Sunday, June 23, 2024

The Best Frozen Noodles You Can Buy Online

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As much as we love homemade noodle dishes, like gingery chicken ramen, udon with stir-fried veggies, and spicy kimchi sujebi—and even suggest making your own noodles from scratch sometimes—there’s no denying that instant noodles are quite simply clutch. And as far as we’re concerned, the best instant noodles are frozen. That’s because, unlike typical shelf-stable instant noodles, which are cooked, then dehydrated before packaging, frozen instant noodles are uncooked and packaged fresh. This preserves their flavor and texture, making them chewier, bouncier, and more slurpable.

Below we’ve rounded up the best frozen noodles (and refrigerated noodles) you can buy online. Most of them come in the form of “instant noodle” kits, meaning they include a pre-made component, like a ready-to-use sauce, a soup seasoning base, and/or toppings for a complete quick and easy meal. But we’ve also included a few plain noodle options, just in case you want more versatility—or you want to follow one of BA’s noodle recipes. We split our winners into three categories: brothy noodles, saucy noodles, and just noodles. So whether you’re in the mood for fresh yakisoba or a Thai coconut noodle soup, you won’t be disappointed.

Brothy noodles

Sun Noodle (classic line)

In the world of frozen ramen noodles, Sun Noodle is the GOAT Over the years Sun Noodle has released a variety of noodle styles and flavors, catering to different palates, but their “classic line” of ramen kits still carries some of the brand’s best offerings. This is also where you’ll find their widest variety of flavors. Think: bold miso, spicy tan tan, rich tonkotsu, and classic shoyu (which is truly one of most delicious versions of shoyu instant ramen on the market).

Each package includes two separate servings of noodles and two individually packaged liquid broth concentrates, which is nice when you want to make just one serving. The noodles can be thin and wavy or thick and chewy, depending on which kit you choose. I’ve eaten several brands of frozen instant ramen, and I can confidently say that Sun Noodle’s classic line takes the crown for most flavorful. All the broths are well-seasoned, perfectly salty, and deeply savory thanks to the addition of ingredients like bonito, fish sauce, and pork fat. If you’re looking for a bowl of ramen that comes together in two minutes and is packed with umami, these are for you.

Sun Noodle Ramen Soy Sauce Flavor

Sun Noodle Tonkotsu Ramen Pork Flavor

Sun Noodle (natural line)

Sun Noodle’s “natural line” noodles aren’t frozen—they’re refrigerated. You may have seen them while shopping at Whole Foods, Wegmans, or your local specialty grocery store. Because they aren’t frozen, the noodles are more fragrant and you can smell the fresh dough as soon as you open the package. These noodles are thin, slightly wavy, slippery, and very slurpable. They’re very similar to the brand’s classic noodles in terms of taste and texture, but Sun Noodle says they’re made with “wholesome ingredients.” I don’t know what that means exactly, but I do know that this noodle line is vegan and MSG-free. So if you’re a plant-based eater looking for quick ramen options, these are for you. The kits come with two individually packaged servings, each one including some noodles and a small pack of liquid sauce concentrate that you add to the boiling water to make the broth. While the broths are flavorful, they tend to lean on the sweeter side and have less of an umami factor than those in the classic line—perhaps because they don’t contain any fish sauce or animal fat.

Sun Noodle Miso Ramen Soup

Sun Noodle Kaedama Ramen Noodles

Sun Noodle (premium line)

Say hello to the most luxurious instant ramen you’ll ever eat. Here, you’ll find only three options: Jiro-style garlic shoyu, tsukemen, and spicy sesame mazemen. The noodles in this line are straight and super thick—almost as thick as udon—and they’re among the bounciest, chewiest ramen noodles on this list. The thicker noodles aren’t just fun to eat, they also absorb more of the soup’s broth, lending a more flavorful bite. And because the noodles are bigger, you can taste more of the noodles themselves. My personal favorite is the Jiro-style garlic shoyu ramen, which is ultra-rich and savory thanks to the inclusion of pork stock, powdered chicken fat, and of course, hefty amounts of garlic in the sauce. This ramen is delicious plain, but even better when you top it with thick slices of meat and mountains of steamed bean sprouts and cabbage.

Sun Noodle Jiro Style Garlic Shoyu Ramen

Sun Noodle Spicy Sesame Mazemen Noodle

Sun Noodle Spicy Sesame Mazemen Noodle

Nona Lim traditional ramen noodles

Nona Lim offers a range of easy-to-prepare Asian street food dishes that are made without MSG and artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors. Their fresh ramen noodle kits include the brand’s traditional ramen noodles and broths that taste homemade. These are some of the bounciest and most fragrant instant ramen noodles I’ve ever eaten. Ingredients like ginger, garlic, kombu, sake, and chili bean paste give the broth impressive complexity. Nona Lim’s noodle kits have about half the sodium of other brands, and while some would consider that a big plus, I usually find myself needing to add more salt to taste. I recommend going the “create your own bundle” route, so you can mix and match your choice of noodles and soups (the coconut chicken lime bone broth is a crowd fave).

Spicy Chicken Ramen Night Kit

Stir-fried noodles

Maruchan nama yakisoba noodles

If you’re looking for a good and quick stir-fried noodle situation, you’ll appreciate Maruchan’s yakisoba noodles. Depending on where you shop, you can find them refrigerated or frozen. Each serving comes with a dry seasoning packet that’s almost identical to the ones you’d find with the brand’s popular dehydrated ramen noodle pouches. In terms of taste and texture, though, this yakisoba is a notch above—thanks to the freshness of the noodles, which gives them more body and a bouncier bite. The stir-fry kits are easy to prepare, with soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and tomato paste punching up the seasoning base. To me, Maruchan fresh yakisoba sits somewhere between “instant noodles”’ and noodles you’d buy plain. Because while they do come with a dry seasoning pack, they’re best served with additional stir-fry mix-ins like cabbage or thinly sliced beef.

Maruchan Nama Yakisoba Noodles

MìLà Chinese noodles

I consider MìLà’s Chinese noodles the all-star of saucy instant noodles. Unlike the other frozen noodle options on this list, each package contains all the ingredients needed to complete the meal—so you don’t need to add your own protein or vegetables, unless you want to. The dan dan noodles come with a sesame-based meat sauce with tingly Sichuan peppercorns (you have a choice between ground pork or Impossible meat), as well as chopped peanuts to top off the dish. It’s the same deal with the sweet and savory noodle kit, which includes a soy sauce-flavored meat sauce (another choice of ground pork or Impossible meat) and a package of blanched sliced cucumber and carrots for the topping. And I can’t forget about the caramelized scallion-oil noodles, which come with a green-onion-infused sauce and crispy fried scallions. In every one of these kits, the noodles are chewy and slurpable, and the sauce ultra-fragrant and deeply flavorful. While you’re here, scoop up some of MìLà’s pork soup dumplings, which are another BA favorite.

MìLà Noodle Variety Pack

Nona Lim stir-fry starter kits

In addition to fresh ramen noodle kits, Nona Lim also makes three fresh stir-fry noodle starter kits that come with pre-made vegan sauces. The pad Thai starter kit features thin, flat gluten-free rice noodles along with a sweet and tangy tamarind-based sauce. The pad see ew starter kit includes wider, flatter rice noodles with a deeply flavored soy-based sauce. The teriyaki ramen stir-fry starter kit features the brand’s thin, wavy ramen noodles along with a sweet and savory sauce that highlights the much-loved Bachan’s Original Japanese BBQ Sauce. I’m a big fan of Nona Lim’s rice noodles, which are especially springy and wonderful at absorbing any accompanying sauce.

These starter kits sit somewhere between instant noodles and not-instant noodles: while they come with a premade sauce, the meals wouldn’t really be complete without adding veggies, tofu, chicken, or beef—especially in the case of the pad thai and pad see ew. And while the rice noodles are quick-cooking, they can be a bit finicky to work with at first. I like to put them in a bowl and microwave them for about a minute before adding them to the pan with my additions.

Nona Lim Pad Thai Stir-Fry Starter Kits

Nona Lim Pad See Ew Stir-Fry Starter Kits

Just noodles

Shirakiku Sanukiya Udon

Maybe you don’t want a noodle kit that comes with a pre-made sauce or soup base—maybe you’re just looking for some quick-cooking plain frozen noodles you can put to work for recipes like this spicy kimchi udon or soothing kake udon. Shirakiku Sanukiya’s udon noodles are soft, bouncy, and very slippery, which makes them supremely slurpable. While some udon brands lack the ideal chewiness and fall apart easily once cooked, these hold their structure and absorb just the right amount of sauce. They hold up well in both brothy soups and saucy stir-fries, and you can trust they won’t go soggy on you. Each bag comes with five separately packaged servings of frozen udon. Keep the noodles in your freezer until you’re ready to use them, then boil them from frozen for about a minute and they’re ready for anything—I’ll let you take it from here.

J-Basket Japanese Soba Noodles

These soba noodles are made with a mixture of buckwheat flour and wheat flour, which gives them a subtly dense texture, slight nutty flavor, and a grayish-brown color. And because buckwheat is a whole grain, these noodles are pretty nutrient-packed. I appreciate that J-Basket’s frozen soba noodles cook quickly and don’t get clumpy (see these cooking tips for getting the best results). Bonus: They work wonders in both hot and cold noodle dishes, like this pork and asparagus stir-fry, brothy clam noodle soup, or chilled spicy sesame soba.

J-Basket Japanese Soba Noodles

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