Kicked Up Ramen Noodles - Kung Pao Style

Confession #1: My family really loves to eat ramen noodles.

Confession #2: I happen to quite like the little noodles, too, but the very thought of the highly processed/salty/nasty seasoning packet makes me want to gag.

What’s a girl to do? Well, for starters, when we want ramen noodles, I toss the seasoning packet and cook the noodles in low-sodium all-natural chicken broth or my favorite vegetable broth. No one knows the difference.

But to kick them up even more, we’ve been making this kung-pao style dish with the ramen noodles and let me tell you, it is killer. And fast. And requires the use of one skillet. And is fantastically delicious and kid-friendly. Seriously, get out, right? I mean, who could resist the curly, tender noodles and golden chicken combined with the Asian flavors of hoisin sauce, a hint of sesame oil and sweet red peppers. The lightly toasted peanuts make homely ramen noodles somehow seem instantly gourmet. And when that happens, you know you have a winner!

Confession #3: Despite what the picture portrays, my kids did not eat these with chopsticks (I tried and mostly failed). Instead, I used my kitchen scissors to cut my kids noodles and peppers into small pieces. When it comes to cutting up ramen noodles for toddlers, kitchen shears are my best friend.

Confession #4: While “kung pao” style food is notoriously hot and spicy, I dumbed it down quite a bit in order to spare my children the inability to feel their tongue for a week. Feel free to increase the heat as you like it!

Kicked Up Ramen Noodles - Kung Pao Style

What To ServeSteamed broccoli or roasted cauliflower or even corn on the cob
Fresh pineapple slices
Green Salad

One Year Ago: Homemade Taco Tortilla Bowls
Two Years Ago: Garlic Chicken Pasta with Spinach
Three Years Ago: Chicken Lo Mein

Kicked Up Ramen Noodles – Kung Pao Style

Yield: Serves 4-5

Kicked Up Ramen Noodles – Kung Pao Style

Note: The sauce in this dish may seem a bit brothy when finished, but the liquid will be quickly absorbed by the noodles when serving.


  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2-3), cubed
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (add more if you want more heat)
  • 3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 (3-ounce) package ramen noodles, discard seasoning packets
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 4 scallions (green onions), sliced thin


  1. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the canola oil over medium to medium-high heat until it is hot and rippling. Season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper. Add the cubed chicken to the pan in a single layer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is browned and cooked through, 5-7 minutes. Remove the chicken to a medium bowl.
  2. Add the last tablespoon of oil to the skillet and heat until hot and rippling. Add the red bell pepper and the peanuts and cook until the pepper is softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the mixture into the bowl with the chicken, trying to leave as much oil as possible behind in the skillet.
  3. Add the garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes to the remaining oil in the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds to 1 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth. Break the bricks of ramen into small chunks and add them to the skillet. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, tossing the ramen constantly with tongs to separate, until ramen is just tender but there is still a bit of liquid in the pan, about 2-4 minutes.
  4. Stir in the hoisin sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil and continue to simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Stir in the chicken, peppers and peanuts. Sprinkle with green onions before serving.

Recipe Source: adapted from The Best 30-Minute Recipe

62 Responses to Kicked Up Ramen Noodles – Kung Pao Style

  1. Abby says:

    This is one of my family’s favorite quick meals. I usually put in 3-4 times the amount of vegetables (more pepper, and then green beans, or snap peas or broccoli or whatever I have on hand). I have also made it with vegetable broth and shredded beef for a friend with a chicken allergy, and substituted slivered almonds or cashews for the peanuts. So easy to improvise and still be delicious!

  2. Margo says:

    This was so, so delicious! The rare meal that my husband, two kids, and I all loved! No complaints, not even from from the pickiest child on the face of the earth – though he did navigate around the peppers 🙂

  3. Rebecca says:

    Hi Mel, this was so fabulous! Next time I have make 1 1/2 recipes since my 3 kids and husband loved it and there wasn’t enough for seconds for all of us (I have two teenage boys). I substituted unsalted roasted cashews since my son is allergic to peanuts and it worked out perfect. Your website saves my sanity several times a week. Thank you!

  4. Tory says:

    Mel, your recipes never fail to be winners! It seems like every time my husband says, “This is delicious!”, I am saying, “It’s a Mel recipe.” I made this dish last night and am in Ramen heaven. Thank you for the time, effort and thought you put into your site. It is a blessing in my life!

  5. Ty says:

    Making this tonight! Using a chicken baking in the oven, so I have some chicken for other recipes this week. Can’t wait! Made a cucumber salad with sesame oil, rice vinegar, sugar, red pepper flakes as a side.

    Love your site. So many great recipes! Didn’t realize how much I enjoy cooking until I hit my 50’s. Love trying new stuff.

  6. Anita says:

    you know that those noodles are just flour and water, I just mix some up and sometimes add an egg for extra nutrition and put it through a food mill or potato ricer directly into boiling water or broth Cheaper than those dried packets and you don’t throw anything away.

  7. Kari says:

    This turned out great — thanks! I added broccoli florets with the red peppers because I needed to use them up before going out of town, and I think I’ll always make it that way now. I had to omit the peanuts and sesame oil (I just added some olive oil) because of allergies. It’s nice to have a dish actually turn out to be quick to make when a food blogger says it will be 🙂

  8. Beth W. says:

    I wish you could hear my husband today after church. He had eaten 2 whole bowls of this and was standing over the pot at the stove saying “Oh man. Oh man this is good.” He could not walk away. We all shouted “Thank you Mel!” from the table. My kids love you as much as I do 😉

  9. Beth W. says:

    My kitchen smells like heaven with the mixture of peppers, peanuts and ginger. Thanks for another great recipe. I found a way to make it into a freezer meal and made a bunch of them. I put the cooked chicken, peppers and peanuts in a quart bag, the broth, ginger mixture in another quart freezer bag, and broke the ramen noodles into 4ths in a gallon freezer bag and put the other 2 bags inside…oh and don’t forget the snack size baggie of the hoison mixture. I cannot wait to eat this! btw… I have made MANY of your recipes into freezer meals. I am not brave enough to blog, but I have my own sort of blog on a Facebook wall called Beth’s Favorite Freezer Recipes. Feel free to join me there and see your name in lights. I brag about you constantly. Oh…and I grilled my chicken in sub-zero temps with 7 inches of snow on my grill with no coat or gloves…not my brightest move, but I really, really prefer grilled chicken!

  10. Marci says:

    How is this dish usually spiced up? I like things spicey! Also, is it as good the next day or better served immediately?

    • Mel says:

      Marci – you could add more red pepper flakes for more spiciness. I love the leftovers – the peanuts get a little weird in the refrigerator, but other than that, it’s great.

  11. Michelle says:

    I made this last week and I loved it. My husband and most of my kids did too- it was easy for the 2 year old to eat with a little fork, which is always a plus. I loved the simple flavors and might add more veggies next time. We had Sriracha sauce on the table to add to individual servings, and it was very good that way! (I omitted the red pepper flakes for the kids, so my bowl needed a little something.)

  12. Jamie says:

    We had this twice this week. The kids were not too impressed–I was not surprised– but my husband and I loved it. The second time I added a bunch of vegetables with the red peppers. I also added chili garlic sauce instead of the red pepper flakes for the spice. So good and easy! Definitely a keeper.

  13. […] KUNG PAO CHICKEN RAMEN BOWLS (adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe) […]

  14. Amanda says:

    I LOooove this recipe! I was referred to your site via this recipe, and it has since become a family favorite. We love vegetables, so use whatever veggies we have on hand – our favorite add-ins are carrots, celery, onion, a jalapeno and a touch of cabbage. We had never branched into making asian cuisine before, but since this is such a hit we’re trying all sorts of food! Thank you!

  15. Jenny says:

    I’m shocked at how amazing this is for how simple the ingredients are. My boyfriend and I practically fought over the leftovers…lol! We like spice so we did a tablespoon of red pepper (lots of heat) double the garlic and double the sauce. This is a keeper!

  16. Melanie says:

    Why have I never thought to use kitchen shears to cut up my kids’ noodles. Brilliant! Giving this recipe a try tonight.

  17. stephanie says:

    This has become a go-to meal for both my family and my sister’s (who initially introduced me to your site). Anytime red peppers are on sale, it’s on our menu. I thought to share it now because I’m at my sister’s house and she’s making it for us (and a third sister just showed up and we’re telling her and her husband that they HAVE to try it). The funny thing about the recipe, though, is the long name. It’s a running joke between my husband and I that we never know the name of the recipe and so far today we’ve called it, “Kicked up a notch ramen,” “Kung Fu Ramen,” and then joked about calling it, “Kung Fu Panda Express.”

    I thought I’d share, in case you found it enjoyable to hear.

    A lot of people comment that your site is a favorite, and I have to say it’s the same for me. I’m so glad I can rely on your taste, your ingredients and your methods. It’s also fun that it’s the same for my sister’s house… weekly the two of us are talking about a recipe on your site.

    I realize this comment is useless for those people looking for helpful tips, substitutions, etc – which is why I read comments religiously. However, this probably won’t be the last “love comment” from me!

  18. Deb says:

    These were great and really simple to prepare. I doubled the kung pao sauce because it had great flavor and I also added carrots and broccoli along with the red pepper. YUM!

  19. Lisa says:

    Very creative way to cook a ramen noodle!
    Making me hungry~

  20. Nathalie says:

    Made this recipe for my family and a friend last night and we all enjoyed it! I did cooke the noodles a bit too long (my fault) since I was runnning after the boys, but even that didn’t lessen this dish, will def. make again and make sure I don’t overcook noodles next time! 🙂

  21. celia says:

    This was great inspiration for our dinner tonight. Grilled Asian pork chops with sauteed cabbage, red pepper, carrots, and green onions with the ramen, garlic and ginger. I also added sesame oil to mine and my husband’s. Thanks!

  22. juliann says:

    Made these last night, and I am trying not to eat the leftovers for breakfast. They were SO EASY and holy cow delicious. My kids turned up their noses but then when my husband got home from work, she started to get curious and she ended up begging for more and more noodles. Next time I know to just give her a bowl and not listen to a 2 1/2 year old. Loved the one skillet and quick clean up. This is going in my rotation for sure.

  23. Cinda says:

    Made this for the missionaries–they inhaled it and there are no leftovers. What did I expect? Haha!

  24. Stephanie says:

    I just made this for dinner, and it was awesome! There was just enough left over for me to have for lunch tomorrow, but I want to go eat it now! I will definitely be making this again. Thanks!

  25. AnnetteBrunette says:

    Mel, These look really good, can’t wait to give them a go. You should check out Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food cookbook, there are loads of simple, healthy really good noodle recipes.

  26. Shanna says:

    My husband and I used to be big Ramen Noodle eaters before the kids were born and I still like to sneak a package in every once in a while for nostalgic reasons, but it’s so nasty!! LOL 🙂 This was SO good, perfect for bringing back those memories without all the junk in the packet. Thank you!

  27. Smirking says:

    I made this tonight and it was fantastic! Thanks for the recipe. I especially enjoy learning how to use the Asian flavors better since I have very limited experience with them. Yum!

  28. Elise R. says:

    Confession: I regularly forget to make my husband a lunch, so he ends up eating ramen noodles ALL the time. This gives me fresh motivation, both to try and make ramen more exciting, and to actually give him some variety during the week 😛

  29. Connie says:

    What a delicious and easy recipe. I made this last night and my family loved it and I especially loved it. Thanks for such wonderful recipes and a great blog.

  30. Kristen says:

    Thanks for the great recipe! I made this for dinner the other night and EVERYONE loved it…even asked if I could make it again sometime soon! Thanks!

  31. Stephanie says:

    So delish! My husband and I LOVED it. The kids, well it took us a while to get them to eat what was in their bowl. They usually love ramen, but that’s the regular, super salty and so bad for you, way.
    This will be showing up at our table vmore often.

  32. lacey says:

    Super good, had it for dinner last night and LOVEd it. I loved being able to throw out the seasoning packet!!

  33. xiuxiu says:

    my fam eats ramen a lot of time for breakfast, snacks, etc 😛
    One way to make it healthier is to boil the ramen in separately from the soup. So boil the ramen, wash it, then put it into the broth soup.

  34. Kandi V says:

    YEAH! Now I can add Ramen noodles to my food storage without feeling guilty~ 🙂

  35. Sylvia says:

    Tried this tonight and YUM! Great job making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear!! {Now if only I could convince my 5 year-old!} Thanks!! We loved this one!

  36. jackie says:

    i will be making this, and i will use a rotissere chicken, cause i am lazy like that 🙂

  37. The Other Mel says:

    I was introduced to your blog by a friend about a month ago, and I can’t stop stalking your blog! I love, love it! This recipe is just like one I make, only I also add snow peas or sugar snap peas, which gives ya your veggies, and more color too! Thanks for all of the great work, Mel!

  38. I love it! And I love Ramen. I know it is terrible, but sometimes I still just get a craving for it. My 2 year old is a Ramen addict (I am ashamed to admit). But I whole heartedly blame this on my husband who never fails to feed it to him on my work days (unless he is making mac and cheese instead -haha). I better introduce us all to this new improved and healthier version of the noodles we all love. Thanks for the fun recipe! PS I am posting your quinoa salad tomorrow on The Sisters Cafe. Ah, I love that recipe. Thanks yet again. 🙂

  39. Stacie Aho says:

    My hubby makes something like this, but calls it “Ramen Surprise”. He usually adds whatever is in the fridge- eggs, green onions, peppers, cilantro, etc. I can’t wait to try a “real” recipe. Although, sometimes the joy of Ramen is it’s simplicity. The noodles are so heavenly. 🙂

  40. Jun says:

    We love ramen too! But this is a fresh twist, we might be eating them this way from hereon.

  41. Ursala T. says:

    Husband and son are ramen fanatics…will be adding this recipe to this month’s dinner calendar – they will be stoked!

  42. Allison says:

    Ramen was pretty much the only thing I ate in college…that and the japanese version yakisoba (ummm….so good and yet so bad). Do you think your version would be good with tofu instead of chicken? Sometimes if the sauce isn’t strong enough adding tofu just seems to make it blander.

    • Mel says:

      Allison – unfortunately, I’m not a tofu connoisseur, but I think it’s always worth a try. The sauce could be amped up a bit by adding more hoisin sauce or rice vinegar.

  43. Ashley says:

    These look so yummy I cant wait to try them.

    my food blog
    Check it out 🙂

  44. jaesi says:

    mmm love us some ramen. My kids eat it crunchy. way. too. often.

  45. Stephanie says:

    Just made this for dinner and it was amazing!!! A great combination of ingredients and it was done in about 30 minutes. Thanks for the fantastic recipe!

  46. blogbytina! says:

    I feel ya on those lil packets! Filled with MSG and SALT for days. I will have to try out your healthier version 🙂

  47. [email protected] says:

    I want to eat this right now:) My husband loves Ramen but I’m always grossed out by the seasoning packet so I am going to try this soon.

  48. Kim in MD says:

    This looks delicious, Melanie! I TOTALLY agree with you about the seasoning packet in ramen noodles…yuck! Your recipe looks tasty and healthy- a must try recipe for sure! 🙂

  49. Erica says:

    You can buy “fresh” ramen noodles if your store has a Japanese section. (Well – here in the states – they are usually frozen but they aren’t the block of parcooked, dried, noodles on the shelf.) They are SOOOO much better than the dried stuff. I lived in Japan for a while and I can’t stand the dried/block noodles any more. You should look for them. I bet they will be awesome in this recipe.

    • Trish says:

      I found fresh ramen in the refrigerated section at my local Asian grocery store. We’re trying this recipe tonight!

  50. Norah B says:

    This looks great and given the fact I have about 5 cases of ramen noodles a great way to start to use them up. I can’t for the life of me eat with chopsticks but my kids figured it out at age two and prefer to eat with chopsticks rather than forks. Give my kids a fork it’s a mess waiting to be made, give them chopsticks and most food makes it to their mouths.

  51. Who doesn’t love Ramen?!? I survived on it in my early 20’s when I was a struggling college kid! Even to this day I get cravings for it! LOL! Can’t wait to try this kicked up (and healthier) version!

  52. nicole says:

    great idea I must try it soon!

  53. Liz K. says:

    Love this!

  54. Corinna says:

    This is brilliant Mel, simply brilliant. We love ramen, but like you, I think the packet is ew!
    Thanks so much for this recipe.

  55. StephenC says:

    I adore ramen noodles and I, too, throw away the flavoring packets. They are convenient and cheap. Nice work.

  56. Alicia says:

    Ooooh! That looks and sounds great! Excited to try it!

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