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9 Types of Meat You Can Add to Ramen

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Ramen is a favorite among students, food storage folks, and children. Years ago, ramen was reasonably basic, but Asian cultures have shown us that ramen can be so much more. Now, you can find ramen noodles in an array of flavors with different types of noodles and spices.

One of the best ways to elevate the ramen experience is to add meat to the noodles. Whether you add meat during the preparation or cook it separately, good meat pairs exceptionally well with instant noodles for a delicious meal.

Asian noodle ramen soup

Some types of meat are easier to prepare than others, so the kinds of meat you’ll pair with ramen will depend on how much time you have and how much effort you want to put into the preparation.

Here are nine types of meat you can add to ramen to increase your eating protein and make the noodles a more substantial meal. Give some of them a try the next time you make noodles to take your dish to another level.

Thin Beef Slices

Sliced medium rare grilled beef steak

If you’ve ever had pho, you know how delicious thinly sliced beef is with noodles and rich broth. You can pick up thin slices of beef at your local grocery store.

If you can’t find it, take a trip to your neighborhood Asian market, where you can find cuts of beef designed for bowls of noodles, hotpot, and other Asian dishes.

You can either marinate the beef in something like teriyaki sauce before cooking it, or you can add the slices into your steaming hot broth once the noodles are cooked.

You don’t need the beef to cook that long because it is so thin. Instead, just drop some slices in the soup, and it will cook itself.

Add some onions or broccoli in there to complete the dish, and you’ve got yourself one tasty dinner or lunch!

Beef Balls

Fresh beef balls

Beef balls are another type of meat you can add to ramen to make the dish more authentic and heartier. You’re probably not going to find beef balls at your standard American grocer, but you can find them at Asian markets, which most areas in the country have.

Beef balls are essentially balls made of beef that are savory and a bit chewy. They go wonderfully with noodles and broth. You can alternate between slurping the noodles and taking bites out of the beef balls.

If you want them to cook more thoroughly and make them go farther, cut the beef in half, making it easier to eat.


Tonkatsu pork

People in Japan have been eating ramen with tonkatsu for hundreds of years. Tonkatsu is fried pork cutlets that chefs place on top of bowls of ramen or on a separate side dish.

The side dish is probably the best way to go because the broth will quickly soak through any breading you have on the pork and make it soggy.

The first time you try this, simply put the pork cutlet on a plate next to the ramen. Then, slice the pork cutlet into thin strips and pick one piece up at a time to dip into the broth before you take a bite. It’s a nice salty and meaty add-on to any bowl of ramen.

Shredded Chicken

 shredded chicken breast

Shredded chicken is meat that everyone will love with ramen. Chicken is always a safe choice, and plain shredded chicken will soak up the flavors of the ramen broth very nicely.

All you have to do is bake or sear your chicken in a pan. Then, please wait for it to cool and shred it with a fork before plopping it into your ramen.

If you want to make your dish a little fancier, you can always add basil, onions, and some white pepper to your ramen to give it a little color and kick.


Pan fied Spam dish on white plate on white background

Luncheon meat isn’t for everyone, but tons of Asian cultures have noodle dishes with luncheon meat in them.

Here in the U.S, Spam is the most famous brand of luncheon meat, and you can usually find it for an affordable price at your local grocery store. This is an excellent choice for people who use ramen for food storage because Spam also has a very long shelf life.

You can typically store Spam for years right next to your noodles. It’s very salty, so you shouldn’t add too much to your ramen. Instead, you can boil it along with your noodles or sear it first to add some welcome crunch to the meat.

Fish Balls

Top view of Japanese ramen spicy soup with fish balls green bak choy and brasied five spice duck eggs in white bowl on serving brown wooden tray

If you like the idea of beef balls but want something a little lighter, then pick up some fish balls at your Asian market for your next ramen dish. Fish balls are usually made of cuttlefish and other lower-grade cuts of fish.

Think of fish balls sort of like a seafood hotdog. It’s chewy and salty, with a hint of seafood flavor that’s not overpowering.


ramen noodle soup with prawn, shiitake mushroms and egg in white bowl

Shrimp is another fantastic type of meat you can add to ramen. Shrimp is low in calories, so it’s a healthier alternative to something like Spam or lots of fatty beef.

It will make your ramen delicious! The only downside to using shrimp is that they’re typically more expensive than other types of meat. You’re upgrading a regular ramen pack when you add shrimp to the noodles.


Homemade ramen noodles with spinach and bacon

Bacon isn’t something you’d normally think to add to ramen noodles, but experience tells us that adding bacon makes anything taste better.

You may even want to take things up a notch by buying some thick-cut bacon for your noodles. Each bite with bacon packs a ton of flavor, and it will make your ramen dinners a hit with friends and family. Try adding in some cabbage to offset the saltiness of the bacon.

Ground Pork

a bowl of gluten free ramen noodles topped with fish cake, ground pork and bean sprouts

Ground pork is a terrific addition to bowls of ramen because it’s lighter than ground beef and won’t overwhelm the dish.

The main issue with ground meat is that it tends to sink to the bottom, so make sure your ramen is in a small enough dish that the ground pork can sit comfortably on top of the noodles without space to sink.

Final Thoughts

Adding meat is always a good idea because it makes the dish feel more like a meal. After you add the meat, sprinkle some fresh diced green onions and sesame seeds on top to give each bite a mix of exciting flavors and textures.

Ramen certainly doesn’t have to be bare, though many of us treat it as a quick meal. Please learn from people who have been eating ramen for generations and add some meat to make it taste incredible!