Classic Chinese Chow Mein

4 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Classic Chinese Chow Mein with authentic ingredients and easy swaps to make this a pantry meal in a pinch! You won’t miss the takeout!

Chinese Food Recipes are among the most popular on the site, and for great reason! You can save money and control the oil and sodium when you make your favorites at home like Orange Chicken, Mongolian Beef, and Fried Rice.

Classic Chinese Chow Mein with authentic ingredients and easy ingredient swaps to make this a pantry meal in a pinch!

Classic Chinese Chow Mein is one of those dishes that seems elusive, like there is some secret recipe that all Chinese restaurants know and no matter what you do at home it is just never the same. I won’t lie and say you can drop some spaghetti into the pot and add some regular soy sauce and make Chow Mein magic happen, but with a quick trip to your local Asian grocer (or Amazon) you can make truly authentic Classic Chinese Chow Mein in less than 20 minutes.

And you will never go back to anything less afterwards!

Some of the sauces in this Classic Chinese Chow Mein can be a bit confusing, soy sauce and dark soy sauce are definitely different things, so if you would like to learn more about it, you can look at this post from Serious Eats. Nowadays with so many international food options at supermarkets, yours probably carries all the ingredients in the recipe, but if you have a local Asian grocery store it is also worth making a quick trip.

Then serve up your pasta with some other awesome Chinese recipes like Spicy Cashew Chicken, Orange Peel Chicken, Garlic Hunan Beef or any of the giant list of Panda Express recipes all over the site!

Classic Chinese Chow Mein Collage of prep steps

Frequently Asked Questions

What proteins can be added to Classic Chinese Chow Mein?

Add the protein of your choice! Chicken, Shrimp, Beef, Tofu, etc.

How do I add more veggeis to Chow Mein?

Spiralize some zucchini and carrots! Add the carrots with the celery and add the zucchini when you add the pasta. You can even replace some or all of the noodles with spiralized veggies for a low carb version.

What other toppings go well on Chow Mein?

Try adding chopped peanuts or cilantro and a squeeze of lime to add a fresh dimension to this dish.

How do you make crispy pan fried Chinese noodles?

Before adding in your noodles, in a large pan add a couple of tablespoons of oil and on a high heat add the noodles until crispy on both sides for a quick pan fried noodle option!

How do I make a spicy version of Chow Mein noodles?

Add some heat with Sriracha, chili garlic paste or crushed red pepper to kick up this dish in a hurry.

Classic Chinese Chow Mein in bowl with fork

How to Store Classic Chinese Chow Mein

  • Serve: Classic Chinese Chow Mein can be kept at room temperature up to 2 hours before it should be refrigerated.
  • Store: Sealed in an airtight container, Chow Mein will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
  • Freeze: Freeze Chinese Chow Mein in an airtight container or freezer safe bag for 2-3 months. Defrost overnight before reheating, adding some soy sauce if needed.
Classic Chinese Chow Mein in bowl

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Classic Chinese Chow Mein

Classic Chinese Chow Mein with authentic ingredients and easy swaps to make this a pantry meal in a pinch! You won't miss the takeout!
Yield 4 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Chinese
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/4 head cabbage , thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic , crushed and minced
  • 2 tablespoons sweet soy sauce (aka Kecap Manis)* see note for homemade substitute
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 12 ounces chow mein noodles , cooked a minute shy of the directions*
  • 6 ounces bean sprouts (optional)
  • sesame seeds for garnish (optional)


  • Heat a large pan or wok on high heat.
  • Add two tablespoons of canola oil to the pan and add the cabbage.
  • Cook 2-3 minutes until wilted, add the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
  • Add the soy sauce, sweet soy sauce, oyster sauce and water and bring to a boil for 1 minute.
  • Add in the pasta and bean sprouts and toss to coat.
  • Serve immediately.



To make homemade Kecap Manis, add 1 ½ teaspoons of soy sauce and 1 ½ teaspoons of molasses or dark brown sugar with a tiny pinch of ground anise. This is a decent substitute, but if you can get the original the flavor will be even deeper.
If you can’t find chow mein noodles you can substitute yakisoba noodles and just toss the packet and use the noodles only.


Calories: 431kcal | Carbohydrates: 73g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 8g | Sodium: 1694mg | Potassium: 92mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin C: 6.1mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 3.3mg
Keyword: Classic Chinese Chow Mein
Classic Chinese Chow Mein Collage
Classic Chinese Chow Mein with authentic ingredients and easy ingredient swaps to make this a pantry meal in a pinch!
Classic Chinese Chow Mein with authentic ingredients and easy ingredient swaps to make this a pantry meal in a pinch!
Classic Chinese Chow Mein with authentic ingredients and easy ingredient swaps to make this a pantry meal in a pinch!
Classic Chinese Chow Mein with authentic ingredients and easy ingredient swaps to make this a pantry meal in a pinch!
Classic Chinese Chow Mein with authentic ingredients and easy ingredient swaps to make this a pantry meal in a pinch!

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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  1. This is definitely one of the best noodle dish.
    Thank you jesus, for allowing me to cook this awesome dish.

  2. Tasted really good but was a bit too salty for me. I normally only use one or two tbs of oyster sauce and add another one or two tbs of either Orange Ginger sauce or Korean stirfry sauce (whatever I have on hand). I also only had dry powdered ginger so I used a tablespoon of that.

  3. I made this tonight, and it was delicious! The chicken was tender and juicy, and the sauce was flavorful. I did not have any trouble thickening the sauce. However, I did saute one of the larger chicken breasts as it needed to cook a bit longer after the 12 minutes. I’m not sure if allowing the juices to bubble while finishing the chicken assisted in the thickening of the sauce once the cornstarch was added or not, but everything turned out perfectly! Thank you for a quick, easy, and delicious dinner to add to my list!

  4. What a great tasting recipe, I subbed Hoisen sauce for the oyster sauce since I forgot while I was shopping. My girlfriend and room mate absolutely loved it

    Had to boil the sauce for a bit longer but I’m sure it may be different for others. Thanks!!

  5. Loved your recipe. With fresh chow mein you may not need to use water. You might be able to just cook it without boiling it in water if yours is like mine.

    I didn’t have all of the ingredients so I substituted Black bean with garlic for garlic, added satay peanut sauce for peanut oil, hoisin sauce for….Didn’t even have head cabbage, but had to use red cabbage.

    The contents of the dish and noodles seemed negligible. I loved your sauce. It would make egglpant and tofu taste rich and good. Your sauce really made the dish tasty.

    Many thanks for You Tube and their how tos and how to demonstrators!!!

  6. Having read this I believed it was extremely enlightening. I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this article together. I once again find myself spending a lot of time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

  7. I got the same soupy results as what some others mentioned. I boiled the soy sauce mixture for at least a minute and even a little longer in hopes it would start to get thick. It doesn’t have a thickening agent so I’m not sure how the soy sauce, oyster sauce and sweet soy sauce would get thick with 1 cup of water and no thickening agent. I went ahead and poured it over the noodles and it all went straight to the bottom like water or broth. I ended pouring it out and seasoned the noodles with soy sauce, salt and oyster sauce. It actually turned out pretty good after all but I wish the sauce would have thickened. Do you know what could have gone wrong? I doubled the recipe since I was using an additional package of noodles but that shouldn’t have made it soupy. Thanks for the recipe.

  8. I’m trying to get the word out, but it doesn’t seem to be spreading very quickly… Except in Chinese restaurants. THIS RECIPE IS NOT FOR CHOW MEIN. THIS IS LO MEIN. Chow mein is a vegetable dish. Lo mein is what you have pictured here and is a noodle dish.

    1. They call it chow mein at Panda Express and this recipe is similar to her copycat Panda Express Chow Mein recipe. But go ahead and correct her Karen.

    2. Linda a quick google came up with the definition of Chow Mein which means “fried noodles”, Lo Mein means “Tossed Noodles” sooooo I believe the vegetable dish you are referring to to is Chop Suey not Chow Mein which is a fried noodle dish. Anyway Karen

    3. On the west coast, chow mein is this kind, and the term lo mein is not commonly used. The fried kind is usually just called Hong Kong style. The terminology just differs depending on which region you’re from.

      1. First of all Linda I don’t even know why you clicked on her recipe because it obviously says Copycat recipe for Panda Express Chow Mein! (PANDA EXPRESS)!!!
        So don’t be ganging up on Sabrina about this is not chow mein. You can take your attitude to Panda Express and tell them that it’s actually lo mein not chow mein. Kay hun. Thank you!

    4. Linda Stiles (Karen) look up what the difference between chow mein and lo mein and let me know what the difference is. Thank you!

  9. in regards to the substitution for sweet soy sauce. The recipe calls for 2T. of sweet soy sauce but the substitution is only equal to 1T…should this be doubled?

    1. You can store in the fridge up to 3 days and in the freezer up to 3 months. Store in an airtight container and allow to cool completely before freezing. Hope this helps 🙂

    1. I’m sorry to hear that it didn’t come out to your taste. If you try it again, I would reduce the oyster and regular soy sauce to cut the saltiness and use Chow Mein noodles to keep it from getting sticky. Hope this helps!

  10. Hi! Where do I find chow mien noodles? Are they different from lo mien noodles? Are lo mien noodles an ok substitute if I can’t find chow mien? Thank you!

    1. Lo Mein noodles are a bit thicker. My recommendation would be to get the Yakisoba packages and use the noodles in that if you’re having a hard time finding them. They work as a great substitue. Enjoy!

  11. So I made this tonight and it looks so soupy! I followed the recipe exactly so I’m not sure why I got soup instead of thickly coated noodles. Any thoughts?

    1. I’m not sure why it would be soupy. Maybe your heat wasn’t high enough and didn’t allow the mixture to come to a full boil??

  12. I made this last week. It didnt turn out quite how I was hoping, but then again I had to use spaghetti noodles and the sweet soy substitute. (Its what I had on hand) But my husband actually asked for it again and he doesnt do that often so I’m happy Thanks for sharing this! I’ll keep working on it til I’m happy with it too

  13. Hi Sabrina ?
    Looks so yummy and I can’t wait to make it! (I’ll upgrade my review afterwards). Question – would angel hair pasta work for the chow mien noodles? I’ve read the difference between chow mien & lo mein noodles is both are boiled, but chow mien noodles are then pan fried, after boiling. I didn’t notice that instruction in your recipe. Does it affect the flavor if it’s not pan fried after boiling? Thanks so much for sharing your recipes!

    1. The texture will be different using angel hair pasta instead but if you’re ok with that, go ahead and use them.

  14. Congratulations Sabrina! your recipes seem to be a real hit! i recorded a few of them and looking forward realize them…

    i whish we could get your version of “Singapore Noodles”

    thank’s for your attention,

    Louis, Montreal

    1. They do make a vegetarian mushroom flavored soy sauce that you can use as a substitute. Hope this helps!

    1. The substitute for the sweet soy sauce is in the recipe card at the bottom of the instruction portion. Enjoy!

  15. Thanks so much for this recipe. I cooked this the other night and the flavor was delicious. However, I couldn’t get my sauce to thicken (how long should that take?) so it didn’t seem to coat the noodles very well. Any suggestions?

    1. You’ll want to bring your sauce to a boil and let it boil for 1 minutes to thicken. So glad you enjoyed it and hope this helps for next time.

  16. This was so good I had no problem finishing off the leftovers. I did have a little trouble finding the chow mein noodles so I used lo mein noodles and I think they worked out great. Oyster sauce is not one of my fav’s so I did use the hoison sauce and also a bag of cole slaw mix for the cabbage. Our favorite take out place is good in a pinch but cant compare to the fresh flavors of this chow mein. Thank you for sharing! Made and reviewed for the Alphabet recipe tag game.

  17. Made this for dinner, my family swears that I bought it, I’m also amazed just how authentic it came out. Thank you…. Now on to orange chicken