Healthy Asian Ramen Salad

If you visit the Midwest, I challenge you to find a single potluck, family reunion, church picnic, or holiday meal that’s doesn’t involve some version of today’s Asian Ramen Salad. It is ubiquitous. It is my childhood. It is perhaps the best, most addictive salad ever created.

A skinny version of the Asian Ramen Salad that everyone loves!

How do I explain this salad to those of you who didn’t grow up in the Midwest and therefore have no idea why anyone with the faintest trace of culinary intelligence would crumble a ramen noodle packet (yes, I’m talking about the ones that helped you survived college) over a bag of coleslaw on purpose? How can I articulate why canned mandarin oranges are mandatory? The reason that, before the German potato salad and the gooey green bean casserole and Aunt Bettie’s banana cream pie, THIS mess of a dish will be the one inhaled by the hungry hoards?

Honestly, I’m not entirely sure. All I know is that, as soon as I spy the Asian Ramen Salad on the buffet line, I barrel down upon it with the enthusiasm of an African lioness descending upon a wildebeest. This is the moment: seize it before it’s gone (and before Uncle Frank cuts in front of you).

Crunchy Asian Ramen Salad - made with fresher ingredients, and ready in 10 minutes!_

Like many traditional Midwestern “salads”—the fluff salad, the strawberry pretzel salad, the macaroni salad, the Jell-O salad in its endless iterations—the classic recipe for Asian Ramen Salad isn’t so much a pile of greens as a collection of less-than-virtuous ingredients. The version in my St. Agnes Parish cookbook calls for a waterfall of vegetable oil, three packets of ramen noodles, and the mysterious seasoning packets that come with the ramen noodles. I won’t lie—the original version is pretty darn addictive—but I wanted to see if I could come up with a healthy adaptation using real ingredients that would be as irresistible as the original Church lady version.

A healthy version of the classic Crunchy Asian Ramen Salad that's as good as the original but made from better ingredients!

Asian Ramen Salad - made with better ingredients and ready in 10 minutes

The final report: GLOWING. Today’s healthy Asian Ramen Salad is just as obsessively good as the original but better for you. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the lionless ditched the wildebeest and went after this instead.

To make a healthier version of Asian Ramen Salad, I supplemented the coleslaw mix with edamame, green onions, and extra shredded carrots. The mandarin oranges I felt needed to stay for the nostalgia-factor, but feel free to swap fresh orange slices for the canned if you prefer.

Asian Ramen Salad

For the max “health” factor, I thought about dropping the ramen noodles all together but…it just felt wrong. I still wanted the addictive Asian Ramen Salad flavor and crunch that I adore and, no surprise, ramen noodles are an essential component. Instead, I cut the usual amount in half, then toasted it in the oven with an equal amount of almonds and sesame seeds. The toasting is an extra step, but an easy one, and completely worth the deeper flavor and texture it provides.

Crunchy Asian Ramen Salad

The final step is to stir together a simple dressing. The classic Asian Ramen Salad dressing recipe is a heavy mix of vegetable oil and sugar. I updated it to a lighter blend of olive oil and honey, along with a bit of soy sauce and rice vinegar for bite. It’s sweet, tangy, and satisfying.

Asian Ramen Salad made with REAL ingredients

Asian Ramen Salad can last up to three days in the refrigerator and tastes great at room temperature too, making it the ideal make-ahead party or potluck dish. Looking for an easy crowd pleaser for Memorial Day? You’ve found it right here.

Just promise me that if a lioness asks to cut in front of you in the buffet line, you’ll let her. Sorry Uncle Frank—you still need to wait your turn.

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Healthy Asian Ramen Salad

A healthy version of the classic crunchy Asian Ramen Salad that everyone loves, made with real ingredients.

Yield: Serves 6

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

For the Salad

  • 1, 3-ounce package of ramen noodles
  • 2/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1, 16-ounce bag coleslaw mix
  • 1 1/2 cups shelled frozen edamame, thawed
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced (both white and green parts)
  • 1/2 cup canned mandarin orange segments in light syrup, rinsed and drained

For the Dressing

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey (substitute agave if vegan)
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

  1. Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Crumble the ramen noodles onto a baking sheet, then spread them in a single layer, along with the almonds. Bake for 5 minutes, remove from the oven, add the sesame seeds and toss, then bake for 1 to 3 additional minutes until fragrant and golden. Watch closely so that the mixture does not burn. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, briskly stir together all of the dressing ingredients: rice vinegar, olive oil soy sauce, salt, and pepper. (Alternatively, you can shake them together in a mason jar with a tight-fitting lid.)
  3. In a serving bowl, toss together the coleslaw, edamame, scallions, and toasted ramen and almonds, drizzle the dressing over the top, then toss again to combine. Sprinkle the oranges over the top, then refrigerate until ready to serve.

Leftover Asian Ramen Salad will last in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

All images and text ©/Well Plated.

Did you try this recipe? I want to see! Follow Well Plated on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag it #wellplated. I love to know what you are making!

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About Erin Clarke

I’m fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, travel enthusiast, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN…

38 comments

  1. I’m so glad we can toss that seasoning packet out the window! Looks delicious and healthy Erin! 

  2. The Midwest is so weird! We always have this and pretzel salad at parties, plus a concoction of lime jello, pineapple, cool whip, and cottage cheese. I refused to eat it for years, but it’s actually SO good. This lightened up version looks awesome!

  3. You are so right, this salad is a staple.  Everyone always loves it!  Sharing now!

  4. Yummy!! I’ve never had this before,I grew up in Arkansas and I don’t remember this being at any of the potlucks! But it sure does make me hungry! 

  5. I’m so excited about this salad. I love that you healthified it. I’ll be making and eating this salad all the time now.

  6. This looks wonderful! It would be a great dish for a barbecue or picnic! Can’t wait to try! 

  7. love this salad, Erin! one of my faves!!

  8. I’ve also tried to make this salad healthier (by tossing out the ultra-salty seasoning packet) but couldn’t quite get the right flavor! You did it! I love that you added nuts and pre-toasted them with the ramen. When I made it before, I added diagonally sliced pea pods. I agree, can’t do without those Mandarin oranges! I was just thinking about what to make for Memorial Day – and voila! Thank you, thank you, Erin! 

  9. i love this updated ramen salad! i am from the midwest, but fortunately my family did NOT have all those weird steroetypical midwestern side dishes. phewww! when i had them with friends or whatnot, i was like…what is this stuff?! :)

  10. This is perfection Erin! The perfect combination of healthy and nostalgic ingredients. Mandarins and ramen are key!!! So so yummy. 

  11. Definitely worth the extra step to toast the ramen and nuts!

  12. I didn’t know this salad is a spate in USA. Here in Canada I don’t think it is that popular, but I really don’t understand why not because it looks a delicious salad. I believe it would be a great dish for a picnic or a summer dinner party! 

  13. Love this salad, beautiful colors and great flavors! Pinned!

  14. Yum! This is one of my favourite salads, but here in NZ we call it noodle coleslaw! And one of the essential ingredients (for me) is caramelised almonds. Not healthy, but those little sticky sweet bits of crunch are what makes it for me! I’ll have to try your version as well – I’ve never tried it with oranges before, but it looks nice!

  15. Love the idea for this salad! It looks so simple to make, and yet I’m sure the flavours are amazing! I’ve never thought to add ramen to my salads, even though ramen noodle soups are definitely something I adore. This is a more summer friendly version of the soup haha! love it!
    X

  16. I love such healthy and light salad!

  17. Love that you lightened up a classic!

  18. I NEED IT. Plain and simple.Oh giiirl it looks so good. 

  19. I’ve never had toasted ramen noodles but I’d love to try them in this salad. The flavors and textures sound addicting!

  20. I have had the ramen salad before but not with oranges or toasted noodles. I did not grow up in the midwest, but sure wish I did by that list of traditional pot luck dishes! Fluff salad? Strawberry pretzel? Whaaaat?

  21. Girl – I CRAVE this salad every summer!!! Three cheers to the midwest!

  22. I looove these kinds of salads! So addictive and colorful :)

  23. YUMMMM this looks delicious! ;-) I love the addition of edamame!

  24. OMGYES. This is totally my childhood in a bowl. Love it!

  25. Tasty looking sweet sticky rainbow of a a salad!

  26. Help!  I’m making this salad for dinner tonight, and I don’t see in the recipe when to add the ramen and the almonds (I may just be overlooking them).  If I add them before the dressing and then refrigerate the whole salad, won’t the ramen and almonds lose their crunch?  Thanks for your help.

    • Hi Jocelyn,
      You are totally find to stir in the ramen and almonds with the dressing. It might soften a little but won’t be too noticeable on the first day. If you prefer to wait to add them for maximum crunch, however, that is totally an option too!

  27. This turned out great!  I added the ramen noodles, almonds, and the sesame noodles at the last minute to achieve maximum crunchiness.  (Interestingly enough, the noodles seemed less crunchy after toasting than straight out of the package.)  Thanks so much!

    • Jocelyn, I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed this recipe! That is odd about the ramen (maybe it just needed to toast a little longer?) but regardless, I’m glad you were happy with how it turned out!

  28. I made the dressing first, and it taste awesome but I used red pepper to spice it up. Yum Yum. I plan to take to work for lunch. Maybe toss some sautéed or grilled shrimp on top or grilled chicken while experimenting with different nuts and seeds so I can have all the time. Also experiment with variations of Veggies. So excited. 

  29. Made this for my lunches this week and it has tasted great so far!  You’re right that the ramen loses it’s crunch after a couple of days, but it’s still mighty tasty either way!  Thanks for another great recipe Erin

  30. Your website should not force a person to go to your Facebook page when all they want to do is look at the recipe. Very frustrating to have that pop up over the recipe without being able to close the
    Pop up. If your recipes are good people may choose to like your Facebook page on their own. No legit reason for hijacking the reader. You must be very insecure. Will not bother with your site again 

    • Hi Anita—I am sorry that you found the pop up bothersome. The good news is that you will never be forced to follow me on social media (or anywhere else) to access any recipe for free at all times. All you need to do is click the close button (which looks like a “V”) in the upper right hand corner of the pop up. This will close it and it won’t serve to you again that day. I hope that helps!

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