Instant Thai Inspired Noodles

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Total Cost: $3.61/Bowl
Restaurant Price of Comparable Dish: $10 – $15
Fast-Food Soup Price (Panera Bowl of Soup) Avg. Price: $6.59 

Thai food wasn’t a thing in Northern Connecticut when I was growing up. When I was a kid, we were surrounded by Red Lobsters, Chilis, Olive Gardens, and the occasional Chi-Chi’s.

Sushi (when we finally got our first restaurant in the late 90s) was considered exotic, something that only rich people and hippies ate.

Now, Thai is as ubiquitous as any international cuisine. Possibly even more so than our beloved ramen and sushi restaurants. And while I wasn’t getting my fill (or rather any) Thai food in rural New England, it doesn’t mean that this food wasn’t gaining traction in other areas of the country.

According to Mark Padoongpatt, author of Flavors of Empire: Food and the Making of Thai America, Thai food first came to the U.S. during the Cold War, brought back from Thailand by the military and Peace Corps volunteers. 

In the 1970s, Thai students start flocking to the U.S., specifically, California, Illinois, Montana, Michigan, Texas, and Washington, D.C. They opened up Thai restaurants, originally for other Thai students, but then later to appeal to locals, too.

Eventually, the Thai government started programs to teach its citizens how to cook Thai food for Americans, specifically so that they can move to the U.S., open restaurants, and share Thai culture with the rest of the world.

Eventually, the Thai government started programs to teach its citizens how to cook Thai food for Americans, specifically so that they can move to the U.S., open restaurants, and share Thai culture with the rest of the world.

I moved to Seattle in the Summer of 2003, and in that year, I got my first introduction to Thai food at a restaurant called Thaiku. I had no idea what to order because I had never heard of any of the dishes on the menu before. 

So, I ordered the Khao Soi because it had curry in it, and curry was the only ingredient I recognized.

To this day, Khao Soi is one of my favorite Thai dishes. And Thaiku’s Khao Soi is still my favorite. That day I slurped up every spoonful of that rich, buttery, sauce and ate every last shrimp. 

The nest of fried noodles floating on top was the only thing slowing me down (though it didn’t deter me from finishing the whole bowl).

This recipe isn’t Khao Soi. To say that it were would be a bit reductive and a massive insult to Thai restaurants everywhere.

But if you’re hungry for curry, need a quick lunch, and don’t want to skimp on flavor, these instant Thai-inspired curry noodles will do the trick.

Instant Thai-Inspired Noodles Ingredients

Thai Noodles Ingredients

Instant Ramen

I use instant ramen because it’s — well, instant. Just add boiling water, cover, and wait a few minutes. No pot required. If you want to save money (or switch it up from ramen for a sec) and use other types of noodles, you can always make these in a saucepan.

I broke down at Whole Foods the other day and purchased a package of Mike’s Mighty Good Fried Garlic Chicken Ramen Soup for $2. This is way more than I would normally spend on ramen, but I got an extra $0.20 off because I used my Prime card. 

$1.80 was still way more than I would normally spend on ramen. The package looked big, and I thought I could squeeze two servings out of it. 

I could not. 

But it was really ‘effen good. Spending $1.80 on the noodles and seasoning package bumped the serving price of this up a little higher, but I’d do it a hundred times over. 

Coconut Milk

If you add full-fat canned coconut milk, to anything, it will probably taste better. That’s a scientific fact. If you don’t agree with me, you can fight me on it. 

Shake the can really good to make sure the fat distributes throughout the coconut milk. I probably added about two tablespoons to my soup, but you can add to taste.

Got leftover coconut milk? Me too. Make Key Lime Pie Martinis, Coconut Yogurt, or substitute for milk in your coffee or other recipes for a vegan alternative to dairy. 


I used red curry, but you could use any curry paste you have hangin’ around!


You can use whatever protein you want in your soup (or omit it altogether if that’s your thang). I like shrimp because you can buy it precooked and minimize cooking in the kitchen. Other Food Boosts could include:

  • Tofu
  • Chicken
  • Firm, white fish
  • Sliced portobello mushrooms
  • Leftover flank steak

Instant Thai Inspired Noodles Ingredients


The condiments I used are not traditional ones used in Khao Soi, but they’ll get you to where you want to be (eating flavorful soup). I added regular basil because I couldn’t get Thai basil. 

I also love cilantro, so I threw in a handful of that (especially since cilantro goes so well with curry). 

Since coconut milk and curry are so rich (especially when combined with that seasoning packet I threw in), I wanted some acidity to balance out the flavors. I chose Pickled Onions because they turn the broth a pretty pink and add some color to the soup, too. I also added a squirt of lime juice.

I also add a few sliced jalapenos because I’m a fiend for spice.

Normally, Khao Soi would be topped with fried noodles, but I really don’t have time for cooking noodles — and then frying them. I’m really lazy. So, I opted for crispy wontons, instead. (Not pictured. Because I messed up. And forgot to take a photo of the crispy wontons.)

You can buy crispy wontons in the salad aisle of your grocery store (or at Target). Or, just buy a package of wonton wrappers, slice them up, throw them on a sheet pan, spray with cooking spray, and bake at 400 F. for about 5 minutes. 

Don’t add these to your mason jar until the very end (after your noodles are cooked), or they’ll get soggy. 

If you’re wondering, yes I know this from experience. 

Instant Thai-Inspired Curry Coconut Noodles Recipe

Prep Time: 10 min.

Instant Thai Noodles Mason Jar
  • Instant ramen (with seasoning packet)

  • Coconut milk (full-fat)

  • Curry paste

  • Garlic chili sauce

  • Cooked shrimp (I used three)

  • Basil

  • Cilantro

  • Sliced jalapenos 
  • Pickled onions

  • Crispy wontons

Prep Steps

There is no prep in this recipe! Simply add your ingredients to your glass jar, and add hot water five minutes before lunch and condiments just before you eat!

  1. Place instant ramen noodles and empty seasoning packet in a mason jar (or any glass jar with a tight lid).
  2. Add a few tablespoons of coconut milk.
  3. Add a spoonful of curry.
  4. Add a spoonful of spicy garlic chili (if you want it a little spicy!).
  5. Top with cooked shrimp, basil, and pickled onions.

You can these ahead, close the jar, and keep in the fridge until you’re ready to eat. When it’s lunchtime, fill the mason jar to the neck with boiling water. Screw the lid on tight, and let the instant noodles sit for the recommended time per the package’s instructions (or until the noodles are tender).

Top with:

  • More pickled onions
  • More basil
  • Cilantro
  • Sliced jalapenos 
  • Crispy wontons
Make Ahead

Pickled Red Onions

Crispy Wontons or Noodles 

Products Mentioned in This Post

Salt Fat Acid Heat

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Soy Sauce

Shoyu Artisan Soy Sauce


Zoe Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Spice Store

Spice Blends

Porcini Powder

Porcini Powder

Sea Salt

Finishing Salt

Salt Sugar Fat

Salt Sugar Fat

White Balsamic

Balsamic Glaze


Hey, hay! Guess what, guys? I’m not a nutritionist, nor am I a doctor. Even worse, I’ve never even played one on TV. Please check with your doctor or nutritionist before switching up any diet. Most of my recipes/recommendations include known allergens. If you have an allergy or food insensitivity, please don’t use those ingredients in your cooking.