9 Ways To Take Your Ramen To The Next Level

Photo: Courtesy of Yes To Yolks/Greatist.
If thinking about ramen still summons images of styrofoam cups and seasoning packets with enough salt to make you dry up like a prune, then you really haven’t lived — not when it comes to noodle-soup consumption, anyway.

Ranging in flavors from bacon and egg to spicy sriracha to vegetarian miso, these nine ramen recipes outdo any packaged variety, and are almost as easy to make. (Bonus: You can even make one in the microwave!) Not to mention, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper to DIY than to splurge on $10 noodle bowls. These must-trys are friendly to kitchen novices and top chefs alike, suitable for almost every diet, and kick those winter blues way outta town. It’s time to start noodling around.

1. Homemade Ramen With Bacon and Soft-Boiled Eggs
Bacon and eggs shouldn’t be limited to breakfast — though, you can definitely replace your go-to morning meal with this recipe! Here, the crispy, smoky favorite tops a hot bowl of miso broth and ramen noodles, and is accompanied by a soft-boiled egg to create the ultimate combo of carbs, protein, and warmth. Tip: For the perfect soft-boiled egg, check out our handy egg hacks.

2. Thai Peanut Chicken and Ramen Noodle Soup
You no longer have to make the difficult choice between Japanese or Thai food, thanks to this amazing Asian-fusion dish. It's made with plenty of veggies (like sweet potato, cremini mushrooms, and red peppers) and doused with just the right amount of peanut butter. Your tastebuds won’t know what hit 'em — but they will know that they like it, a lot.

3. Smoky Grilled Chicken With Zucchini Ramen Noodles
We’re in love, we’re in love, and we don’t care who knows it! (With zoodles, that is.) A delicious, gluten-free, and low-carb alternative to regular ramen noodles, zucchini noodles make the perfect carb replacement in this veggie-packed recipe. Plus, this is super-easy to make vegetarian! Simply sub tofu for chicken, and use veggie stock. We also love drizzling with sriracha for an extra kick and metabolism boost.

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Photo: Courtesy of The Bojon Gourmet/Greatist.
4. Vegetarian Miso Ramen With Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Sesame Broccolini
The recipe's creator says it best when she describes it as a “ramen/pho hybrid” and “a bowl of steamy bliss.” Another dish that brings out the best of both (noodle) worlds, this recipe is gluten-free and chock-full of healthy ingredients like fiber-filled broccolini and sweet potato. Bonus: Miso makes an awesome hangover cure, so drink away on those painful days.

5. Healthy Homemade Kimchi Ramen
Kimchi tastes great on its own, but it tastes even better mixed in a bowl of piping-hot noodles. Made with DIY kimchi (we love this recipe) or a store-bought variety, this meal is as easy to pull together as blending a smoothie. The toughest part is finding the ingredients, but most Asian specialty stores should have them — and, we promise you’ll find plenty of reasons to use them again.

6. Miso Ramen With Shiitake and Chicken
With unexpected additions like fresh corn and red bell pepper, this recipe breathes new life into your typical ramen fare. But, don’t worry, it also has key staples like bok choy, scallions, shiitake mushrooms, and plenty of miso paste (though the recipe calls for red instead of white). Tip: Experiment with meats like pork and beef, or vegetarian proteins like tofu, to keep things interesting.

Photo: Courtesy of Baker By Nature/Greatist.
7. 20-Minute Spicy Sriracha Ramen Noodle Soup
This recipe can be ready in half the time it takes to decide on dinner, order delivery, and wait for its arrival — ideal for those hangry nights when spending your life savings on delivery feels worthwhile. To bulk up the veggie contents, add ingredients like mushrooms, broccoli, and kale.

8. Gluten-Free Instant Noodle Cups
Even though instant noodles are often overloaded with sodium and lacking in nutrients, there’s something comforting about having a hot meal ready in under five minutes. This recipe solves the insta-cup woes with DIY seasoning and plenty of healthy additions (baby spinach, carrots, and chicken or tofu). And, best of all: You can pre-make these bad boys and store them in heat-safe jars. Is it just us, or did lunch just get way better?

9. Cleansing Ramen Soup 
Another zoodle delight, this recipe has tons of veggies (onion, carrots, squash, and celery, just to name a few), a delicious miso-and-garlic broth, and is topped with fresh lime and herbs. To make it slightly more filling, add tofu or another vegetarian protein to the broth during the final cooking steps.
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