Nothing against ramen burgers or serious ramen shops, but sometimes all you have is five minutes and a microwave. And sometimes that's all you need. Believe it or not, the distance between a sad dorm dinner and grocery store gourmet can be as short as the walk to your fridge or kitchen pantry. We rounded up a couple of our favorite super simple, mildly out-of-the-box instant ramen upgrades that will make you feel like the cleverest, cheapest bastard on the block. And isn't that the dream?


American Cheese


Shout outs to Roy Choi for this little tip. Two slices of American cheese + chicken ramen block = even instant-er mac & cheese.


Peanut Butter


Sounds weird, tastes amazing, like a soupier version of pad thai. A tablespoon or less should be more than enough.


Ice Cream


Okay, hear us out. We understand Japan does some really weird shit. But in this case it pays off. The key is not to mix the vanilla ice cream into the chicken broth, but to let it slowly melt, taking small doses of it in with every spoonful like a dip. The result is creamy and subtly sweet, like eating dessert before dessert.


White Pepper


A staple table seasoning at many ramen spots, but also a total revelation when you have nothing else at hand. Subtler than black, you can sprinkle white pepper generously over any flavor ramen you'd like.


Hot Sauce & Honey


Great separately or together, this combination using Sriracha and chicken ramen tastes a little bit like sweet Filipino spaghetti, though bolder flavors on pork broth might resemble a sweet and sour pork.




Full disclosure here: this combination was gross. Our research told us it should have tasted good, and the reason ours didn't might have to do with the fact that we used normal butterscotch pudding instead of the caramel "flan" the original version called for. Still, beware, adventurous eaters only.


Coconut Milk & Ginger Powder


Like Thai coconut curry. We used about five tablespoons of coconut milk and sprinkled ginger powder to taste. A squeeze of lime goes in nicely as well.


Tequila & Lime


As you might expect, the tequila and lime juice combination adds a nice burn to chicken broth. Add a half tablespoon of tequila and a tablespoon of lime halfway through boiling to help meld the flavors.




Best with pork broth, tastes a bit like Hawaiian ham.


Bacon Bits


Another no-brainer, we hope. Though, unlike us, you could drain most of the soup to transform the dish into something like ramen carbonara. We are not a smart bunch.


Fried Egg


If you've heard of this and never done it before, you might want to re-assess your life choices. If you've never heard of this before, you're welcome.


Red Chile Flakes


Less invasive (and arguably hotter) than Sriracha.


Dino Nuggets & Katsu Sauce


The layman's chicken katsu. Regular barbecue sauce also works.


Yogurt & Curry Powder


Another one you'll want to drain most of the soup for, best when paired with either chicken or oriental broth. A dollop of yogurt should be enough. Sprinkle curry powder to taste.