Top 5 vegan & vegetarian ramen topping upgrades to try today!
Ramen is built for toppings and upgrades, and honestly, there are so many delicious vegan options available you could create a world-class bowl of craft instant ramen without ever adding meat, dairy, or eggs.
Topping a bowl of ramen noodles is a pretty personal decision, there are a lot of options and everyone has their favorite go-to ramen hack. While a plain and simple cup or bowl of our instant ramen umami goodness is always ridiculously good, sometimes it's nice to dress up your bowl of noodles with a ton of different toppings and additions!
Ramen works well as a vessel for so many different vegetables, whether you are into sauteed baby bok choy, roasted pumpkin, buttery corn, a sheet of nori, or even some marinated shiitake mushrooms, there is almost an endless amount of veggie options for your next ramen recipe!
The 5 Best Vegan and Vegetarian Topping Upgrades for your Ramen Noodles!
There are so many different options when it comes to ramen topping upgrades, and as long as it tastes good to your there are really no wrong choices. While these toppings will make any bowl of vegetarian ramen an awesome dining experience, don't feel like you just have to use them for vegetable-based ramen soup. All of these toppings will fit perfectly into your next bowl of ramen, whether you are going with a rich Chicken Garlic Craft Ramen, or a Vegan Kimchi Ramen Noodle Soup.
For the best results try these ingredients one at a time and then start to play with different combinations, or throw all of them into your next bowl and see what happens!
Corn is just a no-brainer when it comes to ramen. The sweet, buttery flavor of roasted corn, on top of the rich, salty, umami-packed broth is an amazing combination. With so many different corn options available it's definitely possible to keep corn as a part of your craft ramen addiction year-round.
During the summer months and even into the fall it's best to just grab some corn from your local grocer or farm stand and strip it from the ear carefully before sauteing or steaming. This takes a little bit of planning but you can always freeze any extra raw corn you have once you've removed it from the cob. Then you'll always have some fresh ready-to-go corn handpicked at the height of freshness. We love putting corn in our Creamy Sriracha Ramen recipe and also our Korean Cheesy Corn Ramen Recipe. You can watch the video on how to make this recipe below or on our Tiktok and Youtube channels.
If you find yourself with a corn craving in the winter or spring months there are tons of great options. Canned corn has to be the easiest way to add delicious corn flavor to your ramen, in fact, you can use just a touch of the liquid packed with the corn to really punch that flavor level to 11.
If you want a lower sodium option, frozen corn works really well. Simply keep a bag of frozen corn kernels in your freezer and put a 1/4-1/2 cup in a microwave-safe bowl with a pat of butter for 1 minute while you prepare your instant ramen. Once your noodles are ready dump the corn into the ramen and you're ready to go. Just make sure to use a spoon to scoop up the broth and the corn together, it's easier than chasing the kernels around the bowl with a pair of chopsticks.
4. Roasted Pumpkin
Roasted pumpkin or winter squash is an awesome meat substitute. With a sweet, rich flavor when cooked, sliced roasted pumpkin can work really well in ramen. The combination of meaty, starchy pumpkin flavor along with the caramelized sugars present in the pumpkin adds a lot of flavor and body to a bowl of ramen. We particularly love roasted kabocha squash with green onions, black sesame seeds, a drizzle of tahini, and our Savory Miso Ramen Noodle Soup Pillow Pack.
Roasting squash or pumpkin isn't difficult but it definitely takes longer than the time needed to prepare a bowl of Mike's Instant Craft Ramen so you need to plan ahead a bit with this topping. Roasted pumpkin will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator in an air-tight container. Just slice your squash into thin even strips and season liberally with oil, salt, and pepper. Then lay the pumpkin out on a parchment-lined sheet tray and roast it in your air fryer or oven until it's caramelized and tender.
You can add an even richer, heartier umami to your roasted pumpkin by coating the squash light in miso paste before roasting. The best thing about roasted pumpkin is there's really no need to reheat it before adding it to your ramen. The heat from the vegetable broth will be more than enough to warm the squash up, simply add it to your next bowl of hot, fresh ramen noodles and enjoy!
3. Black Garlic Oil
Black garlic is an incredible condiment, it's like garlic but sweeter, milder, and with an almost balsamic vinegar quality that's highly addictive. It can add a ton of depth to almost any dish, but it's also really frustrating to work with.
The long aging process that the black garlic undergoes leaves the garlic sticky and difficult to work with. This makes a black garlic oil the ideal way to add rich garlic notes and a crazy amount of earthy sweetness that works really well with spicy instant ramen noodles.
You can make your own black garlic oil but you can also find it online or in international grocery stores. The nice thing is a little goes a long way when it comes to black garlic and black garlic oil so a bottle will hopefully last you for a little bit at least. You can watch how to make Black Garlic Oil for your ramen on our Youtube channel below or read the how-to recipe here.
Tofu is a great way to add an awesome protein to your ramen without having to use meat. Tofu, kind of like ramen, is a bit of a blank canvas and can work well in lots of different preparations. You can do almost anything with tofu and thanks to its neutral flavor it absorbs a ton of flavors from the cooking process. Grill it, stir fry it, roast it, or deep fry it and it will taste amazing and also be totally different. You can learn all about tofu (what it is, how it's made, and how to use it) here.
When using tofu in ramen there are a lot of different methods you can use to quickly prepare it but the easiest is to simply dice firm tofu and allow it to poach in the ramen broth as the noodles cook. Alternatively, stir-fried tofu with garlic and a touch of chili oil makes a great addition as well. Either method will add an insane amount of texture, flavor, and body to your next bowl of ramen soup. We love it in our Vegan Tofu Ramen Bowl Recipe.
Mushrooms, especially roasted and marinated mushrooms are an absolute flavor bomb on their own, so it makes sense that they would fit really well in your ramen soup. We love it in this Creamy Sesame Miso Ramen.
While you can use almost any mushroom in your ramen, shiitake mushrooms are probably the best choice out there. Shiitakes have an amazing texture that's far more toothy than most mushrooms, especially when roasted with a little soy sauce and sesame oil. Simply season the shitakes, lay them out on a tray, and roast them in your oven or air frying until golden brown and delicious.
Marinated mushrooms, with tons of natural and added umami, are a perfect ramen addition, not only for their flavor but because the roasted mushrooms begin to absorb the broth and flavor of your ramen noodles, giving them a crazy hearty texture.
After you've roasted your mushrooms you can store them in a little bit more soy sauce and sesame oil, for up to 5 days in your refrigerator. Add a little bit of chili oil or green onions and sesame seeds for a real pro-level marinade!
If you happen to have access to quality dried shiitake mushrooms, these can make some of the best ramen additions out there. Try using the water you rehydrated the mushrooms in as a base for your ramen noodles, it may make your noodles a little darker but the increase in flavor is absolutely insane.
While these vegetarian ramen toppings arent the only options available, they all work really well in instant ramen soup and also keep really well in the refrigerator or freezer so it's easy to make sure you've always got all the pieces for a crazy good bowl of ramen on hand. Besides topping with great ingredients, it's important to start with a high-quality bowl of instant ramen noodles like Mike's Mighty Good Craft Instant Ramen.
Is your favorite vegetarian/vegan ramen topping missing from this list? Let us know in the comments and we'll be sure to give it a try!