16 Instant Ramen Brands, Ranked Worst To Best

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Ramen is the staple food crop of modern life: It is omnipresent and can be found in grocery stores, online, and gas stations alike. The quick and satisfying meal, which only requires boiling water, is the dinner of choice for many college students, who are low on time and resources. But the necessity of ramen goes beyond dorm halls. For many low-income Americans who depend on SNAP (Supplement Nutrition Action Program) and live off a $4 per day food budget, as reported by National Geographic, ramen is cheap and filling.

The other upside of ramen is that it can be bought in bulk, and stored in cupboards easily with a long shelf life — officially two years if stored properly, though some sources say instant ramen can be eaten up to two months after the marked expiration date (via Cook Gem). This makes ramen the perfect food to store in emergencies like when you're back from a night out drinking, are ravenous, and have nothing to eat. To that end, ramen brand Nissin even released an "emergency instant ramen subscription" service for actual disasters. The popularity of ramen is undisputed, but there are many brand players on the market, old and new. Here's our ranking of ramen brands, taking into account price, quality, taste, public opinion, and nutritional value.

16. Annie Chun's Ramen

Founded in 1992 by the eponymous Korean food pioneer, Annie Chun is a brand built based on organic, natural food — and was sold to company CJ Foods in 2009. In the Noodle Soup Bowl with Shoyu Ramen Flavor, like all of the other products, you can be sure there is no MSG or preservatives. Annie Chun's is a healthy brand that can be found in upscale grocery stores like Whole Foods Market, as well as in large chains like Wal-Mart, Target, and is available on Amazon, which makes it easy to find. The health-conscious ramen eaters will appreciate that it's low-fat and low in sodium, vegetarians will love that it's vegan, and it only takes two and a half minutes to make with boiling water.

As for the taste, it's a bit bland and not that spicy — as one Amazon reviewer summed it up, "it's sort of meh." Price point-wise: One small ramen bowl (which gives you just 240 calories) will set you back around $4, which makes this ramen expensive as well. Our take: If you want to eat ramen and are dead set on eating healthy, you may as well skip this ramen and make your own vegan miso ramen.

15. Trader Joe's Ramen

Fans of cheap, tasty, and convenient meals will be familiar with the plentiful options available at the beloved Trader Joe's brand; its fall offerings and vegan selection inspire dedicated and loyal customers. So when Trader Joe's introduced instant ramen noodle cups in 2018, people who had already graduated from college were understandably excited. The dedicated fans at Club Trader Joe's review was, however, lukewarm at best, "The cup of ramen [is] hardly a snack considering that Trader Joe's has snack bars with more than 180 calories," and recommends eating two for one person. Notably, the noodles clumped, a problem that Freezer Meal Frenzy observed as well, along with texture notes that they were "a little rubbery and hard to chew."

Overall, at around $1.29 a pack (which in reality, would cost closer to $2.58 a meal), Trader Joe's Ramen is healthier than the average ramen, but isn't anything to miss out on, even for TJ fans.

14. Maruchan

Maruchan is a popular and familiar ramen brand that has been around since 1953. But the fact that it launched a "GOLD" or more premium and quality version of its ramen in 2013, and then again in 2019 (in Japan and then the United States, respectively, reports PR Newswire), should tell you everything you need to know about its standard instant noodles.

Kazuo Mori, "a young and determined Japanese visionary," went from slinging frozen fish to instant noodles. The brand's ramen comes in iconic packaging with vague and somewhat questionable descriptions such as chicken and beef "flavor." This is because the flavor largely comes from high quantities of sugar, salt, and monosodium glutamate (also known as MSG), and less than 1% of the soup base packet contains "powdered cooked chicken."

Maruchan ramen may be dirt cheap (right now on Amazon a 24-pack of the chicken flavor ramen costs just $6.56, which means a bowl is a mere 27 cents), but what won't cost you in dollars may cost you in health: Each serving also contains 48% of your recommended daily sodium intake (via Nutrition Value). Taste-wise, anything with a lot of salt, sugar, and MSG will be satisfying, but there's better ramen to be had out there. We'll save the Maruchan for the next pandemic.

13. Dr. McDougall's

Another instant noodle brand that's suitable for vegans, Dr. McDougall's ramen products bears a face of an affable looking Doctor who clearly has never worked in a Japanese kitchen before, but has had a lot of success in getting Americans to live healthier lives through his McDougall Program. His brand of ramen noodles is suited for those battling chronic illnesses through diet and contains no added oils or GMOs. These noodles are convenient, as well, since no stove is necessary to make them — just boiling water.

Unfortunately, similar to Annie Chun's, Dr. McDougall's instant ramen lacks in the flavor and taste department due to its all-natural nature. However, it is a healthy vegan option for instant noodles that is slightly cheaper, coming out at around $3 a serving (a pack of 6 of the Vegan Hot and Sour Ramen goes for $18.50 on Amazon), making Dr. McDougall's a more economical healthy choice.

12. Mike's Mighty Good Ramen

Next up on our ramen roundup: Mike's Mighty Good Ramen, which touts itself as "Craft Ramen" (trademarked) that is "Made by Californians." It claims to raise the ramen bar by, well, making instant ramen taste like ramen from ramen bars. Launched in 2017, Mike's Mighty Good Ramen is made from scratch in California in a solar-powered facility, so this organic wheat flour ramen is eco-friendly, too. Instead of the standard fried noodles food in instant ramen, Mike's Mighty Good uses steamed organic noodles, as well as organic ingredients, and no GMOs. This newer ramen brand comes both in to-go cups and in packs, so it can be made on the stove or on the run.

Mike's Mighty Good Ramen is a solid choice for people that are health-conscious but also love meat, since there are chicken, pork tonkotsu, spicy beef, and miso flavors available, which all average about $3 a serving. The downside: Depending on your appetite and stomach, the portions are considered by many to be too small for the price.

11. MAMA Ramen

If you have had the distinct pleasure of frequenting a 7-Eleven in Thailand, then you'll be familiar with their superior snack selection, which includes shrimp chips, Eleven Tigers Brand herbal powder packets, and the next instant ramen brand in our lineup: MAMA Ramen. As a Thai brand, MAMA offers a lot of spicy noodles with classic Thai flavors like basil, tom yum, and green curry, as well as more unique offerings like "Hot Korean Flavor," "Chili Crab Flavor," and "Spicy Cheese Flavor." A variety pack of 30 instant ramen noodles is $38 on Amazon, so price-wise, one bowl of MAMA ramen comes to about $1.25. The duck and tom yum flavors pack more of a punch than the chicken, but across the board, MAMA gets points for constant innovation in its flavor offerings. Case in point: this chicken taco ramen flavor

The variety and depth of taste come at a price, however: The artificial pork flavor ramen contains a mouth-watering 60% of your daily sodium.

10. Lotus Foods Ramen

Gluten-free eaters, rejoice: There is a brand of non-wheat noodle ramen that won't set off your gluten sensitivities. Lotus Foods began in 1995 by importing heirloom rice from China, which was then turned into a premium rice ramen noodle brand that is proudly gluten-free. Lotus Foods Ramen is also free of preservatives and oil, making it fall squarely into the healthy category. However, the instant rice ramen noodle selection is slim, offering only a few flavors, like wakame ramen and red miso ramen. But for those with Celiac disease and without a choice, Lotus Foods Ramen packets are a happily welcomed substitute for classic instant ramen and come at a reasonable price of around $2.50 a pack.

For the socially responsible, Lotus Foods is also dedicated to sourcing from smallholder farms, implementing local improvement projects and job growth, climate-change combating regenerative practices, and advocating for a more equitable food system.

9. Daisho Ramen

Daisho began as a company in 1991, and at first, made hot pot soup bases, to help people "intake plenty of vegetables in one meal." Its goal is aligned with vegetarians who like ramen, since the Nagahama Yatai Ramen, Tonkotsu style is pork-flavored (tonkotsu literally translates to pork bone), but is completely meat-free. The broth has garlic, and sesame oil, and relies heavily on the umami flavor profile of vegetables. This brand of ramen is good for couples or roommates who are too lazy to cook since two servings conveniently come in one package (or inconveniently, if you are single). One fair warning: Daisho instant ramen comes in packaging that is entirely in Japanese, but there is a handy online Youtube video with clear instructions on how to make your ramen if you can't read Japanese.

As one Amazon reviewer recommends, "The sodium is 2,000 mg but you can cut it by putting twice the amount of water to boil it. I recommend it for families since it makes multiple servings with one set of noodles and a seasoning packet. Goes well with any meat or veggie you want with it."

8. A-Sha Ramen

Although many associate ramen with Japanese food, ramen actually has roots in China, stemming from hand-pulled Chinese noodles, called "la-mian" (via Bite My Bun). However, ramen in Japan evolved to take on its own distinctive identity and continues to do so today. A-Sha USA was founded in 2015 by Young Chang, an American with Taiwanese roots (via Los Angeles Times). The brand launched distinctively shaped "meteor noodles," made with a 100-year-old Taiwanese recipe but with cutting-edge patented two-blade technology, "paired with a new sauce made with fermented soybean paste."

A-Sha products are varied for those who like to mix it up from standard ramen: think thin noodles, medium noodles, spicy noodles, and, for the fancy, there's even a Crazy Rich Ramen 4-pack set, replete with Astrea Premier Caviar, edible 24 gold flakes, and one fresh scallion stalk, once available on Amazon for $640. If that's too rich for your wallet, the other A-Sha ramen packs average at around $3.60 per pack. The best flavor is the Spicy Mala Ramen, which is a hearty enough serving to fill you up, and since the noodles are air-dried, the quality is better than other instant ramen types.

7. Immi

Where A-Sha USA is innovating the ramen game, immi is a full-on disruptor. A true startup company, immi raised the interested eyebrows and funds of investors and advisors, some of which are founders at millennial-targeted companies like Magic Spoon and Thrive Market. Immi, founded by two Asian-Americans, both named Kevin (Lee and Chanthasiriphan, respectively) aggressively went to market in 2021, according to one report by Forbes, to make waves in "a 42 billion global industry dominated by a few Asian conglomerates."

The defining characteristics of immi ramen: It's low-carb (6 grams per serving) and filled with plant-based protein (21 grams per serving) and comes in bright, Instagram-friendly packaging with flavors like Black Garlic "Chicken," Spicy "Beef," and Tom Yum "Shrimp." It's tasty enough for healthy noodles, and filling thanks to the protein, and the website boasts famous fans like Kygo and the former governor of California's son, Patrick Schwarzenegger. But, a 6 variety-pack does cost a pretty penny of $39, and that's without shipping. If you're hoping to get into ketosis, however, it may just be worth the price.

6. Myojo Ramen

Myojo is a lesser-known Singaporean ramen brand in America, but its soy sauce-flavored Chukazanmai ramen "is a long-standing favorite of Japanese people," according to Peter, the blogger behind Japanoscope. Chukazanmai is an instant replica of the real thing you'd find in ramen bars since the noodles are quite soft and springy for having come packaged in a plastic bag. One enthusiastic Amazon reviewer agrees: "The product was as good as the ones that we ate when we were in Japan."

The Singaporean brand's instant udon noodles are also a bestseller, and though its ramen is harder to find in stock, there are handy Japanese Style Ramen Soup Base Packets, which you can then add your own noodles of choice to. Like other traditional instant ramen brands, Myojo does contain a high quantity of sodium and MSG, but these ramen noodles are high-quality and quite tasty. Bonus: At 390 calories a serving, they won't leave you hungry, but perhaps will leave you wanting more anyway.

5. Sapporo Ichiban

Ichiban in Japanese means number one, and while Sapporo Ichiban Original ramen from Sanyo Foods is not number one on this ramen ranking, it's pretty decent ramen. The broth combines soy sauce and chicken broth, plus garlic and ginger, and pairs nicely with the "bouncy" texture of the noodles. Besides the popular original flavor (an Amazon choice with 4.8 stars and over 1,500 rave reviews), there's also beef and an umami-flavored chicken flavor available.

The founder, Takeshi Ida, was obsessed with a soy sauce soup in Sapporo, which inspired a drive to recreate his favorite ramen — a pursuit he was dissatisfied with until the owner of the shop gave up his secret ingredient: an aromatic vegetable. Today, Sapporo ramen is a nostalgic favorite — again, not the healthiest of ramens, but a Japanese instant ramen classic that is cheap, filling, and reliable. It also has a high caloric count, so you can easily dress it up with an egg or vegetables for a satiating quick meal.

4. Paldo

The next instant ramen goes by ramyeon in its native tongue: Meet Korean's answer to traditional Japanese ramen, which makes the ramen instant, spicier, and punchier. According to Fine Dining Lovers, "Ramyeon is one of South Korea's favourite comfort foods, with the average person consuming an impressive 80 to 90 packets every year." With such a dedicated and ravenous fan base, the brand Paldo certainly knows how to satisfy the appetite for ramyeon.

With cute cartoon chickens sweating on the packaging, like on the Volcano Extremely Hot & Spicy Stir Fried Chicken Instant Noodles, you can be sure that eating this spicy Korean ramyeon will trigger the same fiery reaction — this flavor is also without soup, for those who don't like drinking broth. For those who are averse to spicy flavors, the Gomtang Ramen is a solid ramen choice for a hearty yet mild, milky beef broth. It's a satisfying meal all on its own but can also be very easily dressed up with toppings of your choice.

3. Samyang Foods

Spice lovers who want even more spice in their ramen need to check out Samyang Foods, another Korean brand that was founded in the aftermath of the Korean War. The quality of its ramen can be attributed to the fact that the brand oversees the production process from start to finish, and have its own farm which produces beef for its soup base and even dairy cattle raised in open pastures for the milk and dairy products.

Dairy products? For a ramen company? It may seem strange, but the ramen requires cheese, as Samyang offers unique flavors, one of which is Cheese Spicy Hot Chicken Flavored Ramen Noodles. Samyang Ramen also offers various spice levels in its ramen (all of which the Try Guys tested out in their Korean Fire Noodle Challenge). The cheese comes in powder form, which seems bizarre, but after eating ramen amped with cheese flavor, it becomes strangely addictive. Fair warning: The spice levels are hot, so if it's too much, go with the mild cheese flavor. Because the extreme spice levels aren't for everyone, we had to put this brand in third place (though it's first place in many ramen lovers' hearts).

2. Nongshim

The Shin Ramyun brand from Nongshim is an iconic spicy ramen with instantly recognizable red shiny packaging that claims it "can make a grown man cry." These ramen noodles are the perfect fix for when hunger strikes; the spiciness will clear out your sinuses and any bad feelings from a long hard day of work, and the chewy noodles will cheer you up. The broth is beef based, along with mushrooms, carrots, and of course peppers.

Invented in 1986, Shin Ramyun has posted record-breaking sales thanks to its overseas popularity (via Business Korea), and in 2018, sales in the United States reached a whopping $225 million. There is a good reason behind this popularity: The noodles come in a round shape, which means it is perfectly suited to popping in perfectly into a pot of boiling water. With 11 manufacturing plants around the world, per The Ramen Rater, the powerhouse Korean brand can offer its noodles at a steal: Each serving is about $1 (a 20-pack on Amazon is just over $20). As for the health rating, let's face it: Good ramen in general is not healthy, and Shin Ramyun is no exception. But this ramen is exceptional.

1. Nissin

The best instant ramen brand goes to the company behind the iconic Cup Noodles: Nissin. Few may know that the world's first instant ramen was chicken flavored, and was invented by a man named Momofuku Ando at just 48 years old in 1948. A few years later, in 1971, Ando invented the worldwide phenomenon, Cup Noodles.

Before you go knocking on Cup Noodles: It's a classic that's been around for more than 50 years and has a dedicated museum in its honor in Osaka for a reason. It's reliable and has saved many sensitive stomachs from bad airplane food. For vegetarians, the brand launched a Very Veggie Line in 2017 (per Mic). But Nissin is behind so many other beloved instant ramen: The Demae Ramen Instant Noodle is a classic that comes in roasted beef, sesame oil, and tonkotsu flavors, and the unique seafood flavor delivers a satisfying umami punch. The Top Ramen line has been branded for the English-speaking market and has even inspired a Pringles flavor. Because of this notoriety and the fact the products are consistently excellent, we awarded Nissin first place in this ranking.