This crunchy ramen noodle salad recipe is quick and easy to make, tossed with a simple Asian-style vinaigrette, and perfect for picnics and BBQs, or to serve with dinner any day of the week.
Crunchy ramen noodle salad — an American favourite
A ramen noodle salad may sound a little unfamiliar, however it’s actually quite a popular summer BBQ salad where I come from. You won’t find it on any restaurant menu, it’s strictly a backyard dish — an all American (and Canadian) favourite summertime salad. It’s simple, delicious and surprisingly addictive. I’d say its the type of salad that falls somewhere between cabbage salad (coleslaw) and pasta salad — only in this case the pasta is replaced with instant asian noodles (the version thing many of us lived on in our student years). The Asian-style dressing is tangy, sweet and salty all at once and is exactly what brings the whole dish together into next level deliciousness.
Are the ramen noodles supposed to be uncooked?
Yes. You might be a little skeptical of adding uncooked ramen noodles to a salad, but really it’s good. The crunchy ramen noodles are what gives this salad extra crunch.
Of course you have some control on how crunchy you want your noodles to be. I like to have the salad sit for at least 30 minutes so that we have a mix of crunchy and semi-crunchy from the bits that soak up the dressing.
If super crunchy is what you are going for then serve the salad right away. Or if you’re looking for the exact opposite then let the salad chill in the fridge for up to 2 hours to get slightly softened noodles.
Types of instant noodles
You can use dry Japanese-style ramen noodles or Chinese instant noodles (mie noodles). Nowadays you can find healthier versions that are organic, low-fat and made from whole wheat or spelt flour.
How to adapt this Asian noodle salad
The great thing about this easy ramen noodle salad is that it is highly adaptable. There are so many different ways you can prepare the salad — all of them delicious. The only thing you have to have in the salad are the instant noodles. And since this is also a coleslaw of sorts, I would say white cabbage is a keeper.
Here are a few ideas on how to create your very own crunchy ramen noodle salad by adding or substituting ingredients:
- Add broccoli and some of the stem cut into matchsticks
- Toasted slivered almonds or a mix of almonds and sunflower seeds
- Cooked chicken – shredded rotisserie chicken is a tasty addition
- Edamame or fresh summer peas
- Kohlrabi cut into matchsticks
- Add a little Chinese cabbage
Looking for other recipe ideas with instant noodles?
Try one of these delicious recipes:
Crunchy Ramen Noodle Salad
For the salad:
- 1/2 small head green cabbage, shredded (about 3 handfuls)
- 1/4 small head red cabbage, 1 handful
- 1 pointed red pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 large carrot, thinly sliced with a mandoline (or shredded)
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced
- 100 g sunflower seeds, lightly toasted
- 125 g dry ramen / instand noodles, uncooked and broken into small pieces
For the dressing:
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (mild-tasting)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 4 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar (Japanese)
- 2 tablespoons honey (if vegan, substitute maple syrup or agave)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juiced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, red pepper, carrot, green onions and instant noodles pieces. Toss everything together.
In a small bowl, whisk together the oils, vinegar, honey, soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, ginger and salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss well until evenly coated.
Place the salad in the fridge, covered, for at least 30 minutes.
Add the toasted sunflower seeds and toss again before serving.
Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed. Serve and enjoy!
- To break up the instant noodles, place the noodles into a plastic bag and pound until broken into small pieces.
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