Here’s how to make healthy homemade ramen noodles from scratch. Perfect for your ramen soup, these fresh noodles need just three ingredients and are much healthier than fried instant noodles!
- Can ramen noodles be made at home?
- What are alkaline noodles?
- What is kansui?
- What is a substitute for kansui?
- Ingredients and equipment
- How to make homemade ramen noodles
- How to store and freeze them
- How to serve your homemade ramen noodles
- Recommended Products
- Did you make this recipe?
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Can ramen noodles be made at home?
Yes, ramen noodles can be made at home and it’s not even super hard to do nor does it require any hard-to-find ingredients.
I first published this recipe in 2016 after coming across a book called Bowl which had two different recipes for homemade ramen noodles (and I subsequently used fresh noodles in my vegan ramen recipe).
One recipe was a cheater’s version containing egg. The other recipe was a traditional recipe for alkaline ramen noodles.
You might be wondering what makes ramen noodles different than regular pasta?
Although they look similar, the difference between Japanese noodles and Italian pasta is that they use different ingredients.
Whereas Italian pasta uses durum wheat flour and water, ramen uses finer varieties of milled flour and an alkaline solution.
So to make homemade ramen noodles from scratch you’ll need strong (bread) flour, water and an alkaline agent.
What are alkaline noodles?
The use of an alkaline solution is a key component of ramen noodles.
Long ago noodles were often made with mineral and alkali-rich well water.
The alkaline ph of the water gives the noodles their distinctive firm, chewy texture and yellow colour. It also helps to prevent the noodles from dissolving in the boiling water during the cooking process.
Nowadays, the same effect is achieved with the use of a concentrated liquid called kansui.
What is kansui?
Kansui, sometimes called lye water or alkaline salt, is a concentrated liquid comprised of the chemical compounds sodium bicarbonate and potassium carbonate.
To make ramen noodles, you combine a couple teaspoons of kansui with water and add it to the flour to make the dough.
Kansui isn’t something you can pick up at Whole Foods. You can order it online or if you have a Japanese market near you, you’ll likely find it there.
My local Asian supermarket doesn’t carry it and I’m too lazy to order anything from the internet but that’s okay because there is an easy homemade substitute for kansui!
What is a substitute for kansui?
When purchasing the aforementioned cookbook Bowl, it was the bookseller who told me that baked baking soda can be used as a substitute for kansui.
A bit of googling confirmed that he was right!
Regular old supermarket baking soda can be baked in the oven for about and hour and then dissolved in water to make an alkaline solution.
The reason that the baking soda is baked first is to transform it from sodium bicarbonate into sodium carbonate, which increases its alkalinity.
You can bake as much baking soda as you want and store the remainder in an airtight container until the next time you want to make ramen noodles.
It’s a better solution than ordering a bottle of kansui if you’re not sure how often you’ll be making ramen noodles from scratch!
Ingredients and equipment
For this recipe you’ll need just three ingredients and one piece of special equipment.
- Baking soda: to make the alkaline solution
- Bread flour / strong flour: Bread flour has a higher gluten and protein content which gives a chewier texture than all-purpose flour. This is easy to buy in any supermarket or you can increase the gluten content of all-purpose flour by adding vital wheat gluten.
- Pasta Machine: The dough is very tough and dry. It’s very difficult to roll it by hand. A pasta machine with a spaghetti attachment makes it very easy to roll and cut the noodles.
How to make homemade ramen noodles
Let’s look a the step-by-step process to make ramen noodles from scratch.
Make the alkaline solution
If this is your first time making ramen noodles, you’ll have to start by baking the baking soda.
To do this, spread the baking soda on a foil-lined baking pan and bake it at 250 F / 125 C for one hour.
Once it’s ready and cooled, carefully lift the foil and tip the baking soda into a small container with a lid.
Be careful not to touch the baked baking soda as it is caustic and irritating to bare skin.
If you do accidentally touch it, rinse your hand well with water.
Now you can make your homemade kansui by combining 1 ½ teaspoons of baked baking soda with ½ cup warm water and stirring well to dissolve.
Make the dough
Place the flour in a bowl and pour in your alkaline solution. Use a spoon or chopsticks to combine the ingredients until they begin to come together.
The dough will be crumbly and shaggy, that’s ok. Turn it out onto your work surface and begin kneading it together.
It’s a tough and dense dough and not the easiest to knead. Keep at it for about 10 minutes and you should be able to shape it into a ball without it falling apart.
If you are having a very difficult time, you can add a bit more water, one teaspoon at a time, but keep in mind that too much water will make the dough too soft and lack its distinctive chewiness.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for one hour.
Roll the dough
Next you’ll need to get your pasta machine out.
Divide your dough into four pieces. Work with one piece at a time and keep the other pieces covered in plastic wrap so they don’t dry out.
Flatten the dough as much as you can and pass it through the widest setting on your pasta machine.
The dough will probably look terrible with lots of holes and uneven sides. That’s ok. Fold it into thirds and pass it through several more times until you get a smooth rectangle.
Now you can start reducing the width on your pasta machine. Just pass the dough through once on each setting without folding it into thirds.
If the dough is sticking to the machine, you can dust it with a bit of flour or cornstarch.
Since you’re not making angel hair pasta, you probably don’t want to roll it out to the thinnest setting.
On my machine I stop at the third thinnest setting. How thin you want your ramen noodles will depend on your machine and your preference.
If this is your first time making them, test a couple different thicknesses to see which you like the best.
Cut the noodles
Now attach the spaghetti cutter and cut your noodles into strands.
A good length for fresh ramen noodles is 10 to 12 inches. If your rolled out dough is longer than that, you can cut it before passing it through the spaghetti cutter, or you can trim the noodles with scissors.
Once you’ve cut your noodles, you’ll need to prevent them from sticking together.
My pasta machine came with a little wooden stand to hang the noodles and I usually use that.
I’ve also seen people prop a broom between two chairs or across their kitchen counter and island and hang the noodles on the broom handle.
The usual way to toss the noodles in cornstarch and fold them around your hand to make a little nest.
The nests is a better option if you’re not cooking them right away. You can place them in a resealable bag in the fridge for a day or two until you’re ready to cook.
Optional: dry the noodles
You can cook the noodles fresh but allowing the noodles to dry out will give them a better, more chewy texture.
You can either leave them out to air dry for a couple of hours or fold them into nests and place them in a resealable bag in the fridge overnight.
Cook the noodles
Before you cook the noodles, you need to prepare the rest of your ramen ingredients and make sure that your soup broth is nice and hot. Adding the noodles is the last step when preparing a bowl of ramen soup.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Fresh noodles cook fast so you may want to test cook a couple of strands first to get the timing just right.
The cook time will depend on how thick you’ve cut your noodles, whether you’re cooking them from fresh or dried, and your preferred level of chewiness.
I cook mine anywhere between 60 and 90 seconds and I cook them in batches so as not to break the boil in the pot.
Once cooked to your liking, drain and rinse the noodles under cool water for just a couple seconds remove excess starch and to prevent gumminess.
Now they’re ready to add to your piping hot bowl of ramen soup!
How to store and freeze them
If you’re making the noodles ahead you can store them rolled into nests in a resealable bag in the fridge for 1 to 2 days.
Or you can divide them into individual portions and place them in a freezer-safe bag in the freezer where they’ll keep for about 3 months.
You can drop frozen noodles directly into boiling water without thawing them first.
How to serve your homemade ramen noodles
These fresh ramen noodles are ready to drop into a steaming bowl of ramen soup.
There are four main types of ramen soup recipes: miso ramen, shio (salt) ramen, shoyu (soy sauce) ramen, tonkotsu (pork) ramen, and a multitude of regional variations. Just pick your favourite recipe!
Fresh noodles are ideal for dipping into a bowl of sauce such as this tsukemen recipe.
Yes! Homemade ramen noodles lower in sodium, contain no preservatives, no saturated fat, no cholesterol, are not fried and do not contain palm oil. All of these things make homemade ramen noodles much healthier than instant ramen noodles.
You will have a very difficult time making homemade ramen noodles without a pasta maker. The dough is dense, dry and very difficult to roll out. Furthermore, handmade noodles will vary in thickness and this will make it difficult to cook them evenly.
Yes, you can combine the flour and alkaline water in a stand mixer. You will need to stop the mixer to gather the dough crumbs and knead them together before continuing to knead them in the mixer with the dough hook.
After about 5 minutes you should have a shaggy-looking ball. You may need to knead it a couple more minutes by hand to get it to shape into a ball without crumbling apart.
If you don’t have bread flour, you can use all-purpose flour, HOWEVER, the noodles will not be as chewy as is ideal.
Bread flour has a higher protein content which encourages better gluten development and makes the noodles chewy.
Therefore, I highly recommend using bread (strong) flour or supplementing all-purpose flour with vital wheat gluten to increase the protein content.
- ½ cup baking soda
- ½ cup warm water
- 2 cups bread flour
- Preheat the oven to 125°C (250°F). Spread the baking soda on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 1 hour. Let cool. You only need 1 ½ teaspoons each time you make ramen so store the remainder in an air-tight container for another day. Be careful not to touch the baked baking soda as it can irritate skin.
- Dissolve 1 ½ teaspoons of the baked baking soda in the warm water. Place the flour in a bowl and stir in the water-baking soda mix. When the dough begins to come together, turn it out onto the counter and knead for 10 minutes. It’s a dry, tough dough that’s difficult to knead but resist the urge to add more water or the noodles will become too soft. Wrap the dough ball in cling film and let it rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
- Divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Re-wrap 3 portions while you work with one. Flatten it as best you can with a rolling pin and begin passing it through the pasta machine on the widest setting. Just like making regular pasta, fold it into thirds and pass it through several times until you get a smooth rectangle. If it’s sticking you can dust it with a little flour or cornstarch. Begin reducing the thickness until you get to about the third-last width, or whichever width you prefer for your noodles. Cut with the spaghetti attachment.
- If your pasta maker came with a drying rack, then use that to hang the noodles without them touching each other. Alternatively, dust the noodles with a bit of flour or cornstarch and leave them in little piles on a pan.
- Optional: for an even chewier texture, leave the noodles to air dry for a couple of hours or transfer them to a resealable bag and place it in the fridge overnight.
- If making ramen soup, have all the ingredients prepared and your broth hot.
- To cook the noodles, bring a large pot of water to the boil. The cooking time will depend on how thick you made your noodles so you can boil a couple of test strands first. Fresh noodles need between 60 and 90 seconds. If necessary, boil the noodles in batches so as not to break the boil in the pot. Once cooked, drain the noodles and quickly rinse them under cool water for just a couple seconds to remove the excess starch but without cooling them down too much.
- Serve the noodles into your waiting bowls of hot soup.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 247Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 475mgCarbohydrates: 50gFiber: 2gSugar: 0gProtein: 8g
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is approximate only.