Is ramen gluten-free? No, but try these substitutes instead

                by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  September 9, 2021

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Ramen is famous for its affordability and notorious for its lack of nutrition.

While the lack of nutritional value does not deter people from making instant ramen or ordering it at a restaurant, the information included on the nutrition facts label might make them shy away from ramen.

The aforementioned information is none other than the gluten content.

Is ramen gluten free

So is ramen jam-packed with gluten or is it gluten-free?

Ramen has lots of gluten

Unfortunately for those on a gluten-free diet, both ramen served at restaurants and instant ramen are loaded with gluten.

This is due to the fact that most, if not all, ramen noodles are made out of wheat flour which is heavy on gluten.

Pretty much any kind of ramen that you see in your standard grocery store will also be a large heap of gluten. As a result, this pretty much removes ramen from the diet of anyone who needs to be gluten-free for any reason.

Also read: is sushi gluten-free or can you get it without gluten?

About gluten

Before we can learn how to avoid gluten in ramen noodles, it is important to understand what gluten is and where it is normally found.

Wheat, bulgur, farro, durum, Kamut, barley, and rye all contain gluten, and it works to glue the components together and give them the shape and texture we are familiar with in for example bread or pizza dough.

Avoiding gluten can often be difficult, as it is sometimes hidden. A product may not specify gluten in the ingredient list, but there may be something like “wheat derivatives” listed, which tells you that the product contains gluten.

Is there a gluten-free alternative to ramen?

If you are still craving ramen but can’t have any gluten, then today is your lucky day! Like with many foods that are heavy with gluten, food manufacturers have found ways to make ramen that is gluten-free.

Not only that, there are a lot of alternatives that you can choose from. Turns out you can make ramen noodles with many other ingredients that don’t include wheat flour.

Rice noodles

The most common alternative is rice noodles, which are made from rice flour. Most packages of instant ramen that are gluten-free are typically made from rice flour.

Rice noodles turn out very similar to the ramen noodles most of us know and appreciate.

You can buy the same type of instant noodle products that are cooked in water, and you can eat them just like that, with a nice ramen broth, or use them for soups, stir fry dishes, and more.

All rice noodles tend to be gluten-free, and you can look for products like pad thai, chow fun, rice vermicelli, and rice sticks.

The price is sometimes a bit higher compared to traditional ramen noodles, but you get a product that is similar in both taste, shape, and function.

Glass noodles

Have you ever heard of glass noodles, or perhaps cellophane noodles?

Glass noodles are an excellent alternative to regular ramen noodles, and they are made with starch from tapioca, potatoes, beans, or sweet potatoes.

Neither of the glass noodle varieties mentioned above contains gluten, and they are very easy to use in any noodle dish as a ramen noodle substitute.

Buckwheat noodles

Buckwheat flour is often used in gluten-free ramen as well.

These are known as soba noodles, and traditionally, they are made with buckwheat flour only, and no regular wheat.

Buckwheat noodles are gluten-free if made this way, but you want to make sure you read through the ingredients, as some may be made with a combination of buckwheat and wheat.

The name is a little misleading, but buckwheat is gluten-free and wheat contains gluten. Pick a brand that sells noodles made only with buckwheat.

More gluten options

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If you really dig into gluten-free alternatives for ramen, you can even find interesting and more exotic versions of ramen noodles that are made out of vegetables, kelp, and even sweet potato starch!

Also check all of these healthy gluten-free ramen alternatives

Where can I find gluten-free ramen?

If you are at a restaurant that makes ramen, you can always ask if they have a gluten-free alternative.

Gluten-free menus at restaurants have become quite popular over the last few years, so there is a good chance that your local restaurant might have it.

However, if you are craving some gluten-free instant ramen you can often find it in most major grocery stores. The selection and scope will vary, but they can be found there.

For a more diverse selection of gluten-free instant noodles, you may need to find a specialty grocery store. Like gluten-free menus at restaurants, these kinds of grocery stores are becoming much more commonplace in shopping centers.

Those kinds of stores are often your best bet for finding a large variety of gluten-free instant ramen that you can go through and find one you like.

You can also purchase gluten-free ramen from big websites like Amazon as well. Oma’s Own Organic Instant Rice Ramen Noodle Cups is a popular choice.

Big retail stores can also ship gluten-free ramen to you as well.

There is always an alternative

Traditional ramen noodles contain wheat and are therefore not gluten-free, but there are plenty of options for someone who wants (or needs) gluten-free noodles.

With so many alternatives to standard wheat flour noodles, you don’t have to give up on ramen.

Food manufacturers understand the importance of providing gluten-free alternatives, so you can continue to enjoy a nice hot bowl of ramen whenever you want.

Rice noodles, vegetable noodles, kelp noodles, and buckwheat noodles are some of the best-known alternatives, and many taste and look surprisingly similar.

It won’t be exactly the same, but you can definitely substitute ramen noodles with gluten-free alternatives, both when eating noodles on their own and when preparing noodle dishes.

Make sure to always read through the ingredients before purchasing a product.

And, with a little bit of research, you may even be able to find a restaurant nearby that can make gluten-free ramen.

While being gluten-free won’t help the general lack of nutrition in ramen, it is a great place to start.

Also read: these are the best ramen garnishes for a healthy bowl of noodles

Ever had trouble finding Japanese recipes that were easy to make?

We now have "cooking Japanese with ease", our full recipe book and video course with step-by-step tutorials on your favorite recipes.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.