16 Instant Soup Brands, Ranked

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It's not just for college kids and campers. There is a surprisingly decent-sized market for instant soup, with many options available in most grocery stores. Instant soup is perfect for when you've had a long day, aren't the best chef in the kitchen, or want that nostalgia of ramen. Yes, ramen is a type of instant soup, and we've included a few popular brands on this list.

We took this instant soup taste test very seriously, following all of the package instructions to a T to ensure that we were being fair and providing you with accurate reviews. Some of these instant soups did disappoint, while others blew us away. Though we could not get the same flavor of soup in every brand due to availability and what the brands each offer, we chose soup flavors we knew we already liked, in general, to be able to have a comparison in mind to the decidedly non-instant soup. Here are instant soup brands ranked.

16. Nissin - Cup of Noddles

We were very surprised and sorry that this one landed itself in last place. Cup of Noodles, from the brand Nissin, is wildly popular among college students and anyone balling on a budget alike. And it's not bad by any means. Cup of Noddles is solid, reliable, and consistent. The reason it's in last place is because of how tasty the other brands on this list were. Simply put, it didn't shape up. But that doesn't mean it doesn't hold a special place in our hearts (many a late night have Cup of Noodles saved).

With Cup of Noodles, you get what you're paying for ($16.99 for a pack of 12 on Amazon). The noodles aren't the best quality, especially compared to some of the other ones we tried on this list, the taste is pretty basic with little flavoring, and the few vegetables in there (mainly corn) looked sad and shrunken. Does Cup of Noodles still bring a smile to our faces? Yes. Will we still buy it? Yes. It's kind of one of those, it's so bad, it's good situations.

15. Maruchan

We were very close to putting this one in last place. The only, and we mean only, the reason it inched out Cup of Noodles was because of the veggies and broth. The noodles were considerably worse than Cup of Noodles, and we think if you combined the noodles from Cup of Noodles with the broth and veggies in Maruchan, you would have the ideal cheap ramen cup.

Maruchan is basically the same thing as Cup of Noodles in every way except the flavors and textures. It's a styrofoam cup with dried noodles, dried veggies, and powder that magically heats up when boiling water is poured over it. For the price of $4.44 for a pack of 12 on Amazon, it's similarly priced to Cup of Noodles (we found one individual cup in the chicken flavor for $0.29 at our local Target), and you're getting a great deal. Even so, we wouldn't choose this one out of a lineup of instant soup brands (clearly). It's mediocre at best, and if you're looking for cheap yet delicious ramen, check out literally any other brand on this list.

14. Bob's Red Mill

Bob, we're sorry. We love all of your other products, but for some reason, this instant soup wasn't what we were expecting.

First of all, it took, no exaggeration, an hour on the stove to cook. One hour is far too long in our book for instant soup. In fact, it's an oxymoron. We cooked the Bob's Red Mill instant soup in the instant pot following the same instructions, and for the time it took to cook, we were expecting a gourmet bowl of soup. We were sad to be proven wrong. We tried the Vegi Soup Mix, and there weren't nearly enough veggies in there. The puke color made eating it genuinely unappealing. The lentils in it were good, but everything else was awful. Again, Bob, we're truly sorry.

If you happen to have this product collecting dust in the back of your pantry, we recommend making it and adding lots and lots of veggies, salt, pepper, and tons more spices to your liking. This instant soup needs some zhousing up. You can purchase Bob's Red Mill Vegi Soup Mix on Amazon for $10 for a 28-ounce package.

13. Samyang

If you're a mega fan of spicy ramen, boy, do we have a good one for you. Samyang is a well-known brand that produces pretty cheap ramen varieties, and you can find ones that are more of the stir-fry style or the soup style where you keep the broth in the bowl. If you're new to spice, the spicy chicken flavor one won't kill you as much as some of the others on this list, but it is very spicy (to us, at least). If you're just looking for ramen in general, keep on scrolling.

This Samyang ramen we tried was mid. The noodles were fine, the broth was fine, the instructions were simple and easy to follow, and the end result was fine. It was, evidently, fine. But it didn't wow us like some of the other instant soup brands on this list, so we'd probably advise skipping this one in favor of another instant ramen. If you're a Samyang die-hard, please don't come for us; we just found other instant soups that wowed us more. You can get this product in a pack of five for $9.39 on Amazon.

12. Alessi

We don't know if it's because the packaging looked higher-end or because we've had success with its regular, non-instant soups in the past, but we expected more out of the Alessi instant soup. It took quite a long time to cook compared to other instant soups (12 minutes to cook in a pot on the stove). We tried the Zuppa Toscana (Tuscan White Bean Soup) flavor, and, like the ones before it on this list, Alessi came out mediocre. For something made with so many quality ingredients, it disappointed us.

If you want to try Alessi's instant soup for yourself, you can get a variety pack of four on Amazon for $19.99, which is fairly expensive. The flavor of this soup was totally center of the road, and if it's the only thing available on the shelf, we won't discourage you from trying it — it could just use a boost of flavor.

11. Lipton

If you saw the name Lipton on this list and thought the brand just made tea, so did we at first. We discovered this instant soup brand in our research, which was surprisingly available at almost every major grocer. It comes in a small box, smaller than the size of your hand, which is convenient for storage and travel.

This instant soup ranks in the middle of the pack because it was quite tasty and incredibly flavorful but way too salty. We recommend adding a little extra water to defuse the salty flavor. It would be ranked higher, yet it took a little bit longer to cook, around five minutes which doesn't seem like a lot, obviously. However, it did require pulling out a pot and cooking it on the stove, which is more assembly than other instant soups on the list. Overall this Lipton instant soup (which we tried in the flavor of chicken noodle soup) was a very solid choice. We definitely recommend it; it just doesn't make the top of the list because it had some serious competition. You can purchase this Lipton instant soup for $20.16 for a pack of 12 on Amazon.

10. MAMA

The Mama instant soup was very flavorful, and the brand's name was fun, too. We tried this ramen soup in the shrimp flavor and found that many of the noodles were broken into little pieces. However, that's probably due to the fact that the package most likely got jostled around in the shipping process (it happens!). This instant ramen soup was one of the better ones that we tried. The seasoning was well-balanced, and the noodles had a sort of genuine flavor and texture to them. If you're not a shrimp person or are allergic to the stuff, we can imagine that any flavor from this brand will have the same quality as this one definitely did.

If you want, you can purchase the Mama ramen soup on Amazon for $4.59 for one pack. Yes, that is definitely more pricey than the less-than-a-dollar ramen options on this list, but we feel the quality matches up with the price, and it's really worth a try.

9. Knorr

Naur Cleo! If you understood that reference, you're a real one. Just kidding. The name of this brand, Knorr, reminded us of that funny meme. We ranked this instant soup in ninth place because it was very easy to make, it had pretty standard directions that were easy to follow, and it was tasty. It wasn't the best tomato soup we've ever had in our life, though we weren't expecting top-notch quality from an instant soup. It did its job, and it did it well. The mini croutons were a nice touch as well.

There really weren't any negatives to this instant soup, just the fact that it was a little bit watery, but it was overall an okay experience. We think the word that best describes this instant soup is "fine." It's not bad, but it's not great. You can purchase this instant soup from Knorr on Amazon for $8.99 for a six-pack.

8. Dr. McDougall's

This is the ideal instant soup for anyone who is vegan or vegetarian. And even if you're not either of those, it's still a good option. We found that the soup from Dr. McDougall's was flavorful but not too salty, and yet it wasn't as full tasting as some of the other soups on this list. It was just good enough to rank in the upper half of our selections. For some extra crunch and pizzazz, we decided to add some unsalted peanuts as a topping to the ramen. They worked quite nicely in it.

One funny thing about this package's directions for the Vegan Miso Ramen noodle soup flavor was that it was recommended to place the soup cup on the edge of the microwave dish. This was a bit unusual to see written in directions, but a good tip to keep in mind when heating up soup. You can purchase a six-pack of this instant soup on Amazon for $19.61.

7. Nissin - Top Ramen

Though the brand Nissin owns both Cup of Noodles and Top Ramen, we found that Top Ramen earned, well, one of the top spots on this list. It was truly night and day from our nostalgic Cup of Noodles. It still, however, wasn't our favorite on the list. That's because the noodles are good compared to many others but still could be improved in texture. They are lacking the characteristic bounce of well-made ramen. We liked the simplicity of the bowl that the ramen came in, but unfortunately, the flavored sauce looked very unappealing and was reminiscent of molasses.

We found that the ratio of the broth to the noodles was good, and it was nice that the bowl it came in was microwavable. The flavor itself wasn't our favorite of the bunch, but it was solid overall. If you want to purchase Top Ramen, you can get a pack of six in the chicken flavor that we tried on Amazon for $11.99.

6. Lotus Foods

For being such a simple item, this was such a quality soup. We ranked the Lotus Foods "instant soup" this high for a few reasons. Number one, yes, this is literally just noodles in a package without any flavorings, seasonings, or sauces that come in it. However, that means it's a blank slate. And if you're looking for a quick, easy, instant soup that lets you customize it without having to do all the work, this is the one for you. The noodles were probably the highest quality ones we tried in this lineup, and they were gluten-free, very well-formed, and easy to cook.

To make our soup, we used two of the four cubes of noodles. Though we generally don't always love the brown bread flavor that comes from millet and rice, we liked it in this context a lot. If you're gluten-free and are looking for a customizable yet easy soup, this is our pick. If you want to try this item yourself, you can get it on Amazon for $15.22 for a pack of 10.

5. Paldo

We were absolutely obsessed with the soup. Now that we're into the final five of this instant soup lineup, we're going to start gushing about what we were obsessed with these soups. This was by far the most steady and reliable ramen soup we tried. The instructions were straightforward and standard for what you see in instant ramen. The noodles themselves were very high-quality for what you paid for. And we tried the Kokomen spicy chicken flavor, and while it was spicy, it wasn't unbearable by any means. In fact, it was delightful.

Ramen, as we've discovered through this process, can be quite hit-or-miss. This was, by all standards, an absolute hit. We would purchase this instant soup any day, and we'd bet that all the flavors from the Paldo brand are as high-quality as this one. If you were looking to purchase this instant soup, you can buy a five-pack on Amazon for $9.71.

4. NongShim

One of the most recognizable names in the instant ramen game, NongShim is renowned for its ability to produce cheap yet incredible ramen. When trying this brand of instant soup for ourselves, we brazenly decided to try the flavor of gourmet spicy shin noodle soup. Now, we know from many sources that this is an incredibly spicy flavor of the soup. Still, we wanted to experience it as we like heat.

Before talking about the spicy journey we went on, we must discuss the other factors of the ramen. The noodles were soft but not squishy, and it was very easy to cook, as with most instant ramen. Along with these factors, the taste of this ramen was absolutely incredible. It was so piquant that we thought the spice would never leave our mouths, and yet it was so good that it was worth it. We don't recommend this flavor to anyone struggling with acid reflux or people with a low spice tolerance. But luckily, NongShim has many different flavors of instant soup for you to try. If you're looking for a taste test, you can buy it on Amazon in a pack of four for $11.75.

3. Mike's Mighty Good

The title speaks for itself. Mike's Mighty Good is, actually, so good. It comes in the standard circular ramen container. It follows the standard ramen instructions of dumping the flavor packets over the noodles, pouring boiling water over the mixture, and letting it sit for a few minutes. However, despite all of this conformity, Mike's Mighty Good shines. The flavors were unlike any other instant soups we tried, and it was a difficult decision to put this one in third place.

While the flavors were flawlessly executed, the noodles could use some TLC. We think you should ignore the package directions and let them cook in the water for a few more minutes than directed to help them soften up a bit — unless you enjoy al dente, that is. Overall this is a very solid (and pretty cost-effective) choice of instant soup. If you're craving to get your hands on it, you can try Mike's Mighty Good on Amazon for $2.69 for one cup. You won't regret it.

2. Progresso

We have tried Progresso soups in their traditional form (a more popular canned soup brand is tough to find) many times throughout our life. However, we had not, until this, tried any of Progresso's instant soup varieties or flavors. We were delighted to discover that the quality we had come to know from Progresso soup had not diminished in any way. The flavor we tried out was a classic go-to cozy soup: minestrone. It tasted just like a soup you'd order at a restaurant. It was spooky, actually, how accurate the instant soup was.

The reason this instant soup doesn't take first place is because of how long it took to make. By no means was it the laborious hour of cooking, but it did take 20 minutes in the instant pot, which was longer than a majority of the other ones on this list. If you want (as you should) to buy this Progresso instant soup, you can purchase it on Amazon for $12.99.

1. Bear Creek

At last, we found a winner. We hadn't heard of the brand before this, but we sorely wish we had. Bear Creek makes a perfect instant soup. We tried the minestrone flavor and couldn't believe how many quality ingredients were packed into only one cup of the stuff. Beautifully cut thin carrots, two different types of pasta, and soft but not mushy beans were surrounded by a warm, hearty broth that made us want to congratulate whoever came up with this recipe.

Yes, this instant soup requires a pot, a stove, and 20 minutes to make, but in our book, that's beyond worth it. We'd rather take 20 minutes to make delicious soup than three minutes to make subpar soup, but that's just us. This instant soup is ideal for big groups, as one bag of the stuff has eight servings. To get this magical meal, you can order it on Amazon for $12.89.