Love Chow Mein, but trying to cut down on those takeaways? This Chicken Chow Mein recipe is super tasty and easy to put together. With succulent pieces of marinated chicken and lots of fresh veggies tossed in a yummy umami sauce, you get to enjoy all your favourite Chow Mein flavours at a fraction of the price. What's more, with just 25 minutes of cooking and prep time you'll be able to deliver it more quickly too.
The post contains additional information and helpful tips to ensure the recipe turns out great the first time. Please use the link above to jump to the recipe card at the end if you are in a hurry!
✅ 4 reasons why you'll love this recipe:
- Better than takeaway - tastier, quicker, healthier and cheaper
- Scrumptious - packed with tasty marinated chicken, fresh veggies and tossed in a super tasty sauce.
- Versatile - switch up the protein or change the veggies. Once you've got the sauce right you're sure to have a seriously tasty bowl of noodles.
- Tasty leftovers - you're sure to crave another plate of these tasty noodles so make a large batch and enjoy an even quicker dinner the next day.
🛒 Ingredients and variations:
Chow Mein sauce
A tasty sauce is key and is what sets a great Chow Mein apart from a mediocre bland-flavoured one. Dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, sugar and rice vinegar are the key ingredients in my sauce. I've used dark soy sauce instead of regular light soy sauce because it's sweeter and richer, but you could use light soy sauce if you need to. Just note that you might need to increase the amount of sugar to taste. Rice vinegar gives the sauce a tanginess and adds another element to the umami sweetness. You can use apple cider vinegar instead, but I strongly advise against skipping it.
It's unlikely your local supermarket will stock Chow Mein noodles, but fortunately fresh or dry egg noodles will work nicely. I often opt for fresh egg noodles because they taste better, save time and don't stick together the way dried egg noodles often do.
Chow Mein is a super versatile dish. Once you've got the sauce right, you're sure to have a delicious plate of noodles. The protein and veggies are up to you. I have chosen onion, cabbage and mushroom because they add more yummy umami flavour, but most stir-fry-able veggies will work well and Chow Mein is a great way to use up any veggies that are lingering in your fridge.
Chicken (and other protein options)
When it comes to protein, chicken is a solid choice because it's easy to prepare and takes on the flavour of the sauce. I opt for thighs over breasts because they are more succulent. If you use breast, I recommend tenderising it using this velveting technique. Otherwise, pork or shrimp/prawns will also work well. For a vegetarian option, use tofu or just add more veggies. Chow Mein is wonderfully adaptable.
🧑🍳 Chicken Chow Mein in 4 easy steps
1. Make the sauce
Mix dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, sugar and white pepper in a small jug or bowl. Stir a tablespoon of the sauce into the chicken pieces and leave to marinade while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
2. Cook the chicken
Place a wok or large frying pan on a medium to high heat, add oil, and cook the chicken for a few minutes until brown.
3. Add the veggies
Fry the mushrooms, shredded cabbage and whites of the spring onions/scallions for a few minutes until the cabbage begins to soften and the mushrooms start to brown. Then add the bean sprouts, green parts of the spring onion/scallions and garlic and cook for a minute or two more.
4. Noodles and sauce
Add the noodles in the pan until hot then pour on the sauce and quickly toss all the ingredients in the pan to incorporate. Remove the pan from the heat and serve immediately topped with more finely chopped spring onions/scallions.
👍 Top tips for perfect Chow Mein
- Marinade the chicken while you chop the veggies - get the chicken extra tasty by prepping it first, adding a tablespoon of the sauce and leaving it to marinate while you chop the veggies.
- Get everything prepped before you fry - make sure the sauce is made and the veggies are chopped. Things will move very fast once you start stir-frying.
- Use fresh noodles instead of dried - to save those precious minutes and deliver faster than your local takeaway
Do I need a wok?
A wok is ideal for stir-fry dishes like Chow Mein because its high sides allow you to toss everything together quickly on a high heat, it is not essential and another large frying pan with high sides will also do the job.
Many people think that Chow Mein and Lo Mein are different types of noodles, however, the key difference is how they are prepared. Both Chow Mein and lo mein are Chinese egg noodles. Fresh egg noodles are used for Lo Mein whereas Chow Mein can be made from fresh or dry noodles. Both noodle types need to be softened in boiling water first but require different amounts of cooking time.
Traditionally Chinese Chow Mein is made with egg noodles and stir-fried veggies which are tossed in a sweet umami sauce. Proteins such as chicken, pork, shrimp or tofu are often added when Chow Mein is served as a main instead of a side.
Chow Mein sauce ingredients can vary but commonly include soy sauce, oyster sauce and sugar. It's also likely you'll see vinegar and white pepper on the list of ingredients to add tanginess and subtle heat to the other umami flavours in the sauce. A lot of Chow Mein sauce recipes also call for cornflour to thicken the sauce. Although this often isn't necessary, as the sauce will thicken when added to a steaming wok.
Chow Mein is a westernisation of the term 'chaomian' and translates as fried noodles. It's typically a dish of Chinese stir-fried noodles, vegetables and a protein like chicken, pork, shrimp or tofu. Variations of the dish were created in many regions of China. It was brought to Western Countries by Chinese immigrants and is a popular dish that can be found on most Chinese restaurant and takeaway menus.
Chow Mein can be nutritious. It depends on the ingredients you use and how it's prepared. Homemade Chow Mein that uses a small amount of oil and contains lots of veggies and lean protein can be a balanced and healthy meal. However, a greasy takeout Chow Mein will often be nowhere near as nutritious as it uses a lot more oil and is unlikely to contain as many fresh veggies.
Both Chop Suey and Chow Mein are made with stir-fried meat and veggies. Chop Suey originates in Southern China and has a thick gravy-like sauce and is typically served with rice whereas Chow Mein comes from Northern China and is made with egg noodles and served with a thinner umami sauce where soy sauce is one of the key ingredients.
📦 Leftovers and storage instructions
Chow Mein leftovers taste great the next day. Just cover, leave to cool and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Ensure you reheat thoroughly on the stove or in the microwave before eating.
Freezing chow mein
You can freeze leftover Chow Mein for up to 3 months. Just place it into an airtight container or freezer bag and place it in the freezer once cool. Defrost in the fridge and reheat on the stove or in the microwave?
😋 Check out my other better-than-takeaway recipes
Takeaway food is often bland-tasting, greasy, expensive and unhealthy. My takeaway alternatives are delicious, fast, easy to make, cost-effective and so much better for you and include Honey Chilli Chicken, Mongolian Beef, Lamb Shish and Prawn Fried Rice.
Did you try this recipe? It would be really great if you could leave a comment and a star rating ⭐️. I would love to receive your feedback and know that other readers find it helpful too.
Don't forget to tag #knifeandsoulrecipes on Instagram or @knifeandsoul on Pinterest!
Chicken Chow Mein
- 1 wok
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 2 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp sesame oil (toasted)
- 2 tbsp rice or apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp sugar
- ½ tsp white pepper
- 2 tbsp neutral oil ground nut or vegetable oil
- 350 g (12 oz) chicken thighs cut into bite-sized pieces
- 150 g (5 oz) mushrooms roughly chopped
- 250 g (9 oz) cabbage finely shredded
- 4 spring onions/scallions chopped into 2cm or 1 inch pieces + extra to serve
- 4 cloves garlic crushed
- 300 g (10 oz) bean sprouts
- 600 g (21 oz) fresh egg noodles or x 4 portions of dry egg noodles
- Mix the sauce ingredients in a small jug or bowl and set aside.
- Place the chicken in a bowl and mix with 1 tablespoon of the sauce. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Place a wok or large frying pan on a medium to high heat and add the oil. Add the chicken when the oil is hot and cook for a few minutes until it is brown on the outside.
- Add the mushrooms, cabbage and the whites of the spring onions/scallions and cook for a few minutes until the mushrooms are brown and the cabbage has softened.
- Add the garlic, bean sprouts and the green parts of the spring onions/scallions and cook for a minute or two until fragrant.
- Add the noodles and toss for a minute or so until hot.
- Pour on the sauce, toss the noodles, chicken and veggies for 30 seconds until incorporated, remove the pan from the heat and serve immediately topped with more spring onions/scallions as desired.