Best Instant Ramen: College Students Rejoice! It’s the 10 Best Instant Ramens

These are the best instant ramen noodles that you should be buying at the grocery store, from spicy to mild and everything in between.

Instant ramen is one of the greatest foods on planet Earth. The fact that a product exists that is so easy and versatile and flavorful absolutely blows my mind. I regularly partake in the wonder that is packaged ramen with no shame. My preferred method is cooking it on the stovetop and topping it with an air fryer soft boiled egg, a ton of scallions, and a scoop of chili oil that I buy from my favorite dumpling shop.

A quick note before we get into the list: There is an infinite number of brands and flavors of ramen. So, we decided to taste the most popular, most searched-for instant ramen brands that are available in America. That being said, I suggest you continue to do your own research by buying every type of instant ramen you can find at your local Asian grocery store to find the best instant ramen for you.

Andjelina Belcastro, Mythical merch marvel, shares my love of instant ramen and joined us for our taste test. After consuming approximately one million noodles, these are our favorites.

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Best of the Best

MAMA Instant Noodles (Artificial Chicken Flavor)

I don’t know how I have lived my entire life without trying MAMA Instant Noodles. It was some of the best instant ramen to ever grace my mouth. These instant noodles come with not one, not two, but three little flavor packets to add maximum deliciousness. They’re a little peppery, delightfully oily, and so, so savory. You do not need to add a single thing to these noodles. They are perfect as is. Oh, did I mention they’re vegetarian?! MAMA Instant Noodles will be a staple in my house moving forward.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

10/10

Sporks

Best Spicy

Samyang Buldak Korean Hot Spicy Chicken Stir-Fried Ramyun Noodles

If you’re looking for serious spice, this is the best instant ramen for you. Andjelina said these broth-less noodles “smell like death” and made her scared, but, as a real heat head, I found their spicy aroma exciting. I love these noodles because they do actually have a kick. I think this variety has the perfect level of spice, too. It’s not kill-your-tongue spicy like their extra spicy flavor, but the heat builds as you continue to slurp. If you don’t have a high heat tolerance, however, be careful. These are spicy enough to make Andejlina do what editor-in-chief Justine Sterling described as a “tiny orphan cough.” On top of their wonderful flavor, they had the best, chewiest noodles.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

10/10

Sporks

Best Splurge

Sapporo Ichiban Momosan Ramen, Tokyo Chicken

In this house, we love the Iron Chef franchise, so the Masaharu Morimoto instant noodles were an easy sell. His face is on the bag! The portion is large, which I love. If I’m eating noodles, I’m trying to eat a lot of noodles. The broth is buttery and meaty and soaks into the thin noodles. This is one of the best instant ramen noodles to dress up. Adding some pork belly, a soy sauce egg, and some corn would instantly turn this into a fancy dinner that you could serve to guests.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

9.5/10

Sporks

Best Wildcard

Samyang Buldak CARBO (Carbonara) Hot Chicken Flavor Stir-Fried Ramen

Cheese and ramen are a delicious combination and Buldak has perfected it with their carbonara-inspired ramen. This ramen has no broth and, instead, comes with a packet of cheesy sauce based on the Italian parmesan, pancetta, and egg pasta dish. One thing I love is that the addition of dairy doesn’t lessen the spice in the sauce. And speaking of sauce, there is so much of it. I love a saucy noodle and they provide plenty for a sauce-lover like me. Plus, tasting this second Samyang ramen confirmed that they are making the best and chewiest noodles on the instant ramen market. Looking for something different? This is the best instant ramen for you.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

9.5/10

Sporks

Best Cup Noodle Upgrade

Nongshim Shin Ramyun Original Noodle Soup

I know, I know. You think this is the best instant ramen and you can’t believe I put it so low on this list. Well, that’s where it landed. Maybe it’s our fault for coming in with such high expectations—we thought it would take the top spot, but it didn’t because it just tastes like fancier Cup Noodle. We love Cup Noodle, though! The broth is savory, there’s a slight heat, and the noodles are thin and chewy. I found this to be a little one-note, but it is a very delicious note.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

Best Brand Collab

Tapatio Ramen Noodle Soup, Chicken Flavor

If there’s a company that knows how to do a product collaboration, it’s Tapatio. The Van Holten’s Tapatio Pickle, the Tapatio Doritos, and all the Tapatio-flavored nuts are stellar (amongst other Tapatio products), so it makes sense that the Tapatio ramen is good, too. The Tapatio flavor is distinct, but also mild enough to meld well with the other classic packaged ramen flavors. Danny Palumbo, my fellow Sporked writer, pointed out that the container is “popcorn bucket” sized and I think that is a huge plus when it comes to picking the best instant ramen.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Instacart

Rating:

8.5/10

Sporks

Best Vegan

Chef Woo Ramen Express Beef

Seeking the best instant ramen that eschews meat? Chef Woo Beef Ramen Express is the meatiest vegan ramen on the market. The broth has a dark color and rich flavor that, despite its “beef” branding, tastes porky. The dehydrated vegetables plump up nicely. Justine, a meat lover, described this meatless ramen as “nice [and] cozy.” Plus, if you’re interested in macros (I’m not), this brand’s big claim to fame is that their ramen has “20 grams of plant-based complete protein.” Get swole while you slurp!

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

Best Classic

Top Ramen, Chicken Flavor

You know her, you love her: She’s Top Ramen. Not everyone was on board with this one, but I will stand by Top Ramen’s side as one of the best instant ramen brands no matter what. It’s heinously salty in the best way possible. It’s delicious on its own or with toppings. It is so cheap it’s practically free. This is what I make when I am feeling sick and it makes me feel better. It’s not the fanciest ramen, but it is great.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

Best For Spice-Curious

Nissin Hot and Spicy Chicken Noodle Bowl

Andjelina described the Nissin Hot and Spicy Chicken Noodle Bowl as “refreshing” because of the hint of lime and I agree. These noodles aren’t quite as heavy as some of the others on this list. There’s a brightness that makes this instant ramen feel more acceptable to eat in the middle of the day. They’re slightly spicy, but a good place to start if you’re not a huge fan of heat. Lastly, the packaging is 10/10. The huge bowl leaves plenty of room for all the toppings I want to slap on this.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Target

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

Best Nostalgic

Nissin Original Cup Noodle

If you like stuff in your ramen but don’t have the time or energy to add your own toppings, Nissin’s Original Cup Noodle is the best instant ramen for you. Just add water to find tiny shrimp, pieces of pork sausage, and chunks of egg swimming throughout the broth, which I might add, is very flavorful. My high school sold cups of these to enjoy at lunch and enjoy I did! Because of that, these have a weird nostalgia factor for me. Anyone else go to a ramen-serving high school?

Credit: Ryan Martin / Instacart

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

best spaghetti

The Best Spaghetti You Can Buy

There are those who will shun spaghetti. Read these next words slowly and through my gritted teeth: Spaghetti is beautiful.

Film your own best instant ramen taste test at home and share with us using #SporkedTasteTest for a chance to be featured on our social pages!


About the Author

Jordan Myrick

Jordan is an L.A.-based writer and comedian who believes all food should come with extra sauce. When they're not writing for Sporked, Jordan is at the movies or sharing an order of french fries with their elderly chihuahua.

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  • Yes I read the blurb at the start, I know you can’t taste everything, but I was still genuinely surprised not to see Indomie on the list. The original Mi Goreng is top tier. I really cannot overstate how next level delicious it is. Not three, not four, but FIVE flavor packets, one of which I’m almost certain contains crack. Even the fancy Nongshim Black(which I still love) has nothing on Indomie.

    Reply
    • These are really great, but they are categorized as “Instant Stir Fry Noodles” and not “Instant Ramen.” Same with the (also delicious) Maggi Noodles. It’s a small difference, but there are SO many options so we had to narrow it down somehow. Since they don’t call themselves ramen and don’t have broth, we didn’t include them.

      Reply
      • Using nomenclature of ‘ramen’ as a requirement is admirable if you’re looking to list the best ramen, but very few things on the list are ‘ramen.’ Ramen is the general recognizable term for instant noodles.

  • This looks like someone walked to the store, bought what they had on hand and decided it must be the best. I’ve reviewed over 4,000 instant noodles from across the globe over the past twenty years and really find this annoying. http://www.theramenrater.com

    Reply
    • Hi, Hans! The whole point of our website is to show delicious grocery store items that are easily accessible to most people in America. Good luck with your website, though!

      Reply
    • Gonna be honest here, your replies do not make me want to visit your site at all. Try not to conflate your mission with Spork’s. Y’all are not trying to do the same thing. That’s pretty important to note.

      Reply
  • I’d be interested in which varieties you tried against the ones that made the top ten that didn’t make it. Unless you only got 10 to try… Also you have 2 buldak varieties that do not contain any broth even though you state that you only used ones that had broth? The Ramen Rater, who has tried well over 4000 varieties of ramen, is way more knowledgeable and trustworthy on the subject. You should really reach out to him. http://www.theramenrater.com

    Reply
  • I don’y know about this. Considering y’all have a crew and whatnot, I figured these might be averaged scores or there would be more than one list etc.

    These are constructive criticisms as I know this website is brand new. But like, yah, having access to Rhett and Link’s original tier list and a few more people than most websites could be really useful in differentiating y’all’s website against others. As this reads right now, it’s just one person’s list of instant ramens they enjoy… and that is, well, pretty one note and hyper subjective ya know?

    Reply
    • As mentioned in the article, we taste everything on our site as a team (and often have the help of additional taste testers like we did on this taste test) so nothing is one person’s opinion. When compiling items to try, we research the highest rated products as well as regional favorites, new products on the market, and Rhett & Link’s favorites. Hope this helps!

      Reply
      • I would say, my most prominent criticism is, “as it reads.” Take that as you will. I know how hard it is to set up a website and have graphics etc. I just wish I had known the reference points as opposed to just reading about it in comments section ya know? I think that’d be a GREAT addition to the site. I want to send this to friends, I would if it was written in such a fashion. I’m not saying your work isn’t worthy or it’s bad, please don’t read that. Simply I think y’all have an opportunity. I would pounce on it.

  • HEY! How dare you take the words out of my mouth about Shin Ramyun 😂

    Reply
  • Again, I LOVE how I can always tell that it’s Jordan writing the article. They have a je ne sa quio that is supremely their own!

    Reply
    • Sara, you are too kind! Thank you!

      Reply
  • Actively went out and bought the Mama noodles. Was not very impressed. Not bad, but definitely think there are a few better ones – even just within this list.

    Reply
    • Also, that sodium content while being less than half the size of, at least, a package of Shin Ramyun (that’s just what I still have on hand to compare) is a hard pass for anyone not simply looking for a vegetarian sub for other Chicken flavored ramen.

      I will say, it is the best Chicken flavored instant noodles I’ve had – but, in my opinion, that’s not a high bar.

      Reply