Ramen Salad

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.

Healthy and crunchy Ramen Noodle Salad made with cabbage coleslaw in a wooden bowl, topped with ramen noodles and mandarin oranges

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.

That before the Creamy Cucumber Salad, Grilled Corn Salad, or even Mexican Corn Salad, THIS ramen salad recipe is the dish first inhaled by the hungry hoards.

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.

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 Asian Ramen Salad on the buffet line, I barrel down upon it. This is the moment: seize it before it’s gone.

A bowl of Ramen Salad with cabbage, mandarin oranges, and ramen noodles

Asian Ramen Salad—Lightening Up a Classic

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 childhood 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 decided to see if I could come up with a healthy adaptation of cabbage ramen salad using real ingredients that would be as irresistible as the original church-lady version.

The final report: GLOWING. Today’s healthy Asian Ramen Salad is just as obsessively good as the original but better for you. It contains:

  • Coleslaw Mix. You can also shred your own cabbage or use broccoli slaw to make a broccoli ramen salad.
  • Shredded Carrots. To boost the vegetable content.
  • 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. For the nostalgia factor and sweetness, I couldn’t part with them in this recipe. Be sure to drain away the syrup first.

Ingredients for Ramen Salad, including cabbage, carrots, edamame, and mandarin oranges

This healthy ramen salad also contains its namesake:

  • Ramen Noodles.

For the max “health” factor, I considered 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 recipe down to just one packet, then toasted it in the oven with an equal amount of two more bonus ingredients: almonds and sesame seeds.

The toasting is an extra step but an easy one, and it’s completely worth the deeper flavor and texture it provides.

A sheet pan of toasted ramen noodles and almonds

A Quick Ramen Dressing

The other big opportunity to slim down this crunch ramen salad was the dressing.

  • Instead of canola oil, granulated sugar, and the ramen seasoning packets, I used a moderate amount of heart-healthy olive oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and honey.

The revamped dressing is addictively sweet and salty, well balanced, and loads better for you than the original.

Make This Ramen Salad Ahead

Another reason ramen salad is a long-standing potluck side is that it can be made in advance.

  • Fully assembled, this recipe 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.)
  • Enjoy leftovers for up to 3 days.
  • Ramen salad tastes fabulous cold or at room temperature, so you can let it hang out at the potluck without having to rush it back into the fridge to keep it chilly.

A bowl of Ramen Noodle Salad

Looking for an easy crowd pleaser for your next potluck, a stellar summer side, or a taste of the Midwest? You’ve found it right here.

Ramen Salad

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
15 mins
A better, healthy version of the classic crunchy Ramen Salad made with fresh ingredients. Cabbage coleslaw makes it quick and easy. A potluck favorite!

Ingredients

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

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

Instructions

  1. 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.

  2. 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.)

  3. 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.

Recipe Notes

  • Leftover Asian Ramen Salad will last in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: Easy Chinese Food, Healthy Asian Ramen Salad

Nutrition Information

Amount per serving (1 of 8) — Calories: 236, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Sodium: 382mg, Potassium: 385mg, Carbohydrates: 23g, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 9g, Protein: 8g, Vitamin A: 49.5%, Vitamin C: 33.8%, Calcium: 9.8%, Iron: 12.8%

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!

This post contains some affiliate links, which means that I make a small commission off items you purchase at no additional cost to you.

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…

51 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!!

    • Marina Berryman Reply

      Thank you for re-making this classic! I can’t wait to make it this weekend for my family! I grew up eating (and loving) the classic version but this dressing sounds amazing and I love that you added edamame and almonds. Can’t wait to try it. And I’ll probably grill some chicken to toss in it for a one-dish lunch. I think we will be well into the 110 degree range this weekend so the more awesome salads the better!

  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. Since I’m a single woman and was craving the basic ramen/slaw salad, I just had to have it. Needless to say, I’ve got a LOT left over. I’m loathe to waste. Do you know if it can be frozen?
    Thanks.

    • Hi Pat, while this can be stored in the fridge for a few days, I don’t think it would do well being frozen (veggies tend to get really limp and watery when thawed). I hope you enjoyed it!

  31. Wow I love the idea of incorporating ramen noodles into a salad! Looks gorgeous! (:

  32. So weird. I’m from the Midwest, and I never heard of Ramen salad until I moved to the East Coast (and I’ve never actually encountered it in the wild in either place). I’m wondering if Ramen salad is a more recent thing?

    • Hi Min! It’s not recent, but it’s possible that there are pockets where it’s not a popular dish. If you decide to give it a try, I hope you enjoy!

  33. I live in California. We make it here too! I add chicken to mine to make a complete meal. Thanks for making it healthier. 

    • Chicken would be a great addition, Randi! I’m glad to hear this salad’s fame is not just limited to the Midwest. ;)

  34. Wow this looks amazing! I’m from the UK so have never heard of any of your strange Midwest ‘salads’. I can’t wait to try this one… not sure about the jello one though!

  35. Elizabeth Rutland Rand Reply

    If I make the salad a day ahead do I go ahead and add the dressing or what until I’m going to serve it?

  36. Went right to the store to pick up the ingredients tonight and made it.  Had some for supper and it was good,  will be eating it tomorrow for lunch.

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