How To: The Secret to Quick & Easy Italian Dinners Is Instant Ramen

The Secret to Quick & Easy Italian Dinners Is Instant Ramen

Instant ramen makes me nostalgic for my college days, when a bowl of this cheap noodle soup was my go-to comfort food for many all-nighters.

I always opted for using the provided seasoning back then, but it turns out there are many ways to transform this dish from college dorm food to an actual meal. One way I'm particularly fond of is to dress it up as a hearty Italian pasta. Yes, you heard me right—Italian pasta!

And not just one kind of pasta dish. Read on to discover how to morph the lowly ramen noodles into five different, but equally delicious, classic Italian pasta dishes. Buon appetito!

Cacio E Pepe

This recipe comes courtesy of the famous David Chang of Momofuku fame, via Lucky Peach. He wanted to "simplify the beauty" of this famous pasta dish, rather than complicate it. I'd say that using instant noodles is a pretty good way of achieving that.

Note that instead of cooking the noodles first, they're added after the sauce has been created. This allows for further absorption of sauce flavor, and makes this a completely different dish—not just a pale imitation of regular pasta.

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 2 cups water
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • black pepper
  • 2 cups grated Pecorino Romano
  • 2 packages instant ramen (put aside the seasoning packets for another day)


  1. Combine the water, butter, oil, and a generous sprinkling of fresh black pepper in a pot over medium heat, then bring the mixture to a boil.
  2. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer, then stir the cheese into the pot. Add the noodle bricks and stir continuously so the cheese avoids clumping.
  3. Agitate the noodles or use a spoon to cover them with the liquid until the bricks start to come apart; stir constantly once separation occurs. If the mixture looks overly watery, feel free to pour some liquid out (the amount of absorption depends on the noodles).
  4. After 3½-4 minutes, most of the liquid should be gone and the noodles should be loose, rehydrated, and look glossy with cheesy deliciousness.
  5. Split the noodles between two bowls. Grind more black pepper and add a bit more cheese if desired.
  6. Enjoy!
Image by Julia Kitlinski-Hong/Food Hacks Daily

To make other versions of popular Italian pasta dishes, make the pasta as you would with the cacio e pepe, but without adding the cheese. Cook them to your preferred level, whether it is shorter for al dente or longer for a softer noodle.

Garlic & Oil

For another flavorful, yet simple pasta dish, try this garlic and olive oil sauce recipe.



  1. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the garlic and sauté until it is fragrant and light brown.
  3. Remove and discard the browned garlic.
  4. Add the red pepper flakes (if desired) and sauté for a minute.
  5. Slowly add a bit of water you used to boil the ramen and stir to combine.
  6. Place the ramen noodles into the pan and mix well, until the oil is well-distributed.
  7. Serve immediately.
Image by Julia Kitlinski-Hong/Food Hacks Daily

Marinara Sauce

Add this classic tomato sauce to your ramen, pour yourself a glass of red wine, and voilà—a delicious dinner with minimal effort!

You can either make a homemade version (courtesy of the Pioneer Woman) or buy sauce at the store and hack it to taste more homemade.

Image by Julia Kitlinski-Hong/Food Hacks Daily

Pesto Sauce

If you prefer a fresher, more herb-centric sauce, then make a homemade pesto sauce—whether it's traditional or customized.

Image by Julia Kitlinski-Hong/Food Hacks Daily

Alfredo Sauce

For those craving creamy pasta, this Alfredo sauce is easy to make and not short on the cheesy goodness.


  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 clove garlic (crushed)
  • 1½ cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 package ramen noodles, cooked per package's directions


  1. Melt butter in a medium pan over medium low heat.
  2. Add cream and let it simmer for 5 minutes, then add garlic and cheese and whisk quickly, heating throughout.
  3. Add to your cooked ramen noodles.
  4. Top with parsley and serve.
Image by Julia Kitlinski-Hong/Food Hacks Daily

Now that you know you can substitute ramen noodles for pasta, the possibilities are endless. (Don't worry—those flavor packets can be reused, too. Waste not, want not!)

What types of sauces would you pair with ramen noodles? Let us know in the comments below.

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DISCLAIMER: this thing is not even far a Italian dinner. In the proper way you can cook a REAL Italian pasta dinner in 15 minutes.

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