • Cook Time: 2 minutes
  • Category: Noodles
  • Method: Hand-pulled
  • Cuisine: Chinese