Make a delicious meal of chow mein in no time with this easy and quick classic Chinese stir-fry dish recipe. Whether you are an experienced chef or just getting started, this recipe is sure to please everyone in the family. Get ready to savor the taste of a Chinese favorite dish with this simple step-by-step guide.
Whether you’re a beginner in the kitchen looking for a delicious meal to make for the family or a more experienced cook looking for a new drill, this recipe is for you. We’ll give you all the tips you need to make a delicious chow mein recipe at home. We’ll share the core ingredients of chow mein, how to make a restaurant-style version, and how to change up the flavors and ingredients to make it your own.
This recipe has been on my blog since 2013. It has been updated here with new photos and information for a better user experience. It’s one of my favorite easy recipes to make for dinner, and I always have the ingredients on hand. So, I think it’s a great recipe for my readers to keep in their back pocket as well.
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Please let me know if you have any questions about this recipe. I read all the comments myself and I try to help as soon as I can. I have readers from all levels of comfort and experience in the kitchen on my site, and I’ve tried to answer some of your questions already in the post. But if I’ve missed anything, please feel free to leave a comment and ask.
Getting to know this noodle dish!
Chow mein is an American-Chinese stir-fried dish consisting of noodles and vegetables. Proteins like chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, or tofu can also be added.
The recipe I’m sharing here is naturally vegan and can easily be gluten-free.
Chow mein is a noodle dish typically made with egg noodles.
What is chow mein sauce made of?
In this recipe, the sauce is made with common pantry ingredients like soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, and garlic. There are lots of veggies, including celery, onions, cabbage, and green peas. And, of course we have noodles, oodles of noodles!
Different kinds of noodle dishes
I see many people asking about the different noodle dishes of chow mein, chop suey, lo mein, and yakisoba. So, I thought I’d give some basic descriptions here.
- Chow mein: a Chinese dish made from egg noodles that are cooked and then stir-fried with vegetables and sometimes meat. The sauce for chow mein is lightly applied, and does not overshadow or weigh down the noodles. The noodles are the star of the dish, and the vegetables and proteins are kept to a minimum.
- Lo mein: another Chinese noodle dish, but these noodles are served in much more sauce and have more veggies and proteins than chow mein.
- Chop suey: also a Chinese-American stir-fry dish, chop suey is an American creation using Chinese techniques, and is designed to use up whatever ingredients you have in your kitchen. Chop suey is typically served over rice rather than being a noodle dish.
- Yakisoba: a Japanese stir fried noodle dish usually made with soba noodles which are made from buckwheat, with added vegetables and proteins.
- Ramen: Chinese noodles with vegetables and protein served in a rich broth, much like a big soup dish.
What kind of noodles are best?
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This recipe is designed for non-crispy chow mein noodles rather than the crispy ones. Crispy chow mein noodles are typically served layered rather than all mixed together.
There are so many different kinds of Asian noodles. So let me just start off by saying, don’t worry about it. Whatever kind of non-crispy noodles you get, this will be great. Just stick with the basic proportions of the recipe and you’ll love your dinner!
Asian noodles may be found already cooked in the refrigerated (often in the produce) section or dried in the Asian section of most well stocked grocery stores. Either cooked or dried will work.
If you buy a cooked package that comes with a seasoning packet, just discard the packet.
I like Asian noodles because they have a finer texture, they cook up faster, and they tend to soak up the sauce perfectly.
Many of the Asian noodles are gluten free as well.
What if I can’t find Asian Noodles?
Yes, making chow mein with spaghetti noodles is totally fine.
You can also use ramen noodles or other instant noodles, just be sure to toss out the seasoning packet.
So don’t get too hung up on the exact noodle type, take a look for those Asian noodles, then make this chow mein recipe with whatever noodle you’re able to find.
Note on Garlic
If you’ve been paying attention to my recipes lately, you may have noticed that I haven’t been using fresh garlic. Instead, I’ve been using (affiliate link) dried garlic powder. Now, why would a healthy cook that generally doesn’t use processed food be using dried garlic?
After much testing, we have figured out that the husband tends to get heartburn from fresh garlic.
He used to lay awake at night with heartburn. He even tried doing some research into what may be the cause. And, nowhere in his research did he see anything indicating garlic.
But we paid attention to when it hit him, and after eliminating garlic from everything, his heartburn went away!
Gradually, I started adding in the powdered garlic to see if that would bother him as well.
And, happily, I can say that the dried garlic doesn’t bother him at all! The flavor of the powdered garlic in the food is great. It has a garlic flavor without the bite of fresh garlic, more mellow maybe.
When I’m converting a recipe, I generally figure ¼ teaspoon dried powdered garlic for 1 clove fresh garlic; use more of less to your taste. This totally works for us.
And, of course, you can always convert back to fresh garlic. Or, add them both to a dish if you like.
How to prep and cook delicious dinner in minutes
Easy Chow Mein Noodles are quick and easy to make, and super delicious, just like your favorite take-out place, only so much better for you and fresher tasting!
This Copycat Panda Express Chow Mein recipe uses simple ingredients that you probably have in your kitchen right now, and it can be on your table in about 30 minutes!
The full printable recipe ingredients and instructions are available in the recipe card at the bottom of the post. You can find important tips and tricks in the post.
Gather the Ingredients
There are three basic parts to this dish. The sauce, the noodles, and the veggies.
The sauce can be mixed together and set aside while you prep the noodles and veggies.
Chop all the veggies and have them ready. The cooking part goes pretty quickly, so it’s easier to prep everything beforehand.
Prepare and Cook the Noodles
We already covered the different types of noodles you can use.
Here’s where you’ll cook the noodles if they’re dried. Cook them according to the package directions.
Tip: most Asian noodles don’t need to be cooked in salted water. Check those package directions.
If the noodles are already cooked, remove them from the packaging, and discard any included flavoring packets. Rinse noodles, drain, and set aside.
Now the fun part. Cooking and tossing the ingredients together.
Heat oil in a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat.
I do recommend a big wok here. There’s lots of veggies and noodles, and the wok provides a nice space to cook them.
However, if you don’t have one, it’s totally fine to stir fry in a skillet instead. Just be sure to use a big one. You can also stir fry in two batches if you need to.
Or, cook the veggies separately, place them in a serving bowl. Then stir fry the noodles with the sauce. Place the noodles in the serving bowl and toss everything together.
Once the oil is hot, add celery and onion and sauté until onions become soft and transparent, about 5-7 minutes.
Add cabbage, noodles, soy sauce mixture, green peas, and green onions, and heat for an additional 2-3 minutes or until noodles are heated through.
It might seem like way too much cabbage when you add it to the pan, but it cooks quite a bit.
Tip: Don’t overcook the noodles. Overcooking them can cause them to break. Just heat them through and get them all coated in the sauce.
Vary the recipe
I love this dish because you can switch it up and make it into anything you want.
It doesn’t matter what’s typically in chow mein, because you can add any extras that you like.
Some veggie add-ins you might like:
- Bok choy
- Bean sprouts
- Snow peas
- Red bell peppers
- Shredded carrots
- Baby corn
- Feel free to use Chinese cabbage, also called napa cabbage, instead of the regular green cabbage
- Sesame seeds
Make it a complete meal by adding some protein
- Leftover chicken from last night’s dinner
- Beef or pork
- Seafood: any fish or shrimp
- Tofu for a vegetarian or vegan version. And my air fryer tofu would be perfect!
- Fried egg
You can also add a little sesame oil when you’re cooking the veggies.
Pair this Chow Mein with some of our other Asian inspired recipes like Orange peel tofu, Salmon Bowl, Kung Pao Shrimp, and Asian Chickpea Salad and you can have a great Chinese take-out night at home for a fraction of the price of going out.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Usually, I reheat them in the microwave for a couple minutes before serving. But it’s also delicious cold. And I’ll often add some leftover noodles to a big salad.
Chow mein noodles are a classic Chinese favorite that can be easily prepared at home with this recipe. With the right ingredients and a few simple steps, you can create a delicious meal in no time.
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Chow Mein Recipe
- ¼ cup lower-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon dried ground ginger
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or light tasting oil of your choice
- 10 ounces Chow mein, Lo Mein, Yakisoba, or thin spaghetti noodles
- 2/3 cup celery thinly sliced
- ½ medium onion thinly sliced
- 2 cups heaping green cabbage thinly sliced
- ½ cup frozen green peas thawed
- 3 green onions sliced
- In a small bowl combine soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and black pepper; set aside.
- If dried, cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain. If the noodles are already cooked, remove them from the packaging, and discard any included flavoring packets. Rinse noodles, drain, and set aside.
- Heat oil in a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add celery and onion and sauté until onions become soft and transparent, about 5-7 minutes. Add cabbage, noodles, soy sauce mixture, green peas, and green onions, and heat for an additional 2-3 minutes or until noodles are heated through. Serve immediately.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations, and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary based on brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes, and more.