Ramen vs Udon: Differences Explained


Japanese cuisine, renowned for its artistic presentation and delicate flavors, has gained worldwide popularity. Among the many delectable dishes in Japanese cuisine, two noodle dishes stand out – Ramen vs Udon. While both are comforting bowls of warmth and delight, they are distinct in their own ways. Let’s delve into the fascinating world of Ramen and Udon, exploring their differences, the unique traits that make them special, and their health benefits.

Ramen vs Udon differ in size, texture, and flavor profile. Ramen noodles are thin, firm, and often served in a rich, meaty broth. Udon noodles are thicker, softer, and typically served in a light, soy-based broth or stir-fry. The choice between Ramen and Udon depends on personal preference for noodle thickness and broth type.

udon vs ramen

Main Differences Between Ramen and Udon

Below you will find some of the main differences I am aware of related to udon and ramen.

Origin and HistoryOriginated in China, popularized in Japan in the late 19th centuryOf Japanese origin, enjoyed for centuries in Japan
Noodle TypeThin, wheat-based noodlesThick, wheat-based noodles
TextureFirm and springySoft and chewy
Cooking TimeQuick and easy to cookLonger cooking time required
Broth VarietyTonkotsu (pork bone), shoyu (soy sauce), miso (fermented soybean), shio (salt), and moreTypically lighter and milder broth
Seasonal PreferenceOften associated with colder weatherEnjoyed year-round as a comfort food
ServingServed in large bowls with broth and various toppingsCan be served in large bowls with soup or in smaller dishes with dipping sauce
CustomizabilityHighly customizable, offering various broth, toppings, and noodle thickness optionsMay have fewer variations, but still allows for different toppings
Nutritional AspectNutritional content can vary based on broth and toppings chosenSimpler and lighter broth may result in a more straightforward nutritional profile
How They Are MadeMade from wheat flour, water, salt, and kansui (alkaline mineral water)Made from wheat flour, water, and sometimes a small amount of salt
How to Eat ThemSlurp the noodles with the broth and toppings in one bowlCan be enjoyed by dipping the noodles into a separate sauce or adding them to a bowl of hot broth
Texture ExperienceOffers a delightful and satisfying chewProvides a hearty and comforting bite
Popular ToppingsChashu (pork belly), soft-boiled egg, seaweed, green onions, and moreTempura, green onions, kamaboko (fish cake), and more
Cultural SignificanceIconic dish in Japanese cuisine, known for regional variationsA traditional part of Japanese food culture
Flavor ProfileDiverse flavors ranging from rich and savory to light and refreshingOften features the natural taste of the noodles and simple broth

Ramen and Udon may appear similar at first glance but are strikingly different when you look closer. The most apparent difference lies in their noodles — ramen noodles are thin and firm while udon noodles are thick and chewy.

Broths for both dishes also differ significantly. Ramen broth is rich and meaty compared to Udon’s light soy-based broth. Moreover, Ramen broths often contain tare (a concentrated flavoring sauce), while Udon broths do not.

The toppings also vary substantially — Ramen often includes meat and many other ingredients while Udon traditionally comes with minimal toppings.

Lastly, while both dishes can be served hot or cold, Ramen is typically served hot with its broth while cold Udon comes with a separate dipping sauce.

See Also: Nigiri vs Sashimi: What’s the Difference?

What is Ramen?

Ramen, a symbol of Japanese culinary culture, originated in China and was introduced to Japan in the late 19th century. It’s a dish that consists primarily of wheat noodles served in a savory broth, often flavored with soy sauce or miso, and includes toppings like sliced pork, green onions, and seaweed.

What does Ramen taste like?

Ramen noodles have a firm texture and are slightly elastic. The flavor of ramen mainly comes from the broth, which can range from salty and soy-based to rich and pork-based. The toppings add additional flavors and textures.

How do I make Ramen?

To make Ramen, you will need:

  • Ramen noodles4 cups chicken broth1 clove garlic, minced1 tbsp soy sauce1 tbsp mirinToppings: sliced pork, boiled egg, green onions, nori


  1. In a pot, bring the chicken broth and garlic to a boil. Reduce heat and stir in soy sauce and mirin.
  2. Cook the ramen noodles according to the package instructions.
  3. Serve the cooked noodles in the broth and add your preferred toppings.

What is Udon?

Udon, another iconic Japanese noodle dish, dates back to the 9th century. These noodles are thick, chewy, made from wheat flour, water, and salt. They’re served either in a hot soy-based broth or chilled with a dipping sauce on the side.

Udon holds a special place in Japanese culture. It’s often eaten at home or in noodle shops across Japan. Just like Ramen, Udon has been embraced by different cultures around the world and adapted to suit local tastes.

Making udon involves kneading dough, rolling it out to the desired thickness, and then cutting it into broad, flat noodles. The flavor profile of udon is very subtle — the noodles themselves are mild and slightly sweet, while the broth is light yet deeply comforting.

What does Udon taste like?

Udon noodles have a mild flavor with a springy, doughy texture, which is excellent for soaking up the flavors of the broth or sauce it’s served with. The broth or sauce in udon dishes is usually made from soy sauce, mirin, and dashi, adding a salty, umami flavor.

How do I make Udon?

To make Udon, you will need:

  1. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add water and mix to form a dough.
  2. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.
  3. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest for 2 hours.
  4. After resting, roll out the dough and cut it into thick noodles.

Popular Ramen and Udon Dishes

From the vast array of Ramen dishes, some popular ones include Shoyu Ramen (soy sauce-based) and Tonkotsu Ramen (pork bone broth). In contrast, Kitsune Udon (with sweetened tofu) and Tempura Udon (with fried shrimp or vegetables) are well-loved Udon dishes.

Health Considerations: Ramen vs Udon

Nutritionally speaking, both Ramen and Udon have their merits. Udon is lower in calories but higher in carbohydrates, while Ramen has more protein due to its meat-based broth and toppings. However, both can be part of a balanced diet when enjoyed in moderation.

While they bring warmth to your soul, be mindful of their sodium content as both dishes can be high in salt due to their broths.

See Also: Wagamama Ramen Recipe


Though both Ramen and Udon hail from Japan’s culinary paradise, they differ remarkably in terms of their noodles’ texture, broth preparation methods, toppings used, and serving style. So foodies out there — it’s time to venture out and taste these unique noodle soups! You might just find a new favorite.

You might also like our list of our traditional Japanese recipes and also if you’re feeling up for it, this Kylie Jenner ramen noodle recipe or even this Yaki Udon dish.


Is udon just thick ramen?

No, Udon is not just thick Ramen. Udon noodles are thicker, chewier, and made from wheat flour, water, and salt, whereas Ramen noodles are thinner, firmer, and often contain kansui, an alkaline water. The broths for each dish also differ, with Ramen typically featuring a rich, meaty broth and Udon having a lighter, soy-based broth. Their toppings, preparation methods, and serving styles also vary.

What is the difference between ramen and udon and soba noodles?

Ramen, Udon, and Soba differ in terms of ingredients and uses. Ramen noodles are thin, wheat-based, and have a distinct yellow color due to the use of alkaline salts, usually served in broths. Udon noodles, also made from wheat, are thicker, chewier, and more versatile, often found in soups and stir-fries. On the other hand, Soba noodles are made from buckwheat flour, boasting a darker color and a nuttier flavor, typically served either chilled with a dipping sauce or in hot soups.

Is Udon Healthier than Ramen?

Whether Udon is healthier than Ramen can depend on specific dietary needs. Udon is typically lower in calories but higher in carbohydrates. Ramen, especially when served with meat-based broth and toppings, tends to have more protein. However, both dishes can be high in sodium due to their broths. Both can be part of a balanced diet when enjoyed in moderation, depending on individual dietary requirements and lifestyle.

Does Ramen taste Fishy?

No, ramen noodles themselves do not have a fishy taste. They are made from wheat flour, water, and alkaline salts, and their flavor is generally mild and neutral. However, the broth that ramen is often served in can have a fishy flavor if it includes ingredients like fish sauce, dried fish, or seaweed. The taste of the final dish will depend largely on the ingredients used in the broth.

What is the thicker ramen called?

The thicker variation of ramen noodles is commonly referred to as Tsukemen. In a Tsukemen dish, the noodles are served separately from the broth and are typically denser and chewier. The noodles are dipped into the broth before eating. The broth for Tsukemen is also usually thicker and more concentrated than traditional ramen broth.

Ramen vs Udon: Differences Explained

5 from 2 votes
Recipe by Laura Ritterman


  • Udon Noodles

  • Ramen Noodles


  • Pick your favorite recipe
  • Select your preference between udon vs ramen
  • Serve up and enjoy

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