Healthy alternatives to ramen noodles aren’t just a diet hack but also a great way for you to try some tasty yet nutritious noodles. Substitutes for ramen can be lower in calories, sodium, and unhealthy fats, and give you a variety of other health benefits.
If we’re being honest, we love ramen noodles. They are easily accessible, convenient, quick to cook, and above all, super tasty. However, they are not the healthiest or most nutritious food.
Therefore, we bring you our comprehensive list of healthy instant ramen noodles alternatives to satisfy all your cravings and have a guilt-free meal. We’ve found and tried many instant noodle alternatives made from whole grains, vegetables, and other ingredients we’ve never heard of. They’re perfect for when we're craving a hearty meal minus all the extra calories.
In a world where convenience often trumps health, these healthy alternatives to ramen noodles will offer you a pathway to delicious and mindful eating.
Alternatives To Ramen Instant Noodles
Here are our top picks for healthy ramen noodle alternatives that taste similar to or better than ramen:
- Rice Noodles
- Chinese Egg Noodles
- Glass Noodles
- Kelp Noodles
These alternatives are not only healthier than instant ramen noodles, but you can prepare them to make them as flavourful and satisfying. You can use the same amount of any of these alternatives to create a healthier dish.
|Substitute for ramen
|Taste and Texture
|Springy and chewy
|Moringa leaf extract
|Subtle sesame flavour
|Thin and translucent
|Chinese Egg Noodles
|Springy and eggy
|Thick and nutty
|Slick and slippery
|Gluten-Free and Vegan
|Wheaty and dense
|Light and soft
This BamNut variety is packed with plant-based protein. They are made from highly sustainable crops like Bambara groundnut, so this ramen substitute is perfect if you're environmentally conscious. Popular on Reddit, this guilt-free air-fried option is also ideal if you are struggling to lose those extra inches. They are springy, chewy, and consumed dry.
However, the best part about this BamNut option is that they are free from artificial colouring, preservatives, sweeteners and additives. Moreover, these air-fried instant noodles are rich in protein (17g), low in fat, and cholesterol-free. This healthy vegetarian alternative to ramen is often accompanied by sesame & garlic seasoning and shroom pepper seasoning. Although this substitute is super nutritious, we consider its general lack of flavour as a slight drawback.
This ramen substitute is a plant-based alternative, made from the plant Moringa. It’s known for its rich vitamin and mineral content, like potassium, vitamin A, iron, and calcium. Therefore, these noodles have the potential to boost the nutritional value of your meal due to the introduction of vitamins and antioxidants from the moringa. It also doesn't contain MSG.
Because Moringa leaf extract is used, the strands of noodles are naturally green, crisp and appetising. In terms of taste, Moringa has a subtle sesame flavour and a light vegetal aroma with hints of green tea. Depending on what type you buy, herbs and spices might already be mixed in to further enhance the taste. However, one downside is that the iconic earthy taste might not suit everyone's palate.
In terms of texture, moringa strands are similar to regular wheat noodles, offering a familiar mouthfeel. They would be great to make a moringa pad Thai recipe. Overall, this sustainable and vegan-friendly alternative is perfect for all your healthy instant ramen recipes.
Rice Noodles (Best for Gluten-Free)
This rice-based substitute is both a healthy and tasty alternative to ramen noodles. It’s one of the easiest ramen substitutes to find, as it’s quite common in Asian supermarkets. This rice-based option comes in a variety of widths and thicknesses. These can range from extremely thin strands to thicker or wider, flat strands. So you can choose the variety which best fits your dish.
Not only are they vegan-friendly, but they’re also a great gluten free substitute for ramen. Although they are low in protein, they’re high in Manganese, a mineral which helps to reduce inflammation and regulate blood.
Moreover, these noodles have a mild, neutral flavour that is pleasing in many dishes. They have a refreshing, slippery texture and are not springy. However, remember not to overcook it to avoid mushy strands. Just add your favourite ingredients to this healthy vegan alternative to ramen and relish a ramen-like dish. If you have any leftovers, you could use them to make some longevity noodles.
Chinese Egg Noodles (Best for Vegetarian)
You may think that this option is the same as standard white noodles. However, they are actually generally healthier than them because they are made with eggs. Instead of ramen, these egg noodles are more nutrient-dense.
The addition of egg modifies the noodle's flavour and structure by introducing protein and certain lipids. Therefore, Chinese egg noodles have a deeper flavour and a chewier, springier texture than regular varieties.
You can easily make these as homemade instant noodles with ingredients that you most likely already have. We would even say that this Chinese option is far easier to make than conventional noodles, thanks to the egg, which gives the dough more weight and manageability.
However, this option does tend to be higher in calories. It also contains gluten, which is unsuitable if you have a gluten sensitivity. But, ultimately, when it comes to taste and texture, we love this eggy ramen substitute for its delicious, slightly savoury taste and moderately chewy bite. Our favourite is to use this in our katsu ramen but we also use it for making a stir fry.
Can't swear off the ramen? No worries. Try some soba. It’s one of the best ramen substitutes. We consider authentic soba as one of the healthiest types of noodles because it's made of nutritious buckwheat flour.
Many places, from fast food to fine dining spots, serve these types of Japanese noodles. You will find them in most Japanese restaurants, as soba is a delicious and nutritious alternative to ramen. Furthermore, you can incorporate it into all diets unless you have a buckwheat allergy. Some cheap versions of soba contain wheat flour. So, make sure to read the label if you have any food intolerances.
Moreover, this option has a nutty and earthy flavour and addictively chewy texture. The earthiness of the strands goes really well with stronger tastes like sesame. Like spaghetti, strands are brown and thin.
This alternative is super versatile as you can use it in both hot and cold dishes. Although this option is not the most low in carbs, they are rich in fibre and protein. In addition, you can easily find them in any Asian supermarket and most groceries. We like using soba to make napolitan ketchup spaghetti.
Shirataki translates to white waterfall in Japanese. However, you might also know this alternative as 'miracle noodles'. The name is somewhat fitting because they’re super satiating, low-calorie and carb-free. So, they are perfect to incorporate into a low-carb or keto diet.
Shirataki strands are made of konjac starch, which is a Japanese root vegetable. They are thicker in consistency and are even transparent. The glucomannan fibre, derived from the tropical konjac plant, has been shown to be effective for weight loss. In fact, Shirataki is 97% water, making it a healthy alternative to ramen for weight loss. The water-soluble dietary fibre goes through your system undamaged. In addition, it promotes digestion and feeds healthy gut flora once it reaches your stomach.
Shirataki noodles are interesting because you don't actually have to cook them. You just need to toss them into your ramen a minute or two before you tuck in. Simply pour them from the container into your bowl, rinse, and then top with the remaining ramen ingredients. Moreover, you would want to wash the strands thoroughly before use as they have a slightly fishy smell. However, after washing, the smell mostly goes away.
You may find the texture off-putting if you're not used to Asian-style noodles, as the strands are quite slick and slippery. Another downside for this option is that it can be quite tasteless. However, we think that’s alright as it will let the other ingredients in your dish shine. Our favourite is using shirataki in curry noodles and hot pots.
Udon is another popular type of Japanese noodle. It is mainly made of wheat flour and water and has less sodium than ramen. This option consists of essential vitamins like iron, potassium, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, phosphorus, zinc, copper, folate, and magnesium.
However, udon is often quite high in calories due to its thick strands. The strands are typically thick and flat but can also be round. Regarding taste and texture, udon noodles have a subtle, wheaty taste and a dense texture. As one of the healthy alternatives to ramen noodles, people find it more satisfying than ramen due to its chewy bite. Udon also tends to contain more gluten than its ramen counterpart
You would traditionally make udon with a broth similar to ramen, although there are many different types.
According to Reddit reviews, Miso Nikomi Udon and Kake Udon are the favourites. In our experience, udon would work best as a tsukemen alternative. However, we absolutely love making tempura udon soup too. It’s a simple way to enjoy udon just like ramen. You can easily purchase ready-made udon in any Asian supermarket. Alternatively, you can also try making udon from scratch at home.
This option, also known as cellophane or mung bean noodles, is a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine. They are made intricately from the starch extracted from mung beans, sweet potatoes, tapioca, or potatoes. This option has a mild, slightly sweet flavour. They have a chewy and somewhat of a gelatinous texture when cooked properly. However, be careful, as they can become too mushy if overcooked.
Glass noodles are lower in calories and sodium than their popular ramen counterpart and are also gluten-free. However, this ramen substitute is also lower in protein and other nutrients. So, it might not be suitable for those who need more protein in their diet.
This option has a mild, starchy flavour and hints of sweetness. However, the strands tend to absorb the flavours of the dishes they are prepared in, making them versatile and enjoyable in a wide range of recipes. These have worked surprisingly well for us in a Korean spicy cheesy ramen. So, use this alternative instead of ramen for a healthier meal.
This sea vegetable based option is notably a healthy alternative to ramen for weight loss. This common Korean ramen substitute is made of kelp, brown algae, and a lot of iodine, iron, calcium, vitamin K, and other minerals. Moreover, these are one of the healthiest types of noodles because it is both gluten-free and nutrient-rich. You can easily find this affordable option anywhere online.
The best thing about kelp noodles is that they are extremely low in calories and carbohydrates, which can benefit those seeking weight management and a lower carb intake. However, they have less protein than other varieties, such as soba or tofu noodles, so they might not be as filling in that regard.
This alternative has a neutral taste, so you can cook almost any dish with it. Furthermore, you will notice that the strands easily absorb the flavours of the dish. The texture is also crisp and slightly crunchy, providing a unique and refreshing experience. Try it in tantanmen or in kimchi ramen. Ultimately, this substitute would be a great choice if you're looking for a low-calorie, gluten-free option.
Disadvantages Of Ramen Noodles
Although easy and delicious, ramen is generally quite unhealthy. Unfortunately, ramen often contains high levels of potentially harmful additives and preservatives used to increase their shelf life, like Tertiary butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ) and Monosodium glutamate (MSG). Being high in additives and preservatives makes this instant meal unhealthy when consumed regularly. Consuming TBHG and MSG-contained food is often associated with bodily reactions like headaches, sweating, weakness, and quick fluttering heartbeats.
Furthermore, instant ramen is low in protein and is high in saturated fats. Overall, high levels of additives and saturated fats aren't good for vascular health and the general quality of your diet. Therefore, you should avoid eating ramen on a regular basis.
Love instant noodles? Watch our video on the best ramen subscription box to get your hands on.