The 20 Best Instant Ramen Brands In Stores Or Online, Ranked

Wilton Vinck

The popular perception of ramen in America has undergone a radical transformation in recent years, from a discount product fit for frugal eating and dorm living to a trendy restaurant concept worthy of valuable real estate and date night splurges. These days it manages to live in both places at once, the subject both of restaurant pop-ups and instant brand contendors, trying to steal market share from Nissin and Maruchan (the Coke and Pepsi of Instant Ramen) and promoting their efforts on TikTok and Instagram.

The common thread of course, is comfort food. A perfect bowl of savory broth and slurpable noodles can satisfy at any price point. Growing up in Southern California, I remember running through the aisles of 99 Ranch with my mother, gleefully throwing bottles of bubbly Japanese Ramune soda, boxes of chocolate-filled pandas, and of course, shiny packs of instant ramen into our quickly-filling shopping cart. These days, I’m a culinary and travel journalist with a self-described “high-low” palate, who loves a classic Cup Noodle as much as a steaming bowl of restaurant tonkatsu. It’s not about price point—it’s about real-deal flavor and texture.

To me, the main pillars of excellent ramen include:

  • Firm noodles that don’t get soggy as they sit in the broth and have a good chew and bite.
  • Broth that at least somewhat accurately reflects the flavors listed on the packaging while managing a complexity or depth of flavor that makes you want to finish the whole bowl.
  • Finally, the ramen should stand well on its own, meaning it tastes great with absolutely no additional ingredients.

But you don’t have to take my word for it, I also reached out to a true pro.

“The best instant ramen has richness to it—a very rich broth with a lot of flavor, and I like my noodles more firm,” says Chef Tomo Kubo of popular New York City ramen shop, TabeTomo. “When I get home from a long night at the restaurant and I’m super tired, I’ll make myself a quick bowl of instant ramen — the quality of what is available in stores has also been going up day by day.”

All of the ramens listed below are widely available at Asian grocery stores, Whole Foods, mainstream grocers, or online. When possible, I grabbed a chicken or pork flavor, and never added any ingredients that weren’t included in the preparation instructions. Tasting each ramen, I used the criteria listed above (supplemented by Chef Kubo), and also judged for umami (savoriness), mouthfeel, and whether or not the ramen was a total sodium bomb.

Grab a big bowl and some chopsticks, and let’s get into it!

20. Right Foods Vegan Ramen Chicken Flavor

best instant ramen
Austa Clausen

PRICE: $3.15

Tasting Notes:

I was excited to try this one, in part because of the “organic” noodles, and the packaging made me feel like it would provide a taste reminiscent of the comfort of chicken noodle soup. Unfortunately, this vegan ramen did not deliver. Though the broth is technically “chicken flavor,” it tastes more like the vegetable flavors of chicken noodle soup—namely celery. It’s not unpleasant, but it’s pretty thin in flavor and consistency, and not wholly satisfying.

The noodles took an extraordinary amount of time to soften for instant ramen in a cup. Even after softening, I still found them tough.

The bottom line:

Though this cup variety has the two necessary components of instant ramen — broth and noodles — it doesn’t feel like a true ramen to me. It’s just not satisfying enough at all… though it does get some points for being vegan and organic.

19. Sapporo Ichiban Tonkotsu Ramen with White Chicken Broth

best instant ramen
Austa Clausen

PRICE: $4.83

Tasting Notes:

Near the bottom of the list, we have this take on creamy tonkotsu, but this time with white chicken broth. My problem right off the bat was actually the color, which was much muddier and greyer than any other tonkotsu ramen on this list and very unappetizing. The aroma was fairly enticing, but once I dug in I was met with a one-note, very salty flavor.

The broth is very creamy, to be sure, but tasted overly saline and synthetic. The noodles are also on the thinner side and quite soft.

The bottom line:

If you’re looking for creamy and salty tonkatsu with soft, breakable noodles, go for it. But there are much better options on the market.

18. Kang Shi Fu Soup Noodle Artificial Chicken Flavor with Mushroom

best instant ramen
Austa Clausen

PRICE: $2.39

Tasting Notes:

The only ramen on this list to incorporate both the flavors of chicken and mushroom, I thought it sounded promising. Upon tasting, the broth was actually quite nice. It first hits you in the face with an intense mushroom flavor but soon I noticed that the broth was fairly multidimensional with a light and oily consistency.

The noodles, on the other hand, were probably my least favorite of the bunch—with a spongy texture reminiscent of packing peanuts.

The bottom line:

For instant ramen in a cup, I was generally impressed by the mushroom-y broth. But those noodles left much to be desired.

17. MAMA Oriental Style Instant Noodles – Artificial Pork Flavor

best instant ramen
Austa Clausen

PRICE: $1.48

Tasting Notes:

This Thai brand of instant noodles is a favorite of Chrissy Teigen’s mother, Pepper, so of course, I had to give them a try. The broth was quite delicious and fairly light, with a nice little hit of spice. Figurative points were lost because I couldn’t really taste a “pork” quality to the broth. It was good but just tasted quite general.

Though not packaged in a cup, this ramen is prepared similarly, by pouring hot water over and waiting, rather than simmering it in a pot.

The bottom line:

This ramen is definitely not unpleasant and could satisfy in a pinch, but I wouldn’t be reaching for it in terms of flavor or quality. Perhaps it could taste better stir-fried, as per Teigen’s recipe.

16. Paldo Kokomen Instant Noodles with Chicken

best instant ramen
Austa Clausen

PRICE: $2.49

Tasting Notes:

The broth of this instant ramen has a really tasty, slightly spicy flavor, and golden color with a light consistency. It doesn’t have a very chicken-like taste, per se, but great umami. The noodles are soft and spongy—there’s not much remarkable about them, but I like that they aren’t too thin or get soggy as they sit in the broth.

Overall, it’s good ramen, just nothing to write home about.

The bottom line:

These noodles in a cup by Paldo contain a decent amount of flavor, and I like that the spice level is low enough that it doesn’t burn your mouth as you make your way through it.

15. Menraku Japanese Ramen “Tonkotsu” Taste

best instant ramen
Austa Clausen

PRICE: $3.95

Tasting Notes:

One of the seemingly trickiest aspects of a “tonkotsu” instant ramen to perfect is mimicking the taste of pork, which this ramen did not. With that said, the broth is an appealing creamy golden-white color, with tiny pockets of oil dotting the top, and has a tasty flavor that is rich and light at the same time. The noodles have a spongy texture and curly look, with a fairly strong flavor.

From my tasting notes: “The quality of the noodles does not match the tasty broth.”

The bottom line:

I appreciated this ramen for its roast-y smell and creamy broth but was not as enthused about the noodle texture.

14. Ottogi Korean Style Snack Ramen

best instant ramen
Austa Clausen

PRICE: $2.29

Tasting Notes:

I liked the idea of a “snack” ramen—a smaller cup that serves as an afternoon pick-me-up, rather than a full meal. This one by Ottogi is fairly tasty. Its broth has a very oily mouthfeel, a golden brown color, and a comforting taste. The noodles are fairly thin and so-so, but I was pleased that they didn’t feel soggy.

The bottom line:

This ramen is neither amazing nor terrible. I could see myself reaching for it for a midday snack on a cold day.

13. Cup Noodle Original Ramen Noodle Soup

best instant ramen
Austa Clausen

PRICE: $1.99

Tasting Notes:

It will probably come as no surprise that the broth of Cup Noodle is very artificial-tasting, but has a certain comfort and nostalgia to it thanks to its OG status. This particular one, found at a Japanese market versus an American one, had a slightly different flavor than stateside Cup Noodle eaters might be used to—with an undertone of shrimpiness.

Also unlike Cup Noodles I’ve found at American grocery stores, this one had tiny pieces of shrimp and sausage in it, which served as little flavor bombs. The noodles are super thin, but not spongy or soggy at all. They maintain their texture even as they sit in the broth.

The bottom line:

I really enjoyed this culinary walk down memory lane, and appreciated the umami flavor of this OG Cup Noodle, despite a label stating that the ramen contains “bioengineered food ingredients.” Hmmm.

12. IMMI Ramen

best instant ramen
Austa Clausen

PRICE: $5.99

Tasting Notes:

This ramen, from a company founded by two men both named Kevin, is designed to be a healthy alternative to the sodium bombs you usually find at your local grocery store. The first thing I will say is that it does, in fact, taste healthy. The broth is high quality, with a slight creaminess from coconut milk and tiny oil bubbles that coat the lips as you eat it. It has a very subtle chicken flavor, but its chicken-y-ness is actually very real tasting.

The noodles are thick and by no means glutinous, with more of a “healthy” taste, and take longer to cook than your normal ramen, at 7 minutes for a nice chewy texture and up to 9 if you want them softer.

The bottom line:

It doesn’t taste like normal ramen but is a good alternative if you’re craving a bowl and trying to cut down on your salt intake. Extra points for the very real chicken taste and 22 grams of protein.

11. Nissin Raoh Umami Tonkotsu Flavor

best instant ramen
Austa Clausen

PRICE: $1.98

Tasting Notes:

The broth of this “tonkotsu” instant ramen has a very strong toasted sesame flavor, almost like black sesame, and is super creamy and rich. The sesame flavor is so strong that I can’t really taste the tonkotsu aspects as well, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. Its noodles are straight, flattened, and slippery with a little bit of chew, and a light color. They’re good but not remarkable by any means.

The bottom line:

The main drawback to this ramen, despite its deliciousness, is how dense the flavor really is. It would be much better fancied up with some fresh elements like mushrooms or corn, and some meat.

10. Lotus Foods Millet & Brown Rice Red Miso Ramen

instant ramen
Austa Clausen

PRICE: $5.99

Tasting Notes:

The taste of this ramen reminds me more of a miso soup (even compared to other miso-flavored ramens), with the large pieces of floating seaweed as you would typically find in restaurant miso soup. The broth is a rich dark brown, and flavorful, but not particularly creamy, and the taste definitely doesn’t punch you in the mouth.

It’s a well-rounded savory taste with just a hint of spice on the back of the throat. Its short, rounded noodles are not thick but have a great texture and slight bite that feels very satisfying in the mouth. The shape makes these easy to slurp.

The bottom line:

This ramen is unique thanks to noodles made from millet and brown rice, rather than the standard wheat, supposedly making it healthier and easier to digest. I could see this ramen making a great healthy-ish meal with the addition of vegetables to compliment the red miso flavor of the broth.

9. Paldo Fun & Yum Gomtang Ramen

best instant ramen
Austa Clausen

PRICE: $7.95

Tasting Notes:

Despite the light color of this ramen’s broth, I was surprised by its richness of flavor. It makes sense considering that it’s supposed to be the instant version of Korean bone broth, which gives it a slightly creamy and smooth texture and wholly comforting flavor. The noodles have a nice amount of chew that holds up as it sits in the broth.

The only downside to this one is its heavy amount of sodium, the highest on the list at a whopping 100% of your daily value.

The bottom line:

This ramen is all around yummy and comforting, with a great flavor that made me want to keep eating until the last drop. It’s quite salty, though, so keep a large glass of water nearby.

8. Mike’s Mighty Good Fried Garlic Chicken Ramen Soup

instant ramen
Austa Clausen

PRICE: $2.79

Tasting Notes:

The fried garlic flavor of this ramen’s broth really comes through in a nice, unctuous way, and there are even flecks of dried garlic swirling around. The chicken notes round the flavor out for a creamy mouthfeel and mild, comforting taste. Upon opening the packet, though, I was surprised to find the smallest amount of noodles I’ve seen so far—a tightly wound ball of them that you are instructed to drop into only 1.5 cups of water.

It ended up yielding a surprisingly filling amount, though (perhaps because I’m on pace to eat five packaged ramens today). The noodles are good, but lack a nice bite or chew.

The bottom line:

This is definitely a more Westernized and contemporary craft ramen, made with a smaller amount of organic noodles, but I thought the end result was pretty delicious and satisfying.

7. NongShim Shin Gourmet Spicy Ramyun

best instant ramen
Austa Clausen

PRICE: $1.49

Tasting Notes:

This ramen has somewhat of a cult following for its supremely spicy flavor. It’s common for those who need to tone the spice level down a bit to add cheese to the broth, which also gives it a creamier flavor. Just as with all the other ramens, though, I tried this with no additives.

The broth is extremely flavorful, and not one of those products that are spicy just for the sake of being so. It has a good depth of flavor and a bright red color that’s extremely enticing (if a bit intimidating), and the noodles have a nice chewy texture, getting fairly soft as they sit in the spicy red broth.

The bottom line:

There’s a reason why this ramyun, a Korean ramen type, is a perpetual crowd favorite. For those who enjoy a healthy dose of spice, you’d be hard-pressed to find better.

6. Momofuku Soy & Scallion Noodles

best instant ramen
Austa Clausen

PRICE: $11.99

Tasting Notes:

Famed restaurateur David Chang and his team at Momofuku worked with A-Sha to come out with a line of make-at-home noodles. Though meant primarily to be consumed dry, I used the barebones version of Momofuku’s online instructions to turn them into a ramen soup—only using the ingredients provided in the packet and one tablespoon of Momofuku Spicy Seasoning Salt to act as a seasoning packet. Right out the gate, I was impressed by the noodles, which are flat and wide, with a great texture and fresh flavor. The broth was tasty, too, and could probably benefit from more Spicy Seasoning Salt and some gourmet add-ons.

The bottom line:

I’m impressed by the quality of noodles, but not surprised given the reputation of Momofuku. In terms of the broth, get ready to put in a little bit more work, time, and money, to turn it into delicious ramen.

5. Nona Lim Traditional Ramen and Miso Ramen Broth

best instant ramen
Austa Clausen

PRICE: $6.99

Tasting Notes:

These noodles from Nona Lim are about as gourmet as it gets for instant ramen. They’re so fresh, in fact, I have to keep them in my fridge. The broth, which is vegan, is sold separately. The noodles cook in only two minutes and then get strained and dumped into the warmed-up ramen broth—meaning no flavor sachets or seasoning packs. Thus, it’s a different ramen experience, with a super mild miso flavor that cries out for spice (or at least maybe some soy sauce), and chewy noodles that taste better than those at some of the ramen shops I’ve been to.

The bottom line:

The word impressed doesn’t even cut it when it comes to the taste and texture of these noodles. But if you’re looking for a flavor bomb then this definitely isn’t it.

4. Itsuki Kyushu “Tonkotsu” Ramen

best instant ramen
Austa Clausen

PRICE: $5.95

Tasting Notes:

The best tonkotsu-style ramen on this list, Itsuki Kyushu’s broth is creamy and taupe in color. Very comforting, and though the flavor is milder than others on the list, it tastes very authentic and high-quality. Cooked al dente, the noodles are incredible with an appealing texture. I also like that this ramen came with two bundles of straight noodles and two flavor packets so that you can use them for smaller individual meals or one enormous bowl.

The bottom line:

Most tonkotsu ramens I’ve encountered have the “creamy” note down pat but don’t deliver on noodle quality and depth of flavor like this one does.

3. Sapporo Ichiban Tokyo Chicken Momosan Ramen

Best instant ramen
Austa Clausen

PRICE: $15.99

Tasting Notes:

The broth of this ramen by former Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto is super flavorful and oily, with a deep brown color and a fairly real chicken flavor, albeit fairly salty tasting. It has nice, thick noodles, which the packaging distinguishes as being “non-fried.” The result is noodles that are super chewy with a similar texture to restaurant ramen.

The bottom line:

Sometimes chicken ramen can lack in flavor, but this one is super flavorful with great noodles to boot. Even though I had many other ramens to make and taste the day I tried this, I couldn’t help but finish the whole bowl.

2. Ottogi Jin Ramen Mild

Best Instant Ramen
Austa Somvichian-Clausen

PRICE: $1.49

Tasting Notes:

The broth of this Korean ramen, despite a flavor label of “mild” has a fantastic spice to it that isn’t overwhelming, and a rich beefy flavor that compliments the chewy noodles. Speaking of noodles, you get an enormous amount of them in this packet, which are curly with an appealing golden color and a great consistency.

The preparation of this ramen is also somewhat unique, as it comes with a packet of dried vegetables and small beef pieces that are added to the water as it heats up, then the noodles and seasoning packet are added together and boiled for 4 minutes. The result is well-rounded ramen that left me feeling extremely impressed.

The bottom line:

If you’re on the hunt for budget ramen that packs an absolute punch, you should have this one on speed dial.

1. Sun Noodle 1955 Ramen Miso

Instant Ramen
Austa Somvichian-Clausen

PRICE: $5.99

Tasting Notes:

Topping off the list is this spectacular miso ramen by Sun Noodle. They don’t add any artificial flavor or color to their ramen kits, but the color of the broth is still a very enticing and rich brown, with a slightly creamy texture and umami-filled miso flavor. The slightly curly noodles have excellent chew and a fresh flavor (because they are pretty fresh), and are of medium thickness. This one requires a slightly more involved cooking process, which involves straining the noodles and adding fresh hot water and a mega-sized liquid seasoning packet to your serving bowl, but it’s 100% worth the minimal effort for what is essentially restaurant-quality ramen in under 10 minutes start to finish.

The bottom line:

When it comes to all-around flavor, texture, and value, this one is just generally superior. With the addition of some chopped scallions and a couple of pieces of chashu pork, you could fool your friends that this is homemade or comes from a restaurant.

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