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Ultimate Guide to Chow Mein

Chow Mein, Chinese stir-fried noodle dish with vegetables, meat, and sauce.

This is a one pot dish that comes together in about 30 minutes. This is your ultimate guide to making chow mein at home.

Chow Mein is one of my go-to meals because it is quick, flexible with veggies/protein, and it is a crowd-pleasing dish. In this post, I am going to break down each and every step of making chow mein, an ultimate guide for you.
To make chow mein, I use thin, dried egg noodles from an Asian grocery store (in the refrigerated section). Lo Mein and Chow Mein are used interchangeably but technically, lo mein noodles are thicker, chewier and saucier.

The chow mein noodles I am using takes 20-30 seconds to cook. Be sure to read the instructions because depending on the type of chow mein noodles (fresh or dried), cooking time will vary. I use my wok to boil the noodles and keep it aside while I prep rest of the ingredients.


If you keep a decent stock of Asian sauces/condiments, chow mein sauce will come together very easily. I am sharing a base chow mein sauce ingredients below but feel free to adapt to your taste.

  • Soy sauce: regular or low sodium soy sauce is the building block here. It adds saltiness, moisture and little color to the dish. For additional color/flavor – dark soy sauce is a good one to have but if you dont have dark soy sauce, use a little more regular soy sauce.

  • Chinese cooking wine like Shaoxing wine: flavor builder; in a pinch dry sherry is a good substitute. Mirin (Japanese cooking wine) can be used but remember it is subtly sweet.

  • Sesame oil: regular or toasted sesame oil adds a depth of flavor

  • Oyster sauce: this is your flavor bomb – do not skip this. There is vegetarian oyster sauce available too.

  • Corn starch: another key ingredient to add body to your sauce. Make a slurry before adding corn starch to the cooking pot, otherwise everything becomes gloopy.

  • Optional but highly recommended: grated ginger, minced garlic, sugar to taste.


  • For protein : chicken, eggs, pork, beef, shrimp, firm tofu are some popular choices for chow mein. If using animal protein, I’d marinate the meat/firm tofu in little soy sauce, sesame oil, corn starch for 30 mins if you have time. For each person, plan for 3-4 oz protein/serving and par cook/stir fry meat ahead of time and keep aside.

  • For veggies: vegetables like cabbage, carrot, bok choy, bean sprouts, broccoli, and mushroom are popular choices for chow mein. You can pick and choose your favorite veggies but just remember to stir-fry them ahead to cook off the moisture. Depending on the type of vegetables you are using, plan for at least 1-1.5 cup per serving. Frozen stir fry veggie bags are great for this recipe!

I cannot stress enough how importance mis en place (French term for having all your ingredients measured, cut, peeled, sliced, grated, etc. before you start cooking) is for a chow mein recipe. Everything happens quick, over a high heat in a wok so prep the sauce, get the veggies and meat prepared, and cook the noodles ahead of time.

The recipe I am sharing makes enough for 4-6 servings. I like chow mein more on the stir-fry side but feel free to increase the amount of sauce if you’d like saucy chow mein. I am sharing a vegetarian chow mein recipe below but you can easily add protein of your choice to this recipe.



For the chow mein sauce

  • ¼ cup soy sauce (reduced sodium or regular)

  • 2 teaspoon dark soy sauce

  • 2 tablespoon oyster sauce or vegetarian oyster sauce

  • 2 teaspoon sesame oil

  • 2 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

  • 1.25 cup water

  • 2 teaspoon sugar, to taste

  • 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger, 1 minced garlic, optional

For Chow Mein

  • 1-12 oz chow mein noodles

  • 3 tablespoon canola oil (or a neutral high heat cooking oil)

  • 3 cloves garlic minced

  • 3 cups shredded green veg like bok choy, cabbage

  • 1/2 cup julienned carrot (or use shredded carrot for ease)

  • handful of sweet peppers

  • other veggie options: bean sprouts, broccoli, baby corn ▢3

  • salt to taste

  • chopped green onions, for garnish

  • hot sauce/chili oil, for serving


  • Make the chow mein sauce: In a measuring cup or a medium size bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients and set aside. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking.

  • Cook the noodles: In a wok, bring water to a boil. Add noodles and cook according to the instructions on the back of the package. Drain and keep aside.

  • Stir-fry veggies: In the same wok, add 1 tablespoon oil over medium/high heat and sautee garlic for 20-30 seconds, then add your veggies. Depending on the size of your wok and how much veggies, you are using – you may need to work in batches. You do not want to over crowd the wok. Cook until the veggies are slightly soft and wilted. Remove from the heat and keep aside. **if using meat/egg, I’d cook those before stir-frying the veggies and just keep them aside.

  • Crisp the noodles: Add more oil to the wok if needed. Keep the heat to medium high and add noodles to cook until slightly crispy. Pour the stir-fried veggies back in the wok, mix everything using tongs. Slowly pour the sauce, tossing everything around.

  • Cook for 3 to 5 minutes until everything is evenly coated and cooked through. Adjust the liquid/seasoning as needed then turn off the heat.

  • Garnish with chopped green onions and hot sauce/chili oil as desired. Serve it warm.

Dixya Bhattarai

Dixya Bhattarai

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