The Peanut Butter Hack For Better Instant Ramen Broth

With over 121 billion cups of instant ramen enjoyed annually, this typically less-than-a-dollar-a-serving pantry staple is more popular than ever. Since the 1970s, college students globally have enjoyed the fast alternative to homemade Japanese noodles in dorm rooms. But Nissin Foods USA, who created the familiar Top Ramen as well as Cup Noodles, reported a 41% increase in sales in 2022, suggesting it's not just 20-year-olds enjoying the salty, inexpensive meal anymore, especially as food prices continue to rise.

With the increase of innovative hacks on the internet, it's also easier than ever to "upgrade" processed foods like ramen to make them restaurant-worthy and take them a step above what you perhaps remember eating on your extra-long twin bed. 

While boiling water is all that's needed to create the umami-rich meal on its own, the addition of pantry items can completely transform the dish into something much more satisfying. And really just a simple swap or addition can make the meal even tastier. Whether rehydrating a brick of ramen or just microwaving a cup for a snack, a spoonful of peanut butter is one easy hack that instantly amplifies the flavor and enriches the broth.

Tips for adding peanut butter to instant ramen

Just using the common pantry staple peanut butter can change your ramen dish with minimal effort, expense, and no additional prep time. Since this hack doesn't require more cooking, it's an easy way to make your meal more substantial. 

Instant ramen consists of dehydrated fried noodles and broth, lacking protein (and much nutritional value). But, peanut butter not only adds protein to the meal, creating a heartier soup that satiates you longer, it also thickens the broth with a silkier texture.

For an instant ramen upgrade, prepare the dish according to package directions. Then, stir 1-2 tablespoons of your favorite creamy peanut butter into the hot broth along with the noodles and seasoning packet. If your peanut butter is salty, you may want to hold off on some of the seasoning packet to reduce the sodium in the dish. 

The peanut butter will quickly melt into the hot broth, adding a nutty, slightly sweet addition reminiscent of pad Thai. For an even richer broth, replace half the water with another pantry staple, coconut milk, to amp up those desired Thai flavors.

Other ways to upgrade your instant ramen

Beyond the peanut butter broth hack, there are plenty of other ways to upgrade instant ramen. If you want to prepare it as more of a noodle dish versus a soup, use less water than the package directions suggest. A package of Top Ramen requires roughly 1 ¼ cups of water to cook the noodles, absorbing most of it. Instead, mix the peanut butter into the drier hot noodles, adding little amounts of water to thin the sauce as necessary. 

Instant ramen can also be prepared like pasta. Boil the ramen in plenty of water and strain the noodles once they are soft and pliable. Reserve a few tablespoons of boiling water to melt the peanut butter into a smooth, creamy sauce. Both preparations can be enjoyed immediately or chilled for a cold noodle dish. 

Or, keep the dish a no-cook recipe by filling the bowl with leftover meat, firm tofu, an egg, or pulled rotisserie chicken for additional protein. Add a much-needed green veggie to the recipe by tossing in fresh baby spinach, baby bok choy, or green scallions just before serving. The heat will wilt the tender veggies quickly. Defrosted frozen veggies are also an excellent time-saver to stretch the meal and make it more nutritious.

You can always garnish the peanut butter-flavored noodles with a lime wedge, julienned raw cucumbers, carrots, and chopped peanuts for a contrasting texture and another layer of flavor, too. For a welcome amount of heat, stir in some chili crisp or sriracha sauce.