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Cold Ramen Noodle Salad

May 20, 2022

Tossed with a rainbow of crunchy vegetables, these Asian-inspired, twirly cold sesame noodles are a summertime staple.

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cold ramen noodle salad with basil, cucumbers and bell peppers in a bowl

A Fresh & Fast Noodle Salad

Whether you use instant ramen (just the noodles—toss that seasoning packet) or fresh ramen noodles, this cold sesame noodle salad comes together super fast! Fresh ramen noodles—which can be found in the chilled produce section of many grocery stores—cook in 2-3 minutes, so they’re just as fast as dried, instant ramen. Either way, we love the twisty curlicue of these classic Japanese noodles in this veggie-loaded summer noodle salad, and we think you will, too!

ingredients laid out for ramen salad ginger, lime, peanuts, bell peppers, cabbage, cilantro, basil, fish sauce, chili sauce

Reason #1 To Love This Noodle Salad: The Best Ever Ginger-Sesame Dressing

This salad is all about freshness. The noodles are cooked quickly—ramen noodles cook fast, so keep an eye on them!—and then tossed with a whole bunch of crisp vegetables. Veggies + noodles give excellent texture, but the big, bold flavors of this cold noodle salad come primarily from this Asian-inspired dressing. Zingy, savory and just-barely kissed with a bit of heat, this dressing is a balanced, complex swirl of deliciousness. Here’s what’s in it:

  • Lime juice & zest.
  • Brown sugar
  • Fish sauce. A key ingredient in many of the cuisines of Southeast Asia, we’ve come to love the deeply savory flavor that fish sauce can bring to a recipe. There are quite a few brands available in the U.S., and it’s fine to use whichever one you prefer! We really love Red Boat Brand Fish Sauce.
  • Vegetable oil
  • Toasted sesame oil
  • Chili paste, such as sambal oelek.
  • Fresh ginger
asian inspired dressing ingredients in a bowl brown sugar, lime zest, lime juice, ginger, garlic, chili sauce
asian inspired salad dressing for cold ramen salad

Reason #2 To Love This Noodle Salad: Crunchy Vegetables x10

Toothsome ramen noodles and a silky sesame dressing—that alone is a great combination. But add some crunchy raw vegetables to the mix, plus some peanuts, fresh herbs, sesame seeds and bright green diced scallions? Well, that puts this cold noodle salad recipe right over the top. Adding veggies also means that this recipe can serve as a light meal all on its own, OR as a hearty side dish. You can feel free to play around with the veggie combination, but we especially love to use these ultra-crispy crunchy ones:

  • Red bell peppers
  • Shredded cabbage
  • Cucumbers
ingredients in a bowl for cold ramen noodle salad green onions, red bell pepper, peanuts, cucumbers, basil, cilantro.
Asian inspired cold ramen noodle salad in a glass bowl

How To Make Cold Sesame Noodle Salad

You’ll only have to turn on the stovetop for a few minutes, so even on the hottest day of the year, this cold noodle salad recipe is easy to make. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Cook the ramen noodles! Fresh or instant—either way, it should just take about two minutes.
  2. Chop chop chop! Lots of chopping here, and there’s no way around it. Put on a favorite album / podcast and hop to it.
  3. Whisk together that lime-y ginger-and-sesame noodle salad dressing.
  4. Toss it all together! You can eat it right away, if you’re in a rush, but this salad is extra delicious and refreshing if you can give it an hour or two in the fridge to chill. In other words, it’s an ideal make-ahead dish.
cold ramen salad in a bowl with basil, sesame seeds, red bell peppers and cucumber

Tools You’ll Need

Oodles of Noodles!

Summertime is noodle salad season, and we’ve got gazillions of them! Our current faves are:

cold ramen salad in a bowl with basil, cucumbers, red bell peppers.
ramen noodle salad in a bowl with a serving spoon

Cold Comfort

Hearty, healthy noodle salads like this are a summertime go-to in our homes, and we hope this recipe earns a spot in your warm-weather rotation, too. If you try it out, we’d love to hear about it! Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Happy eating!

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Cold Ramen Noodle Salad

  • Serves: 8
  • Prep Time:  20 min
  • Cook Time:  5 min
  • Calories: 171

Ingredients

  • 2 (3 oz) packages of instant ramen noodles (seasoning packet discarded) or 6 oz. fresh ramen noodles
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage, green or napa
  • 1 ½ cups cucumber, english or persian, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 3 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • ⅓ cup cilantro leaves, loosely packed, roughly chopped
  • ⅓ cup basil leaves, loosely packed, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup peanuts, roasted, chopped
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds white or black

Dressing

  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp lime zest
  • 1 tsp chili paste
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger

Method

  1. Bring water to boil and cook the ramen noodles for about 2 minutes or until al dente (do not let them get soggy, they will continue to absorb the dressing so it's very important that they are cooked al dente). Drain, run under cool water to stop them from cooking any further and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix all of the ingredients for the dressing, until the brown sugar dissolves.
  3. In a large salad bowl, toss together the cooked ramen noodles along with the cabbage, cucumber, bell pepper, green onion, cilantro and basil.
  4. Top with peanuts and sesame seeds. Serve cold.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories171
  • Protein4 g
  • Carbohydrates15 g
  • Total Fat11 g
  • Dietary Fiber2 g
  • Cholesterol0 mg
  • sodium190 mg
  • Total Sugars6 g

Cold Ramen Noodle Salad

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

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  • Jen

    Can you make it without fish sauce and/or is there a good substitute for the fish sauce? I have an irrational aversion to anything fish-related!

    You can leave it out! Hope you enjoy.

  • Carolyn

    can this be made ahead?

    Absolutely! Hope you enjoy!

  • Debbie

    Do you think it's best to chop up the ramen a bit or leave them long?

    We leave them long but it is totally up to your preference. Hope you enjoy Debbie!

  • Amber

    Hi! Do you think we should use Thai basil or regular basil? I have an Asian market near me so can usually get Thai basil pretty easily. Thanks!

    Either will work fine! Hope you enjoy, Amber!

  • Steve

    Can you make a day ahead of time, or do the noodles get too soggy? Thanks and can’t wait to try this (just bought your cookbook too)!

    Making it the day you're eating it is probably better. Hope you enjoy Steve!

  • Arlene

    This cold noodle salad dish was really tasty. My dried ramen noodle packets were only 2.5 oz, so I used 3. And I used only 0.5 tsp of sambal olek for the chili paste because I’m spicy heat sensitive. This was the perfect ratio of noodles to vegetables and mildly spicy the way I like it. I will be making this again, for sure. Thank you!

    Thanks Arlene, we are so happy you loved it!

  • Emily

    I can’t stop making this! It’s so flavorful and so refreshing. Definitely a summer staple because it’s so easy and light.

    YAY! Thanks Emily!

  • Jenn

    This was absolutely delicious!

    Thank you Jenn, we are so glad you loved it!