11 Buldak Ramen Flavors, Ranked Worst To Best

There are a few things that might come to mind when you think of ramen. The first image might be one of a restaurant-quality bowl of noodles, delicately immersed in a warm broth and adorned with a jammy egg, seaweed, and chashu pork. For those who are on a slightly tighter budget, however, the ramen that comes to mind might be the type that comes in a packet. Whether ramen was your go-to cheap meal in college or you still enjoy the inexpensive, store-bought fare when you can't be bothered to cook, there's no denying that ramen noodle packets have become quite ubiquitous in the U.S.

While there are several brands of instant ramen out there, Korean brand Samyang offers up a strong lineup of Buldak ramen flavors. All of them boast a hot or spicy chicken flavor, many of which also include additional flavors like cheese, kimchi, or even carbonara. I sampled all 11 flavors of Buldak ramen to narrow down which ones are the best of the best. The noodles are all pretty similar, so the taste test really came down to the sauce made from the flavor packet that came with each type of ramen. 

Not only did I consider which ramen I found to be objectively the tastiest, but I also factored in how much each one actually lived up to its supposed flavor — did the kimchi ramen actually taste like kimchi, and the cheese one like cheese? Let's rank Buldak ramens from skippable to must-haves.

11. 2x spicy ramen

I should kick off this ranking by giving the 2x spicy Buldak ramen flavor credit where credit is due — it does certainly live up to the flavor it's meant to embody. Unfortunately, even hours later, my tongue would still argue that it's living up to that double-spicy flavor profile, and that's not such a good thing. I enjoy spicy food, and I especially love a little spice in a bowl of ramen. But ideally, that bowl of ramen also has other flavors at play, like savory ones, umami ones, salty ones, and perhaps even sweet ones.

Simply put, this ramen was just too spicy for my palate. That's not to say that there aren't plenty of people out there who would enjoy this level of spice; but even then, you'd be doing yourself a disservice choosing this flavor over others in the Buldak lineup. Spice is the only flavor at play here, and it becomes so overpowering on the tongue, in the throat, and even on the lips that there's not really much to enjoy. 

Like all the ramens on this list, this one boasts an artificial spicy chicken flavor as its base, but you definitely can't taste the chicken or even the noodles, for that matter. Spice aside, there's simply not enough diversity in the flavor profile of the 2x spicy Buldak ramen to make it stand out against the competition.

10. Habanero lime ramen

Habaneros are one of the tastiest types of peppers out there, offering up a sort of sweet heat that sits nicely on the palate without overwhelming it too much. The flavor of habanero is only enhanced when paired with a type of acid, so it only makes sense that habanero and lime have become such an iconic flavor duo. This habanero lime flavor of Buldak ramen aims to capitalize on the hot-acidic duo and, as someone who loves the combination, I was really looking forward to this one. Unfortunately, it left me wanting more all around — more habanero flavor (or any at all), more lime flavor, and more chicken flavor, too.

This ramen was a little more broth heavy than some of the others, and I think that played a factor in why the flavors seemed a bit muddled. Now, it's not like there wasn't any heat at play, as this ramen was plenty spicy. But I was really looking for a spice distinguishable from the rest, a specific habanero flavor that just didn't come through at all. And there was some brightness at play, but did it taste like lime? Not really. So this one ultimately ranks pretty low as it doesn't quite live up to the habanero lime flavor it promised.

9. Stew type ramen

I'm not exactly sure what distinguishes this stew type ramen from all ramen, considering that the noodle dish typically comes with broth. So by default, they're all kind of stews in their own way. Regardless, I could somewhat see the vision of what this stew type Buldak ramen was trying to accomplish; heavy on the warming broth, a bowl of this ramen really did read like a bowl of stew (minus and chunks of meat or vegetables), so it at least gets points for that.

Flavor-wise, the broth is very chili powder-heavy, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I was hoping for a little more complexity. This one probably would have been a bit more successful had it leaned more into a hearty chicken flavor. But alas, the stew aspect of this dish just wasn't different enough from the sauces and broths that the other ramens had. As a plus, I did find this bowlful particularly comforting, largely due to the excess of hot, spicy liquid that continuously wafted over my face and conveniently cleared out my sinuses. This one ranks pretty low because it's ultimately just a bit too forgettable and doesn't quite measure up to other ramens that have a more distinct, honed-in flavor profile going for them.

8. Plain spicy chicken ramen

Plain chicken-flavored ramen has an important place in this world, and for what it's worth, there's nothing particularly bad about Buldak's plain spicy chicken flavor. If you like the basics and aren't a fan of frills in your instant ramen, then this one would actually be a worthy go-to. The flavor is rich and savory, and the spice creeps in a lot more slowly than with the 2x spicy one. This classic flavor makes for a perfectly good bowlful of instant ramen, no frills necessarily needed, but perhaps wanted — at least to me.

When comparing the flavors of various ramens, you can really only rank the plain option so high. After all, each flavor on this list technically has the spicy chicken flavor as its base, so many of them do manage to transcend the plainness of such a flavor and extrapolate upon it in a rather tasty way. I appreciate this flavor for what it's worth — it's a good base, and if you plan to jazz up your bowl with your own toppings, then it's a winning option. Ultimately, it just can't compete too much when there are flavors on the list that offer a little more pizzazz, a little more depth, and a little more excitement in the flavor department.

7. Carbonara ramen

Carbonara is a classic Italian dish that, despite its decadence and visual appeal, is actually quite bare bones. In fact, traditional carbonara often only consists of five ingredients, including the pasta itself, an egg yolk, guanciale, pecorino Romano, and black pepper. Many people tend to think that carbonara includes cream somewhere in the mix since the finished product is so lush and, well, creamy — but it's actually the rich egg yolk and cheese that account for such a flavor profile.

If you've never had carbonara, then I certainly wouldn't recommend that this Buldak ramen carbonara flavor be your first foray into the dish. I didn't hate this flavor by any means, and in fact, I found it to be mostly tasty. It did have a certain creaminess to it, but did it taste like carbonara? No, it didn't really taste like carbonara at all. And I'm not exactly sure how it managed to attempt to taste like it considering there couldn't be any guanciale, egg, pepper, or pecorino in the mix. I did appreciate that the spice was tempered a bit due to the rich, creamy nature of the sauce, but ultimately, a carbonara-flavored ramen can only be so successful when it doesn't actually taste like carbonara.

6. Cream carbonara ramen

Oh, you thought we were done talking about carbonara ramen? Not quite, as Buldak also boasts cream carbonara as part of its lineup. Now, how exactly does this flavor differ from the plain carbonara flavor? Well, it's creamier, of course! But isn't carbonara already supposed to taste creamy? Well, yes, but if you don't think too hard about it and let your taste buds lead the way, you'll discover, like I did, that the cream carbonara ramen flavor is indeed a bit creamier than the plain carbonara flavor.

It could've been some sort of placebo effect at play that convinced me that this flavor was somehow creamier than its predecessor, but there really was a palpable richness as play with this one. Again, I wouldn't exactly recommend this cream carbonara ramen to be your first experience with carbonara if you've never tried the classic dish, but it's not necessarily a bad flavor on its own. It's rich, it's creamy, and that creaminess does help keep the spice at bay, which made for a more pleasant eating experience. 

Since I could possibly taste a slightly creamier flavor with this one, it does rank a tad higher than the plain carbonara. So if you do insist on going with one of the carbonara flavors, you might as well go all-out and opt for the cream one.

5. Tomato pasta ramen

Breaking into our top five Buldak ramens is none other than the tomato pasta flavor, which I anticipated to taste a bit like spicy spaghetti. The verdict? It does indeed taste like spicy spaghetti, so not only did it live up to my expectations, but it ended up tasting pretty good, too. While the spice was quite palpable in this one, I really liked the thick sauce that coated the noodles and made this ramen so slurpable — again, much like spaghetti. 

As for the tomato flavor, it was definitely present, though it did taste more like a ketchup tomato flavor than a marinara-esque one. As such, there was a hint of sweetness with this one, which is ultimately what helped secure the tomato pasta flavor in the fifth spot, as the sweetness melded well with the tomato flavor and, of course, the spice. I could see someone who is looking for more of a tomato sauce flavor to be a bit disappointed with this one. But if you like slightly sweet spaghetti sauce or happen to be a fan of classic Filipino sweet spaghetti, then there's a good chance you might like this one. 

But again, be warned — the most dominant flavor at play here is spice. So don't go into this one thinking you're in for too sweet a surprise. 

4. Kimchi ramen

Kimchi may not be the most typical ramen garnish out there, but it really does work well to complement the rich umami flavors that a bowlful might have to offer. Fermented, crunchy, tangy, and a little bit sour, kimchi is an absolute staple ingredient and one of my favorite foods — so naturally, I was excited to try this flavor of Buldak ramen. And much to my relief, this kimchi ramen didn't disappoint. Was it the best of the bunch? No, but it was still pretty good, and I was stoked to see that the flavor packet came with dehydrated pieces of kimchi.

The only real downfall of this ramen is that the kimchi flavor could have been a lot stronger. While there was actual kimchi in the mix thanks to those rehydrated pieces from the flavor packet, they were pretty sparse, especially once you mixed up the whole bowl of noodles. The sauce didn't really taste like kimchi, so it would've been nice if that flavor could have shined through in ways outside of the flavor packet. But all-in-all, this ramen did taste like kimchi, if only a little bit, and that slightly fermented flavor profile played well with the spicy nature of the sauce and noodles. 

3. Jjajang ramen

Jjajang is a type of black bean sauce and is perhaps most well-known thanks to its inclusion in the popular Korean noodle dish jjajangmyeon. Made from black beans and umami-rich in flavor, I was very pleased to discover that jjajang really worked well in this ramen flavor. Naturally, you'd expect something that provides such a strong umami flavor to work well in a dish that revolves around umami; but you never know how strong the flavor will shine through, or if it will taste like it's actually supposed to taste. Luckily, I'd say that this Buldak ramen flavor really nailed it, offering up plenty of rich goodness with just enough black bean flavor to keep things interesting.

This was one of the ramens on the list that called for dumping out nearly all of the water that you boiled the noodles in so that you could create a nice, thick sauce. And this sauce definitely was thick, with the jjajang evenly coating every last noodle and tasting pretty darn good while doing so. 

The only reason that this flavor isn't ranking any higher is not due to any fault of its own, but simply because the top two flavors edged it out ever so slightly. Regardless, if you're a big fan of jjajang or even just like black bean flavor in general, this option in Buldak's lineup is a worthy contender.

2. Quattro cheese ramen

I really wasn't sure what to expect from a cheese-flavored ramen — after all, cheese isn't a typical topping found in most ramens, so I didn't really have context for what to expect. Nonetheless, I went in with not only an open mind but a hopeful mind, as I do love cheesy pasta and could see that savory flavor profile working well with ramen. And luckily, it does work well — or, at least, it does in Buldak's quattro cheese ramen flavor.

What I liked about this ramen is that it really did taste quite cheesy. Of course, any cheese flavor came from a powder packet, so there was no change in texture due to melty cheese or anything like that. No, this was just a really savory tasting ramen, and the creaminess from the cheese flavor lent itself well to offsetting the heat from the spicy chicken base. One of the brothier ramens, I found myself going back for more sips of that cheesy broth, endlessly enjoying the combination of savory goodness followed up by a delightful spice. 

1. Curry ramen

There are many types of curry out there, each one boasting its own flavor profile. But when something is curry-flavored, it's safe to assume that it leans in the direction of a classic Indian curry flavor. With this in mind, I anticipated that this Buldak curry ramen might have notes of garam masala, cumin, coriander, and perhaps even cinnamon — and much to my delight, I was exactly right. I was somewhat floored at how flavorful this ramen was, as I wasn't necessarily expecting that any added spices would really make it taste like curry. Alas, the spices did shine through with this one, and the flavor of the broth reminded me of a warm chana masala curry.

Since the flavor of this ramen was so delicious and surprisingly true to actual curry, it made for a pretty easy pick for the top slot on this list. While all of the ramens on this list were spicy, this curry ramen was spiced on top of that — the warmth of said spices added a depth of flavor that the others on this list just couldn't compete with. I couldn't get enough of this broth, and enjoying this bowlful was like getting the best of both worlds — ramen with the flavor of curry, all in one go.


When considering how good the flavor was with each of these ramens, it of course came down somewhat to personal preference — for example, I enjoy cheese and kimchi, and those flavors ultimately ranked high on this list. My methodology dug a bit deeper, however, as I judged each ramen more carefully based on how true it was to the flavor it was meant to represent. Of course, no pre-packaged ramen is going to completely nail a certain flavor profile (especially when said flavor profile typically involves a fresh or refrigerated ingredient), but I did favor those that did manage to represent its respective flavor and taste good at the same time.

An important note is that, while the cooking instructions were mostly similar for each packet, they did sometimes call for dumping out or keeping more boiled water. This meant that some of them were more brothy, whereas others had a thicker sauce and no broth. I took care to not fault any of the ramens for leaning more so on the brothy side or more so on the saucy side. I did appreciate when the broth was particularly tasty or when a thick sauce worked well, but I didn't favor broth over sauce or vice versa.