50 Ramen Toppings for a Delicious Meal
There’s nothing quite like a big, warm bowl of ramen on a chilly day. Whether you’re loading up your instant ramen or building your bowl from scratch, these ramen toppings are sure to inspire your creation.
Ramen Broth Types
Making ramen is easier than you think. While traditional tonkotsu broth takes hours to boil, you can make a quicker version with chicken broth, soy sauce, mirin, ginger, fresh or frozen garlic, and whatever else you’d like. I typically use 1 part sauce to 16 parts broth (or about ¼ cup mirin and ¼ cup soy sauce to 4 cups chicken broth). Simmer everything for half an hour, and your broth is ready!
Here are some common types of ramen broths:
- Tonkotsu: Tonkotsu is a rich, creamy broth made from simmering pork bones in water for 12+ hours. Onions are often added to the broth.
- Shoyu: Shoyu, or soy sauce-based, broth is lighter than tonkatsu. It’s made with broth, soy sauce, and often kombu (a type of seaweed) and bonita (fish) flakes.
- Miso: Like miso soup, miso ramen broth is made by adding miso paste.
- Curry: Curry is a less traditional broth base. While there are many types of curry you can use, I prefer red curry paste with coconut milk.
Add egg noodles to your broth, and you’re ready for your ramen toppings.
Like with the broth, you can opt for traditional or untraditional ramen toppings. Here are some of my favorites:
Meats & Other Proteins
- Chashu: Chashu is tender, braised pork belly. You can make it at home by seasoning and rolling a piece of pork belly, and then slowly cooking it. If that seems overwhelming, you can try oven roasted crispy pork belly (one of my ramen go-tos).
- Wontons or dumplings: Underbelly, a restaurant in San Diego, serves oxtail dumplings with one of their ramens. It’s the best. You could try any type of dumplings, even frozen ones, if you don’t want to make them from scratch.
- Eggs (ajitsuke tamago): Start by making soft boiled eggs. Bring water to a boil and then gently lower your eggs in with a spoon. Cook for 6 minutes, meanwhile prepping a bowl of ice water. When the eggs are ready, submerge them in the ice water for a few minutes and then crack and peel the eggs. If you want to marinate them, you’ll need to prep the eggs a few days in advance.
- Fish cake: Kamaboko comes in many forms, but the type commonly used in ramen has a pink exterior. You can typically find it in the refrigerator section of Asian markets.
- Tofu: You can dice firm tofu and toss it right in or use extra firm tofu to make crispy cubes. To make crispy tofu, press out the water using paper towels and two plates. Cut the tofu into cubes, season it with soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic powder, and cornstarch. Then bake it at 400℉ for 25 minutes, flipping occasionally, or air fry it for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- Ground pork: Season the pork however you’d like. You could try a spicy version with chili garlic sauce and soy sauce, or opt for a sweeter version with hoisin, ginger, and sesame oil.
- Chicken: Keep it simply by topping your ramen with chicken. No need to get fancy. You can simply season it with salt and pepper and cook it in a pan or in the oven.
- Shrimp: Similar to chicken, you can cook shrimp on the stovetop. It will only take a few minutes! If you want a more flavorful option, try our honey sriracha shrimp recipe.
- Short rib: Tender short ribs take a long time to cook. You can either braise them in the oven or try making them in a crockpot or pressure cooker.
- Spam: Spam is an easy ramen topping, especially if you’re in a dorm room. Slice it in strips and add to your ramen or saute it in teriyaki sauce first.
- Duck: If you want to level-up your ramen, add crispy duck. You can get it in the dim sum or deli section of many Asian markets.
- Bean sprouts: These bland vegetables are a great way to add a crunchy texture to your ramen. Throw a handful in your broth to contrast the soft noodles.
- Bok choy: This low calorie, nutrient-dense veggie is a tasty way to add fiber and flavor to your ramen. It’s rich in vitamin C and vitamin A. Throw it in your simmering broth about five minutes before you’re ready to serve to soften in.
- Shiitake mushrooms: Shiitake mushrooms add a deep, savory flavor to your ramen. I like to simmer a couple in the broth for about half an hour to give it more flavor, then throw fresh shiitake mushrooms in near the end.
- Enoki mushrooms: Enoki mushrooms are the long, thin white mushrooms that come in a bunch. They have a mild flavor. Similar to bean sprouts, enoki mushrooms add texture to your ramen. You can throw them on top of your ramen once it’s ready or add them to the simmering broth for a couple minutes.
- Kikurage mushrooms: These mushrooms are also known as wood ear mushrooms. They are high in fiber and iron. Kikurage mushrooms have a chewy texture and can be marinated in soy sauce, mirin, and sugar.
- Carrots: Sprinkle shredded carrots on top of your ramen or cut whole carrots into a matchstick shape for a pop of orange in your bowl.
- Corn: Cut fresh corn off the cob or use canned corn. A few spoonfuls add a hint of sweetness to your ramen.
- Bamboo shoots (menma): You can find canned bamboo shoots at many supermarkets. For a more traditional spin, try menma (fermented bamboo shoots), which you may be able to find at a Japanese market.
- Snap peas: Blanched snap peas are a sweet, crunchy addition to your ramen. I like to quickly blanch them. Simply boil water, add the snap peas for 90 seconds, and then put them in an ice bath.
- Kimchi: Kimchi is Korean and ramen is Japanese, but they can still go together! Add kimchi into your broth for a spicy variation.
- Asparagus: Asparagus is an unusual choice for ramen, but it’s a tasty veggie option if you’re creating a meatless dish. Just quickly cook the asparagus in a pan and top your ramen. You can slice it up or leave it whole.
- Spinach: Spinach is rich in iron, fiber, and vitamins. Throw a handful in the simmering broth right before you take it off the stove. It will only take a minute or two to wilt.
- Cabbage: Shredded cabbage adds a subtle flavor and complements the soft texture of the noodles. You can either boil it in the broth for five minutes to soften it up, or add it in raw for extra crunch.
- Daikon: Daikon is a mild flavored, slightly peppery radish. It’s versatile and can be pickled, fermented, or even spiralized and used to supplement your ramen noodles.
- Broccoli: Roasted broccoli is another untraditional ramen topping. However, it’s a great vegetarian option if you’re trying to load your bowl with greens.
- Okra: I like to buy frozen cut okra to throw in my soups. It’s a bitter vegetable that’s low-calorie and rich in fiber. Add a handful of frozen okra to your broth for about five minutes or until it’s soft.
- Brussel sprouts: The first time I ever had brussel sprouts in my ramen was at Harumama. Roasted brussel sprouts can actually taste slightly sweet and go well with creamy tonkatsu broth.
- Water Chestnuts: These vegetables aren’t nuts at all. They get their name because they grow underwater and are brown and chesnut-shaped. You can find canned water chestnuts. They don’t have much flavor, but do have a satisfying crunch.
- Zucchini: Slice zucchini into coins or spiralize it to make zoodles.
- Furikake: Furikake is most commonly used to season rice, but it’s a delicious addition to ramen too. There are many different kinds, but they typically contain some combination of seaweed, sesame seeds, salt, sugar, and dried fish.
- Green onion: Green onions (aka scallions) are a must for ramen. Sprinkle a handful on top. Pro tip: You can grow green onions from the cuttings. Just submerge the white side in water until it starts to root, and then you can plant them in soil.
- Onion: I like to add thinly sliced onions to my ramen, but if you’re feeling fancy you can carmelize the onions first.
- Jalapenos: If you like spice, garnish your ramen with slices of jalapeno. Remember, all the spice is in the seeds.
- Radish sprouts: These sprouts are grown from the seeds of daikon radishes. They have a mild, peppery flavor and can be sprinkled on top of your ramen as a garnish.
- Fried garlic: The answer is always more fried garlic. You can buy pre-made fried garlic or quickly make your own on the stovetop.
- Cilantro: You may not immediately think of cilantro when you think of ramen, but trust us, it’s worth a try. P.S. Did you know that you can freeze cilantro before it goes bad?
- Nori: Nori is dried seaweed that comes in sheets of different sizes. Typically Nori will be added last because if it sinks into the broth it will get soggy.
- Lime/lime juice: Tangy lime juice complements a salty shoyu base or spicy curry base. Cut a few lime wedges and squeeze them in your ramen to taste.
- Pickled ginger: When you hear pickled ginger, you probably think of the thing that comes with your sushi. However, the pickled ginger used on ramen is usually red (beni shoga) and more thinly sliced.
- Garlic oil: Black garlic oil (mayu) is a popular ramen condiment. It’s made from burning garlic in oil, giving it a bitter taste. However, this complements rich, creamy broths.
- Ground peanuts: While ground peanuts can go on any type of ramen, they pair especially well with a curry broth.
- Sesame seeds: Sprinkle sesame seeds over your bowl for a finishing touch.
Sauces & Spices
- Soy sauce: Remember that soy sauce is salty, so go light if you’re adding it to your ramen broth.
- Ponzu: Ponzu sauce has a citrusy flavor. It can be used instead of lime juice. Similar to lime juice, it pairs well with a shoyu or curry broth.
- Sesame oil: A little bit of sesame oil goes a long way. Add a few drops at a time and taste to make sure it doesn’t overpower your broth.
- Hoisin: Hoisin is a sweet and salty sauce made with fermented soybean paste, among other things. I like to add it to shoyu broth.
- Sriracha: If you like spice, Sriracha is another topping option. Unlike chili oil, which will simply add heat, Sriracha has a stronger flavor.
- Chili oil: Chili oil is the first thing that I reach for when making my ramen. A small spoonful is typically enough to give it some kick.
- White pepper: White pepper is fine and used in many different types of soups. It will add a little bit of spice without overpowering the flavor of the broth.
How to Store Ramen & Ramen Toppings
Ramen may be easy to cook, but it doesn’t necessarily save well. Here are a few tips to store leftovers:
- Store broth, noodles, and topping separate: When making your ramen, prepare each of these individually and store them individually to avoid the noodles absorbing the broth and everything getting soggy.
- Make noodles fresh if possible: Ramen noodles only take a few minutes to cook in boiling water. It’s best if you only cook what you need and then make more to serve with extra broth and toppings.
- Store noodles with a little water: If you have leftover ramen noodles, It’s best to store them with a little water so they don’t dry out and clump together.
- Freeze your broth: You can freeze the broth in individual serving sizes and reheat it in a pot if you won’t eat it within the week.
Now you’re ready to build the ultimate bowl of ramen from scratch! Let us know your favorite ramen toppings in the comments.
50 Creative Ramen Toppings
- egg noodles
Meats & Other Proteins
- eggs (ajitsuke tamago)
- fish cake
- ground pork
- short rib
- bean sprouts
- bok choy
- shiitake mushrooms
- enoki mushrooms
- kikurage mushrooms
- bamboo shoots
- snap peas
- brussel sprouts
- water chestnuts
Garnishes & Sauces
- green onion
- radish sprouts
- fried garlic
- chili oil
- sesame oil
- pickled ginger
- soy sauce
- garlic oil
- ground peanuts
- white pepper
- sesame seeds
- Prep your toppings of choice.
- Make your broth.
- Boil water and cook noodles. This should take about three minutes.
- Add toppings and enjoy!
You must be logged in to post a comment.