Love to the noodles in the form of Chicken Chow Mein! Succulent pieces of chicken, fresh veggies, and bouncy pan-fried noodles tossed in a simple, sticky sauce, this at-home version of the Chinese-American favorite wants to be your dinner date tonight!
Sit down to eat this healthy meal at the table, or enjoy it in true takeaway style—in front of a rom-com.
No matter the setting, this easy chicken chow mein fits right in.
We eat stir fry almost weekly here, for good reason:
- Stir fries can serve as a complete meal with servings of veggies, protein, and whole grains. One and done.
- You can throw just about anything you have in the refrigerator at them. Yes to flexibility!
When cooking stir fry, I tend to default to the “over rice” approach (Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry; Tofu Stir Fry; Sweet and Sour Chicken).
Sometimes though, especially when I am REALLY craving takeout, nothing hits the spot like a noodle-based stir fry: Vegetable Lo Mein; simple Stir Fry Noodles; Beef Lo Mein. Swoon.
Chow Mein vs. Lo Mein
Chicken chow mein is similar to chicken lo mein in flavor, but the noodles are treated differently.
- Chow mein means “fried” noodles. The noodles are cooked, then pan-fried.
- Lo mein means “tossed (or mixed or stirred) noodles.” The noodles get tossed in at the end after they are fully cooked.
Chow mein and lo mein are also typically different noodle types.
- Chow mein noodles can be fresh or dry and are usually thin, making them ideal for quickly pan-frying.
- Lo mein noodles are more thick and chewy, perfect for stirring in at the end.
How to Make Chicken Chow Mein
Chinese chicken chow mein is made of noodles, vegetables, and tender chicken chunks all coated in a deliciously sweet, sticky, and salty sauce.
This chicken chow mein recipe is my interpretation of the popular Chinese-American takeaway dish, made with ingredients I typically have on hand.
If you’d like to look for an authentic chicken chow mein recipe from a Chinese blogger, check out Red House Spice. Her site looks scrumptious!
- Chow Mein Noodles. The chow mein noodles become irresistable once they’re lightly crisped and coated in the sweet, sticky sauce. Plus, they add some protein to the dish.
- Chicken. Tender chunks of chicken breast or thighs help make this a more satisfying meal.
- Red Bell Peppers. Red bell peppers add beautiful color and sweetness to the dish.
- Broccoli Slaw. Broccoli slaw is a fantastic ingredient to use in stir fry recipes like this one! It’s an easy way to incorporate oodles of veggies without the added prep work.
- Green Onions. For subtle onion flavor and color.
- Chow Mein Sauce. Soy sauce adds umami, sesame oil adds nuttiness, and oyster sauce and honey help make the sauce sticky and sweet. I also added some chicken bouillon powder for more complex savoriness.
- Cook the noodles until they’re almost al dente. Drain and rinse them, then drizzle them with canola oil.
- Whisk the sauce ingredients together.
- Brown the chicken in oil. Transfer it to a plate.
- Cook the bell pepper in the remaining oil.
- Stir in the slaw, onions, and noodles. Pan fry the chow mein for 6 to 8 minutes more. Stir in the sauce and chicken. ENJOY!
- To Store. Refrigerate chow mein in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat.
- To Freeze. Freeze chow mein in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Meal Prep Tip
Up to 1 day in advance, cut the chicken, bell peppers, and green onions. Refrigerate each ingredient in a separate airtight storage container until you’re ready to finish the recipe.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Liquid Measuring Cups. Ideal for measuring and mixing the sauce.
- Wok. You can also use a a large skillet.
- Colander. Essential for draining all the water from your noodles. These colanders collapse for easy storage.
The Best Cast Iron Skillet
Thanks to its nonstick surface, this wok makes cleanup a breeze. Plus, it comes with its own lid to help keep your stovetop free of oil splatters.
Take me away, takeout style chicken chow mein!
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely! Swap the chicken for tofu (try my Air Fryer Tofu or Crispy Tofu) or omit it altogether. Or, you could try this recipe with vegetables only for a vegetable chow mein. You’ll also need to use vegetable bullion powder and a vegetarian oyster sauce.
Oyster sauce is widely available and tastes unique, so it is worth seeking out. If your grocery store doesn’t carry oyster sauce, you could experiment with using hoisin.
To add some heat to your chow mein, drizzle Sriracha over the finished dish to taste. You could also sprinkle on red pepper flakes.
FOR THE STIR FRY:
- 12 ounces chow mein noodles or similar stir fry noodles see note*
- 2 1/2 tablespoons canola oil or grapeseed oil or similar neutral cooking oil, divided
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 red bell peppers sliced into ¼-inch-thick strips
- 1 (12-ounce) bag broccoli slaw or shredded cabbage or other veggies of choice
- 1 small bunch green onions cut into 1-inch pieces
FOR THE CHOW MEIN SAUCE:
- 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons hot water
- 2 1/2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil preferably toasted, but untoasted works too
- 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon powder
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook your noodles to slightly below al dente according to package instructions. Drain, rinse with cold water until completely cool, and then shake and toss the noodles in the colander to remove as much excess water as you can. They should look bouncy and still have a good amount of chew to them when you taste a noodle. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the canola oil and stir to coat. Set aside.
In a liquid measuring cup with a spout, whisk together the ingredients for the sauce until smoothly combined and no lumps remain: soy sauce, water, oyster sauce, sesame oil, honey, and bouillon powder. Set near the stove.
In a large wok or similar large, sturdy skillet, heat 1 tablespoon canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and saute until it is browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Return the pan to the skillet and add the remaining ½ tablespoon canola oil. Increase the heat to high. Once the oil is hot, add the bell pepper, stir to coat with the oil, then spread into a single layer and let cook undisturbed for 1 minute, allowing the strips that are touching the pan to brown slightly.
Stir in the broccoli slaw and green onions. Cook for 1 minute more (the slaw should remain crisp).
Shake the noodles once more to remove any last water that you can, then add to the skillet. Cook, stirring at least once every minute, until the noodles are somewhat dry can you spot a noodle or two with some toasted bits, about 6 to 8 minutes.
Add the sauce and chicken, stirring to coat the noodles evenly. Enjoy fresh and hot.
- *Purchase chow mein noodles that are designed to be cooked via boiling, NOT the pre-crisped kind designed to be sprinkled on salads. The noodles should be thin, round, and made with wheat flour—my grocery store carries noodles called “stir fry noodles” that work well in chow mein. You also can sometimes find the noodles already cooked in the refrigerated section, in which case, you can add them to the stir fry directly (you’ll need 16 ounces cooked noodles). Italian spaghetti noodles can also be used as a good (if not 100% authentic) swap for chow mein noodles.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate chow mein in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze chow mein in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Serving: 1(of 4)Calories: 763kcalCarbohydrates: 78gProtein: 66gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 145mgPotassium: 1399mgFiber: 7gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 2520IUVitamin C: 163mgCalcium: 87mgIron: 5mg
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