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I love making vegan ramen. I usually prep it once a week and love the simple ritual of pulling out all of the ingredients, my chopsticks, knife, and large pot. Chopping garlic, ginger, scallions, and shallots with whatever music I’m in the mood for in the background feels like going home to a place I’ve never actually been.
Unlike some home cooks, I didn’t grow up cooking in my kitchen. I don’t have a heartwarming story of a relative or friend who taught me how to cook to share with you. Everything that I’ve learned in the kitchen has been gained through solo repetition, reading cookbooks, Rouxbe, and making a bunch of mistakes.
So, while I can share what I like and know about ramen, I can’t promise a traditional, authentic version here and make no claims to do so. However, what I can offer is my deep enthusiasm for making and enjoying vegan ramen. I’ve had a few bowls of vegan ramen while visiting Japan and have had many bowls of it in Boston and Los Angeles, which has helped serve as my experience, inspiration, and guide.
When I say that prepping and eating ramen makes me feel like coming home, it’s not about a place at all but about finding and creating my own sense of comfort with the resources I have. With this disclaimer, read on to learn more about ramen basics, essentials, tips, recipes, and my interpretations of this Japanese/Chinese classic.
I’ve also included other vegan ramen recipes from other vegan bloggers here that range from quite simple to more elaborate. There’s a recipe here for every preference and time allowance!
Vegan Ramen Basics
Making amazing homemade ramen is all about the broth. It can be creamy, spicy, umami-forward, or all three. We’ll get into how to create, layer, and coax out an amazing ramen broth, but let’s first talk about noodles, vegan protein, vegetables, and toppings!
What’s so fantastic about ramen is it’s completely customizable. You can prep and top it off with whatever you like. You can choose to make a ramen that has a very specific method to follow or you can just cook by feel and make your own version.
Here are several types of noodles commonly used in vegan ramen, ranked by most commonly used to those that aren’t quite traditional but can be used for those seeking to avoid gluten or other allergens.
If you don’t have any allergen sensitivities, go for ramen noodles! Their chewy and addictive texture holds up well in steamy broths and can be prepped in a snap. The vast majority of ramen noodles are free from eggs, but always be sure to read the package to ensure they are vegan.
Taste Profile: Ramen noodles have a mild, slightly wheaty flavor that pairs well with a variety of broths and toppings.
Texture: They are typically chewy and have a satisfying springiness when cooked al dente.
How They’re Made: Ramen noodles are made from wheat flour, water, and alkaline salts like kansui or baking soda. They are kneaded, rolled out, and cut into thin, long strands. The addition of alkaline salts gives them their distinctive texture and color.
If you’d like a thicker noodle, opt for udon. These noodles can be found fresh in any East Asian market, or you can make your own. (I love this udon noodle recipe from Rouxbe!) Eggs are not used to make udon noodles, making them a fantastic choice for vegans.
Taste Profile: Udon noodles have a neutral, slightly sweet taste that complements both mild and bold flavors.
Texture: They are thick and chewy, providing a hearty and satisfying bite.
How They’re Made: Udon noodles are made from wheat flour, water, and sometimes a pinch of salt. The dough is kneaded, rolled out, and cut into thick, chewy strands.
Go with soba noodles if you want a healthier ramen noodle option. Buckwheat noodles are a great gluten-free option!
Taste Profile: Soba noodles have a nutty, earthy flavor with a hint of sweetness.
Texture: They are thinner than udon but still have a pleasing chewiness. Soba noodles can be served both hot and cold.
How They’re Made: Soba noodles are traditionally made from buckwheat flour, which gives them their distinctive flavor. They are mixed with wheat flour and water, then rolled out and cut into thin strands. Some soba noodles are 100% buckwheat, making them gluten-free.
Used mainly in Pho, rice noodles can be used in ramen, but have a very different texture to ramen or udon.
Taste Profile: Rice noodles have a neutral flavor, allowing them to absorb the flavors of the broth and toppings.
Texture: They are thin and delicate, with a silky, smooth texture when cooked.
How They’re Made: Rice noodles are typically made from rice flour and water. The mixture is kneaded, rolled out, and cut into thin strips. They are a popular choice for gluten-free ramen options.
Some people like shirataki noodles because they are very low in carbs and calories. Use them in ramen if you like them, but note that they have a gel-like consistency and do not absorb any of the ramen broth.
Taste Profile: Shirataki noodles are virtually flavorless on their own, making them a versatile option for ramen.
Texture: They are translucent, gelatinous, and have a unique chewiness.
How They’re Made: Shirataki noodles are made from konjac yam flour and water. The mixture is processed to form a gel-like substance, which is then cut into noodle shapes. They are very low in calories and carbs, making them suitable for various dietary preferences.
Although it’s not a must, adding a vegan protein to your ramen adds heartiness and texture. Consider these options when planning your ramen prep:
Whether cubed, sliced, or crumbled, tofu transforms your ramen into a hearty, protein-packed dish. Choose extra firm or firm if you’d like it to hold its shape in the broth. Absolutely give it a sear! A golden crispy outside and soft interior is perfect in broth. I like to toss tofu cubes in a little neutral oil and a ramen seasoning packet and bake to create a flavorful component.
Also known as wheat gluten, this meaty substitute has a dense, chewy profile. It can be sliced, diced, and marinated to soak up the rich flavors of your ramen broth.
These fun guys can be the main protein component or a complement to tofu, soy curls, or seitan. Shiitake, oyster, or king oyster mushrooms add an umami-rich dimension to your ramen. With their meaty texture and earthy notes, they are perfect in ramen.
If you’d like to add protein without the bulk of seitan, soy curls, or tofu, choose edamame. It provides a burst of color and a hint of sweetness to your bowl. These beans can be bought fresh or frozen, and boiled or steamed.
There are so many vegetables you can select and prep for ramen. Here are several fantastic choices! Use what you like, what’s available to you, and what’s in season when possible.
- Baby spinach
- Bamboo shoots
- Bean sprouts
- Bok choy
- Carrots (thinly sliced or ribbons)
- Corn kernels
- Snow peas
- Crispy fried shallots
- Crushed peanuts
- Furikake (vegan)
- Nori seaweed strips
- Pickled ginger
- Spicy umami crisp
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Vegan kimchi
Making Vegan Ramen Broth
Creating the perfect vegan ramen broth can be quick and easy or a labor of love. It all comes down to how much you enjoy the process. If you are able—don’t rush the simmering process. Let your broth develop and deepen over time. The longer you simmer, the more layers of flavor you’ll unlock. Patience is your greatest ally in this endeavor.
I love mincing and chopping garlic, shallots, ginger, and scallions. Adding them to a pot in the correct order to soften them up and develop a little color releases a beautiful fragrance. If it’s cold and rainy outside, the better the experience.
Here is a list of components to add to your ramen broth. If it’s your first time making ramen, just follow a recipe. After a couple of tries, what you prefer will surface and you’ll have your list of go-to broth components that work for you.
Basic Vegan Ramen Broth Components
Aromatics: Simply put, aromatics in ramen are components that build flavor in your broth. Ginger (fresh or roasted ginger), shallots, the white part of scallions, mushroom powder, and garlic are solid ingredients.
Once you’ve added and softened your aromatics in some neutral oil, you can add the broth component.
Boullion: I love Better Than Boullion vegan products. They offer a mushroom, roasted garlic, sauteed onion, no-chicken, and vegetable bases.
Homemade mushroom or vegetable stock: Making and using your own homemade stock is great. You can use frozen odds and ends from your freezer, but be sure to add fresh vegetables when prepping for the best taste.
Ramen seasoning packet: You can use only this to make your broth or use it in conjunction with vegan stock to add more flavor.
Umami Bombs: Add a punch of umami with ingredients like dried shiitake mushrooms, kombu (kelp seaweed), and miso paste. These umami-rich components add a savory depth that helps form the backbone of your ramen broth. Soak the mushrooms and kombu for a rich, satisfying base, and swirl in the miso for an umami kick.
Once you’ve developed your broth, taste and adjust any seasonings. Would you like more umami and salt? Add some soy sauce. Does it need a hit of sweetness? Add mirin. Do you want to balance out any sweetness? Add rice vinegar.
Once your broth is perfect, now’s the time to strain it. You don’t want any gritty bits in your ramen! Grab a fine-mesh sieve, pour your broth over it, and use a spatula to mash out all of the flavor you just created. Toss the grit and return your beautiful, smooth broth back to your pot.
How To Make Vegan Ramen Creamy
This is a matter of preference. Your broth is perfect as is, but I love adding a creamy, fatty component for a rich and luscious ramen broth. Skim the coconut cream off the top of a good-quality coconut milk (I like Thai Kitchen brand) or add a little vegan mayo for creaminess. A tablespoon or two is plenty.
Best Vegan Ramen Recipes
Below are some vegan ramen recipes I’ve made, plus some from other vegan bloggers. They range from quick and easy to more time-intensive, giving you a choice about which direction you’d like to follow.
This truly is the easiest and most delicious vegan ramen. It’s my go-to ramen guide and we eat it about once a week. Make it with any packaged plant-based ramen cups. (Suggestions for those are below this recipe roundup list.)
Vegan Tonkotsu Ramen is a plant-based version of the classic Japanese Tonkotsu Ramen, which traditionally features a rich and creamy pork-based broth. In Thomas’s vegan version, the creamy consistency is achieved using a blend of cashews, shiitake mushrooms, and nutritional yeast. The broth is seasoned with garlic, ginger, and kombu. Check out his vegan tonkotsu ramen broth. It’s mind-blowing and a must-try for ramen lovers!
This gorgeous, gluten-free ramen by Elena over at Happy Kitchen is an easy and comforting recipe. This bowl of plant-based goodness combines the magic of pan-fried tofu, fresh bok choy, earthy mushrooms, carrots, and vibrant spinach, all harmonizing in a lusciously rich and gluten-free mushroom miso broth. It delivers a perfect blend of healthiness, homemade goodness, and deep flavor.
Love and Lemons always delivers a vibrant fresh take on recipes, and this vegan ramen is no exception! Jeanine has developed her own vegan mushroom broth topped with shiitakes, bok choy, baked tofu, scallions, and julienned daikon. I love these gorgeous pops of color!
This ramen recipe was so fun to make. I loved caramelizing onions until they developed a deep color and jammy texture. Warm spices like cinnamon, star anise, and cloves add a fragrant touch while seared homemade seitan adds a chewiness to each bite. This recipe is a labor of love and perfect for these colder days coming up!
This creamy vegan ramen recipe over at Rabbit & Wolves tastes “a bit like a beautiful satay-style peanut sauce” according to Lauren, the recipe developer. Ginger, curry paste, coconut milk, agave syrup, and lime mingle to create this silky and luscious-looking broth!
This vegan ramen by Melissa over at Vegan Huggs boasts silky noodles, hearty shiitake mushrooms, crispy tofu, and a robust ginger-miso broth. What makes it truly special is its adaptability—you can customize it to your heart’s content. The best part? It’s ready in just 45 minutes on the stove, making it a quick and satisfying meal option for any day of the week.
Deep-fried tofu (YUM) is swimming in a lemongrass-kissed broth with coconut milk and pureed, roasted ginger. I love making this vegan ramen when I am craving hearty comfort food, and it always hits the spot!
This Vegan Kimchi Ramen by Thomas over at Gastroplant brings together the best of Korean instant noodles and Japanese restaurant-style ramen. It features an irresistible spicy-umami broth, complemented by mushrooms, fermented bamboo shoots, and seaweed, finished with a drizzle of vegan butter. Plus, it’s probably the prettiest ramen I’ve ever seen!
Drawing inspiration from the mouthwatering dishes at Jinya Ramen Bar, this Spicy Creamy Vegan Ramen created by Nicolette over at Home-Cooked Roots offers a creamy, savory, and rich flavor profile. Topped with silken tofu, spinach, green onion, sesame seeds, chili oil, and garlic oil, it’s an irresistibly addictive ramen creation. What makes it even better is that it can be prepared in just 30 minutes in an Instant Pot!
What Are The Best Vegan Instant Ramen Noodles?
These brands of plant-based ramen cups are great choices and can be found in most supermarkets. These cups can be prepped according to package instructions, or you can make your own broth and add toppings as desired.
This 100% plant-based ramen offers a pretty impressive variety of flavors, including black garlic chicken, spicy beef, tom yum shrimp, roasted pork tonkotsu, creamy chicken, and spicy red miso. While the flavors are impressive, and the ingredients are all non-GMO, it carries a pretty hefty price tag of about $6.50 per package.
Japan Gold USA brand offers a quick and convenient vegan ramen option that’s ready in just four minutes. Their organic ramen features non-fried noodles crafted from organic wheat and a concentrated broth made entirely from vegan ingredients!
I love Koyo Vegan Ramen! They offer a wide range of vegan ramen with made with high-quality, non-GMO ingredients. Their shiitake mushroom, wakame seaweed, and tofu miso are my favorites. They also make a couple of reduced sodium varieties. If you are looking for noodles, they make udon and soba as well!
Made with organic brown rice, Lotus Foods ramen offers three varieties: tom yum, red miso, and garlicky veggie. This is a great choice if you’d like a healthier twist on your ramen cup!
Although Mike’s Mighty Good is not exclusively vegan, it offers a great range of vegetarian and vegan ramen options. These include Kimchi, Soy Sauce, Vegetable, and Miso. Although they are labeled as vegetarian, they are actually vegan!
Ocean’s Halo vegan big noodle bowls present a flavorful fusion of ingredients and textures. Served in eco-friendly plant fiber bowls, these dishes feature tender noodles, dried vegetables, and savory plant-based broths, offering a diverse range of vegan options for noodle enthusiasts. From vegan beef and chicken to Thai Coconut, Ocean’s Halo delivers a delicious vegan twist on traditional noodle dishes.
This brand also carries a hefty price tag and, while this container is bigger than typical ramen cups, serves two.
The popular vegan-friendly Sapporo Ichiban Miso Ramen is known for its rich and savory flavor. This ramen has a flavorful miso-based broth that is free from animal-derived ingredients. The ramen noodles offer a satisfying and chewy texture making this a great choice that aligns with plant-based dietary preferences.
Sun Noodle Craft offers ramen noodle kits, including a vegan-friendly miso option. These refrigerated noodles are chewy and perfect, and the broth comes in liquid pouches. Slurp this traditional-style Japanese ramen in the comfort of your own kitchen!
Vegan Ramen FAQs
Not all instant ramen is vegan, as the ingredients can vary widely among different brands and flavors. Many traditional instant ramen products contain non-vegan ingredients such as animal-based broths (chicken, beef, seafood) and flavorings, as well as meat-derived seasonings like pork or chicken fat.
However, there are vegan-friendly instant ramen options available on the market. These varieties typically use vegetable-based broths and flavorings, making them suitable for vegans. To be sure, it’s essential to check the ingredients listed on the packaging or look for products specifically labeled as “vegan” or “plant-based.”
If you’re following a vegan diet and want to enjoy instant ramen, be sure to read the ingredient list carefully and choose brands and flavors that meet your dietary preferences. Additionally, you can also find specialty stores or online retailers that offer a broader selection of vegan instant ramen products.
Ramen noodles, by themselves, can be vegan as they are typically made from basic ingredients like wheat flour, water, salt, and sometimes a bit of oil. These ingredients are plant-based and do not contain animal products.
However, it’s important to note that not all ramen dishes are vegan. Many traditional ramen recipes, especially those served in restaurants or instant ramen packets, include non-vegan ingredients in the broth and toppings. Common non-vegan elements in ramen can include animal-based broths (such as pork or chicken broth), meat or seafood toppings, and sometimes eggs.
If you’re following a vegan diet, you can enjoy ramen by either making it at home with vegan-friendly ingredients or by ordering it at vegan or vegan-friendly restaurants that offer plant-based ramen options. Just be sure to inquire about the ingredients and ask for modifications if necessary to ensure your ramen is entirely vegan.
The healthiness of vegan ramen depends on its ingredients and preparation. When made with wholesome components like vegetable broth, fresh vegetables, and balanced toppings, vegan ramen can be a nutritious meal. However, be mindful of sodium content and avoid excessive processed ingredients for a healthier option.
Vegan ramen is crafted using entirely plant-based ingredients. The core components typically consist of wheat-based noodles, a flavorful broth made from vegetable stock or miso paste, and a variety of plant-based toppings.
These toppings can include tofu, seaweed (nori), an assortment of mushrooms, such as shiitake or enoki, and a selection of vegetables like sliced scallions, bean sprouts, corn, and spinach. The absence of animal-derived ingredients in vegan ramen makes it a popular choice among those following plant-based diets, while still offering a delicious taste and texture.
Ramen can be made vegan-friendly, but it depends on the ingredients used. Traditional ramen often contains animal-based broths and toppings, but vegan versions use plant-based ingredients like vegetable broth and tofu, making them suitable for vegans.