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Instant Ramen Recipes for Hopeless Ramentics

Don’t walk on by the instant noodle shelf at the market; there’s potential dinner gold in those hills of crinkly packets

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Ramen Noodles with Marinated Steak and Broccoli from Foodie Crush

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Those beloved slurpy noodles that are a perennial favorite of the starving student set are making a comeback. As hip ramen restaurants proliferate across towns and cities, it’s time to reconsider those salty noodles in a new way. Plus, as prices rise at grocery stores, corner markets, and bodegas, some affordable, delicious noodles sound better than ever — as long as you’re not stuck singing the same old ramen song.  

So what ingredients can improve instant ramen? The sky (and what’s in your kitchen) is the limit. Feel free to scour the vegetable bin for odds and ends (a spoonful of sauerkraut, anyone?) or leftover proteins in the fridge; that last bit of BBQ pork or grilled tofu can get a new life on a cozy bed of ramen. And don’t feel obligated to only use Asian ingredients; as a kid, my sisters and I would add a slice of cheese on top and it was delicious, though I worried I was being disrespectful to centuries of Japanese culinary mastery. Years later the visionary behind high-end food trucks, chef Roy Choi, included American cheese in his instant ramen recipe in L.A. Son, his memoir and cookbook. Below you’ll find recipes for baked ramen, raw instant noodles, a ramen burger, and noodles redolent of buttery garlic bread.

And if you peruse the inventive recipes by the inmates behind the gritty cookbook Prison Ramen, you’ll see inspiration can come from unlikely places: The crunchy dust left behind in a bag of Cheetos, a few corn nuts, and a mayo packet can be a game changer. So feel free to go wild; instant ramen can take it.


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Beginner tips for making instant ramen better >>

Instant ramen recipes >>


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Beginner tips for making instant ramen better

Sure, instant ramen, prepared exactly as the package instructions specify, got a lot of us through college. But instant ramen is also the perfect base for endless modifications. Let's noodle on that.


To toss the seasoning packet, or not? That is the question. 

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to instant ramen hacks; the answer usually lies in what you’ve got on hand. A little chicken, beef, or vegetable broth from your pantry with a dash of soy sauce and powdered garlic or ginger can make a world of difference — but if it needs a little oomph, a sprinkle of theseasoning mix in the foil flavor packet can do the trick. It has a lot of salt, but at times it can be better to suffer the slings and arrows of sodium in pursuit of flavor.

What can I add to instant ramen? 

Truly, the choice is yours. What if there are no right answers, but only what makes your mouth happy? 

And if that answer isn't satisfactory, try some red pepper flakes or your favorite hot sauce, which are almost always welcome additions to a bowl of ramen.



You can do that with instant ramen?

Thought recipes with instant ramen only made cheap soup in bowls? Think again.


Ramen Noodles with Miso Pesto

A quick whirl in the blender makes a lovely Japanese-inspired pesto sauce that gets its bright green hue from spinach and cilantro. Sesame oil, garlic, and umami-rich miso deliver rich flavor with a satisfying flavor profile. Serve as-is for a vegan treat, or pair with steamed fish drizzled with sesame oil and slivered ginger.


Ramen Burger

Blow everyone’s mind with this crazy (yet simple to make) take on a cheeseburger. Your friends and family will never see you the same way again; get ready for some serious surprised and delighted diners.


Crazy Good Garlic Butter Ramen Noodles

If you’ve always felt garlic bread was way too crunchy, then this is the recipe for you. Take a break from standard flavors and embrace this instant ramen hack: All the buttery, garlicky goodness of garlic bread with none of the crumbs on your shirt.


Ramen Noodle Bake

This hearty casserole is a simple way to upgrade instant ramen. Baking the noodles in a rich marinara studded with beef (or sausage) and topped with melted mozzarella makes a Sunday dinner worthy of the family on any day of the week.  


Ramen Noodles with Clam Sauce

If you have a lemon, the rest of this recipe can be made entirely from pantry staples. Canned clams, garlic, white wine, and butter come together with ramen noodles to make a quick and luscious main course in under a half hour.


Ramen Carbonara

Springy, easy instant ramen noodles form the basis of this supple Italian dish with a Japanese foundation. Crispy bacon, supple eggs, and Parmesan make a luxurious sauce for a dinner that you can toss together in mere minutes. 


Instant Pot Ramen

Thanks to your Instant Pot, you can upgrade instant ramen noodles with minimal prep time by infusing them with your (quickly made) homemade chicken stock for a meal that’ll taste better than delivery!


15 Minute Garlic Butter Ramen Noodles

Seven ingredients and 15 minutes can deliver an elegant and even healthful weeknight vegetarian dinner when you’ve had enough takeout. Zucchini, ginger, garlic, and a bit of butter and soy sauce give it depth; Italian basil is fine to use, but do use purple or Thai basil if you can get your hands on it.  


Ramen Noodle Soup To Go

This instant ramen hack takes brilliant advantage of quick-cooking ramen noodles, and once you’ve tried it you’ll never look at Cup ‘O Noodles the same way again. Barely cooked ramen goes into a large travel mug (or Mason jar), then gets topped with a little fresh ginger, sliced fresh mushrooms, a handful of fresh spinach, a slice of pork, and a halved hardboiled egg. A little container of homemade sauce containing sesame oil, mirin, sake, and soy sauce is packed alongside to be added just before serving. All you need to complete it is about a cup of very hot or boiling water, making it a great workplace lunch — or a real treat during plane travel! Simply ask for a pour of the hot water they offer for tea bags. (The sauce makes 3 ounces of liquid, safely below TSA’s 3.4-ounce limit.) 



Quick and easy (Send noods!)

Each of these easy instant ramen recipes will have you reaching for a crinkly package again and again


Ramen Noodles with Marinated Steak and Broccoli

This super flexible noodle dish with instant ramen delivers the goods: bold flavor, toothsome steak, with a depth of umami thanks to a quick dip in marinade, and mushrooms for even more savory satisfaction. Add broccoli (if that’s your veggie of choice) and the iron boost will get you through winter’s fiercest storm — or the heaviest crimson tide.   


Ramen Noodle Upgrade

Martha Stewart always keeps it real, just ask her friend Snoop Dogg. Here she works her magic with a ramen packet by adding soy sauce, scallions, sriracha, and peanut butter. Peanut noodles from a convenience food? It’s a good thing.


Healthy Ramen Noodle Stir Fry

25,000 Yummly readers can’t be wrong! This beef, broccoli, and bell pepper stirfry is a reader favorite that uses ramen noodles instead of rice for an even quicker (and perhaps more fun) dinner with a quick homemade sauce for maximum deliciousness.


Mongolian Beef Ramen Noodles

This wildly popular recipe takes its inspiration from PF Chang’s Mongolian Beef, and subs in quick-cooking ramen noodles for rice. Feel free to invite a friend over for dinner at the last minute; this main course dish is ready in about a half hour. Feel free to lower the brown sugar if you’d like it a little less sweet, and low-sodium soy sauce will decrease the sodium. Feel free to freeze the beef, veggies, and sauce for a ready to eat dinner; make the instant ramen noodles right before serving, though.


Chicken Ramen Noodles with Peanut Sauce

This recipe with instant ramen adds a few easy elements to transform a snack into a quick and complete dinner: Chicken tenders (or shredded rotisserie chicken), peanut butter, scallions, and some heat from sriracha come together with a garnish of peanuts sprinkled on top.


Sesame Garlic Ramen Noodles

While your noodles boil, throw out those salty seasoning packets and whip up this garlicky, sesame-scented sauce, and upgrade instant ramen to a slippery, glorious meal. Serve it on the side, toss in shredded roasted chicken if you like, and slurp away.


Lime Shrimp Dragon Noodles

You’ll be breathing a little fire yourself with these spicier ramen noodles (simply use less sriracha for a milder dish); quick cooking shrimp, fresh garlic, and a butter-soy sauce get slathered onto the shrimp and noodles. A squeeze of fresh lime juice and smattering of cilantro make it a dish fit for company — or a special night in.


Thai Red Curry Ramen Bowls

This 30-minute easy instant ramen recipe is vegan, and thanks to authentic Thai red curry paste, whisked peanut butter, and coconut milk, everyone will walk away satisfied. Shiitake mushrooms, bell pepper, and broccolini add color, flavor, and crunch along with vital nutrients; the only surprise is how quickly the bowls land on the table. 


Ramen Noodle Stir Fry

Bok choy, a milder member of the brassica (cabbage) family, helps transform this healthy instant ramen recipe into a more complex and interesting meal. Garlic and two types of soy sauce make for a complex sauce with a little fire from sambal olek. Add your favorite protein and dinner is served.



Side noodle

Show off your mad noodle skills with these clever instant ramen hacks


Crunchy Asian Salad

This modern slaw is a great way to upgrade instant ramen noodle salads traditionally made with iceberg lettuce to a bright and colorful riot of color. Toasting the crumbled noodles with almonds and sesame seeds elevates the crunch and delivers a hearty nuttiness to this crowd pleaser that’ll stay crunchy even on summer’s hottest days.


Ginger Scallion Ramen Noodles

This quick sauce can be thrown together on a weeknight, but it’ll taste like you invested a lot of time over the weekend. Shallot and scallion, ginger and garlic, chili oil and sesame seeds are delicious over a tangle of ramen noodles, and would be especially nice next to sliced roasted pork or grilled tofu.


Kale and Cabbage Coleslaw with Crunchy Ramen Noodles

Skip the stove and get this delicious slaw on the table in about 15 minutes. Edamame and sunflower seeds offer plant-based protein while lightly crushed ramen noodles add crunch along with cabbage and julienned carrots from a pre-shredded bagged coleslaw blend of your choosing.


Crunchy Asian Broccoli Slaw

Even the most rabid anti-broccol-ite in your circle will end up enjoying this clever healthy instant ramen recipe. Bagged broccoli slaw (made from the tender parts of the stems) makes putting this recipe together a snap, and cashew pieces give it a pop of plant-based protein. 



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