7 Different Ways To Spice Up Your Instant Ramen

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This content was paid for by Chef Woo and created by Tasting Table.

Gone are the days of basic instant ramen. Whether you're pescatarian, vegetarian, vegan, or just looking for more wholesome options, you'll be able to find a cup to suit your needs. And while instant ramen often gets a reputation for being an unhealthy meal, many of the varieties available today feature organic, sustainable ingredients packed full of nutrients.

Chef Woo, created by the mission-driven company Borealis Foods, is revolutionizing the instant ramen landscape, empowering consumers to embrace healthier choices without sacrificing taste, a culinary journey endorsed by the renowned chef Gordon Ramsay, who partnered with the brand in 2023. Rooted in a commitment to improving global nutrition, the brand offers certified plant-based instant ramen that includes enticing flavors such as Roasted Chicken, Braised Beef, Spicy Tequila Lime, Sweet Chili Togarashi, and Thai Lemongrass. Each package is a powerhouse of nutrition, boasting 20 grams of plant-based protein and all nine essential amino acids. 

Take inspiration from innovative ramen brands such as Chef Woo and make your next bowl heartier and more nutritious with tasty, high-quality ingredient additions and toppings. The recommendations below will allow you to elevate your instant ramen experience by getting creative in your kitchen. 

Go green with spinach or broccolini

It's easy to incorporate greens when preparing ramen. Consider broccolini, a cross between regular broccoli and Chinese broccoli, with smaller, more delicate florets that are packed full of vitamins and offer a delicious crunch. Pair with Chef Woo's Braised Beef ramen to replicate the classic beef and broccoli combo with 100% plant-based ingredients and 20 grams of complete protein. Simply blanch broccolini for a few minutes to soften it and brighten its green color. You could also toss it in olive oil and salt and roast it for a rich depth of flavor. You can even add a little soy sauce, sesame oil, or grated fresh ginger into your bowl, and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

Or for some extra iron in your diet, take a cue from Popeye and add spinach to your ramen meal. A quick steam or sauté will do the trick before topping your noodles with the tender leaves.  

Add poblano peppers for extra heat

Transport your taste buds to Mexico with the addition of poblano peppers to your ramen. Chef Woo encourages culinary creativity, and with a ramen-obsessed team hailing from over 15 different countries, the brand urges you to infuse global flavors into your noodle creations while emphasizing veggie-forward and sustainable choices. While poblano peppers are mild compared to many varieties of chilis, they're a step up from basic bell peppers in the spice department, although they're a similar size and shape. When roasted, peeled, and diced, they'll bring smoky, earthy layers of flavor to your ramen no matter what flavor you opt for. From there, you can add complementary Mexican-inspired ingredients like black beans, corn, cilantro, and lime juice. 

If you want to take your ramen a step further, incorporate poblano another way by whipping up an infused sauce for your noodles. Blend roasted poblanos with garlic, onion, sour cream or yogurt, cilantro, and lime for a smooth and rich base to toss with instant ramen and your toppings of choice.

Greek yogurt brings welcome creaminess

Creamy instant ramen has been all the rage on TikTok in the past few years, and for good reason. Not only does a creamy ingredient add richness and silkiness to an otherwise brothy dish, but these dairy products are ideal for balancing out excess heat in spicier ramen bowls. While you could use sour cream, cream cheese, or mayo here, mixing in Greek yogurt is a protein-packed way to achieve a thicker bowl of ramen. 

If you're vegan or trying to stay away from dairy, you could try a plant-based option like cashew sour cream or coconut milk instead. While you can use a creamy ingredient to upgrade any ramen flavor, it will work particularly well to balance out a citrusy bowl or temper the heat in a cup laced with chili.

Pumpkin offers a taste of fall

When the weather gets cooler and the leaves begin to turn, pumpkin is a great way to add an autumnal spin to instant ramen. This may sound a little wild at first, but pumpkin-based soups, stews, and curries are abundant during the season, so there's no reason you can't add some fall flair to your ramen as well. 

To mimic these types of dishes, add ingredients like coconut milk, peanut butter, curry paste, garlic, and ginger into your bowl after incorporating chunks of pumpkin into your bowl. These flavors would pair beautifully with chicken ramen, but if you're not already using a hot ingredient like curry paste, you could also mix them into a spicy instant cup.

Consider turmeric powder for a golden touch

Turmeric powder adds a comforting, warming touch to any soup, and it's exceptionally easy to incorporate this superfood into your ramen and reap the flavor and nutritional benefits. Simply sprinkle a little of the spice into your broth, and watch as it turns to gold. 

According to John Hopkins, turmeric may help with inflammation, muscle soreness, and arthritis, but it also just adds earthiness and a peppery flavor to any dish. It's commonly incorporated into cozy, healing soups like chicken noodle, so pair it with your favorite chicken ramen for a similar effect. To add even more flavor, toss in some sliced carrots, miso paste, and black pepper as well.

A sprinkle of furikake offers a boost flavor and texture

Furikake is a flavor-packed Japanese seasoning blend that typically  brings together seaweed flakes, salt, sugar, toasted sesame seeds, and katsuobushi (dried bonito fish flakes). The combo is endlessly versatile and works well on practically any flavor of ramen. 

When you sprinkle some on top of your bowl, you'll primarily get salty, nutty, and umami flavors, but also a little texture from the flaky seaweed and katsuobushi that perfectly balances out the silky consistency of ramen broth. Keep in mind that some furikake blends may have additional ingredients, like wasabi or miso, so pick the one that best suits your taste buds. And if you're vegetarian, look for an option made without katsuobushi.

For a sweet and earthy touch, beets can't be beat

Beets may not be the first ramen topping you think of, but there are many ways you can incorporate these nutritious veggies into your instant ramen. You can simply peel, roast, and slice either red or golden beets before placing them on your noodles. They'll bring a grounding earthiness and subtle sweetness that pairs well with citrusy and herby cups.

You could also sauté beets in a sweet and salty sauce made with ingredients like miso paste, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil before adding them to your bowl. Or try blending beets into a sauce, which you can pair with hot or cold ramen noodles to make a bowl based on a classic borscht recipe.

Everyone deserves access to good, nutritious food, and Chef Woo is on a mission to feed the world. Made in the USA, Chef Woo Instant Ramen is available in grocery aisles nationwide including at Walmart and on Amazon. Beyond being a culinary delight, Chef Woo's ramen is packed in easily recyclable paper cups with no TBHQ, a testament to its effort to make responsible choices for consumers and the planet with the added benefit of making this ramen microwavable, unlike those sold in styrofoam cups.