Homemade Vegan Ramen

published Feb 3, 2023
Vegan Ramen Recipe

This vegan from-scratch rendition of the classic Japanese noodle soup holds so much depth of flavor, and it takes less than an hour to make.

Serves4

Prep35 minutes

Cook35 minutes

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Credit: Meleyna Nomura

The idea of making ramen might seem intimidating, especially when you’re likely able to buy a packet for under a dollar at the store. But homemade stuff is a totally different experience. This vegan from-scratch ramen comes together in less than an hour and has so much depth of flavor. 

The Components of Vegan Ramen

Ramen broth typically comes together from three components: broth, tare, and flavored oil. For this vegan ramen, we build all three and combine them at the end for maximum flavor. Below is what you’ll need for each component.

  • Broth: Water, green onion, ginger, garlic, daikon, dried shiitake mushrooms, kombu, nutritional yeast, and MSG
  • Tare: Soy sauce, sake, nutritional yeast, and miso
  • Finishing oil: Neutral oil, toasted sesame oil, garlic
  • For the soup: Ramen noodles (fresh or dried), baby bok choy, tofu, green onion
Credit: Meleyna Nomura

To Make Really Good Vegan Broth

You may assume that good ramen broth means boiling bones for many hours. And while this route definitely leads to deliciousness, there are other styles of ramen that don’t rely on that technique. Many ramen styles start with a simple dashi — a stock rich in flavor from kombu, sea kelp, and katsuobushi (dried fish flakes) that steeps more like a tea versus sitting on the stove at a rolling boil for hours on end. To make this vegan, the katsuobushi will have to be eliminated.

Both kombu and katsuobushi are rich in glutamates, where that deep umami flavor comes from. Removing the fish element means those savory flavors need to be added in another way. Start by building a vegetable stock with onions, ginger, lots of garlic, and a handful of dried shiitake mushrooms. Add the kombu after boiling to prevent a slimy stock, along with some nutritional yeast for an extra boost. A little salt and extra MSG round out the flavors.

While the broth sets the foundation, the tare is where the real flavor comes in. It’s a combination of highly flavorful ingredients that’s stirred into the main broth. The flavoring for this version leans more into the shoyu flavor territory. There’s also more kombu as well as some miso and nutritional yeast added for depth without becoming the dominant flavor. 

Tips for Making this Vegan Ramen

There are a few ingredients you may need to track down and definitely a few pots and pans needed to make vegan ramen, but it’s not difficult once you get started.

  • Use the steeping time wisely. As the broth and tare steep, make the garlic oil and prepare the bok choy, tofu, scallions, and noodles.
  • Take your time and enjoy yourself. If you need a little extra time to catch up with the other steps, it’s OK if the broth and the tare go for a little longer than the recipe indicates. Because they’re not boiling, they won’t over-reduce at all.

Vegan Ramen Recipe

This vegan from-scratch rendition of the classic Japanese noodle soup holds so much depth of flavor, and it takes less than an hour to make.

Prep time 35 minutes

Cook time 35 minutes

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the broth:

  • 1

    large yellow onion

  • 2

    medium scallions

  • 5 ounces

    daikon

  • 1 (2-inch) piece

    ginger

  • 1 medium head

    garlic

  • 10 cups

    water

  • 5

    dried shiitake mushrooms

  • 1 (4x4-inch) piece

    dried kombu

  • 2 tablespoons

    nutritional yeast

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    MSG (optional)

For the tare:

  • 1/4 cup

    plus 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1/4 cup

    sake

  • 1 tablespoon

    white miso paste

  • 1 tablespoon

    nutritional yeast

  • 1 (1x2-inch) piece

    dried kombu

For the garlic oil:

  • 2 cloves

    garlic (from the garlic head used in the broth)

  • 4 teaspoons

    neutral oil, such as vegetable

  • 2 teaspoons

    toasted sesame oil

For serving:

  • 4 small heads

    baby bok choy

  • 1 (about 14-ounce) package

    tofu, any firmness

  • 4

    medium scallions

  • 24 ounces

    fresh ramen noodles (or 18 ounces dried instant noodles without the seasoning packets, about 6 blocks)

  • Sesame seeds (optional)

  • Togarashi (optional)

Instructions

Make the broth:

  1. Prepare the following, adding each to a large pot or Dutch oven as you complete it: Coarsely chop 1 large yellow onion (do not peel). Coarsely chop 2 medium scallions. Dice 5 ounces daikon (do not peel, about 1 cup). Halve a 2-inch piece of ginger lengthwise, then smash with the flat side of your knife. Remove 2 cloves from a head of garlic (leave the rest of the head intact) and set aside for the garlic oil; cut the remaining head of garlic in half horizontally through the middle.

  2. Add 10 cups water and 5 dried shiitake mushrooms to the pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the tare.

Make the tare:

  1. Place 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 1/4 cup sake in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add 1 tablespoon white miso paste and 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast and whisk to combine. Add a 1x2-inch piece of kombu and set aside to steep for at least 20 minutes.

  2. When the broth is ready, remove the pot from the heat. Add a 4x4-inch piece of kombu and 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast and stir to combine. Let steep for at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile, make the garlic oil and prepare the remaining ingredients.

Make the garlic oil:

  1. Finely chop the reserved 2 garlic cloves. Place in a small skillet and add 4 teaspoons neutral oil. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the garlic starts to turn brown, 60 to 90 seconds. Remove the skillet from the heat. Continue stirring until the larger pieces turn golden brown, 15 to 30 seconds more. Immediately scrape into a small heat proof bowl, add 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, and stir to combine.

Prepare the remaining ingredients:

  1. Remove the large outer leaves from 4 small heads baby bok choy and reserve; halve the bulbs lengthwise. Drain and cut 1 (about 14-ounce) block of tofu in half lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices. Finely chop 4 medium scallions. (If your broth is almost ready, bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat.)

  2. When the broth and tare are done steeping, transfer the shiitake mushrooms to a cutting board. Trim the stems and thinly slice the caps if they’re tender (discard if too chewy). Pour the broth through a strainer set over a large bowl; discard the contents of the strainer. (You should have about 8 cups of broth.) Return the broth to the pot and place over medium heat. Add 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon MSG if desired and stir to combine.

  3. Pour the tare through the now-empty strainer directly into the pot of broth and whisk to combine. Reduce the heat to low to keep the broth hot.

  4. If you haven’t already done so, bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the bok choy bulbs and cook for 30 seconds. Add the bok choy leaves and cook until wilted, 15 to 30 seconds more. Use a slotted spoon or spider to transfer all the bok choy to a bowl or plate.

  5. Return the water to a boil. Add 24 ounces fresh ramen noodles or 18 ounces dried instant noodles and cook according to package directions. Drain and divide between 4 bowls. Stir the broth and ladle over the noodles. Top with the bok choy, tofu, scallions, and mushrooms. Drizzle with the garlic oil. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and togarashi powder if desired.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The broth can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container. Reheat over medium heat.

Storage: Leftover broth can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months.