Tonkotsu Ramen

published Mar 22, 2024
Tonkotsu Ramen Recipe

Making a great bowl of ramen is 100% doable at home.


Prep20 minutes to 25 minutes

Cook5 hours 10 minutes

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overhead shot of a white textured bowl with tonkotsu ramen, with a soup spoon to the left and chopsticks below the bowl.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Styling: Brett Regot

Tonkotsu ramen originates from the Fukuoka region and is also referred to as Hakata ramen (areas of Fukuoka used to be called Hakata) and Kyushu ramen (Fukuoka is on the island of Kyushu). Originally, tonkotsu stock was made by accident, after a ramen chef overcooked the stock and found it emulsified, resulting in its signature milky appearance (unlike shoyu ramen, which has a clear broth).

Tonkotsu ramen is particularly time-consuming because it needs to be maintained at a boil for 12 hours at minimum. In this recipe, a pressure cooker helps cut that time considerably (four hours in a pressure cooker, plus an additional 30 minutes on a steady boil). Tonkotsu really benefits from a long, steady boil so it won’t look cloudy right out of the pressure cooker. Type of bones (don’t use backbones), soy sauce (usukuchi), and the length of cooking time will affect the milky appearance. 

This recipe will give you a pretty great bowl of tonkotsu ramen, but you can further improve it by continuing to boil, adding more water as the stock reduces. Despite a considerable amount of prep, ramen is the perfect fast food — once everything is in order, it can be served in minutes.

Key Ingredients in Tonkotsu Ramen

  • Tare: Fish sauce gives the main seasoning a distinct funk and flavor.
  • Pork stock: Cooking it for a long time gives it a milky appearance.
  • Noodles: A thin, straight ramen noodle is standard for tonkotsu ramen.

Suggested Toppings

  • Chashu (braised pork) simmers for two hours, making it tender and flavorful. 
  • Ajitsuke tamago, or a soft-boiled egg, adds richness.
  • Scallions impart a fresh kick to each bite.
  • Wood ear mushrooms give a great textural element.
  • Beni shōga cuts through the richness of the soup.
  • Toasted white sesame seeds lend a toasty aroma.
  • A hint of grated garlic brings the garlic flavor forward.
  • A small splash of rice vinegar counterbalances the rich pork stock.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Brett Regot

How to Make Tonkotsu Ramen

  1. Make the pork stock. Get this started first and you can prep everything else in the meantime.
  2. Make the chashu. When simmering, a sheet of foil fitted into your pot acts as an otoshibuta (drop lid) and helps keep the top of the meat moist, while preventing too much liquid from evaporating.
  3. Marinate the eggs. Use the chashu simmering liquid and add equal parts water to marinate the eggs for 2 hours or overnight.
  4. Assemble ramen. Have the tare and stock ladled into bowls and the toppings ready before the noodles are done cooking. The noodles will continue to cook in the hot soup, so eat immediately after serving.

What Is Beni Shōga?

Beni shōga is a ginger condiment that often accompanies yakisoba (a noodle dish), okonomiyaki (Japanese cabbage pancake), takoyaki, barazushi (also known as gomoku chirashi), and of course, tonkotsu ramen. Unlike the soft pink pickled ginger that you eat with sushi, beni shōga is not sweet. It has a strong gingery kick and a sourness that punctuates and awakens a dish. Because the flavor is powerful, it is used sparingly. 

Shopping for beni shōga without additives and dyes is difficult, but it’s easy to make at home. Finely julienne young ginger (or regular ginger) and add salt to draw out some of the liquid. Let it sit for an hour, then squeeze out the liquid and place in a jar with red ume vinegar to cover. Leave in the refrigerator for a day and it’s ready to use.

Make-Ahead and Storage Tips

The chashu, tare, ajitsuke tamago, and stock can be made a day in advance. If storing the chashu long-term, wrap it in plastic, place in a zip-top bag, and freeze for up to one month. The tare and pork stock can also be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days or in the freezer for up to three months. 

 If You’re Making Tonkotsu Ramen, a Few Tips 

  • Wait to slice the chashu until after it’s chilled.The chashu will be easier to slice after it cools in the refrigerator. The thickness of a slice is a personal preference. Once placed in the bowl, the hot soup will gently warm the chashu.
  • Enjoy the chashu and tare in other ways. My favorite way to use the leftover chashu is to chop it up and use in fried rice. As a bonus, the chashu cooking liquid can be used to season the fried rice as well as any stir-fries.  

Tonkotsu Ramen Recipe

Making a great bowl of ramen is 100% doable at home.

Prep time 20 minutes to 25 minutes

Cook time 5 hours 10 minutes

Serves 4


For the pork stock:

  • About 3 1/2 pounds pork bones, cut into pieces no bigger than 4 inches (see Recipe Note)

  • 8 cups

    water, plus more for simmering

For the chashu:

  • 1

    (1-pound) piece boneless pork shoulder

  • 1

    medium Japanese or 1 small regular leek

  • 1

    (1-inch) piece ginger

  • 4

    cloves garlic

  • 1 cup

    soy sauce

  • 1 cup


  • 3/4 cup


  • 1/2 cup


For the ajitsuke tamago (marinated egg), noodles, and other toppings:

  • 4

    cold large eggs

  • 4

    large pieces dried wood ear mushrooms

  • 1

    medium scallion

  • 2

    cloves garlic

  • 4

    (about 4-ounce) portions fresh ramen noodles, or 4 (about 3-ounce) portions dried ramen noodles

  • Beni shōga (Japanese red pickled ginger)

  • Toasted white sesame seeds

  • Rice vinegar, for serving (optional)

For the tare (makes about 1/4 cup):

  • 6

    cloves garlic

  • 1/4 cup

    plus 1 tablespoon soy sauce, preferably usukuchi

  • 1/4 cup

    plus 1 tablespoon fish sauce

  • 1 tablespoon

    plus 2 teaspoons mirin

  • 1

    (about 4-inch) piece dried kombu

  • 1

    dried shiitake mushroom


Start the pork stock:

  1. Place about 3 1/2 pounds pork bones in a large pot and add enough cool water to cover by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.

  2. Drain and rinse the scum off the bones. Place in a 6-quart or larger Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker. Add 8 cups cool water. Lock the lid on and check that the valve is set to seal. Set to cook for 240 minutes (4 hours) on HIGH pressure. It will take about 15 minutes to come up to pressure. Meanwhile, make the chashu, ajitsuke tamago, and tare.

Make the chashu:

  1. Place 1 (1-pound) piece boneless pork shoulder in a medium saucepan. Prepare the following, adding each to the saucepan as you complete it: Trim and cut 1 medium Japanese or 1 small leek (all parts) crosswise into 3-inch pieces. Cut 1 (1-inch) piece ginger crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds (no need to peel). Crush 4 garlic cloves with the flat part of a knife and peel if needed.

  2. Add 1 cup soy sauce, 1 cup mirin, 3/4 cup water, and 1/2 cup sake. Bring to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, cut a sheet of aluminum foil that will fit inside the saucepan, then tear a little slit in the center.

  3. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Place the foil in the saucepan, pressing it directly onto the surface of the ingredients. Simmer for 30 minutes. (This is a good time to boil the eggs and make the tare.)

  4. Remove the foil and set aside. Fip the pork, cover again with the foil, and simmer until knife-tender, 1 to 1 1/4 hours more.

  5. Turn off the heat. Remove the foil and flip the pork. Cover again with the foil and let cool in the liquid for 2 to 3 hours. Transfer the pork to a sheet of plastic wrap, tightly wrap it up, and refrigerate until ready to use.

  6. Pour the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl; discard the contents of the strainer. Reserve the cooking liquid for the ajitsuke tamago.

Make the ajitsuke tamago (marinated egg):

  1. Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Slowly lower 4 cold large eggs into the water one at a time. Return to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 8 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare an ice water bath by filling a medium bowl halfway with ice and water.

  2. Remove the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon and place in the ice water bath. Let sit until the eggs are cool to the touch. Peel the eggs and place in a container that will fit the eggs somewhat snuggly or a sandwich-sized plastic zip-top bag.

  3. Add enough reserved chashu cooking liquid to halfway to cover the eggs (about 1/3 cup). Add enough room-temperature water so the liquid completely cover the eggs, then give it a gentle stir. Cover or press the air out of the bag and then seal.

  4. Let the eggs marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 but no more than 24 hours. (Remove the eggs from the cooking liquid after 24 hours and refrigerate in a separate container.)

Make the tare:

  1. Crush 6 garlic cloves with the flat part of a knife and peel. Place the garlic, 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon usukuchi soy sauce, 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon fish sauce, 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons mirin, 1 (about 4-inch) piece dried kombu, and 1 dried shiitake mushroom in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

  2. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Discard the garlic, kombu, and shiitake. Measure the tare: You should have about 1/4 cup (if you have less, add water to get to 1/4 cup).

Finish the pork stock:

  1. Turn the pressure cooker off and let the pressure naturally release for 15 minutes. Manually release any remaining pressure. If the valve is sputtering and releasing stock rather than steam, close the valve, let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes, and then try again.

  2. Open the lid and stir well. Loosen any leftover marrow in the bones with a skewer or chopstick. Turn on the “Sauté” function on high and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

  3. Pour through a fine-mesh strainer set over a large heatproof bowl and discard the contents of the strainer. Let the stock sit for a few minutes so the fat can rise to the top. Spoon off and discard most of the fat. Measure the remaining stock: You will need 6 cups. Add more water as needed to get to 6 cups, or simmer on the stovetop or in a clean Instant Pot until you get down to 6 cups if you have too much. (You can cool and refrigerate the stock at this point if not using right away.)

Assemble the ramen:

  1. When ready to serve, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, place 4 large pieces dried wood ear mushrooms in a small bowl, add enough warm water to cover, and let sit for at least 15 minutes; remove from the water and thinly slice. If the stock is cold, scrape most of the hardened fat off the top. Return the stock to a simmer on the stovetop or in a clean Instant Pot. For each serving (up to 4), place 2 teaspoons of the tare in a deep serving bowl (with a capacity of at least 4 cups). Unwrap and thinly slice the chashu. Halve the eggs lengthwise. Thinly slice 1 medium scallion. Finely grate 2 garlic cloves.

  2. Add 1 (3- to 4-ounce) portion ramen noodles for each serving desired to the hot water and cook according to package directions. Just before the noodles are done, add 1 1/2 cups of the hot pork stock to each bowl, and gently stir to combine. Taste and season with more tare 1 teaspoon at a time as needed.

  3. Drain the noodles very well, then add to the bowls. Arrange a few slices chashu (you will have extra), the egg, scallions, garlic, and wood ear mushrooms over the noodles. Garnish with beni shoga and toasted sesame seeds. Serve with rice vinegar if desired.

Recipe Notes

Large pork bones: If the pork bones are large and your butcher is unable to cut them, wrap each bone in butcher paper and smash in half using a hammer or flat side of a meat tenderizer.

Make ahead: The chashu, ajitsuke tamago, tare, and pork stock can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated in separate airtight containers. If making the eggs more than a day ahead, remove the eggs from the tare after 1 day and refrigerate in a separate airtight container.

Storage: For longer-term storage, place the plastic-wrapped chashu in a zip-top bag and freeze for up to 1 month. The tare and pork stock can be frozen for up to 3 months.