There are times when I like instant ramen. That’s right, those small packets of salty noodles that you only find out in the grocery store for only $30.
I don’t usually eat instant noodles, perhaps once per year, but if I get the craving, I’m totally not above grabbing a packet and eating it up.
I’ve learned six simple ways to make instant ramen into a real meal, so I can use my leftovers as well, and that’s how I’ve been eating it up to the point where it could actually qualify as a valid meal.
It is a total win-win situation, so I am going to share them with you today because it is a total win-win situation.
The bowl in the photo above contains instant ramen, and the upgrades required to make it a little better were also relatively inexpensive.
There is no doubt that the best way to upgrade instant ramen would be to just purchase real ramen (either from an Asian grocery store or from a restaurant), but that isn’t what we are talking about today; instead, we are going to tackle the issue of how to upgrade instant noodles.
The problem is that as long as you only have the option of eating the cheap packets of ramen that you find in just about any supermarket or convenience store in America, that’s the only option you have.
The solution is here, however, if your only option is to eat those packets of ramen.
Are you ready? Let’s learn how to upgrade ramen with Apronese.
Instant Ramen Upgraded in 6 Ways
1. Use Your Own Broth
The flavoring packet can be skipped and your own broth, no matter what kind you prefer, can be used instead.
As a rule of thumb, I like to use either the vegetable or chicken flavored Better Than Bouillon (I mix the broth with the water half way through to keep the salt down), but if you prefer to use homemade bone broth, dashi, or miso mixed in with water, you could do the same.
You will also be able to control the salt and other ingredients better than ever before, and you will be able to choose from a number of different flavors to choose from.
2. Add Aromatics
When you add fresh aromatics to your broth, the flavor of your broth really swells. For example, I like to add fresh garlic, ginger, and green onion to the broth.
I usually keep all three of these on hand (I keep ginger in the freezer), so it’s a no-brainer for me to add these. I also find that fresh ginger gives the soup a pleasant medicinal quality that is very effective when you’re feeling ill.
TIP: If the green onions are seen on top, either sprinkle them over the top before adding your broth, or sautée them with the ginger and garlic before adding the broth to the pot. If the green onions are seen on top, sprinkle them over the top after simmering for a few minutes.
3. Sauce it Up
There are probably more than 20 half-used bottles of sauce in your refrigerator. Well, instant ramen is a great way to use up some of these sauces.
It is always possible to add a variety of sauces to your broth, such as sambal, chili garlic sauce, sriracha, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, fish sauce, gochujang, soy sauce, and so many others, in order to give your broth more flavor.
It would also be good to add them to the finished bowl as a kind of tabletop seasoning.
TIP: This is one of the reasons I prefer to do half broth and half water with my soup to give myself more wiggle room for adding other sauces to it later on.
Adding sauces is usually going to add salt, so bear this in mind when choosing your broth.
4. Add Vegetables
Whenever I have the chance, I enjoy eating my bowl of ramen which is bursting full of vegetables. Here’s where it becomes fun and useful.
Look in your refrigerator for any vegetables you want to use up, such as carrots, bell peppers, mushrooms, cabbage, and so on. Alternatively, you may want to add frozen veggies, such as broccoli florets, peas, or corn, to your soup.
TIP: It is not necessary to purchase a whole package of each vegetable, as you can grab a small handful or two at your local grocery store if you do not have any vegetables in your refrigerator.
This will save you from having to purchase an entire package of each vegetable.
There are also many things you can add like tofu (see photo above) or rotisserie chicken, for example.
5. Add a Protein
I prefer to add eggs to my ramen because they are so easy to make and I have them readily available (soft boiled eggs and hard boiled eggs).
But you have so many more options as well.
There are so many options to choose from, including tofu cubes, tempeh slices, chicken wings, ground meats, shelled edamame, pulled pork, shrimp, you name it!
TIP: I found it to be very effective to crack a raw egg right into your simmering broth and then let it simmer for about six minutes without the broth boiling violently.
If it does, then the egg will just break apart into a million pieces and it will just cloud the broth.
In order to make the egg shown above, I cooked it separately, using my easy 6-minute Soft Boiled Egg method and then added it to the finished product.
6. Top it Off
Adding fun items to your ramen bowl is a great way to give it some flavor, color, and texture. Take your ramen to the next level with a variety of fun toppings.
To give it a kick, try using the following ingredients: Sriracha, kimchi, sesame seeds, crumbled bacon, nori (dried seaweed), cilantro, Thai basil, chives, toasted sesame oil, crushed chiles, furikake, or a lime wedge.
I am sure that I would probably pay at least $8 for a bowl of this type of instant noodles in a restaurant if I knew what I was doing; and that’s all I need to do to transform a sad little packet of instant noodles into a truly epic bowl.
My Favorite Quick Fix Upgrade Combo
I am going to share with you the way I usually upgrade instant ramen. As you can see in the photos here, the bowl in the photos is the ultimate version of how to upgrade instant ramen. However, if I am having one of my regular run-of-the-mill days I will often go halfway between plain and the ultimate version.
Upgraded Instant Ramen
If you only have (or want) one of those little cheap packets of noodles, here are 6 easy ways to upgrade instant ramen into a legit meal without having to spend a fortune on the ingredients.
Prep Time: 10 mins/ Ttotal Time: 10 mins
Servings: 1 to 2
- 1/2 Tbsp cooking oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 handful sliced mushrooms
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 cup water
- 1 package instant ramen (seasoning discarded)
- 1 handful fresh spinach
- 1 large egg
- 1 green onion, sliced
- sriracha to taste
- I added oil, garlic, and ginger to a small sauce pot and sautéed they over medium heat for just over a minute until the garlic and ginger arose.
- Adding the sliced mushrooms to the pan will add a bit of color and flavor to the dish.
- It is important to add the broth and water to the pot, and bring it to a boil.
- As soon as the water is boiling, add the uncooked ramen noodles. Let the noodles simmer for about 3 minutes or until they are just tender, and do not overcook them.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, stir the spinach until it wilts. Reduce the heat to low, crack an egg into the broth, and let sit for six minutes, or until the white of the egg is set but the yolk is still runny but the white has cooked through.
- After transferring the soup to your bowls, sprinkle them with a bit of red sriracha and top them with sliced green onions.
Serving: 1 Serving ・ Calories: 547.6 kcal ・ Carbohydrates: 60.1 g ・ Protein: 17.6 g ・ Fat: 26.2 g ・ Sodium: 1238.6 mg ・ Fiber: 3.1 g
The nutritional values shown here are only estimates. Please see our nutrition disclaimer .
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And then depending on whatever else I have in my kitchen, I might add some other fun stuff in, like in the photos.
If you have any ideas on how to upgrade instant ramen in the comments section below, let Apronese know.
I’m loving hearing about all the unique and creative combinations people come up with for their instant ramen!