An easy one pot chicken ramen noodle stir fry Will serve 3 regular portions, or 2 very generous portions.
This 15 minute Chicken Ramen Stir Fry is a fantastic way to spruce up your instant ramen noodles without the flavor packets. It’s ready in minutes and tastes so much better!
Perfect for lunch or dinner on busy week days and nights, and for students living on a budget!
Just as that good ol’ stereotype goes, ramen noodles truly were my friend and savior as a student. (Along with a quick and easy ginger and basil fried rice or chicken pasta or similar.)
I dined on them all – from Indomie hot and spicy to NongShim Shin Ramyun and Samyung ramen, to cheap ramen, my cupboard was packed with at least a dozen of them at any given time. And I liked ’em spicy, spicier the better!
This infinitely adaptable and super easy 15 Minute Chicken Ramen Stir Fry was my attempt at spicing things up with my ramen game.
Since then I’ve shared a couple more fancier ramen recipes like this homemade chicken ramen, pork ramen, and this spicy pork ramen (pork loco moco mazemen), and even these perfectly cooked ramen eggs and miso ramen deviled eggs.
But, of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying a plain bowl of ramen with the seasoning provided. You know, other than the sodium-laden seasoning packet not being my first choice for a healthy option, I do enjoy a good bowl of NongShim Shin Ramyun whenever I can!
Why you’ll love this ramen stir fry
Easy – With ramen being such an easy and quick meal to prep, it’s a great shortcut for busy days – whether you’re a student, or a parent trying to feed your family.
And thankfully there are ways to spruce up ordinary ramen noodles, WITHOUT using the flavor packets that they come with. That’s where this 15 minute ramen noodle stir fry recipe comes in handy.
This chicken ramen stir fry recipe is so easy that I still make it when I’m strapped for time or too tired to make anything for lunch or dinner.
I even make it for my husband’s lunch, because I can get it ready in minutes in the morning, before he goes to work. I can cook it all in one pot in under 10 minutes, from start to finish.
My husband manages the same in under 15 minutes (just because I’m faster at prepping all the vegetables!).
Economical – As a student, I prepared meals at home whenever I could and made them as healthy as possible with my budget. Rice and noodles were my best buds. Frozen veggies and veggies in season were my staple.
It was easy to make ramen stir fry because it would only take a few minutes more than regular ramen, and it’d be packed with any vegetables that I had in my fridge or freezer, and an egg or some chicken. And I’d often make enough to eat for dinner and then take the leftovers for lunch the following day.
Can’t get better than that for a student living on a budget and cramming for an exam or assignment.
Flavorful – During my student days, my chicken ramen stir fry was flavored using only 3 simple ingredients – soy sauce, sugar and cayenne pepper.
But now, I add a few other ingredients to really amp up the flavor – like rice wine, dark soy sauce and black vinegar (or balsamic vinegar). These ingredients are still optional, but they add plenty more flavor!
I like my ramen noodles with a little bite to ’em in terms of texture, so if you like your ramen softer, then cook it for a few minutes longer.
Infinitely versatile and adaptable – I personally LOVE adding brussels sprouts or zucchini to my chicken ramen stir fry, but you can use different veggie options and whatever you have at hand. Peas, carrots, corn, cabbage, broccoli, beans, kale, Asian greens are all excellent additions.
And you can just as easily make vegan or vegetarian versions of this recipe. And in terms of extra add-ins, the options are limitless!
Ingredients and ingredient substitutions
Chicken breast – Chicken breasts cook easily and fast, so it’s perfect for meals that you want to cook quickly. The only drawback is that chicken breast does overcook and dry quickly and easily too.
To avoid this, cut the chicken breast against the grain (against the direction of the muscle fibers), and slice it fairly thin. This will ensure that the meat cooks quickly, and won’t be too tough because it was cut against the grain.
If you don’t like chicken breast, feel free to use ground chicken or thinly sliced chicken thighs or ground beef or other meats as well.
Vegetable oil – For cooking. It’s a neutral tasting oil that is perfect for stir frying. Substitute with canola oil, peanut oil, or avocado oil if preferred. Olive oil can be used, but I don’t particularly like the flavor of olive oil in East Asian inspired dishes.
Salt – Yes, you do have soy sauce in the stir-fry sauce as well. But, it’s important to add a little salt when stir frying chicken so that the chicken is at least partially seasoned while cooking.
Zucchini – I love zucchini, and it cooks quickly too! You can even eat it a little raw, so it doesn’t have to cook all the way either.
You can absolutely use other vegetables instead of zucchini too. I love using broccoli, broccoli florets, snap peas, bean sprouts, green beans, cabbage (like napa cabbage), thinly sliced carrots, leafy greens cut into large pieces, sliced brussels sprouts, bell peppers, or frozen vegetable mix too. Feel free to add a combination of your favorite, quick cooking vegetables to this ramen stir fry recipe.
Instant ramen noodles – Instant ramen noodles are so easy to find and so cheap as well. The cook time for instant ramen usually depends on the brand of instant ramen you have. The thinner ramen noodles can be ready in 2 minutes or less, whereas the slightly thicker instant ramen noodles can take about 3 – 4 minutes.
If you use fresh or dried ramen noodles, you will need to cook it prior to adding it to the ramen noodles. Instant ramen is already par-cooked which is why it will cook quickly in the stir fry.
Water – To rehydrate the instant ramen. You can substitute with chicken stock if you want to add more flavor!
Green onions or scallions – This is added at the end of the cook time. Green onions add crunch, color, and flavor! You can substitute this with cilantro, pickled onions, or chives. It can be left out in a pinch as well.
Sesame oil – I absolutely LOVE sesame oil. Especially, roasted sesame oil. Just a drizzle on top transforms the dish by adding a deep nutty flavor. But if you don’t like sesame oil, just leave it out. No substitutes necessary for this.
Ingredients for this easy ramen noodle stir fry
STIR FRY SAUCE INGREDIENTS
Soy sauce – Adds a lot of umami flavor, plus salt as well.
Honey or sugar – For sweetness. You can substitute with any type of sugar, or reduce it if you like. I do recommend adding some sweetness as it balances the other flavors in the stir fry sauce.
Garlic – You can use fresh garlic, bottled chopped garlic, garlic paste, or even powdered garlic. If you use garlic powder, reduce the amount that you use, since it’s stronger in flavor. Instead of garlic, ginger can be used too.
Black vinegar – Also known as Chinkiang vinegar in China. This is a very flavorful vinegar that is made with rice or grains (depending on the source). Adds so much tangy umami flavor to the ramen stir fry!
But if you don’t have it, you can use balsamic vinegar in a pinch. It also adds a lovely dark color to the stir fry.
Rice vinegar – If you like your stir fry to be extra tangy, you can add more rice vinegar. This is optional, but sometimes I like to have a sweet and sour flavored stir fry, and adding some rice vinegar is an easy way to achieve this flavor.
2 tsp sweet soy sauce or ketjap manis – An Indonesian pantry staple that is a constant presence in my kitchen. A very delicious sauce that adds umami flavor, sweetness, a touch of spice, and a little saltiness.
As a student, I ALWAYS had ketjap manis in my pantry because it adds so much flavor to ANYTHING I made on a budget! If you don’t have access to this, add a little extra brown sugar or molasses.
How to make ramen stir fry
The first step is to make the stir fry sauce. Just add all the ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine well.
Make sure all the ingredients are measured, and prepped and ready to go in separate bowls. This is referred to as mise-en-place. Sliced chicken, prepped vegetables, sliced green onions, instant noodles broken in half etc.
In a hot non-stick skillet, heat the oil and add the chicken with a generous pinch of salt. Stir fry on high heat to let the chicken caramelize just a little at high heat. Be careful to not let the chicken fully cook through yet as it will continue to cook.
Add the stir fry sauce and zucchini (or other vegetables) and mix it all to combine.
Push the chicken and zucchini to the side, and add the ramen noodles to the pan, along with the water / stock. Cover the pan and let the noodles cook and soften a little.
Flip the noodles over and cook uncovered until they are soft enough to be broken apart with chopsticks or a fork. This shouldn’t take any more than 3 – 5 minutes, depending on the instant noodles you use.
Break apart the softened ramen noodles, and mix the chicken, vegetables, stir fry sauce, and noodles together. The water should be almost evaporated, and the noodles should be coated with the stir fry sauce.
I like my ramen noodles a little al dente, so the ramen stir fry is ready to eat now! But if you prefer soft noodles, let the noodles cook for a further 2 minutes. If the pan is very dry, add just a little water to prevent burning.
Finally, add spring onions, and toss to mix. Drizzle with sesame oil and serve.
Tips on how to make larger portions of this instant ramen stir fry
The cook times will vary greatly, if you double the recipe. This is because the more crowded the pan is, the longer it will take to cook.
A stir fry is inherently a dish that is cooked on high heat and very quickly. If there are too many ingredients in a pan this will lower the heat and mess with the cook times and texture. So, keep this in mind if you want to make larger portions.
To adapt this easy recipe for larger portions, you can either use a larger skillet, or something like a wok.
The other option is to break down the recipe into components.
Cook the chicken and zucchini as per the recipe, but only add half of the stir fry sauce. And then remove it from the heat.
Next, cook the ramen noodles, in water or a little stock, and add the rest of the stir fry sauce at the end of the cooking time. Make sure that the water / stock has completely or nearly evaporated.
Add the chicken and zucchini back into the noodles and toss to combine. Serve as per recipe.
More pro tips on how to make this stir fried ramen noodles recipe
Have ALL the ingredients prepped and ready to go BEFORE you start cooking. This includes the proteins, vegetables, seasoning, and noodles.
I prefer to use white chicken pieces (breast or tenders) over red pieces (thighs or legs). White chicken cooks faster, and is better at absorbing the flavors of this quick ramen stir fry.
Cut the chicken into thin strips, and cut the strips AGAINST THE GRAIN. This will make sure that the chicken cooks fast, and because it’s cut against the grain, the chicken will have a rough surface that grips the sauce better, making the chicken more flavorful too.
Use vegetables that you like to eat, and cut them into similar-sized pieces. If you’re using vegetables that only need a couple of minutes to cook, then adjust the recipe so that you add the vegetables AFTER the ramen noodles have been added. This includes vegetables or greens like spinach, broccoli, snow peas, and Asian greens like bok choy.
Use a large non-stick skillet. The large surface area will allow the chicken and ramen to cook faster. Make sure that the skillet has a lid to cover as well. My large skillet doesn’t have a lid that fits, but I use a slightly smaller lid that still covers the pan sufficiently to steam the noodles.
Start cooking the ramen stir fry on high heat. The high heat will allow the chicken to cook quickly in 1 minute, but still keep the chicken tender.
Lower the heat when you add the seasoning, vegetables, and ramen noodles.
Make sure the ramen noodles are touching the bottom of the skillet (and the water) so that it cooks properly.
Flip the ramen half way through to help the noodles cook through.
Don’t skip the sesame oil. It really kicks it up a notch! If you like it spicy, use sesame chili oil instead.
Just as with any instant ramen, this is best eaten fresh! That’s why it’s so easy and quick to make.
If you intend to store the ramen for future meals, make sure that the stir fry ramen is a dry preparation (i.e. no extra moisture in the dish once cooked).
The longer the ramen noodles sit with liquid, it will absorb the liquid and become soggy. Making sure that there is no excess liquid in the ramen stir fry means that the ramen noodles will not get too soggy, even if you store it in the fridge.
Place the stir fry ramen in an airtight container, and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
You can also freeze this for meal prep if you like! Sprinkle just a little water over the frozen ramen and microwave well before eating. Make sure that it’s thoroughly reheated before eating.
Frequently Asked Questions
CAN I USE ANY TYPE OF RAMEN NOODLES FOR THIS STIR FRY?
Yes, you can! I like to use instant ramen noodles because they are easier and faster to cook.
You can make this recipe with standard ramen noodles (thinner ramen noodles compressed into a square-shape). When I use these noodles, I use less water and less time to cook them in the pot. One packet weighs about 2.4 oz, and the noodles are thinner as well, so they cook faster. You can use 2 or 3 ramen packages depending on how much ramen you like to eat.
You can use the slightly thicker ramen noodles (usually compressed into a circle, and in my opinion a better version of instant noodles). When I use these noodles, I use two packets, with each weighing about 4 oz. I like these more because the noodles are chewier and thicker and don’t get soggy too easily. They do need more water and a slightly longer time to cook as well.
CAN I USE OTHER TYPES OF NOODLES INSTEAD OF RAMEN FOR THIS STIR FRY RECIPE?
Yes! But you will have to change the cooking process. If you’re using authentic dried ramen noodles (not the instant kind), or soba noodles, or rice noodles, or glass noodles, then follow these changes in the recipe to get the same results.
Cook 7 – 8 oz of the noodles in water, separately from the stir fry.
While the noodles are cooking, you can prepare the chicken and vegetables and cook this stir fry almost all the way through. DO NOT add the water to the stir fry.
When the noodles have been cooked and drained, add the cooked noodles to the stir fry during the last couple of minutes to mix through with the stir fry base.
CAN I MAKE VEGAN OR VEGETARIAN RAMEN STIR FRY?
Absolutely! You can remove the chicken altogether, or you can substitute the chicken with tofu, or tempeh, or mushrooms instead too.
SUBSTITUTIONS TO MAKE GLUTEN FREE CHICKEN RAMEN STIR FRY
Use gluten-free ramen noodles – like this King Soba brand, brown rice ramen.
Cook the noodles according to the package instructions and add them to the stir fry at the end, and toss to mix well.
Substitute the soy sauce with tamari sauce.
If you don’t like ramen, then substitute with rice instead, and make an insanely tasty chicken fried rice!
So there you go my friends! This stir fried ramen noodles recipe is a super easy meal that you can put together in just minutes,
all in ONE POT. It’s a kid-friendly, student-friendly, budget-friendly, and taste buds-friendly recipe! And with the addition of vegetables, this easy chicken ramen stir fry is more filling and flavorful too.