Ramen—the ubiquitous noodle-and-broth dish enjoyed by people of all cultures and countries the world over. It’s the quintessential dorm dinner, an easy choice for a first date, a rainy day comfort food, and so much more. Its flexibility and simplicity has already won the hearts and stomachs of the majority, but what if we could take it up a notch?
With cities under quarantine in one form or another and restaurants only open to a limited capacity, those of us less skilled with a pot or pan have been relying on the prepackaged instants more than ever. A bowl or two every week—or everyday—of the same thing will take its toll, and your tastebuds will be begging for a change. In this carefully curated list, we’ll show you just how to make instant ramen better by taking those cupboard-fillers and turning them into something new and refreshing.
1. Ramen Noodle Salad
Want to start eating healthier altogether? Here’s a way to wean yourself off the ramen packs and make use of your leftover stock. The ramen noodle salad is an easy and delicious dish that can bridge that gap between instants and leafy greens. You’ll need a couple packs of instant noodles, green onions, cabbage, carrots, and your favorite salad accoutrements. Toss them in a bowl with sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, low-sodium soy sauce, extra virgin olive oil, honey, and you’ve got yourself a scrumptious salad. You can find the full recipe here.
2. Easy Vegan Ramen
Easy vegan ramen is another dish wherein you can enjoy the pleasures of ramen without the guilt. You’ll need vegan ramen packs here, so make sure to check the packaging! Start by cooking your dehydrated noodles in a pot of vegetable broth and adding shiitake mushrooms, sliced onions, ginger, carrots, chopped garlic, vegan miso paste, and tamari soy sauce. Thanks to the Minimalist Baker for this instant ramen hack.
3. Spicy Sriracha Ramen
Now we’re spicing things up, literally. Add a blast of flavor to your usual ramen with the red rooster himself, sriracha! Mixing sesame oil, rice vinegar, onions, tomatoes, soy sauce, garlic powder, and poached eggs really take the dish to another level. Top the dish off with whatever you like, as it’s the sriracha that makes a world of difference. You can find a complete recipe here for a tried-and-true approach.
4. Thai Coconut Curry
While many love ramen, some may prefer curry instead, so this is one dish that can really blow you away. One more thing that makes this great is that it’s really easy to make! All you have to do is add coconut milk, lime juice, and green curry paste to the cooking process then garnish with jalapeńos, peanuts, and cilantro. The people at Tasty are to thank for this delicious dish and other instant ramen recipes.
5. Healthy Kimchi Ramen
Korean cuisine offers a unique flavor profile that’s distinct and absolutely to-die-for. With that said, kimchi and ramen is a marriage made in heaven. All you need is some kimchi, togue, rice vinegar, Korean chili flakes, sesame oil, olive oil, and your choice of instant ramen. Make this dish, and mix up your next Korean food night with friends and fam! For a more complex and full-flavored version, check this recipe out.
6. Tortilla & Lime Ramen
This dish retains some of the convenience from instant ramen but goes above and beyond in the flavor department. Just prepare your normal pack of ramen, and stir in a couple tablespoons of salsa verde while cooking. Afterward, garnish with tortilla strips, cilantro, and a lime wedge. You can find the recipe right here.
7. Ramen Carbonara
Two noodle-based favorites come together in one mouth-watering entrée. If you’re craving some Italian food but all you can find in your cabinet is instant ramen, then we’ve got the solution for you. Toss the flavor packets, boil your instant noodles, and mix in a bowl of eggs, salt, and pepper after draining. Finish it off in a pan with minced bacon, garlic, and olive oil. It’s that easy! Check the full step-by-step here.
8. Ramen Pizza
Another fusion with Italian cuisine, ramen pizza offers a whole new approach to cooking instant ramen. This is a quick and easy dish you can even make for your kids’ next pizza night! Toss marinara sauce, cheese, and your favorite pizza topping into your noodle brick, then bake in the oven at 450° for eight minutes. Helena Dunphy came up with this out-of-this-world dish, and you can find her recipe here.
9. Ramen Burger
We’ve already given instant ramen an upgrade, so why stop there? We’re bringing burgers into the mix! If you’ve got the time and you want to surprise your family or your significant other, we can’t think of a better dish to do just that. Substitute sesame buns for ramen by cooking egg-soaked cooked noodles in a pan, creating noodle buns. Using mason jar rings as a mold really helps in shaping the buns. When preparing the patties, the addition of jalapeños, onions, and garlic complements the ramen perfectly. You can find the full instructions for this Delish dish right here.
10. Ramen Snack Mix
Last but not least, you can turn your ramen into a snack instead of a full-fledged meal. This snack blows your typical pack of trail mix out of the water. Mix uncooked noodles, pretzels, nuts, wasabi peas in a bowl with melted butter, worcestershire sauce, garlic and onion powder, salt, pepper, and ramen seasoning. Place on a tray, bake at 350° for 10 minutes, and voila! You’ve got yourself a yummy snack that can rival anything from the store. You can watch a helpful video showing the process here.
Breathe new life into mundane meals with these recipes! Share your own take on one of these hacks, or create something completely new using tips from our cooking classes. Bon appetit!