How To: Turn Instant Ramen Into Gourmet Ramen

April 16, 2020
| Created by Hannah Langley, MS, RDN, CD

Have you recently acquired several cases of instant ramen? While delicious and comforting, those little packets of seasoning and noodles leave a lot to be desired in the texture and nutrition departments. Not to mention, with the teensiest bit of effort you can turn a modest package of noodles into a satisfying and crave-worthy dish. 

A helpful way to think about this is to consider “MyPlate” – the symbol that shows us proportions of a balanced meal. 

The graphic shows five groups, and balanced meal should always include:

  • a protein food
  • two additional food groups

Not only does this cover your nutritional bases, it brings texture, flavor, depth to your dish. It’s the “secret” for turning regular old ramen into restaurant style fare. Noodles are, of course, a grain, so you have one of the additional food groups covered. Now, scour your pantry or refrigerator for a tasty protein. Some tried and true favorites:

  • An egg. Add it to the broth when the noodles are nearly cooked. Boil for 30 seconds. Turn heat off, cover, and wait 30 seconds. Enjoy immediately. 
  • Roasted peanuts
  • Leftover or canned chicken
  • Steamed shrimp

Next, you need the third food group. Since dairy or fruit would be an odd choice for savory noodle soup, veggies are your best bet. Below are a few ideas to add crisp texture and beautiful color:

  • When the soup is done, top with kimchi (fermented Korean cabbage), green onion, and sesame seeds (pictured).
  • Add a handful of favorite frozen veg to the boiling broth when you add the noodles. Continue as usual.
  • Top a bed of spinach with the soup and let the hot broth wilt the greens. Garnish with sesame seeds and green onions.
  • Skip the broth entirely and use uncooked ramen for a crunchy Thai-style salad: cabbage, mandarins, peanuts, and your favorite Asian dressing.
  • Add canned carrots and peas, and fresh green onion and cilantro to the hot soup after the noodles are cooked. Let sit for a few minutes before enjoying.
  • When the soup is done, mix in shredded carrots, sliced peppers, and a drizzle of sriracha (if you like it spicy!)

Mix and match favorite protein and veggie combos to bring your next bowl of instant ramen from meh to mmmm! 

And one final recommendation; if you’re watching sodium, try using half of the seasoning packet. It’s loaded with salt. Even if you aren’t particularly worried about sodium, I find that you get a huge flavor boost by adding a satisfying protein and textural veggies. You won’t even miss the rest of the seasoning packet.

Would you like other ideas to add flavor and nutrition to common pantry items? Email our team at