Maruchan ramen is probably the most ubiquitous ramen brand in the U.S.—Top Ramen notwithstanding—but if you’ve only been buying chicken, soy sauce, and beef, you’re missing out on some real bangers. We sourced all ten flavors of Maruchan ramen noodles (yes, including Maruchan chicken ramen and all the other ol’ standbys), prepared them according to the package instructions (i.e. with two cups of water per bowl), and tasted them head to head. If you’re like me, you typically prepare your ramen with less water than the package recommends, and I gotta say, it’s a good strategy. Some of these tasted downright watery, but rules are rules and others tasted amazing with all that broth. Here are all the Maruchan ramen flavors, ranked from worst to best.
- Picante Chicken
This is the only Maruchan ramen flavor I truly disliked. It doesn’t taste like chicken. It tastes like dried red pepper in a really aggressive way that almost reads as chemically. There are much better versions of Maruchan chicken ramen.
I wouldn’t have suspected that Maruchan beef ramen would be such a letdown up against other flavors. As I said, I made this and every flavor according to the package instructions and this one tastes downright watery. It’s hot and salty, which is satisfying I suppose, but you should definitely disregard the package instructions if you want this Maruchan ramen to taste like beef at all.
This Maruchan ramen flavor is less offensive than the Picante Chicken, but it still just tastes like chili powder in water with a little MSG on the finish. It’s nice that it has some heat—I imagine this would feel pretty good on a sore throat if you were sick—but I wouldn’t go out of my way for it. If you want a spicy Maruchan ramen option that really tastes good, see #2 on this list.
Tonkotsu is my favorite type of ramen, so I thought I would love Maruchan’s pork flavor, but it’s a bit of a letdown. It doesn’t taste bad by any means, but it’s just sort of hot, salty, and a little bit peppery. Pork broth is so delicious, but this just doesn’t do it justice.
- Creamy Chicken
This Maruchan ramen is so weird, but I kind of love it! It tastes chickeny and the milk solids in the seasoning packet make the broth rich and creamy, almost like you sprinkled powdered non-dairy creamer in your soup. Granted, this is another Maruchan ramen flavor that you should prepare with less water than the instructions recommend. The creaminess will make more of an impression, for sure.
Maruchan chicken ramen rules—it’s a total classic, especially if you like the flavor of chicken bouillon and that yellowy broth it makes. This is the Maruchan ramen you should buy if you’re in the mood for that classic powdered chicken flavor, which is bright and zippy and tastes like dried chives rather than slow-cooked onions. I prefer the roast chicken flavor (spoiler: It’s #1 on this list), but straight-up chicken is great in its own way, too. This is good for sick days, especially if you grew up loving instant soup like Lipton.
- Roast Beef
Roast beef Maruchan ramen noodles are so much better than the regular beef Maruchan ramen. It tastes like au jus gravy. It’s meaty—I swear, you can almost taste an iron-y quality like actual gravy made with pan drippings—and there’s a bit of a cooked flavor, almost smoky like a burger. There’s a lot of wild stuff going on in this seasoning packet and I like it, but I think it could be a bit much for some people.
- Soy Sauce
This has always been one of my favorite Maruchan ramen flavors. It’s savory and with an umami quality like soy sauce, but it tastes like way more than just soy sauce. I swear, it’s almost like they just put all the meat flavored powders together to create one, but the only extract called out in the ingredients is beef extract (sorry, vegetarians, this ramen is not safe). If you like MSG, you’ll love this.
- Lime Chili Shrimp
I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Lime Chili Shrimp Maruchan ramen in the wild, but I will be seeking it out from now on. It’s bright and tangy, like actual lime juice. It’s savory without being overtly shrimpy or seafoody. And it actually has some heat, a nice burn that settles in your chest as you eat. This was my personal favorite Maruchan ramen flavor, but I dinged it because it doesn’t really taste like shrimp and I think the roast chicken flavor has broader appeal and is a little more useful if you want to make a meal of your ramen.
- Roast Chicken
This Maruchan ramen flavor is amazing. It tastes like a slow-cooked broth. I swear you can taste carrot and onion. The broth is a much deeper, browner color than the regular chicken flavor. It’s much more savory and more flavorful overall than the regular chicken flavor in my opinion. I will be buying this over regular Maruchan chicken ramen from now on, but I think there’s room for both in your pantry depending on your mood because they’re pretty different. Give this a shot if you never have!