Stop! Don’t Cook Ramen Noodles Like Pasta

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

We have some very specific thoughts on the best way to cook pasta, and we’ve even recommended cooking grains like pasta. The same approach doesn’t apply to ramen, however. Despite their likeness to one another, ramen noodles and pasta fall in two different camps when it comes to preparation.

Skip the Salted Water When Cooking Ramen

Salted water is a must for cooking any type of pasta, since it infuses the pasta with flavor as it cooks. The same cooking technique does not apply to ramen. For the very best results, always cook ramen noodles — fresh or dried — in unsalted boiling water.

Why It Matters

Salted water is a must with pasta because we rely on it to season the noodles; ramen, on the other hand, doesn’t need the extra seasoning. When made from scratch, ramen starts with a tare, a seasoned soup base, typically made from the braising liquid from meat, soy sauce, tamari, dashi, or countless other flavoring agents. The tare seasons both the ramen broth and the noodles.

Cooking an instant packet of ramen? The same no-salting rule applies. Think of the dried seasoning packet as this quick soup’s tare. It might be small, but those packets are loaded with plenty of seasoning — including salt — for flavorful broth and noodles.