An easy recipe for Chicken Ramen soup. Prep all your ingredients ahead and you can have delicious homemade chicken ramen on the table in 15 minutes or less.
I should also point out, this ramen is not “traditional.” It’s just my attempt at a flavorful, umami broth with ingredients I can find at a regular grocery store. More on that below!
What goes in traditional ramen?
Traditional ramen is a bit more involved that this chicken ramen recipe, that’s not to say it’s any less delicious!
Ramen is made up of four key parts:
- Dashi broth (super rich and flavorful)
- Tare (pronounced tah-ray)
Dashi broth is made with kombu (kelp), bonito flakes (dried fish), shiitake mushrooms, and sometimes dried baby sardines simmered in water, then strained. The broth has loads of umami flavor.
Tare is a thick sauce with concentrated flavor and salt that eventually mixes into the broth. Three types of tare can be found on the menus of ramen or noodle houses: shio (salt), shoyu (soy sauce), and miso (fermented soy bean paste). The tare base (usually soy sauce) is mixed with a few other ingredients such as brown sugar or another sweetener, ginger, garlic, green onions, and mirin. The thicker tare is added to the bottom of the bowl before any of the other ingredients, and the broth is poured on top.
Traditional noodle choices are thick and soft udon, curly chuka soba, or Chinese style noodles are used. They can be fresh or dry, but are cooked separately then added to the ramen bowl.
Toppings are a very important part of traditional ramen. A bowl may contain all or some of the following:
- Negi – thinly sliced leeks or scallions (green onions)
- Menma (salty preserved bambo shoot)
- Chashu (sliced fatty roasted or braised pork), kakuni (braised pork belly) or another sliced or shredded meat or poultry
- Kamaboko (usually the pink and white spiraled fish cake narutomaki)
- Tamago – egg, usually soft- or hard-boiled, may be marinated in soy sauce, or even raw egg
- Seaweed – typically wakame (dried whole seaweed) or nori (seaweed pulp made into paper thin sheets and roasted)
- Moyashi – bean sprouts, can be cooked or raw
- Spinach or other leafy greens
- Baby corn – commonly served with miso ramen
- Chili oil or thinly sliced hot chiles such as Thai bird or serrano
How to make Chicken Ramen:
My recipe for Chicken Ramen contains easy-to-find ingredients that don’t require an trip to a special market. Skipping a few steps and ingredients makes the chicken ramen beginner-friendly and simple to make.
- First, lightly saute the ginger and the garlic (this is part of the tare base). Then, stir in the broth, soy sauce, mirin, and sesame oil. Stir in the dried shiitake mushrooms and simmer until softened, about 10 minutes.
- Next put your pre-cooked chicken and noodles in the base of a bowl. Sometimes I have leftover rotisserie chicken on hand, or you can quickly poach some.
- Pour the broth over the top.
- Add the toppings of your choice. I like to keep it simple with green onions, fresh chilis, and 6 1/2-minute soft-boiled eggs.
What kind of noodles do you use for ramen?
Dried or fresh noodles can be used for ramen. If using dried noodles, rehydrate them according to package directions before using in the recipe.
- Chuka noodles
- Curly ramen noodles (from the bright orange package!)
- Rice noodles (gluten free)
- Buckwheat soba noodles (gluten free; despite the name these are not related to wheat)
How do you thicken ramen broth?
If you prefer a thicker broth, whisk in a mixture of cornstarch combined with cold water and allow to simmer for a few minutes. Add more as needed until it is the desired consistency.
The amount of cornstarch and water will vary according to how much broth is being used. Start with mixing 1 tablespoon cornstarch with enough water to make a slurry (like a watery paste), then add it a little at a time (not all at once!) allowing it to simmer a minute or two so you can judge the thickness. Add more if you want to.
How do you make chicken ramen better?
The best ramen is made with the best ingredients – it’s an obvious answer, but it’s true! Now, if we’re talking about making packaged ramen better, the key is to toss out the flavor packets and use real broth, and add those toppings!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger peeled and grated
- 8 cups chicken broth (see note 1)
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup mirin (see note 2)
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms (see note 3)
- 2 cups cooked chicken shredded (see note 4)
- 1 (8 ounce) package Chuka Soba noodles rehydrated (see note 5)
- 4 soft-yolk eggs halved (boiled 6 ½ minutes), for garnish
- 2 cup scallions sliced, for garnish
- 1 large jalapeño pepper thinly sliced, for garnish (see note 6
- 1 Thai bird chile thinly sliced, for garnish, optional (see note 6)
- In a Dutch oven or 3-quart saucepan, heat oil until shimmering. Stir in garlic and ginger until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Stir in broth, water, soy sauce, mirin, and sesame oil. Bring to boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and add dried mushrooms.
- Simmer until mushrooms have softened, about 10 minutes.
- Using two large shallow bowls, divide chicken and noodles. Top with hot broth and garnish with eggs, scallions, and chilis.
- Chicken broth: You can make your own chicken broth AND have shredded chicken for this recipe in one pot.
- Mirin: An essential Japanese ingredient. It's similar to sake, a rice wine, but sweeter and much lower in alcohol. The sweetness balances out the saltiness of the soy sauce. If all you can find is rice vinegar, add some sugar to it to counterbalance the acidity. To substitute wine, use a wine such as a dry sherry or sweet marsala, adding ¼ teaspoon sugar to ¼ cup wine.
- Shiitake mushrooms: Dried mushrooms, usually sold in big bags, are easy to store in the pantry and rehydrate before adding them to a stir-fry, a soup, or anything that could use a little umami flavor. If all you can find are fresh shiitake mushrooms, buy about ¾ pound fresh for every 2 ounces of dried mushrooms you need.
- Cooked Chicken: Leftover rotisserie chicken, grilled chicken, or poached chicken all shred up nicely.
- Soba noodles: Chuka soba (curly ramen noodles), soba, or any egg noodle you can find at an Asian market all work. Dried or fresh types all work well but rehydrate them separately according to package directions before using them in the recipe.
- Chilies: Add sliced fresh jalapeño peppers and even a tiny, fiery Thai birdseye chili, if you like it spicy.
- Yield: One batch of the recipe makes 4 servings of ramen.
- Make ahead: You can definitely get the broth made a few days before you need it, and the chicken is easy to poach a day or so beforehand, too.
- Storage: Store the broth and various toppings in separate containers in the refrigerator and then assemble the bowl when it's time to eat.
- Freezing: Freeze the broth as you would any other stock and you'll always have the umami-rich foundation for ramen at home. Unfortunately, cooked noodles and fresh toppings won't freeze well.
- Thicken the broth: If you prefer a thicker soup, whisk in a mixture of cornstarch combined with cold water and allow to simmer for a few minutes. Add more as needed until it is the desired consistency. The amount of cornstarch and water will vary according to how much broth is being used. Start with mixing 1 tablespoon cornstarch with enough water to make a slurry (like a watery paste), then add it a little at a time (not all at once!) allowing the liquid to simmer a minute or two so you can judge the thickness. Add more if you want to, but only in small amounts.
- Toppings: In traditional ramen, toppings are a very important part of the dish. Fun toppings such as braised pork belly, toasted sesame seeds, bean sprouts, and baby corn are common, as well as spinach and bok choy.