What’s for lunch? With summer vacation behind us (sigh . . .) it’s time to settle into fall routines. These DIY noodle cups are going to rock your re-entry to school and work.
Homemade Noodle Cups Make Lunch Easy!
I eat pretty much the same thing for breakfast every morning with few variations and I don’t mind that. Lunch is another story altogether.
If I’m clever enough to plan ahead, I might just have enough leftovers from last night’s dinner to take for lunch, but believe it or not, meals in our house are often last minute throw-together affairs and the leftover options are often pretty thin. The view inside my fridge is, well, not very inspiring.
But wait! There’s a jar of something in there, after all. It says "Just add (hot) water"! Yes, it's a homemade noodle cup I cleverly made at the beginning of the week!
Now that’s a lunch I can get excited about. I love to make multiple jars—sometimes all the same, and sometimes each with a different base and flavoring.
Why Make Your Own Cup of Noodles?
Whether you are working at home or taking lunch to work or school (because wouldn’t it be nice to save a few pennies and eat something healthy and delicious?), these homemade noodle cups should be on your meal rotation list.
Sure, you can buy the packages of ramen, but don’t do it! Those packets are loaded with preservatives and salt -- these homemade cups are easy and much more delicious.
They're are not just for lunch, either. At the end of a particularly tiring day, I love to grab a jar and put the kettle on for dinner, and forgo the original meal plan. Feet up! Slurp, slurp!
How to Make Homemade Cup of Noodles
How easy is it to make these noodle cups at home? This easy!
- Start with a glass pint jar, like those use for canning, and place your broth base on the bottom.
- Layer in some tasty, spicy seasonings.
- Add some cooked vegetables and some form of protein, if you like—leftover chicken, beef, or pork are great here.
- Add the cooked noodles.
- Put some fresh greens, scallions or herbs on top. Wrap fresh herbs in a piece of plastic wrap to keep them fresh. (You will remove it when you pour in the water and then add it to the soup when it is hot.)
- Slap a top on the jar and refrigerate it for three to five days.
When you’re ready, just add boiling water and stir!
The Ingredients for Making Homemade Noodle Cups
Here are some ideas for the different elements in your noodle cups—the broth base, the protein, the vegetables, the noodles, and the seasonings and garnishes. Use the recipe below as a base, and then use these ideas to vary it to your taste.
There are probably tons more ideas, too; these are just suggestions—scavenge your leftovers and save little special tidbits for your soup. You can see that there are so many variations it will be hard to decide, but that means you don’t have to eat the same thing every day!
Remember that that adding boiling water won’t actually cook anything, so proteins, large chunks of vegetables (such as green beans or sweet potatoes), and all but a few types of noodles need to be cooked before going in your cup.
The Broth Base
Be choosy and read the labels to avoid MSG or other potentially undesirable ingredients.
- Reduced sodium vegetable, chicken, or beef bouillon paste
- White, yellow or red miso paste
- Red curry paste
- Unsweetened coconut milk
There’s lots to choose from here, or you can leave them out for a plain vegetable noodle soup.
- Tofu cubes
- Shredded cooked chicken, pork, or beef
- Halved hard-boiled eggs
- Cooked shrimp
There are so many different kinds of noodles to choose from at most supermarkets! If you're using cooked noodles, make sure they have cooled before assembling your cups. (You can cool them quickly under running water.)
- Cooked (preservative-free) ramen noodles
- Cooked buckwheat soba
- Cooked spaghetti and other leftover plain cooked pastas
- Cooked rice noodles
- Cooked egg noodles
- Uncooked thin rice vermicelli (Note: this is the only type of pasta that will cook with just boiling water and that doesn't need to be pre-cooked)
Instant noodle cups are where odds and ends find a home.
- Shredded carrots
- Sliced shiitake, white, or cremini mushrooms
- Spiralized zucchini or squash
- Sliced scallions
- Baby spinach
- Sliced snow peas
- Shredded Napa cabbage
- Frozen peas and corn
The Seasonings and Garnishes
Everybody needs some spice in their life, even if it’s just soup.
- Chile-garlic sauce
- Grated fresh ginger
- Grated garlic
- Sesame seeds
- Unseasoned rice vinegar
- Hoisin sauce
- Fish sauce
- Fresh herbs like cilantro, Thai basil, or mint leaves
- Lime wedges
Make as Many (or as Few) Cup of Noodles as You Like!
You can make as many or few cups as you wish. I give you two of my favorite variations below—but feel free to improvise. Each recipe makes enough for one 2-cup serving, but you can make multiply the ingredients to make multiple servings or to make larger servings in larger jars if you wish.
More Asian Noodle Recipes to Try!
- Vietnamese-Style Noodle Bowls with Chicken
- Soba Noodle Bowls with Spinach and Poached Egg
- Sesame Noodle Salad
- Soba Noodle Soup with Chicken and Bok Choy
- Singapore Noodles with Shrimp
Homemade Cup Noodles
- For Noodle Cups with Chicken in a Spicy Broth:
- 2 teaspoons low-sodium chicken bouillon paste (such as Better Than Bouillon)
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons sweet Thai chili sauce
- 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon chili garlic paste
- 1/3 cup shredded chicken
- 1/2 cup shredded Napa cabbage
- 1 cup cooked brown rice ramen noodles
- 1 tablespoon thinly sliced scallions
- 1/4 cup herb leaves such as mint, cilantro, or Thai basil
- Very hot or boiling water
- For Noodle Cups with Miso and Tofu:
- 2 teaspoons white miso paste
- 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1/4 teaspoon Sriracha
- 1/2 cup (1/2-inch) cubes firm tofu
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced snow peas
- 1 cup uncooked thin rice vermicelli
- Small handful spinach leaves
- 1 tablespoon finely sliced scallions
- Very hot or boiling water
Layer the ingredients into the jar:
For making either of the versions here, layer the ingredients into the jar in the order listed: paste and seasoning ingredients, followed by the protein, vegetables, noodles, and scallions (and the spinach leaves, for the Miso and Tofu Noodle Cups).
If you're making the Chicken in Spicy Broth, wrap the herbs in plastic wrap to make an airtight package. Place on top of the other ingredients.
Close the jar with a lid and refrigerate for up to 4 days
When you're ready to eat, heat the soup:
Remove the herb package from the Chicken with Spicy Broth. Pour enough boiling water over the ingredients to come to the top of the jar. Cover with the lid and let steep for 4 to 5 minutes. (If you're making Noodles Cups with Tofu and Miso, the noodles should be soft and no longer crunchy; steep for longer if needed.)
Remove the lid and stir the contents with chopsticks or a fork to distribute the flavorings. Transfer to a bowl and top with the fresh herbs.