This Chicken Chow Mein is an authentic Chinese restaurant quality recipe made with crispy fried noodles, tender chicken, colorful vegetables and the most amazing sauce so you can skip the takeout! It’s easy to make in 20 minutes in just one pan and the perfect easy meal for busy weeknights! Includes grain-free, low carb, keto and paleo options.
Updated September 2020
Easy Chow Mein Recipe
When it comes to Chinese restaurant quality dishes we make over and over again, this Chicken Chow Mein recipe is one that my family says they love the most. Stir fried noodles are great for cleaning out the fridge with any extra veggies you have from the week. The best part is, you can easily swap in whatever ingredients you like or have in your kitchen.
Growing up in a Chinese household with two foodie parents, Chinese takeout dishes like this Chicken Lo Mein, Chow fun and Fried rice happened regularly at our house. And if you’re looking for more chow mein recipes, we also love this Beef Chow Mein, Vegetable Chow Mein, Chinese Chow Mein and Keto Chow Mein.
Why you’ll love this better than takeout restaurant-style stir-fry
If you’re looking for the best chow mein recipe, this authentic Hong Kong-style chow mein recipe is made with crispy thin noodles and an amazing savory stir-fry sauce. And don’t worry, it’s NOT made with mostly bean sprouts or those crispy long crackers like what you find in typical North American Chinese restaurants.
All you need is ONE PAN and less than 20 minutes and you’ve got yourself a better than takeout chow mein dish ready for Friday night dinner.
This healthy chow mein recipe can also be made gluten-free, Whole30, with paleo and keto options. It’s also super simple to customize so you can use any protein and vegetables can easily be swapped out and customized to fit any needs.
What is Chow Mein
Chow Mein is a Chinese stir-fried noodle dish made with yellow chow mein noodles (usually egg noodles), meat or seafood and vegetables. It’s one of the most popular and most ordered dish from North American Chinese restaurants.
Chicken Chow Mein vs Lo Mein
Wondering what the difference is between Chow Mein and Lo Mein? Both chow mein and lo mein are stir-fried noodle dishes. The main difference is the type of noodles.
Cantonese Chow Mein uses thin crispy egg noodles. You’ll find that many authentic Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong also shape the noodles into a bird’s nest and deep fry / flash fry the noodles so you get that crispy noodle texture while Lo Mein typically is made with wider yellow noodles.
What noodles are best for Chinese Chow Mein
- You can use fresh or dried egg noodles.
- Fresh noodles are usually found in your local Asian market. Some large grocery stores carry it in the International / Ethnic section or refrigerated section.
- Dried ramen noodles, yakisoba noodles or very thin pasta would also work. Just be sure whatever noodles you use, they measure out to about 8 ounces (about 225 grams – 2 cups) when cooked.
- For grain-free diets these can be swapped with Jovial Grain-Free Cassava Spaghetti Pasta , Cappello’s Grain Free Spaghetti Almond Flour Pasta or Palmini Noodles made from Hearts of Palm Pasta. Vegetable noodles work, too, like cooked spaghetti squash noodles or these zucchini noodles for Whole30 Chicken Chow Mein.
Ingredients in Chow Mein
For the stir fried noodles
- Boneless Skinless Chicken breast – thinly sliced or cut into 1″ chunks. Can omit for vegetarian chow mein
- Fresh chow mein noodles – usually found at Asian supermarkets. You can also swap with ramen noodles, egg noodles or spaghetti noodles. For grain-free diets these can be swapped with Jovial Grain-Free Cassava Spaghetti Pasta , Cappello’s Grain Free Spaghetti Almond Flour Pasta or Palmini Noodles made from Hearts of Palm Pasta. Vegetable noodles work, too, like cooked spaghetti squash noodles or these zucchini noodles for Whole30 Chicken Chow Mein.
- An assortment of fresh vegetables in chow mein that we like to use:
- Nappa cabbage or green cabbage
- mung bean sprouts
- bok choy
- snap peas or snow peas
- green onions, for garnish
Garlic & fresh ginger – we like to use fresh garlic and ginger, but ground garlic and ginger can be substituted in a pinch.
Salt and pepper – season to taste
Chow Mein Sauce:
Ingredients you need to get that signature sweet and savory sauce we all love:
- Coconut Aminos – can subsitute with gluten free tamari or reduced sodium soy sauce if not following Whole30/paleo.
- Apple cider vinegar – may sub with rice wine vinegar if not Whole30/paleo.
- Honey – a paleo sweetener that adds a nice sweetness to this healthy chow mein sauce. If you want to make this sauce keto, then sub with preferred liquid sweetener (monk fruit or yacon syrup) or you can use apple juice or homemade date paste for a Whole30 stir fry sauce
- White pepper – optional but makes this chow mein extra delicious
- Sesame oil – adds the signature nutty flavor found in traditional recipes
- Arrowroot powder– we love to use this grain-free starch in place of cornstarch to help thicken up the sauce, but you can substitute with tapioca startch or 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum for low carb / keto diets
- Chinese cooking wine – can sub with dry sherry in a pinch – omit for paleo, Whole30 and keto
- Water or Chicken Broth – to mix with the arrowroot powder
Other ingredients if not paleo
- Oyster sauce – sub with Primal Kitchen’s No Soy Teriyaki Sauce for paleo / Whole30
- Red Boat Fish sauce
- Chili garlic paste
- Bean sprouts
How to make Chicken Chow Mein
Making your own chicken chow mein recipe couldn’t be easier! Be sure to read the step-by-step instructions or watch the video below!
- MAKE THE SAUCE: Whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce. Measure out 1/2 tablespoon and drizzle over chicken in a separate bowl.
- HOW TO COOK CHOW MEIN NOODLES: Prepare noodles according to package instructions and set aside.
- COOK THE CHICKEN AND VEGETABLES: Heat oil in a non-stick pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add chicken and stir-fry for 4-5 minutes or until lightly brown. Add garlic and ginger and sauté for about 1 minute. Add cabbage and carrots and cook for 1-2 minutes or until wilted but still slightly crispy.
- ADD THE NOODLES: Stir in the noodles; give the reserved sauce a quick stir then pour over noodles. Use tongs to toss noodles to coat with sauce. Season with more salt, pepper or Sriracha and add more water to thin out the sauce, as needed.
- GARNISH AND SERVE: Stir in bean sprouts and green onions, stirring for 30 seconds to combine then dish out and serve hot topped with sesame seeds.
Tips for Better than Takeout Chow Mein Recipe
- make your sauce and have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go before stir-frying
- season protein and allow to marinate for at least 20 minutes
- use a wok or cast-iron pan (we got this one in March and love it)
- try adding a couple teaspoons of sriracha sauce or some crushed red pepper flakes to spice things up.
- For extra saucy noodles, feel free to double the chow mein sauce recipe.
Variations of Chinese Chow Mein
- Swap out the chicken for your favorite protein – beef, pork, shrimp and fried tofu work great in here.
- Not a fan of cabbage, bean sprouts or carrots? No problem – swap them for spinach, mushrooms, broccoli or snap peas instead.
- If you cannot find fresh (Asian market) chow mein noodles or egg noodles (usually in the International section of Target, Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or large chain grocery store), then you can swap with any gluten-free noodle or shirataki noodles.
Make ahead, reheating and storage instructions
Wondering if you can make chow mein ahead of time? Chow Mein makes delicious leftovers and works great on your Sunday meal prep day. It works perfect for meal-prep especially if you make a double batch.
- To make ahead: Cook your noodles the day before. Mince or chop the garlic, ginger and wash and cut the vegetables the day before. Store in the fridge in separate containers or resealable bags.
- Wondering how long does Chow Mein last in the fridge? You can store this delicious dish in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Be sure to allow the noodles to cool down then transfer to airtight containers,
- How to reheat chow mein: When you’re ready to enjoy your leftover lo mein noodles, it’s best to either sauté it in a wok or pan on medium low heat over the stove or in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave.
We love to make this one pot chow mein recipe for weekly meal preps! Chicken chow mein is a one-pan dinner recipe that is easy to make in huge batches that will last the entire week and perfect for packing in school or work lunches.
- For easier weekly meal prep – The vegetables can be prepped ahead of time the day before and stored in a zip-top bag or airtight container.
- Divide into containers to pack into weekly work or school lunches
- Add your favorite roasted or stir-fried vegetables to the your lunch bowls
- Pack with your favorite side – Jasmine rice, brown rice, cauliflower rice or spiralized vegetables – zoodles
Homemade chow mein is delicious on its own or serve it with:
Is chicken chow mein healthy?
Chow Mein that you make at home is definitely healthier than any takeout chow mein that you order from any North American Chinese restaurant. Our one pot chicken chow mein recipe includes a soy-free option but we also have these Low Carb Noodles that is perfect for anyone that is following a grain-free or Whole30, paleo, low carb or keto diet.
More Chinese dishes you might like:
This Chicken Chow Mein is an authentic Chinese restaurant quality recipe made with crispy fried noodles, tender chicken, colorful vegetables and the most amazing sauce so you can skip the takeout! It's easy to make in 20 minutes in just one pan and the perfect easy meal for busy weeknights! Includes grain-free, low carb, keto and paleo options.
- 2 Tablespoons oyster sauce , can sub with Primal Kitchen’s No Soy Teriyaki Sauce for paleo / Whole30 / keto
- 3-4 Tablespoons LOW sodium soy sauce , can substitute with gluten free tamari or coconut aminos for paleo-friendly version
- 1-2 teaspoon honey , sub with preferred liquid sweetener for keto / low carb OR apple juice or homemade date paste for whole30
- 1 Tablespoon arrowroot starch , can substitute with tapioca starch or with 1/2 tsp xanthan gum for low carb / keto. If not Whole30, keto or paleo, can use corn starch also.
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon rice wine or dry sherry , leave out for Whole30 / paleo or if you don't have it in your pantry already
- 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper or red pepper chili flakes
- salt and black pepper , to taste
- 1-2 teaspoons red pepper chili flakes or Sriracha , optional
- 1 Tablespoon water , as needed to thin out sauce
- 6-8 ounces (225 grams) refrigerated / fresh chow mein or egg noodles see photos in post; OR can also use cooked dry chow mein, yakisoba or ramen noodles (can also use very thin cooked pasta if needed) - For grain-free diets these can be swapped with Jovial Grain-Free Cassava Spaghetti Pasta , Cappello's Grain Free Spaghetti Almond Flour Pasta or Palmini Noodles made from Hearts of Palm Pasta. Vegetable noodles work, too, like cooked spaghetti squash noodles or zucchini noodles
- 1 boneless skinless chicken breast or thighs about 1/3 lb., cut into 1” chunks
- 2 Tablespoons cooking oil
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- ½ teaspoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 cup shredded Napa cabbage , mixed cabbage slaw, bok choy or snap peas would work as well
- 1/3 cup shredded or julienned carrots
- 2 green onions , cut into 2-inch length
- 1/3 cup mung bean sprouts , rinsed and drained
- Sesame seeds for garnish
- In a medium bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce. Measure out 1/2 tablespoon and drizzle over chicken in a separate bowl. Meanwhile, prepare noodles according to package instructions and set aside.
Heat oil in a non-stick pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add chicken and stir-fry for 4-5 minutes or until lightly brown. Add garlic and ginger and sauté for about 1 minute. Add cabbage and carrots and cook for 1-2 minutes or until wilted but still slightly crispy.
- Add the noodles into the pan; give the reserved sauce a quick stir then pour over noodles. Use tongs to toss noodles to coat with sauce. Season with more salt, pepper or Sriracha and add more water to thin out the sauce, as needed.
- Stir in bean sprouts and green onions, stirring for 30 seconds to combine then dish out and serve hot topped with sesame seeds.
- For meal prep - divide into even portions in containers and store in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat any leftovers in the microwave or on the stovetop.
*Chicken can be swapped out for turkey, beef or tofu.
*Broccoli, spinach, snap peas or bok choy can be used instead of cabbage