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 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!
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Frequently Asked Questions
Add the protein of your choice! Chicken, Shrimp, Beef, Tofu, etc.
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.
Try adding chopped peanuts or cilantro and a squeeze of lime to add a fresh dimension to this dish.
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!
Add some heat with Sriracha, chili garlic paste or crushed red pepper to kick up this dish in a hurry.
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.
- 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.
Love your receipes they are delicious
This is definitely one of the best noodle dish.
Thank you jesus, for allowing me to cook this awesome dish.
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.
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!
Thank you Jenn!
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!!
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!!!
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!
This flavour is awesome, thanks for the recipe. I also added red onion and sliced carrot 🙂
So glad you enjoyed it!
What kind of cabbage are you using?
Green cabbage. Enjoy!
How to make it spicier ,
I love adding Sriracha for the heat. Enjoy!
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.
You need it to boil over a high heat to allow it to thicken up.
You need to add cornstarch.
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.
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.
That’s because Panda Express is far from authentic.
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
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.
Linda, when I saw this, I thought the same thing. I was expecting the 70s style one in white sauce.
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!
Linda Stiles (Karen) look up what the difference between chow mein and lo mein and let me know what the difference is. Thank you!
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?
Hi! I want to try this recipe out? How can it be stored? Can I make it and put some in the freezer?
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 🙂
Best method to reheat?
Personally I like to reheat in the wok, tossing for a few minutes. You can also reheat in the microwave.
I made this with Lo mien noodles. They were very sticky. But over all I feel as if it was a very salty dish.
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!
Try using low-sodium soy sauce.
HI, LOOKING FOR A WHITE PLASTIC BOTTLE WITH BLUE AND WHITE LABLE. IT ONLY SAYS CHOWMEIN SEASONING ON LABEL.
Looks so good I planned to prepare because I love chow mai
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!
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!
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?
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??
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
Sabrina, Thank you so much for the wonderful recipes! ??
You’re so welcome, Arlene!
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!
The texture will be different using angel hair pasta instead but if you’re ok with that, go ahead and use them.
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,
What do I substitute oyster sauce with as I am allergic to fish.
They do make a vegetarian mushroom flavored soy sauce that you can use as a substitute. Hope this helps!
What is sweet soy sauce? How do you make the substitute? Thanks!
The substitute for the sweet soy sauce is in the recipe card at the bottom of the instruction portion. Enjoy!
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?
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.
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.
So glad you enjoyed it, Lori! Thanks for the 5 stars.
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
Yay!! Thank you so much for coming back to let me know, Navin!
I have tried several chow mein recipes I have found on Pinterest and yours is by far the best! Thanks for sharing.
You’re welcome, Rachel!
Wow, this turns out just like at the restaurant. The family gobbles it up, even my little boy, who Doesn’t. Like. Anything. We got the sauces off Google Express, and are using “Nanka Seimen” noodles. These cheap & tasty noodles are often out of stock at the local asian market.
I make a half recipe at a time – half a package of noodles, and half of the sauce. But I make up a full recipe of the sauce, and keep the other half in the fridge for the next time. Half a recipe fills us up just fine. Especially since I put in LOTS of cabbage. Somehow, it all disappears into the dish, and we seem to be mostly eating noodles. So my babies get their veggies :).
I’m so glad you all enjoyed it, Jerry! Thanks for the 5 stars!
Omg I give this recipe 5 stars!! Omg I did it exactly as shown except I added some chicken , steak and shrimp to mine to make it combination chow mein and used the precut cabbage with carrots in it ! So delicious thanks so much for this recipe !
Yay!! Thanks so much for the 5 stars!!
Can’t do fish my ingredients cause someone in my house is highly allergic. So no can do with the oyster sauce. Any less seafoody substitute or would it be ok to just omit it entirely?
They do make a vegetarin oyster sauce that you’re able to find in most Asian markets. If not, you can just omit it knowing that it’ll adjust the flavoring of the dish. There’s really no other substitue for that particular flavor, sorry.
We live in a tiny town with two awful Chinese restaurants. I’d given up hope if ever having good Chow Mein again when I found your site. Thank you so much for this recipe it’s everything I’d he’d for and more!
Yay!! Glad to have restored your faith in good Chinese food again!!
This is without a doubt one of the MOST DELICIOUS recipes I have ever tried. So quick and easily customizable. The deep flavors of this dish are incredible and I loved the crisp, crunchy bean sprouts with the soft, chewy noodles. 10/10 thank you for sharing! Truly better than take out.
You just made my day! Thank you so much for coming back to let me know!
Sabrina, this has become my favorite recipe, and I have been cooking for over 40 years! It’s so easy, and can be used with whatever veggies and protein one has on hand, and most importantly, it tastes authentic. To me, the beansprouts are essential, but the cabbage can be swapped for any similar vegetable; my favorite is bok choy.
I’m loving this with chicken and lots of veggies: baby bok choy, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, yellow bell pepper, bean sprouts, and cilantro. I prep so many veggies it seems like it would overwhelm the noodles, but they all soften and complement the noodles so well. I like that I can add enough veggies that this can be the meal, and it’s not soup! My hubby likes that, too. 🙂
I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this. Looking forward to trying other things on your site, and sharing with my family. Bless you!
So glad you love the recipe, Laura! Those are all great ideas for additions!
This recipe was so tasty ! Super easy and user friendly ! Packs a serious flavor punch! Wow!
So glad you enjoyed it Jay!
Sabrina! Great job!!! I need a way to look up recipes you have previously posted, by name. Also, do you have a recipe for pickled carrots with rice vinegar? LOVE your site! Chiquita
So glad you’re enjoying the site! There is a search box at the top right of the site that you can use to search by name. You can also save your favorites on the site now as well.
This is lo mein, not chow mein. Looks good though.
I’ve eaten Chow Mein for years and love it. The best I used to get in N.Y. and it had onions and bean sprouts in it No noodles Here in PA it’s made like your recipe minus the noodles. Rice comes on the side. I will try this recipe, adding and deleting to try for the N.Y. version. Wish me luck.
Tried this recipe. It was a hit with the family! So good!! I added chicken. Thank You!! Agree authentic tasting!
So glad you all enjoyed it!
I was unable to find the kecap sauce. I have all the ingredients to make the homemade version of the sauce, do you prefer the molasses version or brown sugar? Molasses is a very different taste compared to brown sugar, thats why i am asking. Thank you!
I prefer the molasses version 🙂
You can always order it from Amazon since it’s not available by you. Here’s the link to the one I use. http://amzn.to/2FkxFh4 If you love chow mein dishes, it’s great to keep on hand and it’s available with prime shipping!! Gotta love Amazon!
I made it!! And it is delicious ?!!!
Thanks for the 5 stars Izabela!
I have started to do weekly themed meals. This week is Chinese week…so far i’ve made shrimp fried rice, Chicken teriyaki bowls and today I think i’ll make this! but adding in chicken and shrimp! Out of all of the recipes this one looks most like takeout. lol Can’t wait to try it! Thanks!
I love themed weeks! Such a smart way to shop and use all the ingredients too. You’ll have to let me know what you think!
This recipe is SPOT ON!!! I made it tonight and added Steamables Asian Blend and stir fried chicken breast. Didn’t have the kecap manis so took your recommendation of the substitute. I have to tell you it was just like the dish you get at a Chinese Restaurant!! Thank you! It’s going in my Go To file!!
Yay!! So glad you enjoyed it, Maria!
First this looks so good and can’t wait to try it. Second, where do you find the chow mein noodles and the sweet soy sauce? Can’t find either one where I live. Is there a substitute for the sweet soy sauce i can use instead?
Hey Kathy, I have it in the notes of the recipe, but here’s some links to it on Amazon. I bet you can find the noodles in your grocery store though.
If you can’t find chow mein noodles you can substitute yakisoba noodles and just toss the packet and use the noodles only.
Sweet Soy Sauce is referred to as Kecap Manis but I also wrote out a homemade version below the recipe.
Both of those links will take you to amazon where you can order the ingredients 🙂
Thanks, I finally got the sweet soy sauce. But yet to find the noodles. I did substitute them. I have looked in alot of different stores to no avail. I made this and it was really good. The only thing I’m going to try is adding shrimp and mushrooms to it. Thanks for such a great recipe
looking forward to trying this but can’t find The Chow Mein noodles! The only ones i find are the crispy ones used in chicken chow mein outta the can. Where do you find them at? Also can’t find the Sweet Soy Sauce. Looked every where for it. Anything I can substitute in it’s place?
Delicious! I couldn’t find bean sprouts at my local grocery store, so I made it without. But wow- this recipe is so delicious and easy! And makes for some great left-overs, too. I’ve made this twice and it definitely tastes better with the low sodium soy sauce.
Thank you so much for the 5 stars, Brooke! So glad you enjoyed it!
I love spaghetti, and this recipe is amazing, thank you for sharing with us this delicious dish.
Thanks for taking the time to come back to let me know how much you enjoyed it!
I’ve been addicted to Asian recipes lately. This is another one that is going to the top of my list! Thanks for sharing!
You’re welcome Erica! We are definitely fans in this house too!!
Looks Great! Im going to use it for a school cooking project!
Awesome sauce, already craving it again..
Thank you!! It definitely can be addicting, haha!
How long are you suppose to cook the noodles?
You’ll want to cook them about 1 minute less than the package directions for the noodles.
OH MY GOSH, my family loved this! We actually subbed the noodles for zucchini noodles, and added one stalk of thinly sliced celery. Thank you so much for the recipe, I make this once a week with either orange chicken or sweet fire chicken. We absolutely LOVE this recipe.
Awww, thank you so much! The zucchini substitute is genius, especially when trying to get more veggies into the kids. Love it!
At what point can i add my choice of protein??
You’ll cook the protein separated or like me, just reheat anything I have leftover in the refrigerator. Mix it in at the end. Enjoy!
A very tasty recipe that makes it appetizing
I live in a small town. We have 2 Chinese restaurants, I’ve tried both and I did not like either one. I look forward to using this recipe for Chow Mein. The next time I’m in the mood. Looks yummy.
Wonderful, hope you enjoy the recipe Kathy!
I was looking for a chinese chow mein recipe and came across your website. The Panda Express copy cat is perfect. Love it, made it and devoured it. Made more for dinner that night and my husband loved it too. I remember when I was a young 20 year old I used to go to a local Chinese resturant almost every night for dinner after work. Back then (in the 60’s) a huge bowl cost about 75 cents. I tried several times to make it at home but it never turned out right. Thanks so much for your recipe.
I’m so glad I was able to help you relive a cherished memory! Thanks for coming back to let us know about it!
Looks like a delicious dish! Does anyone know the nutritional facts on it?
Sorry this comment took so long to get to, it ended up in my spam filter somehow! Sorry I don’t have the nutritional facts for recipes on the site but I know there are a lot of free resources on the internet from when I’ve cooked for clients with low calorie diets.
If I wanted to add chicken when and how would you suggest adding it?
Sorry this comment took so long to get to, it ended up in my spam filter somehow! Sorry I just found a huge number of comments over the last three months that was snared in the spam filter and I am trying to follow up with each one now even though in your case I am way too late to help. Cook the chicken and remove from the pan before adding in the cabbage. Then add in at the end and toss with the noodles before serving. Sorry again for the delay.
This was excellent <3 Thank you so much. Saving it to my recipe book.
Thanks for coming back to let me know!
We just made this for dinner last night, and we thought it had a nice flavor. Next time we’d add chicken and maybe a scrambled egg. Our boys ate it, and asked to eat it again tonight. That’s_always a good sign <3.
This may be a silly question but do you add the noodles to the soy sauce & water mixture and cook for 1 minute?
No, cook for one minute before you add the noodles in. Then, add the noodles in and toss to coat until thickened and covered. Enjoy!
This looks like Lo mein why is this called chow mein? I thought chow mein was the one that had the freeze dried noodles dumped in. Well that is according to my local Chinese restaurant. But what is the difference anyway?
Technically, they’re the same kind of noodles, but the chow mein noodles are cooked using a method to make them more crisp. Lo mein noodles are softer and absorb sauce better, so they’re often used in dishes that use a lot of sauce. They are very similar, though, so what they decided to name it might have more to do with what they considered to be a more “popular” Chinese dish in Western culture than the difference in cooking methods.
This is like comfort food to me, so great when you are very hungry or better yet hangry. Pinning this one for later, thank you for sharing! You always share the yummiest recipes!
Is there a substitute for oyster sauce for those allergic? Otherwise, this looks amazing.
What makes you allergic? There are definitely vegetarian versions of oyster sauce if that would help. If that won’t work you could use hoisin sauce too. I’ve done that when I’ve run out of oyster sauce and it was still delicious 🙂
I love all your suggestions! Especially the spiralized veggie one. I have a gift certificate burning a hole in my pocket and it has “spiralizer” written all over it.
I’d say go for it! The spiralizer makes for such pretty presentation if you’re cooking for company!
So let me tell you, every time I crave Chinese food and thinking of take out, I just come over to your blog and make it instead. You are my guru for homemade Chinese that is easy and better than take out.
This looks so delicious! Makes my tummy rumble just looking at the pictures!
Like fried rice, chow mein is an Asian classic and I think you nailed it with this recipe! Thanks for the suggestion to add spiralized vegetables. I think that would make it really nice.
I think chow mein is something that any chef should be able to make!
It’s great to be able to get all the ingredients you need for these awesome Asian dishes. It’s fun cooking food from other parts of the world.
Thanks, Gloria! I try to cover a wide range of cuisines!
Look at that gorgeous color! I love Chinese and this is a must-try! Already pinned and hopefully will try it soon!
I love Chinese food but rarely make it at home. Why?? I have no idea. This looks amazing and I’m truly inspired to make it. I am off to the store this morning and I will be making it this weekend.
There’s no mystery to it, you can make it yourself! Let me know how it turns out!
This is my favorite kind of dish, and yours looks absolutely scrumptious! How did you get those noodles to look so pretty 😉
The yellow in the egg noodle helps me out a bit haha. 🙂
I love dishes like this. I’m on a “make it from the pantry” mode right now and this is a perfect example of how you can have a fabulous meal with what you may have on hand. Yum!
I swear sometimes I just need the pantry recipe! Tonight we were out of almost everything you could be out of and a pantry pasta came to the rescue.
How fun is this. I love any kind of noodle/pasta combos. Something about carbs just makes me happy. This looks super yummy and I can’t wait to try it.
Me too, a giant bowl of pasta is my happy place. Well… pasta or fries. I’m addicted to warm carbs!
I looove the pictures, it’s like I can almost taste them! Great job 🙂
This makes me want to make and then eat it. I love the ingredients. the pictures are great. Yum!
Aww thank you!
Chow mein is one of my favorites. This looks SO good! You have me craving some chinese now!
Now I am too! Darn this meal not being here when I am replying to comments! Thanks for the kind words 🙂