Unbelievably Plant-Based Ramen Packed with Umami Flavor

Since soy milk is the star of the show here, get the freshest you can find. If there’s a tofu company where you live, they probably sell soy milk as well. This ramen will still taste good with boxed soy milk, but it has to be unsweetened and unflavored—vanilla-flavored ramen will not taste good! If you want to try making your own (a super budget-friendly option!), there are a range of soy milk makers that can make the whole process easier.

You can use any type of ramen noodles you like for this recipe. Fresh noodles are great and cook super-fast, but the thin, straight dry noodles (chuka soba or chuka men) are also totally good. In a pinch, you can even use instant ramen noodles (save the seasoning packs for another use, like popcorn or onion dip).

A note about MSG: We don’t have a problem with it. It’s literally just pure umami. It makes lots of things taste really good, and there’s no scientific evidence that it’s any worse for you than regular salt. That said, mushrooms, onions, garlic, seaweed, miso, and soy sauce contain plenty of glutamic acid (nature’s MSG), so if you want to leave out the MSG you’ll still have a tasty bowl of ramen—just adjust the salt according to your taste.

This ramen makes a wonderful meal with tsukemono (Japanese pickles) and a cucumber-wakame seaweed salad, and if you’re not vegan you can add a soft-boiled egg as a topping. Fun fact: To make this ramen in the regional style of Aomori, Japan, just add curry powder. If you want to know more about the differences between the basic types of ramen, we have a handy primer for you.

“This was my first time making a vegan ramen and it was absolutely delicious! The sesame oil and seeds give it such a nutty flavor and the butter adds a decadent silkiness. Don’t skimp on the extra toppings, they add some wonderful extra texture.” —Julia Hartbeck

Creamy Vegan Miso Butter Ramen/Tester Image
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 (1-inch) piece ginger, smashed
  • 1 scallion, halved, more for garnish
  • 1 (3 x 4-inch) piece dried kombu seaweed (kelp)
  • 3 tablespoons toasted white sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced peeled ginger
  • 3 tablespoons white miso
  • 2 tablespoons sake
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 cups unsweetened plain soy milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon MSG, optional
  • 4 servings ramen noodles (fresh or dry)
  • 4 tablespoons vegan butter
  • Scallions, sliced
  • Corn kernels
  • 2 tbsp (1/8 cup) nori sheets
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Bean sprouts
  1. Gather the ingredients.

    dashi ingredients gathered
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  2. Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the shiitakes, ginger, scallion, and kombu. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

    dashi ingredients in small pot on heat
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  3. Remove the kombu (otherwise the dashi will get kind of slimy) and continue simmering until the dashi becomes slightly golden (like tea), about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat. Remove and discard (or eat) the vegetables with a slotted spoon. Set the dashi aside.

    dashi broth in pot
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  1. Gather the soup broth ingredients.

    soup broth ingredients gathered
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  2. While the dashi is simmering, lightly crush the sesame seeds with a suribachi, mortar and pestle, or spice grinder (be careful not to turn them to paste—we just want to release the fragrance and oils). Set aside.

    sesame seeds in a mortar and pestle
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  3. Heat the sesame oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté until fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes.

    garlic and oil in pot over head
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  4. Add the miso and stir until well combined. Add the sake and mirin and stir to combine.

    miso added to pot with garlic over heat
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  5. Stir in the reserved crushed sesame seeds and the soy sauce.

    crushed sesame seeds added to pot with miso
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  6. Add the reserved dashi, and continue to stir until the miso is fully dissolved.

    dashi stock added to pot with sesame seeds and miso
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  7. Slowly add the soy milk. Season with salt, pepper, and MSG, if using. Reduce the heat to low. You don’t want the broth to come to a boil, because it can make the soy milk “break” (it’ll get kind of clumpy and weird). You just want the broth to be warmed up to soup temperature.

    soy milk added to pot with other ingredients for miso butter ramen
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  1. Gather the ramen noodles, vegan butter, and optional toppings.

    ramen noodles and other optional toppings gathered
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  2. While the soup broth is heating up, cook the noodles according to the instructions on the package.

    cooked ramen in collander
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  3. Divide the cooked noodles between 4 bowls, ladle in the soup, and then top each bowl with 1 tablespoon of vegan butter. Add your desired toppings, and enjoy.

    bowl of ramen with toppings and butter pat
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

You can keep the toppings (except for the nori) warm in a splash of the dashi to prevent them from cooling off the soup.

You can make the broth a day or two ahead up to the point of adding the soy milk — add the soy milk and rewarm the broth immediately before serving.

You can add curry powder (Japanese SB brand is great) to make this ramen Aomori-style.

The dashi freezes beautifully; use it within 3 months for best flavor.

Quick Shoyu Ramen

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