Why not bring something different to the party? My ramen salad is full of crunchy textures and healthy veggies ~ everybody loves it!
The idea of crumbling up a brick of uncooked ramen noodles and tossing it into a summer veggie slaw is a little bit crazy, but a little bit genius. I wasn’t sure I’d like it until I tried it and now I’m a believer. Ramen salad is unconventional, yes, but there’s no denying it’s delicious.
did you know?
Instant ramen was introduced to the US in the 1970s by the Japanese company Nissen Foods. Ramen salads are a creative invention of the 1980s and 90s, when most households had pantries stuffed with the little packets of ramen. Some ramen salad recipes call for cooked noodles while others use them raw for crunch.
ramen salad ingredients
- instant ramen noodles
- sesame seeds
- sliced or slivered almonds
- salted butter
- green beans
- pea pods
- water chestnuts (not a nut, but an aquatic vegetable!)
the toasted sesame dressing:
- toasted sesame oil
- rice wine vinegar
- Tamari soy sauce
- fresh ginger
As with so many recipes, there’s no one right way to do ramen salad. Some ramen salads are more like pasta salad, with cooked ramen standing in for the pasta. Others are slaw based recipes that include raw ramen as a crunchy accent.
My ramen salad is slaw style, although I chop rather than shred my cabbage for a different textural experience. I use the ramen uncooked, but toast it in butter with the almonds and sesame seeds. This quick step adds tons of roasted flavor (thanks Maillard Reaction!) It’s a trick I learned from my blogging friend Mary over at Barefeet in the Kitchen and I think it really makes the difference in this salad.
what sets this salad apart
- The toasted ramen makes so much sense because plain ramen can be kind of…meh. But toasting in salted butter, along with almonds and sesame seeds, ramps up everything.
- I blanch the cabbage and beans for just a few seconds. This tenderizes the texture, brightens the color, and brings out the flavor. This step is totally optional.
- The dressing is simple but super rich thanks to toasted sesame oil. I don’t use the flavoring packet from the ramen like other recipes do, but you could certainly experiment with that.
- The salad can be served right away or chilled. After being in the refrigerator the ramen will lose its crunch, but I almost like it better with a little chewy texture ~ so leftovers are a thumbs up!
is ramen salad better the next day?
I think so! The ramen is super crunchy when you first make the salad, but as the salad sits the ramen slowly softens and becomes more like cooked noodles. I love it both ways.
ramen salad faqs
Can I use a bagged coleslaw mix for ramen salad?
- Yes. I’m not a huge fan of them, but if you’re pressed for time, sure.
What flavor ramen should I buy?
- That’s completely up to you, any of them will work because we’re not actually using the flavoring packet in this recipe.
Can I use the ramen flavoring packet in my salad?
- You can either toss it right into the salad, before dressing, or you can add it to the dressing. I recommend starting with just a little bit, it’s strong! If you do want to use it in your dressing you might substitute a milder oil like canola or regular (not toasted) sesame oil.
I want to use cooked noodles, what changes do I need to make?
- Cook the noodles by dropping them in boiling water just until they soften. Then drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking. I would still toast the almonds and sesame for flavor.
I’m allergic to nuts, what can I use instead of almonds?
- You can use sunflower seeds.
Is it ok to eat raw ramen noodles?
- Instant ramen noodles are typically pre-cooked during the manufacturing process, so they are not raw. Keep in mind that in this recipe the noodles get a good toasting in the skillet before adding to the salad. To be extra safe vulnerable populations like young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and individuals with weakened immune systems should avoid eating ramen straight from the package.
Is ramen salad gluten free?
- Ramen noodles are typically made from wheat which contains gluten but you can find gluten free ramen made with rice or other gf flours, check your supermarket, or online.
How can I keep the ramen crunchy?
- The noodles will soften a bit as the salad sits or chills. You might reserve half of the crunchy bits and add them just before serving.
How to make ramen salad a main dish?
- Rotisserie chicken!
more classic summer salads
- Mom’s Creamy Potato Salad Recipe
- Green Goddess Coleslaw
- BLT Pasta Salad
- German Potato Salad
- Coconut Pineapple Coleslaw
- Lobster Pasta Salad
- French Potato Salad
- Creamy Buttermilk Coleslaw
- 3.5 ounce ramen instant noodle packet, discard the seasoning packet.
- 3 Tbsp salted butter
- 3 Tbsp seasame seeds
- 1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds
- 1 ½ pounds cabbage, diced, about 5-6 cups, blanching is optional.*
- 1/2 cup green beans, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces, blanching is optional.*
- 1/2 cup small broccoli florets
- 1/2 cup celery (I use the inner stalks, plus leaves) thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup scallions, both white and green parts, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup pea pods, sliced on the diagonal
- 8 ounce can water chestnuts, drained and diced
- Crush the ramen noodles into small bits. You can do this while they are still in the packet. I like to see some variation in the noodle bits, so I don't pulverize them completely! (Remember to discard the flavor packet.)
- Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and add the crushed noodles, sesame seeds, and almonds. Sauté, stirring almost constantly, until they get toasty and golden. Set aside to cool.
- Whisk together the dressing and give it a taste to adjust in any way you like.
- Pile the veggies into a large bowl and toss with the dressing. Add most of the crunchy ramen, reserving some for garnish, and toss again. Note: if you don't plan to serve the salad right away, do not toss with the ramen. Do that right before serving.
- Salad will keep for several days in the fridge, and the ramen will soften as the salad chills. I found it was great both ways: when the ramen was crunchy, and when it was soft!