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Chicken Chow Mein: How to Stir Fry Noodles

Chow Mein is a popular Chinese stir-fried noodle dish popular on any takeout menu. Learn this simple method for making your own healthier, flavorful chow mein at home.

Chicken Chow Mein with Vegetables In a bowl and plate
Homemade Chicken Chow Mein is both healthy and flavorful

Easy, Homemade Chow Mein

For a hugely popular yet basic Asian dish, Chow Mein is famous for its variations. Just like no two pizza joints make exactly identical pies, Chinese restaurants can vary greatly when it comes to their signature stir-fried noodles.

As noodle lovers, we’ll happily nosh on all varieties of chow mein.  Thin noodles, thick noodles, crispy, soft…noodles galore, yes and thank you.  It’s all good, as long as the “chow mein” is actually comprised of actual noodles and not just a mountain of bean sprouts or little noodle-stick crisps.

Of course, most dear to my heart is the homestyle variety…the kind of stir-fried chow mein noodles my parents would make at home.  I often toss up a batch of homemade chow mein in my own kitchen – it’s on popular dinner rotation around here, as nobody ever complains when it’s stir-fried noodle night.

chicken chow mein with vegetables in a wok
Use a large wok or deep pan for stir fry

Do I need a wok or special pot?

A large carbon steel wok is perfect for stir-fried noodles, as the deep/wide shape allows for easy stirring and even heating. A moderate amount of oil gets the job done beautifully.

If you don’t have a wok and don’t want to grab one, you can use a large skillet or pan with extra depth, to allow room for stirring oodles of noodles.

What Kind of Noodles Should I Use?

There’s no shortage of spirited feelings when it comes to the kind of noodles to use for chow mein, and you can quickly go down a rabbit hole.

Here’s the super short version (you’re welcome) of the deal:

  • Traditionally, fresh or dry thin Chinese egg noodles are used. The thin egg noodles are ideal for tossing up either a crispy Cantonese style chow mein, as well as a softer/chewy version.
  • In real life, you won’t always be able to find thin Chinese egg noodles in time for tomorrow’s dinner. In which case, dry spaghetti or angel hair pasta will do just fine.

What’s the difference between chow mein and lo mein?

  • The main difference between these delicious takeout favorites is in the preparation. Both dishes use Chinese egg noodles, and both are typically tossed with similar proteins and vegetables.
  • Though chow mein can be made Cantonese-style with a bit of crunch to the noodles, lo mein aims solely for a soft and chewy texture.
  • Chow mein is all about stir-frying everything together in a wok or pan. Lo mein’s star focus is the abundant sauce. Here’s our quick and easy homestyle lo mein recipe.
Chicken Chow Mein with Vegetables and chopsticks
Chicken Chow Mein is an easy meal-in-one.

What proteins and vegetables Should I add?

This is the fun part – homemade chow mein is extremely flexible and versatile. Here are our favorite protein and vegetable choices:

  • Vegetables: julienned carrots, broccoli florets, and mushrooms are our favorite go-to veggies. They provide crisp texture, gorgeous colors, and abundant nutrition. Thinly sliced common cabbage or napa cabbage are also popular. If you can find Chinese broccoli, that’s a favorite restaurant choice.
  • Protein: chicken thighs (or breasts) work perfectly, as they’re easily accessible and soak up the marinade like a champ. Use thighs if you want to ensure tenderness. Tasty alternatives include raw, cleaned shrimp or very thinly sliced flank steak.
  • If using shrimp, skip the marinade time. If using thinly sliced beef, follow recipe as instructed.

  Common Questions and Answers

Is Chow Mein Healthy?

Homemade chow mein is definitely healthier than takeout. We call this recipe healthyish, as it’s loaded with garlic, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, and lean protein.

What’s the difference between chow mein and chow fun?

Chow mein is traditionally made with thin Chinese egg noodles. Chow fun refers to wide, flat-cut rice noodles. Both are stir-fried with a variety of vegetables and protein.

Does leftover chow mein reheat well?

Absolutely! It’s a great idea to make a big batch of chow mein for meal prep, and enjoy it for the next few days. Microwave or stovetop work for reheating.

More to Cook and Eat:


Try this Thai Basil Chicken Recipe, too:


Chicken Chow Mein with Vegetables and chopsticks

Chicken Chow Mein with Vegetables

Amy | Chew Out Loud
Chow Mein is a popular Chinese stir-fried noodle dish popular on any takeout menu. Learn this simple method for making your own healthier, flavorful chow mein at home
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Asian American
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • Light olive oil (or peanut oil)
  • 6 cloves garlic chopped and divided
  • 1 head broccoli florets cut to bite size pieces
  • 1 cup carrots peeled and julienned
  • 8 ounces rehydrated Shittake mushrooms
  • 14.5 ounces dry spaghetti or angel hair noodles*
  • 6 tbsp Asian Oyster Sauce divided
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • Optional: chopped scallions or cilantro for garnish

For Chicken Mixture

  • 1 pound chicken thighs or breast skinless and boneless
  • 3 tbsp Asian rice cooking wine (not vinegar)
  • 3 tbsp regular soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp pure Asian sesame oil dark golden brown in color
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp white pepper
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves minced

Instructions
 

  • Do Ahead:  Dry chicken breasts and cut into bite size pieces.  Mix chicken with all of Chicken Mixture ingredients, making sure all chicken pieces are in contact with marinade.  Marinade at least 2 hours or overnight.
  • Start boiling a large pot of salted water for the pasta. Heat 2 TB oil in large heavy skillet or wok.  Cook chicken with marinade until chicken is no longer pink in center.  Do not overcook.  Transfer cooked chicken with juices to a large bowl and set aside.
  • In same skillet/wok, heat 2 TB oil and cook half of the chopped garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add broccoli florets and julienned carrots. Cook on medium high until just tender, adding dashes of water as needed to keep veggies from drying out.  Add 2 tsp kosher salt,  1 TB oyster sauce, and 1/2 tsp black pepper.  Stir fry another minute.  Add sliced mushrooms and cook just until soft.  Transfer veggies to the bowl with cooked chicken.
  • Cook spaghetti noodles just until al dente.  Drain in colander; don't rinse.  Heat 3 TB oil in large pot or wok with rest of chopped garlic, cooking just until fragrant.  Add back the cooked noodles.  Add 2 TB Asian sesame oil and 4 TB oyster sauce.  Stir fry the noodles on medium about 3 minutes (easier with chopsticks.)  Add salt/pepper to taste, if needed.
  • Stir in desired amount of cooked veggies/chicken mixture with juices (use all of it, or save some to go with rice the next day.)  Stir fry thoroughly a few more minutes, until well incorporated.
  • Garnish with chopped scallions or cilantro if desired.  Serve warm.

Notes

If you can find thin Chinese egg noodles, fresh or dry, use that and prep it according to package instructions for stir-fry. 
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and give it a rating ♡
Keyword chow mein, chicken chow mein, stir-fried noodles

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Recipe Rating




26 comments

    • Kathy Kenny Ngo

    Now I want those chow mien. They look so good though I would replace the chicken with shrimp.

    • Renata Feyen

    I just love noodles – Last time I made them with shrimps 🙂

    • Jasmine Martin

    I’m a huge fan of stiry fry. It’s one of my favorite meals to make for dinner. I am definitely going to have to try out this recipe and add it to my roster of dinners.

    • Monidipa

    I love your recipes.. My recipe for chicken chowmein is a bit different. I’ll try this one too!

    • Norma

    5 stars
    In my family we make noodles once a week and eat them in different ways like with butter different sauces. I would love to try your recipe for something a little bit different.

    • Sally

    Those dishes look great. Maybe I need to start making some new things.

    • Mosaic Designs

    I looooove Chow Mein Noodles but I never tried to cook it myself! I can’t wait to try your recipe, can’t wait!

    • Tweenselmom

    5 stars
    Noodles are for long life, and I’m glad to put this recipe in my to-cooks haha. This looks delicious, I’m sure the kids will love it.

    • goodbitesbyche

    Everything you make looks so good babe! It makes me so hungry!

      • chewoutloud

      Thank you!

    • goodbitesbyche

    This recipe makes me so hungry right now! I will have to try this one on the weekend!

      • chewoutloud

      Hope you love it!

    • Gervin Khan

    5 stars
    My husband loves to eat a stir fried noodles and I am sure he will be happy seeing this dish on his plate tonight. Thank you!

      • chewoutloud

      You’re so welcome, and glad you like the recipe 🙂

    • Angela

    5 stars
    Chicken Chow Mein recipe omg thank you so much. I really want to try this recipe. thanks

      • chewoutloud

      Thanks, Angela!

    • Therence

    Cooked using fresh mushroom and vermicelli, first attempt to cook noodles and it turned out amazing my BF and I loved it and had it for lunch the next day. Thank you! Next on my list will be Jap Chae but I can’t seem to find the sweet potato noodles in Sobeys, any alternate? Thanks

      • chewoutloud

      Therence, although there isn’t a true sub for the Korean sweet potato noodles, you can try rice noodle sticks or vermicelli – you’ll have to adapt the cooking time for those noodles according to their packaged instructions. The flavor should still be fantastic. Enjoy!

    • Marlene Y

    I’ve made this twice, so thought I’d let you know how much my family enjoyed this. My kids said to put it in the monthly dinner rotation. Thanks!!

      • chewoutloud

      Awesome to hear it, Marlene! Thanks so much for coming over to let us know 🙂

    • petit4chocolatier

    Very yummy 🙂

    • jeannietay

    Hi Amy, your chow mien looks so delicious! I find it really hard to fry noodles…always make a mess!

      • chewoutloud

      Me, too…make a mess all the time… it’s part of the chow mein experience 😉

    • themondaybox

    I am simply going to have to start eating dinner at your house! Everything you make looks so good!

    • Conor Bofin

    Lovely looking bowl of noodles. Your photography is wonderfully clear and colourful.
    Best,
    Conor

    • daisyandthefox

    yum!! this looks so yummy and flavorsome 🙂 Awesome asian flavors 🙂

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