Homemade noodles, including ramen and instant noodles, are a global phenomenon and the perfect quick meal. While they can be satisfying on their own, the true magic of these noodles lies in their versatility.
But have you ever wondered how to make instant noodles better? With the right noodle and ramen toppings, what begins as a simple cup of noodles can be transformed into your perfect meal.
We've tried a lot of noodle toppings in our lives, and decided to put together a list of 50+ of our all-time favourites. These are handpicked and proven to add extra flavour, texture and colour to your next bowl of homemade noodles or favourite instant noodle brand.
Add as many or as few as you like - we're confident there's something catering to every palate including proteins, vegetables, condiments, crunchy extras, and more.
Protein Ramen Toppings
We think of proteins as an essential component to any hearty bowl of homemade noodles. They add a satisfying richness that can form the most memorable part of your meal.
#1 Chashu pork
Chashu pork is a staple topping in many ramen restaurants and is a favourite of many ramen enthusiasts including ourselves. We find that chashu pork, especially when slowly cooked, has the ability to melt in your mouth due its tender texture and succulent taste.
#2 Ground meat
Whether it’s pork, beef, or chicken, ground meat is a quick and easy protein to sprinkle on top, adding substance and flavour to your noodles. Why not try to add a bit of a kick by cooking with some garlic and onions.
#3 Sliced beef
Thinly sliced beef can be cooked directly in the hot broth, offering a hearty chew and a rich taste that complements any noodle bowl. Adding sliced beef always reminds us of the classic Taiwanese beef noodle soup.
#4 Shredded chicken
A leaner option, shredded chicken, ideally without the skin, absorbs the ramen flavours while providing a satisfying, protein-packed bite.
If you are a seafood lover, then rejoice as toppings such as shrimp, squid, cuttlefish and crab sticks can enhance your noodles adding a taste of the sea. We love using seafood in many of our favourite instant ramen recipes.
#6 Fish balls
Common in Asian cuisines, fish balls are a fun and flavourful addition that soak up the broth, providing a savoury, chewy bite.
#7 Fish Cakes (Narutomaki)
A visually appealing steamed fish cake with a distinctive swirl pattern. Offers a mild, sweet flavour and chewy texture, adding both taste and visual appeal to any ramen bowl.
Sliced frankfurters are a fantastic way to introduce a smoky, meaty element to your ramen. They cook quickly and add their savoury juices to the broth, adding depth to every spoonful. The frankfurters' firm texture and rich taste provide a satisfying contrast to the noodles, making them a hearty and indulgent topping for any ramen bowl.
#9 Fried tofu pouches (Inari)
These sweet and savory pockets of tofu add a delightful texture and are a great protein option for vegetarians.
#10 Soft-boiled, marinated ramen eggs (Ajitsuke Tamago)
We would describe Ajitsuke Tamago as the crown-jewel of all ramen toppings. When cooked well, the soft-boiled consistency which comes with the texture of custard is complemented with a marinade that strikes a decent balance between savoury and sweet.
#11 Poached eggs
For an alternative tasty egg topping and if time isn't on your side, as the noodles simmer, break an egg into the noodles and poach it in the steaming broth. We find that its silky yolk and delicate white enriches the broth and overall noodle dish.
Asian Vegetables Ramen Toppings
Vegetables don't just add a splash of colour but also a wealth of nutrients and textures, transforming your ramen into a more wholesome meal with multiple layers of flavour.
This leafy green adds a green colour and a tender texture. We recommend blanching spinach as that preserves its nutrients and bright colour, making it an attractive and healthy addition to your ramen bowl.
#13 Pak choi
For a satisfying crunch and a solid dose of Asian vegetables, pak choi is a must. It brings a subtle sweetness when sautéed which is just enough to maintain its crispness. We recommend using one or two heads of pak choi maximum, otherwise you run the risk of making the noodles too bland.
Cabbage, especially in shredded form, adds a crisp texture and has the ability to soak up flavours. We find it a refreshing topping that adds volume without overpowering other ingredients.
#15 Enoki mushrooms
These delicate mushrooms provide a unique texture and an earthy flavour. They're great for adding a gourmet touch to a humble bowl of Asian instant noodles or ramen.
#16 Shiitake mushrooms
Known for their meaty texture and rich, umami flavour, shiitake mushrooms can turn a simple ramen into more of a luxury treat.
#17 Julienned carrots
The bright colour and sweet, crunchy bite of carrots offer a contrast to the soft noodles, making them a visually appealing and tasty topping. For best results, use julienne cut your carrots.
#18 Diced tomatoes
Adding a hint of acidity and freshness, tomatoes are great for cutting through the richness of the broth, balancing out the flavours.
#19 Fresh scallions
A sprinkle of finely chopped scallions adds a slightly spicy and peppery freshness and a punch of colour to your ramen that's both aesthetically pleasing and flavour-enhancing. If time allows, try cooking the scallions until they are slightly charred.
#20 Minced raw garlic
For those who like it hot, a little minced garlic goes a long way in providing a pungent kick that will wake up your taste buds.
Leeks contribute a milder, sweeter alternative to scallions, with a soft texture that complements the noodles well.
The bright, citrusy notes of coriander breathe freshness into the dish, and combine well with spicy or savoury broths.
#23 Thai basil leaves
These aromatic herbs add a licorice-like flavour, which can be a game-changer for those looking to add a unique twist to their ramen.
The natural sweetness of corn kernels bursts in your mouth, providing a lovely contrast to the savoury broth which pairs wonderfully with the savoury broth, enhancing the overall flavour profile.
Fresh or frozen peas add a delightful pop of sweetness and texture to your ramen. Their vibrant green colour livens up the dish, while their tender yet slightly crisp bite complements the soft noodles. Peas are not only a visually appealing addition but also bring a subtle earthiness, balancing the rich flavours of the broth.
Asian Condiments and Sauces
Condiments and sauces are the secret weapons in your ramen arsenal, offering endless opportunities to customise your bowl with complex, bold, or delicate flavours.
#26 Roasted sesame oil
A drizzle of this deeply flavoured oil adds a nutty aroma and enriches the overall taste profile of the ramen.
#27 Chilli oil
For those who desire extra spice or heat, like ourselves, chilli oil can deliver an intensity that warms the soul. Be careful not to add too much if you still want to taste the broth.
#28 Black garlic oil
Black garlic oil, a luxurious Japanese topping, is made by gently scorching garlic in oil, introducing a sweet, caramelised flavour with a umami depth that’s hard to resist.
#29 Miso paste
Introducing a savoury, salty element, miso paste can transform your broth into something truly special with its umami taste and thick texture.
#30 Hoisin sauce
Offering a sweet and tangy taste, hoisin sauce is a great addition for those who enjoy a hint of sweetness with a complex mix of spices in their ramen. This sauce can add depth and a dark, rich colour to the broth, complementing meaty toppings particularly well.
#31 Sriracha sauce
For a tangy kick, this Thai hot sauce balances heat with a touch of sweetness, making it a popular choice for spicing up ramen. Explore the range of Sriracha sauce variants for varying levels of heat and flavour.
#32 Soy sauce
Soy sauce is the quintessential Asian condiment. With its salty, umami-rich flavour, soy sauce serves as the backbone of many broths and makes the perfect seasoning for noodles. Just a splash can deepen the taste of your ramen, bringing a warm, earthy complexity to the dish.
#33 Yuzu Kosho
A zesty Japanese condiment combining yuzu citrus peel, chilli peppers, and salt. Adds a refreshing, tangy, and slightly spicy kick, ideal for enhancing chicken or seafood instant noodles and ramen.
#34 White pepper
Unlike its black counterpart, white pepper offers a sharper heat and a less intrusive presence, perfect for a subtle spice profile. If not available then black pepper in moderation can still taste great.
#35 Togarashi (Japanese seven spice)
Togarashi, a well-known Japanese spice blend, usually includes chilli pepper, orange peel, and nori among others; it adds a complex heat and even a hint of citrus to the ramen.
#36 Curry powder
A pinch of curry powder or even a curry cube can infuse your noodles with warm, aromatic spices, giving them an inspired transformation.
#37 Kewpie mayonnaise
This Japanese mayo is richer and creamier than its Western counterpart using only egg yolks, adding a unique, umami-packed creaminess to your dish.
Pickled and Fermented Extras
Pickled and fermented items introduce an element of zesty brightness or savory depth to ramen, creating a harmonious balance with the broth's richness.
This staple Korean side dish of fermented cabbage brings a punch of sourness and spice, offering a tangy contrast to the rich broth. Use in moderation as it can be overpowering.
#39 Pickled ginger (Beni shoga or Gari)
Offering a sharp, sweet heat, pickled ginger cleanses the palate and can either be added to the noodles as a topping or eaten to cleanse your palette in between slurps of noodles. We prefer the slightly pinker gari but you can't go wrong either way.
#40 Pickled radish
Its crunch and zesty flavour profile provides a refreshing bite that complements the chewy texture of noodles. If available try adding it to some honey or rice vinegar.
#41 Bamboo shoots (Menma)
These fermented shoots have a pleasingly earthy taste and a crisp texture that's unique among ramen toppings. We always include in ramen when available.
#42 Pickled mustard greens
These bring a bitter, tangy, and sometimes spicy taste to your bowl, complementing the richness of traditional ramen broth.
Crunchy Ramen Toppings
Crunchy additions to ramen and instant noodles not only contribute a pleasing textural contrast but can also add bursts of flavour, making each bite uniquely satisfying.
#43 Tempura bits (Tenkasu)
These crunchy bits of deep-fried tempura batter offer an irresistible crunch and an added dimension to the soup's texture. Not the healthiest but definitely among the tastiest.
#44 Nori (dried seaweed sheets)
Nori introduces an umami taste with a sea-like flavour, enhancing the broth's complexity. When cut into strips, it also adds a pleasing visual touch to your bowl.
#45 Wakame seaweed
Slightly sweet and succulent, wakame expands in the broth, adding not just flavour but also a fun, slippery texture. Not everyone's cup of tea, but worth a try.
#46 Crispy fried onions or shallots
Adding a burst of savoury crunch, these are ideal for a final garnish that offers both taste and texture contrast.
#47 Sesame seeds
Toasted sesame seeds sprinkled over the top add a subtle crunch and an aromatic nuttiness to each bite. Feel free to try white or black variants.
This Japanese seasoning, often containing mixed sesame seeds, chopped seaweed, sugar, and salt, gives a final touch of umami and texture.
International twists as Ramen Toppings
These toppings not only add a burst of flavour but also turn your ramen or instant noodles into a global dish. These international toppings showcase how global flavours can beautifully integrate with traditional ramen.
#49 Truffle oil
A few drops of truffle oil can elevate your ramen with a luxurious aroma and earthy flavour that's usually associated with gourmet dining.
#50 Sundried tomatoes
Adding a Mediterranean twist, sundried tomatoes offer a chewy texture and a concentrated burst of tangy sweetness.
For a spicy kick, sliced jalapeños bring a fresh, zesty heat to the dish, infusing it with Mexican flair.
#52 Harissa paste
This North African condiment made from chilli peppers, spices, and herbs, introduces a smoky heat and can be stirred into the broth for a vibrant taste sensation.
Adding sliced or cream cheese to ramen might sound unconventional, but it gives a creamy, tangy depth that's goes surprisingly well with the broth.
#54 Artichoke hearts
Marinated artichoke hearts bring a tender texture and a slightly tangy flavour. We find it pairs particularly well with creamy or chicken-based ramen broths.
Every bowl of ramen and instant noodles is a unique story of textures, tastes, and colours. We hope this list of toppings inspires you to get creative with your next bowl of instant noodles. So, dive in, get tasting and experiment to find some combinations of instant noodle and ramen toppings that suit you.