Recipe Review

I Tried Shaquille O’Neal’s Smack Ramen Chicken Alfredo and It Was a Slam Dunk

published Jan 11, 2023
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Credit: Justine Lee

Instant ramen has graduated from college. While it’s still readily enjoyed on its own, these days the humble dehydrated noodle product is also regarded as a perfect base for easy weeknight-friendly dinners. They’re quick to cook, have endless ways they can be cooked, and can easily camouflage to take on various textures and absorb different flavors. Regardless of where I look on the Internet — from New York Times Cooking, to TikTok, to recipes on Kitchn — it’s become easy to notice how everyone has their own creative approaches to hacking a pack of instant ramen.

Still, I was shocked when I came across this recipe from legendary basketball player Shaquille O’Neal. I had so many questions! What is “smack ramen” and what is “smack ramen chicken Alfredo”? No disrespect to Shaq, but why does my For You Page think I have any interest in basketball? Does it know me at all? Clearly it was onto something, though, because here I am, writing about what happened when I tried Shaquille O’Neal’s smack ramen chicken Alfredo. The original recipe comes from his new cookbook, Shaq’s Family Style: Championship Recipes for Feeding Family and Friends.

How to Make Smack Ramen Chicken Alfredo

This recipe is a little more involved than making your average package of instant ramen, but not by much. There’s no need to draw water from the tap because the cooking liquid is a mix of evaporated milk and 2% milk. To the pot of milk, add in butter, the ramen seasoning packets, and salt. Shaq also calls for the addition of garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, and hot sauce. Once the mixture comes to a boil, add the ramen noodle blocks and stir around until the noodles are cooked through. Immediately add the frozen broccoli, cook for a minute, and remove your pot from the heat.

Add in shredded rotisserie chicken and Parmesan cheese, then add the egg yolks (this ingredient is optional but highly recommended to make the Alfredo sauce extra rich). Stir quickly (more on why later) and let the pot sit for two minutes before you divide among serving bowls and tuck in.

Credit: Justine Lee

My Honest Review of Smack Ramen Chicken Alfredo

This quick riff on chicken Alfredo was a slam dunk or, as the name suggests, a smackdown of a delicious meal. (I’ve run out of basketball metaphors so I’ll speak from the heart from here.) Every Friday night in middle school, my mom would take me and my friends to Chili’s after swim practice. My go-to order was the cajun chicken pasta, which was draped in a rosy-hued Alfredo sauce kissed with a touch of spicy seasoning. I was amazed how in just under 15 minutes, this chicken Alfredo transported me right back to that nostalgic moment.

Cooking the noodles in milk is an ingenious trick that pulls double duty. It’s surefire way to get perfectly al dente ramen noodles, and a creamy (not gloopy) pasta sauce. Because of the generous amounts of broccoli and chicken, I was satisfied and felt nourished enough to skip a side dish. Bottom line: This is one pantry noodle dish you should work into your weeknight arsenal.

Credit: Justine Lee

If You’re Making Smack Ramen Chicken Alfredo, a Few Tips 

  1. Use your favorite instant ramen. Although chicken-flavored ramen noodles can bring the chicken vibes to the foreground, you could easily swap in a different instant ramen and have a tasty one-pot meal. I really enjoyed the spicy kick when I tried the dish with Jin Ramen; I’d be curious to know how it tastes with Singaporean Laksa La Mian, or what would happen if you used Neoguri Spicy Seafood Ramen and used shrimp in place of chicken.
  2. Stir the egg yolks quickly. When in contact with high heat, eggs can go from zero to scrambled very easily so make sure to stir like there’s five seconds left on the clock.
  3. Scale it down. The family-style template of this chicken Alfredo is much-appreciated and lovely, but the recipe scales down easily for smaller tables. You can make it easier on yourself by eyeballing the broccoli and chicken amounts based on how much you want to eat.