If you visit the Midwest, I challenge you to find a single potluck, family reunion, church picnic, or holiday meal that doesn’t involve some version of today’s crunchy Asian Ramen Salad. It is ubiquitous. It is my childhood. It is perhaps the best, most addictive side dish ever created.
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How do I explain this oriental ramen noodle salad to those of you who didn’t grow up in the Midwest?
If you’ve never eaten crunchy ramen salad, my hunch is that you might be skeptical of crumbling an uncooked ramen noodle packet (yes, I do mean the same ramen noodle packet that helped you survive college) over a bowl of bagged cabbage coleslaw.
You might not believe me when I tell you that canned mandarin oranges are mandatory.
Make ramen salad for your next potluck and you’ll see I speak truth.
I can’t specifically pinpoint the one single item that makes this salad so enduringly popular and outrageously addictive (also true about Chinese Chicken Salad).
I suspect it lies somewhere between the crispness of the coleslaw, the toastiness of the almonds, the sweetness of the dressing, and the fact that crumbling uncooked ramen noodles over a dish and then declaring it a salad feels like a bit of a win.
I do know that as soon as I spy the cabbage ramen salad (or this Asian Cabbage Salad) on the buffet line, I barrel down upon it. This is the moment: seize it before it’s gone.
5 Star Review
“This is excellent! My husband had two big helpings and declared it a winner. I’ve eaten many disappointing, oily versions of ramen salad, so I’m excited to have the perfect recipe.”— Jill —
How to Make Ramen Salad
The original version in my childhood parish cookbook is a ramen noodle salad with seasoning packet. It calls for a waterfall of vegetable oil, three packets of ramen noodles, and the mysterious seasonings that come with it.
I decided to see if I could come up with a healthy adaptation of the classic cabbage ramen salad using real ingredients that would be as irresistible as the original church-lady version.
The final report: GLOWING.
Today’s recipe is just as obsessively good as any classic Asian ramen salad, but it’s better for you!
- Coleslaw Mix. Shredded cabbage forms the crunchy base for this salad. Use a coleslaw mix for an easy coleslaw ramen noodle salad, or shred your own.
- Shredded Carrots. To boost the vegetable content. They make the salad more colorful too.
- Edamame. Not at all traditional but perfect in every way here. They make the ramen salad buttery and more satisfying.
- Green Onions. For a bit of zip.
- Mandarin Oranges. They add a delicious sweetness to the salad and are pretty much mandatory by all ramen noodle salad standards.
- Ramen Noodles. For that classic, addictive crunch that gives the recipe its name.
- Almonds + Sesame Seeds. Two bonus ingredients that become delightfully flavorful once toasted and help make this ramen noodles coleslaw crunch salad feel complete.
- Dressing. A big opportunity to slim down this crunch ramen salad was in the dressing. I used a moderate amount of heart-healthy olive oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and honey. The revamped dressing is sweet and salty, well balanced, and loads better for you than the original.
- Toast the ramen noodles, almonds, and sesame seeds in the oven.
- Stir the dressing ingredients together.
- Toss it all together. Finish with the oranges and ENJOY!
- To Store. Cover and refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days.
Meal Plan Tip
Fully assembled, Asian ramen salad can be made 3 hours in advance. In fact, I think it tastes better once the flavors have had a chance to marry.
If you wait to add the ramen noodles, nuts, and sesame seeds, you can make it 1 full day in advance. (The ramen noodles soften as the salad sits, so add them last.)
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Baking Sheet. Perfect for toasting the ramen for this Chinese cabbage salad with ramen noodles.
- Measuring Spoons. These are easy to clean and store.
- Liquid Measuring Cup. Ideal for both mixing and measuring.
Looking for an easy crowd-pleaser for your next potluck, a stellar side, or a taste of the Midwest?
You’ve found it right here in this ramen noodle salad!
For the Salad:
- 1 package ramen noodles (3 ounces)
- 2/3 cup sliced almonds
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1 bag coleslaw mix (16 ounces)
- 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
- Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Crumble the ramen noodles onto a baking sheet and 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.
- In a small bowl, briskly stir together all of the dressing ingredients: rice vinegar, olive oil, honey, soy sauce, salt, and pepper. (Alternatively, you can shake them together in a mason jar with a tight-fitting lid.)
- In a serving bowl, toss together the coleslaw, edamame, carrots, 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.
- TO STORE: Leftover salad will last in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
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