Ramen is a blank canvas for flavor, according to Hans Lienesch, aka The Ramen Rater. “You have different qualities of canvas—that’s your noodle—and then you’ve got the paint for it, which is whatever flavor.” Lienesch is a true instant noodle connoisseur: Over the course of almost 20 years, he has written more than 4,000 reviews in search of the best ramen noodles.
At its core, ramen is unbeatable at offering warm, salty, carby, comfort. You may be familiar with the traditional, super-cheap American ramen offerings, from Nissin under the Top Ramen brand or from Maruchan. These can cost as little as a quarter a piece (significantly less than even the bottom-tier Sapporo Ichiban packs), but only represent a sliver of the vast ramen market.
Lienesch has eaten thousands of instant ramen variations from all over the world—even banana ramen from Ukraine—but in the end, he comes back to the classic square “pillow pack.” Even within that category, there’s a lot happening beyond the ultra-cheap, simple convenience store versions. “People are looking more for high-end instant noodles,” agrees Luke Haga, the Japanese category manager at Weee!, an online Asian and Hispanic grocery store.
Now is the perfect time to have fun exploring the wide world of instant ramen. Armed with tips from Lienesch, Haga, and a whole lot of taste-testing, we gathered the best ramen noodles to help you find your own favorite kind.
- Best Tonkotsu: Sapporo Ichiban Momosan Tonkotsu
- Best Palm Oil-Free: Nissin Raoh Soy Sauce
- Best Spicy: Mama Hot and Spicy
- Best Vegan: Indomie Vegetable Flavor Rasa Soto Mie
- Best Soy Sauce: Maruchan Gold Soy Sauce
- Best Ultra-Cheap: Maruchan Chicken or Creamy Chicken
Features to Keep in Mind
Types of Ramen Noodles
For simplicity’s sake, we limited this list to the classic pillow pack, as opposed to the high-end boxed styles, which tend to get more complicated than the “instant” moniker implies, or the cup-style, which Lienesch says tend to be pretty hit-or-miss on quality. There are also the perishable fresh and frozen versions, which again tend to require more complicated cooking, but bring a huge jump in noodle quality. “It’s like apples and oranges,” says Lienesch.
Most instant noodles tend to offer simple directions: add the noodles to a cup or two of boiling water and let them cook for three to five minutes. Some add the soup base or other flavor sachets with the noodles, others add it at the end of cooking. Ramen fanatics often prefer to cook the noodles separately from the boiling water they use for the soup, as it keeps the loose starch coming off the noodles from muddling the broth’s flavor. For this guide, however, we tested each ramen exactly as it instructed, without adding any toppings until finished with the judging portion.
Adding toppings is another key element of preparation. Haga, who used to work in a plant that manufactured the chashu (sliced pork) often used on prepared ramen bowls, likes to add that to his finished soup when he has it on hand. “Before, people just cooked the noodles,” he says, but now they get more elaborate, adding scallions, egg, bamboo, and seaweed. Lienesch’s two must-haves are mung beans and scallions—he even has what he has dubbed the “Holy Slicer,” which automatically chops up scallions for him. He also shares “Egg School” videos to guide people to perfect eggs and a new super simplified chashu recipe.
Tonkotsu is traditionally made with long-cooked pork bones, which results in an opaque creaminess, though instant ramen often uses dairy or other products that imitate or are derived from it to mimic that look and taste. Soy sauce flavor ramen brings big salty flavor with a lighter broth, while miso leans on the umami of its main ingredient to add complexity.
What should you look for when tasting? “I like a chewy noodle, I like broths that are rich and unique, and just blow my mind,” says Liensech.
Our Top Picks
Best Tonkotsu: Sapporo Ichiban Momosan Tonkotsu
This co-branded pack from Sapporo Ichiban and Momosan Ramen, a restaurant from Masaharu Morimoto of Iron Chef fame, brought as much of the rich creaminess expected in tonkotsu as any of the brands, and with less artificial taste. The standard Sapporo Ichiban tonkotsu white chicken flavor was also quite good, but in this one, the noodles are not fried (as most instant ramen noodles are, resulting in up to five times more fat in the final product), but still had good chew and held up in the broth. It comes with both a liquid soup packet and a dry seasoning packet, the latter of which released a pile of sesame seeds and dried leeks into the soup, boosting its flavor and texture.
Best Palm Oil-Free: Nissin Raoh Soy Sauce
Best Palm Oil-Free
Finding a ramen that doesn’t use palm oil, one of the least sustainable but most ubiquitous ingredients in processed foods, is incredibly difficult. Finding a ramen without palm oil that also tastes great? Even harder. But all of Nissin’s Raoh soups—their premium brand—are extremely good, and their soy sauce version also happens to be palm oil-free. The broth is full of umami and oil in a way that coats the noodles in flavor, and the non-fried noodles have a really good chew to them. It’s a competitor for the title of top bowl in any case, with the added bonus of no palm oil.
Best Spicy: Mama Hot and Spicy
Many of the spicy noodles attempt to knock out eaters with heat, leaving the rest of the bowl somewhat lacking. But Mama’s broth pairs a pleasant spice level with a nice rich broth.
The thick noodles had only a medium chewiness. While it didn’t bring the big explosion of flavors that the popular Shin and Shin Black are known for, it did have a more well-rounded flavor overall.
Best Vegan: Indomie Vegetable Flavor Rasa Soto Mie
The competition for best vegan soup was hot, with Nongshim’s Soon coming in strong, but this ultra-affordable version from the company best known for their mi goreng noodles brought surprisingly big and bright flavors to the bowl. Previously marketed as “Beef and Lime” flavor, but containing no actual meat, seafood, or dairy product, it now goes by “Vegetable flavor.” The flavor is the same impressive punch of lime—makrut lime leaf, seemingly—that lifted this into a realm of unmatched fresh flavor.
Best Soy Sauce: Maruchan Gold Soy Sauce
Best Soy Sauce
Be warned: This one smells artificial, but the flavor is remarkably good. One sip smacks the eater in the face with soy sauce, which is then tempered with a satisfying oily richness. The noodles, like most of the premium brands, had a nice chew on them.
Best Ultra-Cheap: Maruchan Chicken or Creamy Chicken
In reality, this is a near-impossible category to judge. Nostalgia is a powerful factor in food preferences, especially for a dish like instant ramen that is there for us when there’s no time to cook or finances are tight. So really, the best ultra-cheap ramen depends on what pings those Proustian madeleine memories for you.
Still, judging Nissin versus Maruchan head-to-head, the differences began to show themselves. Maruchan’s noodles cooked well, though went soft pretty quickly in the time it took to eat the bowl, while Nissin’s started out tough and never achieved proper chewiness. Nissin had a little greenery—dried leek flakes—in the flavor packet, which was a nice touch, but the overall flavor had an off-putting touch of fustiness. Maruchan’s chicken flavor has a barely perceptible sweetness that rounds out all of the other flavors, making it extremely pleasant to eat. For a slight upgrade without any change in cost, the creamy chicken adds a little oomph.
The Best Ramen Noodles for Carby Comfort in an Instant? ›
Shirataki noodles – Made from the konjac plant, the shirataki noodle is mostly fiber and many brands are either zero net carbs or less than 1 gram net carb per serving.Which ramen noodles have the least carbs? ›
Shirataki noodles – Made from the konjac plant, the shirataki noodle is mostly fiber and many brands are either zero net carbs or less than 1 gram net carb per serving.Is instant ramen good for carbs? ›
Most conventional instant ramen noodle brands are loaded with carbs, saturated fats, sodium, and additives that are detrimental to your health. They're also seriously lacking in protein, fiber, and overall nutritional value.Are ramen noodles keto friendly? ›
Is Ramen Keto? No, most ramen will not be keto, as it's made with wheat-based noodles.Is ramen noodle high in carbohydrates? ›
Instant Ramen Noodles (1 cup) contains 22.5g total carbs, 21.6g net carbs, 5.5g fat, 3.7g protein, and 154 calories.Can a Type 2 diabetic eat ramen noodles? ›
A guilty pleasure for some, a quick-fix for others. While long gaps between meals are not recommended for anyone – it is even riskier for people with diabetes. Nonetheless, instant noodles should not be the answer to your hunger – Nandita Murthy, Diabetes Care Expert at Wellthy Therapeutics explains why.How do you order ramen on keto? ›
Try coconut aminos as a delicious soy sauce substitute. Proteins and veggies are what will give your ramen its texture. Just about all proteins like shredded chicken and pork (stir-fry them in olive oil for an authentic taste) are standard keto foods, as are tofu and the egg that traditionally goes on top.What are the healthiest instant noodles? ›
Shirataki noodles are insanely low on calories and rich in fibre. Plus, they are low in carbs, making them a healthy substitute for Ramen noodles. Shirataki noodles are also keto-friendly, so those who follow a strict keto diet can include Shirataki noodles in their meal.What is the healthiest brand of ramen noodles? ›
McDougall's brand is the way to go. This brand offers healthy, vegan, plant-based foods that you can keep in your pantry. Of course, if you're looking for a vegan option when you want instant ramen, then this is definitely an option you can try. However, don't expect it to taste good.
Is it possible to enjoy noodles when you're following a low carb diet? Absolutely! They may not be the type of noodles you're used to eating, but there are plenty of delicious options.
What kind of noodles are OK for keto? ›
- Shirataki Noodles (aka Miracle Noodles)
- Zucchini Noodles.
- Spaghetti Squash.
- Hearts of Palm Noodles.
- Kelp Noodles.
- Juroat Slim Noodles (Konjac Flour + oat flour)
Shirataki Noodles are also known as miracle noodles or zero calorie noodles. They're originally from Japan and made from glucomannan, a type of fiber from the root of the konjac plant. They're very filling, yet contain no digestible carbs and are low in calories, making them perfect for those on the keto diet.Which has less carbs rice or ramen noodles? ›
Rice also has less carbohydrates than pasta, making it a slightly better choice for anyone who is watching their carbs. We can see from this that pasta is higher in dietary fibre than rice, which plays a really important part in a healthy diet and the health of the body's digestive system.How do you make instant ramen healthier? ›
Toss a few of your favorite vegetables into your bowl of ramen. This will contribute to a hearty flavor and add nutrients to the meal. Carrots, spinach, broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower and peppers will not only give you great taste, they give you a nice serving of vitamins, minerals and fiber in every bite.Do maruchan noodles have carbs? › What is the best instant noodles for diabetics? ›
You can opt for instant noodles that are made of whole grains such as whole wheat or buckwheat. Consuming whole grains foods that are rich in fibre and other beneficial nutrients such as iron and B vitamins can help diabetics in maintaining optimal blood sugar levels.Which noodles are best for diabetics? ›
Have you tried shirataki noodles? Have you ever heard of them? Also known as Miracle Noodles or Konjac noodles, this is hands-down the best pasta for diabetes. These healthy noodles are becoming quite popular because they're carb-free and have only about 10 calories per serving!What kind of ramen noodles can a diabetic eat? ›
Shirataki noodles are a nutritious noodle option for everyone, especially for people with diabetes. It will benefit your body's overall health, including blood sugar levels, gut health, weight loss, and cholesterol levels.Can you eat popcorn on keto? ›
Back to the snack in question: The answer is yes, you can eat popcorn on a keto diet — but there are a few things to keep in mind. Once you figure out how many daily carbs your body can take in to remain in ketosis, you can divvy up your allotment however you like, but popcorn can easily fit in a ketogenic eating plan.Is any instant ramen healthy? ›
Though instant ramen noodles provide iron, B vitamins and manganese, they lack fiber, protein and other crucial vitamins and minerals. Additionally, their MSG, TBHQ and high sodium contents may negatively affect health, such as by increasing your risk of heart disease, stomach cancer and metabolic syndrome.
What can replace instant noodle? ›
- Dried fruits. Dried fruits such as raisins or figs are good and healthy substitutes for instant noodles. ...
- Wheat flour cookies. ...
- Peanuts. ...
- Atta noodles. ...
- Cutlets. ...
- Roasted chickpeas. ...
- Potato edibles. ...
- Homemade potato chips.
The culprit is the highly processed ingredients like saturated fat and high sodium. They contribute to high blood sugar, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.Which ramen noodles taste the best? ›
1. Nissin. The best instant ramen brand goes to the company behind the iconic Cup Noodles: Nissin.What is carb free noodles? ›
What are shirataki noodles? Shirataki noodles (also called miracle noodles or konjac noodles) are zero calories noodles made from glucomannan, a fiber from the root of the konjac plant. The Konjac plant is common in Japan, China and other parts of Southeast Asia.Are 2 minute noodles high in carbs? ›
A vast majority of instant noodles are low in calories, but are also low in fibre and protein. They are also notorious for being high in fat, carbohydrates, and sodium. While you will be able to get some micronutrients from instant noodles, they lack important nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B12, and more.What noodles are best for carb loading? ›
White pasta is still a good source of carbohydrates, but to get the most nutrition for your calories, whole wheat pasta or spaghetti squash are much better options. To get the bestof both worlds, mix whole wheat spaghetti and spaghetti squash in your next pasta dish.Do shirataki noodles have carbs? ›
Shirataki noodles contain a lot of water. In fact, they are about 97% water and 3% glucomannan fiber. They're also very low in calories and contain no digestible carbs.How many carbs a day on keto? ›
The ketogenic diet typically reduces total carbohydrate intake to less than 50 grams a day—less than the amount found in a medium plain bagel—and can be as low as 20 grams a day. Generally, popular ketogenic resources suggest an average of 70-80% fat from total daily calories, 5-10% carbohydrate, and 10-20% protein.Are shirataki noodles and miracle noodles the same thing? ›
Miracle noodles, which are also known as shirataki noodles, are translucent noodles that are made from vegetable fiber. The fiber comes from the konjac yam, which is a Japanese vegetable that goes by a number of other names including devil's tongue, voodoo lily, or elephant yam.What is the difference between konjac noodles and shirataki noodles? ›
Both are made from the konjac potato, the only difference between them being the shape: konjac comes in a rectangular block and shirataki are shaped like noodles. Because of their lack of taste and smell and their jelly-like consistency, konjac and shirataki have never been popular anywhere but Japan.
Is angel hair pasta keto friendly? ›
Angel Hair - Hearts of Palm Pasta - 1 count, 09oz (255g) each - Keto, Low Carb & Gluten-Free. Natural Heaven's Angel Hair is a delicious and healthy alternative to traditional pasta.How many carbs in a bowl of ramen? ›
Ramen noodles have 75 to 100 grams of carbohydrates. Suggested carbohydrates per meal is 75 to 108 grams. So, one ramen bowl has the ideal amount of carbohydrates.Are ramen noodles empty carbs? ›
But while you may feel bloated, chances are you won't feel full. Since the ramen contains lots of refined carbohydrates with virtually no protein or fiber, it's essentially the very definition of empty calories.Is rice healthier or instant ramen healthier? ›
The same amount of calories can be found in 50 grams of noodles (dry, uncooked). So for the same amount (eg: 100 grams) noodles will contribute higher calories. But when you ask which one is healthier, then the noodle or rice that you usually consume is more or less the same.How can I eat instant ramen without gaining weight? ›
Each packet of ramen seasoning is high in sodium and calories. If you're trying to lose weight, it's best to limit the packets or find a low-sodium alternative. Low-sodium soy sauce, low-sodium broth, and spices like ginger, garlic, and onion can all add flavor to your ramen without the extra sodium.Should you rinse instant ramen? ›
You should cook noodles and wash starch off the noodles first. For cold dish, you can serve them as they are, but for warm dish, you need to reheat the noodles before serving them.Does draining ramen make it healthier? ›
Yes, draining the ramen noodles will make them somewhat healthier. The reason for this is that when you drain the liquid after boiling the ramen, you are removing the added salt and other ingredients.Is Top Ramen good carbs? ›
Most conventional ramen brands are high in carbs (anywhere from 40-80 grams net carbs) and starch count since they're made with enriched wheat flour. At the same time, they lack any real nutritional value. And as research shows, consuming refined and overly processed starches can be bad for your health.Do all noodles have carbs? ›
Pasta and noodles are made of a simple mix of flour and water, although they can also contain a binding ingredient like eggs. Because of this basic composition, this food category is almost entirely composed of carbohydrate calories.Do keto noodles have carbs? ›
Shirataki noodles are wildly popular Japanese noodles made from the root of konjac yams. The name translates to “waterfall,” referring to the delicate, translucent nature of these noodles. These veggies have zero net carbs, are low-calorie, and will fill you up with their high fiber. They're also grain-free.
What are the Japanese noodles with no carbs? ›
Shirataki Noodles are also known as miracle noodles or zero calorie noodles. They're originally from Japan and made from glucomannan, a type of fiber from the root of the konjac plant. They're very filling, yet contain no digestible carbs and are low in calories, making them perfect for those on the keto diet.Which Japanese noodles have the least carbs? ›
Shirataki noodles are long, white noodles that consist of a type of starch known as glucomannan. The body does not digest this starch, making shirataki noodles very low in calories and carbohydrates.Are Miracle Noodles carb free? ›
A natural soluble fiber found in the konjac flour that we make Miracle Noodle, Miracle Rice, and our Ready-To-Eat meals from is called glucomannan. It not only slows your digestion and prolongs the sensation of fullness, it has virtually no calories and no carbohydrates.Can you get carb free noodles? ›
These keto pasta noodles are Calorie-free, carb-free and contain no sugar or fat. Carb free noodles are Kosher, Vegan, Wheat Free, Gluten free, Soy Free, Low GI. You won't have to wait too long for your delicious gluten-free pasta meal to be ready to eat!Does shirataki noodles have carbs? ›
Shirataki noodles contain a lot of water. In fact, they are about 97% water and 3% glucomannan fiber. They're also very low in calories and contain no digestible carbs.Are shirataki noodles unhealthy? ›
Shirataki noodles are usually considered good. These noodles are low in calories and carbohydrates and high in glucomannan (fiber). Glucomannan is a water-soluble dietary fiber with multiple health benefits and is often used for promoting weight loss.Are shirataki noodles really healthy? ›
It improves general bowel function, which reduces your risk of hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, and colorectal cancer. The fiber in shirataki noodles is soluble fiber, which acts as a prebiotic, promoting the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon.What foods are good for carbo loading? ›
A natural choice when carb-loading, whole grains are recommended for at least half of your daily allotment of grains. This can include foods made from whole wheat, whole grain corn, brown rice, steel cut oats, cereals, quinoa and kamut.Are Udon noodles healthier than ramen? ›
What's the healthiest? While both dishes brim with flavor, Udon could be considered the healthier of the two noodle type dishes as it tends to have cleaner, simpler toppings and has lower sodium as it doesn't use kansui (the alkaline solution that gives ramen its unique flavor).What are the best Japanese noodles for diabetics? ›
Shirataki noodles are a nutritious noodle option for everyone, especially for people with diabetes. It will benefit your body's overall health, including blood sugar levels, gut health, weight loss, and cholesterol levels.
What is the healthiest Japanese noodle? ›
Soba noodles originate from Japan and are considered to be far healthier than other Asian varieties like Udon noodles ( although our Neds Udon noodles are 95% fat free). Soba noodles are usually made from buckwheat which offers a number of health benefits.