When you want a quick, easy comfort food, it’s tough to do better than a bowl of hot ramen. It can be light or filling, depending on the ingredients you use. Perhaps just as importantly, it’s super affordable, which is a big reason for its popularity among college students.
But now that you’re grown up, you probably want a dish with a little bit more complexity. You want a ramen that’s packed with other ingredients. Veggies and protein are an important part of a healthy meal, and there’s no reason you can’t load up your ramen with all kinds of nutritious ingredients.
If you’re a vegan, this becomes a bit more complicated. You can’t add chicken, eggs, or other animal-based products to your dish. But this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Instead, it can be an opportunity to get more creative. With beans, vegan cheese, tofu, and other plant-based alternatives, you can build a delicious ramen bowl that’s completely free of any animal products.
So, how do you build the best possible bowl of vegan ramen? There are plenty of potential ways, but we’ve put together five of our favorite vegan recipes. Enjoy them just the way they’re written, or use them as inspiration to create your own unique recipes. Let’s get started!
Is Ramen Vegan?
Let’s start out with the $64,000 question: are ramen noodles vegan to begin with? For the noodles themselves, the answer is yes. Mike’s Mighty Good noodles, for example, are made with just wheat flour, salt, and water.
That said, the broth flavor packets in instant ramen can often contain a variety of animal products. Most often, the seasonings include chicken, beef, or pork extract. Needless to say, those are non-starters on a vegan diet. You may also see other questionable ingredients, which may or may not be animal-based. Unless you’re using a vegan flavor packet, you’ll be better off making your own broth to go with the noodles. Fortunately for you, Mike’s Mighty Good has 4 vegan flavors. All of them are vegetarian and vegan!
The 5 vegan Mike's Mighty Good flavors are Vegetarian Vegetable, Vegetarian Kimchi, Vegetarian Soy Sauce, Vegetarian Miso, and Vegetarian Coconut Milk Lemongrass. You can also try a variety of our vegan ramens in our Total Vegan Ramen Sampler Pack.
There is one additional concern we should mention. Most instant ramen noodles are flash-fried in palm oil as part of the cooking process. This saves time and money on production, but it’s not ideal for your health. For one thing, while palm oil is vegan, it adds unnecessary fat to your ramen. For another thing, it’s one of the world’s most notoriously unsustainable crops, and a lot of people won’t eat it because of the environmental concerns.
If you want your noodles to be friendly for the planet as well as vegan-friendly, choose a sustainable brand like Mike’s Mighty Good. We steam our noodles instead of frying them and make them organic and in-house from scratch. It takes a little longer and it costs a little more, but you’re getting the best possible noodles without any of the guilt.
1. Vegan Tofu Ramen
Tofu is a staple of any vegan diet, and it’s easy to understand why. Simply put, it’s one of the more versatile foods there is. Since the tofu itself doesn’t have much of a flavor, you can season it however you like. You can also combine it with bold-flavored veggies, and it will naturally take on their flavor. In many ways, tofu is whatever you want it to be.
Vegan tofu ramen is a simple, straightforward dish that’s easy to prepare. You start with a Mike’s Mighty Good Vegetarian Vegetable Ramen Cup. This gets topped with an assortment of veggies, including carrots, onions, corn, a red bell pepper, and chopped green onions.
Our recipe then calls for seven slices of tofu, lightly peppered and fried in sesame oil. Make sure to coat the tofu in corn starch first. This will create a nice, crispy coating, and keep the tofu from getting dried out during the cooking process.
2. No-Cook Vegan Chili Black Bean Noodles
The rule of the day for many vegans is protein, protein, protein. It’s the toughest macro-nutrient to get without indulging in animal products, and you need to find creative ways to work enough of it into your diet. So if your sick of tofu, why not try some mouth-watering black beans instead?
The no-cook vegan chili black bean noodles aren’t technically no-cook in the traditional sense. You still have to fire up your stove or microwave and boil some water. But once the noodles have been prepared, the other ingredients can be added without any further cooking. The whole bowl can be prepared in under 10 minutes.
Protein – and heat – comes from a large dollop of black bean sauce. Chinese vinegar provides some bite, while soy sauce adds a salty, savory edge. A clove of garlic, white pepper, chili oil, and chili flakes kick up the heat even further, although you can adjust to taste.
3. Vegan Spicy Cheesy Ramen
Vegan cheese has come a long way over the last decade. Nowadays, it’s virtually indistinguishable from the real deal, and you can find a variety of flavors and textures. But the real secret to our vegan spicy cheesy ramen is the vegan sriracha sauce.
Preparation is pretty simple. You start by making any of Mike’s vegan ramen cups. While the noodles are steeping, it’s time to prepare your sauce. In a pan, blend your sriracha with soy milk and your vegan cheese. Drain your noodles, and when the cheese is gooey, pour the sauce over the top.
The important thing here is to only use plain soy milk, not the sweetened variety. Sweetened soy milk will leave a cloying, overly-sweet flavor that you don’t want in your spicy ramen. Unsweetened milk, on the other hand, will make the sauce nice and creamy without detracting from the spicy flavor.
The neat thing about our loaded veggie ramen is that you can make it just about any old way. Find a blend of veggies you like, drop them into your ramen, and you’re good to go. We should note that our recipe includes an egg, which vegans will need to omit. That said, we particularly like the vegetable combination we came up with.
The dish begins with a cup of Mike’s Vegetarian Vegetable Ramen. Then, we added a blend of green onion, baby spinach, corn, and shiitake mushrooms, fried in avocado oil with garlic and other spices. This method works well with most veggie combos, but we loved the combination of mushroom and onion.
If you want to add a little protein, try frying some tofu in the leftover oil. It will absorb the flavor of the veggies and spices, even before you add it to the ramen bowl.
5. Korean Fire Noodles
Korean fire noodles can be a couple of things. They can be a spicy noodle that you enjoy by itself, or they can form the base for a more complex recipe. Despite their name, they’re not as incredibly intense as you might expect.
Yes, there’s gochujang sauce and chili oil, which provide quite a bit of heat. But there’s also in the noodle packet, which does a lot to take the edge off. There’s also shredded seaweed, which absorbs a lot of the spice, and provides an essential crunch.
One thing we should point out is that it’s easy to adjust the intensity. Start by making the base recipe, and see how you like it. If you want more or less heat, you can just modify the recipe the next time you prepare your noodles.
Key Ingredients for Vegan Ramen
To prepare a high-quality vegan ramen, you need to think about ways to add flavor. In the absence of meat or eggs, you’ll have to find other savory flavors.
Your number one go-to should be garlic. It pairs well with most other vegetables, and works in both savory and spicy dishes. It’s also one of the healthier herbs and veggies you’ll find. If you prefer a milder alternative with similar savory qualities, try using scallions, or combining scallions with garlic.
Protein is a no-brainer. Tofu is a great source of protein, but you’ll generally want to fry it before putting it in your tofu. This will add a nice crispy layer to the outside, and the tofu will absorb flavor from the cooking oil. Black beans are another solid choice, although they have a strong flavor, so you’ll need to be more choosy about your vegetable pairings.
Mushrooms are a great, low-calorie way to add texture and flavor. They’re also versatile enough to go with spicy and savory bases alike. Sesame seeds make a great garnish, with their smooth, nutty flavor. And green veggies like broccoli and baby cabbage provide tons of nutrition.
Soy and seaweed are both excellent choices for flavor. You’ll have to be careful because of the salt content, but used in moderation, they can add a lot to your ramen bowl. Seaweed also has an additional benefit, in that it contributes extra texture to your dish.
Finally, there are plenty of delicious, savory vegan cheeses you can add to your bowl. There are a couple of ways of doing this. First, you could grate or slice the cheese directly over the noodles, so they melt right into the dish. Another way is to blend the cheese into your sauce beforehand, so it all mixes together.