Chicken Chow Mein

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Chicken Chow Mein — Chewy chow mein noodles, crisp-tender veggies, and juicy chicken are stir-fried in a sesame-soy sauce! It’s a SIMPLE and FAST recipe that anyone can make. It’s cheaper than ordering take out, your family will be impressed, and you’ll love how EASY it is to prepare!

Chicken Chow Mein — Chewy chow mein noodles, crisp-tender veggies, and juicy chicken are stir-fried in a sesame-soy sauce! It’s a SIMPLE and FAST recipe that anyone can make. It's cheaper than ordering take out, your family will be impressed, and you'll love how EASY it is to prepare!

Takeout-Style Chicken Chow Mein 

Put down those carry-out and takeout menus and instead head to your kitchen to make this easy chicken chow mein yourself!

Chinese takeout-style chicken chow mein takes 30 minutes to prepare and uses simple ingredients you likely have on hand. 

If you regularly make curries or fried rice, chances are good you already have what’s needed to make the chow mein sauce and stir-fried noodles! 

Chicken Chow Mein — Chewy chow mein noodles, crisp-tender veggies, and juicy chicken are stir-fried in a sesame-soy sauce! It’s a SIMPLE and FAST recipe that anyone can make. It's cheaper than ordering take out, your family will be impressed, and you'll love how EASY it is to prepare!

This is a perfect “oops, I forgot to plan dinner tonight” recipe. The chicken is coated in some of the chow mein sauce to marinate, and while that’s happening you can start cooking the chow mein noodles and chopping up the vegetables. 

By the time the chicken is finished with a quick marinating – just 10 to 15 minutes is fine – you can begin cooking and assembling the stir-fry. So easy! 

Chicken Chow Mein — Chewy chow mein noodles, crisp-tender veggies, and juicy chicken are stir-fried in a sesame-soy sauce! It’s a SIMPLE and FAST recipe that anyone can make. It's cheaper than ordering take out, your family will be impressed, and you'll love how EASY it is to prepare!

The chow mein sauce has layers of flavor thanks to the combination of soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sesame oil. The oyster sauce doesn’t make the chicken chow mein taste fishy in the slightest! It just adds that extra something-something that takes any copycat takeout recipe from good to GREAT! 

This is a flexible recipe that can be made with a variety of noodles, veggies, and protein. Open up your produce drawer, see what needs to be used up, and get cooking! 

Chicken Chow Mein — Chewy chow mein noodles, crisp-tender veggies, and juicy chicken are stir-fried in a sesame-soy sauce! It’s a SIMPLE and FAST recipe that anyone can make. It's cheaper than ordering take out, your family will be impressed, and you'll love how EASY it is to prepare!

What Is Chicken Chow Mein? 

Chicken chow mein is a popular Chinese recipe that’s made with stir-fried egg noodles, veggies, and a protein. 

Although chow mein features a rich stir-fry sauce, this isn’t a saucy dish per se. It’s a drier stir-fry with lots of contrasting textures in every bite. 

Between the chewy chow mein noodles and the stir-fried celery, cabbage, and carrots, every bite is exploding with flavor! 

Chicken Chow Mein — Chewy chow mein noodles, crisp-tender veggies, and juicy chicken are stir-fried in a sesame-soy sauce! It’s a SIMPLE and FAST recipe that anyone can make. It's cheaper than ordering take out, your family will be impressed, and you'll love how EASY it is to prepare!

Chicken Chow Mein Ingredients 

For such a flavorful dish, homemade chicken chow mein uses very simple ingredients. Gather the following to make the recipe.

For the chow mein sauce: 

  • Soy sauce – I recommend lite or reduced sodium soy sauce. Coconut aminos is also fine.
  • Cornstarch (or arrowroot powder)
  • Oyster sauce
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Granulated sugar 
  • Sesame oil – If you are very sensitive to the flavor, you can cut this back to one teaspoon sesame oil, or two. We love it though and use 1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons) or even a bit more.
Chicken Chow Mein — Chewy chow mein noodles, crisp-tender veggies, and juicy chicken are stir-fried in a sesame-soy sauce! It’s a SIMPLE and FAST recipe that anyone can make. It's cheaper than ordering take out, your family will be impressed, and you'll love how EASY it is to prepare!

For the stir fry:

  • Chow mein noodles
  • Boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into strips
  • Oil (vegetable, canola, or olive) 
  • Garlic 
  • Green cabbage 
  • Matchstick carrots
  • Celery 
  • Water
  • Green onions
Chicken Chow Mein — Chewy chow mein noodles, crisp-tender veggies, and juicy chicken are stir-fried in a sesame-soy sauce! It’s a SIMPLE and FAST recipe that anyone can make. It's cheaper than ordering take out, your family will be impressed, and you'll love how EASY it is to prepare!

Note: Scroll down to the recipe card section of the post for the ingredients with amounts included and for more complete directions.

What Can I Substitute for Chow Mein Noodles? 

Chow mein noodles are thin egg noodles that remain slightly chewy even after being boiled and stir-fried. This is what I recommend – with my runner up listed below.

Don’t Confuse Your Noodles!

Make sure you do NOT use dry “chow mein” noodles made with wheat in place of egg-based chow mein noodles.

The former are better as a crunchy garnish or topping but not something you want to use as the main noodle in the recipe.

Note that if you use a substitute your finished Chinese chicken chow mein likely won’t have that same signature texture. 

Chicken Chow Mein — Chewy chow mein noodles, crisp-tender veggies, and juicy chicken are stir-fried in a sesame-soy sauce! It’s a SIMPLE and FAST recipe that anyone can make. It's cheaper than ordering take out, your family will be impressed, and you'll love how EASY it is to prepare!

However, if you don’t order them online or can’t find chow mein noodles at your local grocery store or don’t want to make an extra trip to get them, you can also try: 

  • Ramen noodles The runner up and best substitute since they remain fairly chewy once stir-fried. Crack open 3 normal sized packages (about 3 ounces each) of cheapie ramen, discard the seasoning packets, and boil as directed to soften, and then stir them in to the cooked chicken and veggies for chow mein. It’s what I use and do in this 15-Minute Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry with Ramen Noodles recipe.
  • Thin wheat somen noodles — The daintiest, skinniest, thinnest stir-fry noodle! 
  • Pad thai noodles — Are much wider and usually chewier than chow mein noodles. Also called flat rice noodles. If you’re craving Chicken Pad Thai, my recipe is incredible!
  • Angel hair or thin spaghetti — These are Italian in origin, but will work in a pinch! 
Chicken Chow Mein — Chewy chow mein noodles, crisp-tender veggies, and juicy chicken are stir-fried in a sesame-soy sauce! It’s a SIMPLE and FAST recipe that anyone can make. It's cheaper than ordering take out, your family will be impressed, and you'll love how EASY it is to prepare!

How to Make Chicken Chow Mein 

The total time needed to make this easy better-than-takeout chicken chow mein is only about 35 minutes with approximately 15 minutes of cook time.

Working Ahead!

This is such an easy recipe for chicken chow mein, but I highly recommend working on multiple parts of the recipe at once. 

For example, while the chicken marinades you can begin chopping the vegetables. While the chow mein noodles boil, you can begin sauteeing the chicken — and so on. 

Here’s an overview of how the recipe is prepared: 

Step 1: Make the chow mein sauce. Stir together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. 

Step 2: Marinate the chicken. Toss the chicken pieces with 2 tablespoons of the prepared sauce. Set aside to marinate for about 10-15 minutes. 

Chicken Chow Mein — Chewy chow mein noodles, crisp-tender veggies, and juicy chicken are stir-fried in a sesame-soy sauce! It’s a SIMPLE and FAST recipe that anyone can make. It's cheaper than ordering take out, your family will be impressed, and you'll love how EASY it is to prepare!

Step 3: Cook the chow mein noodles. Follow the package instructions for this step by heating a pot of water and then drain the noodles. 

Step 4: Stir-fry the chicken and veggies. Heat some oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the marinated chicken and cook for a few minutes until about halfway done. Then, add the veggies and cook for about 5 minutes. 

Use a Big Skillet!

You don’t need a wok for this recipe. I don’t even own one because they’re so bulky to store and I have very little! However, you do need a large, high-sided skillet. You can use a nonstick skillet or if you’re familiar with how to cook in stainless steel without food sticking, go for it.

See the FAQs below for my skillet recommendations!

Step 5: Add noodles and sauce. Add the cooked and drained chow mein noodles to the skillet, followed by the sauce and green onions. Cook for about 1 minute, just to thicken up the sauce. 

Chicken Chow Mein — Chewy chow mein noodles, crisp-tender veggies, and juicy chicken are stir-fried in a sesame-soy sauce! It’s a SIMPLE and FAST recipe that anyone can make. It's cheaper than ordering take out, your family will be impressed, and you'll love how EASY it is to prepare!

Recipe FAQs

What is oyster sauce and what does it taste like?  

Oyster sauce is a thick, syrupy sauce made from cooked oysters. It has a rich, umami flavor — slightly sweet, slightly salty, slightly earthy, but not at all fishy! If you know what hoisin sauce is, I like to think of oyster sauce as its cousin.

Oyster sauce is a staple in Chinese cuisine and is essential to making a well-balanced chow mein sauce. It won’t make the chicken chow mein taste even remotely like oysters, it will just add tons of flavor! 

Can the oyster sauce be substituted? 

Not really, no. Oyster sauce is a unique ingredient that really can’t be replicated by anything else.

I don’t recommend substituting it with additional soy sauce, otherwise the chow mein sauce will taste too strongly of soy and could also end up being too salty. Chicken Chow Mein — Chewy chow mein noodles, crisp-tender veggies, and juicy chicken are stir-fried in a sesame-soy sauce! It’s a SIMPLE and FAST recipe that anyone can make. It's cheaper than ordering take out, your family will be impressed, and you'll love how EASY it is to prepare!

Can chicken chow mein be made in advance? 

Homemade chow mein is best enjoyed immediately and this isn’t a meal to prep in advance. The beauty of most stir fry type of recipes is they’re fast to prepared but best enjoyed hot and fresh.

You can of course refrigerate and reheat leftovers, but I don’t recommend preparing this recipe with the intention of using it for meal prep. 

Chow mein tends to dry out slightly upon reheating. I reheat in the microwave and drizzle a tiny bit more soy sauce or oil over the top before I reheat it. If you want to reheat on the stove, you’ll want to add extra oil to the skillet when warming it back up. 

Can I use ground chicken or chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs? 

Sure! You’re welcome to swap out the chicken thighs for ground chicken, noting that ground chicken contains less fat and is more prone to drying out. To prevent that, add a little extra oil to the skillet before sauteing. 

Boneless skinless chicken breasts are also an acceptable swap for the boneless skinless chicken thighs if you prefer. They’re leaner so be extra careful when sauteeing that you don’t accidentally overcook and dry it out.Chicken Chow Mein — Chewy chow mein noodles, crisp-tender veggies, and juicy chicken are stir-fried in a sesame-soy sauce! It’s a SIMPLE and FAST recipe that anyone can make. It's cheaper than ordering take out, your family will be impressed, and you'll love how EASY it is to prepare!

Can I use another protein altogether in this recipe? 

Yep! Smoked or firm tofu, ground pork, or thinly sliced beef or steak, will also work. If you’re a fan of pork, this Asian Pork Noodle Stir Fry made with ground pork is a winner!

Can I add other veggies to the chow mein? 

Absolutely! This is a very flexible recipe, so feel free to add whatever veggies you have on hand.

Bamboo shoots, baby corn, bean sprouts, sliced water chestnuts, chopped broccoli, bell peppers of any color, sliced mushrooms, snow peas or peapods, or cooked and shelled edamame will all work. 
Chicken Chow Mein — Chewy chow mein noodles, crisp-tender veggies, and juicy chicken are stir-fried in a sesame-soy sauce! It’s a SIMPLE and FAST recipe that anyone can make. It's cheaper than ordering take out, your family will be impressed, and you'll love how EASY it is to prepare!

Do I need a Wok to make authentic tasting chow mein?

No wok necessary for this easy chicken chow mein that rivals your local Chinese restaurant.

You can use a large nonstick skillet such as a 12-inch Green Pan nonstick skillet or similar nonstick skillet.

You can also use a stainless steel skillet if you know how to cook things in stainless steel so they don’t stick. This takes a bit of practice but if you’re a decent cook and you want to make this in stainless steel, I have done so many times including in my P.F. Chang’s Mongolian Beef (Copycat) recipe. I use an All-Clad D3 3-quart pan.
Chicken Chow Mein — Chewy chow mein noodles, crisp-tender veggies, and juicy chicken are stir-fried in a sesame-soy sauce! It’s a SIMPLE and FAST recipe that anyone can make. It's cheaper than ordering take out, your family will be impressed, and you'll love how EASY it is to prepare!

Is it possible to make the chow mein spicy?

Normally, chow mein isn’t known to be spicy at all. However, you can change that by adding red pepper flakes, sriracha, or even a teeny tiny bit of cayenne pepper to the recipe.Chicken Chow Mein — Chewy chow mein noodles, crisp-tender veggies, and juicy chicken are stir-fried in a sesame-soy sauce! It’s a SIMPLE and FAST recipe that anyone can make. It's cheaper than ordering take out, your family will be impressed, and you'll love how EASY it is to prepare!

Storage Instructions 

Leftover chicken chow mein will last up to 5 days in the fridge, noting that the noodles tend to dry out over time. 

I do NOT recommend freezing this recipe. The vegetables will become grainy and the noodles tough and rubbery if frozen. 

Chicken Chow Mein — Chewy chow mein noodles, crisp-tender veggies, and juicy chicken are stir-fried in a sesame-soy sauce! It’s a SIMPLE and FAST recipe that anyone can make. It's cheaper than ordering take out, your family will be impressed, and you'll love how EASY it is to prepare!

What to Serve with Chicken Chow Mein 

We love topping our homemade chicken chow mein with chopped green onions and sesame seeds, but you can pile on whatever toppings you like best! 

For a complete Asian-inspired feast, serve the chow mein with one or more of the following: 

Chicken Chow Mein — Chewy chow mein noodles, crisp-tender veggies, and juicy chicken are stir-fried in a sesame-soy sauce! It’s a SIMPLE and FAST recipe that anyone can make. It's cheaper than ordering take out, your family will be impressed, and you'll love how EASY it is to prepare!

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5 from 2 votes

Chicken Chow Mein

By Averie Sunshine
Chicken Chow Mein — Chewy chow mein noodles, crisp-tender veggies, and juicy chicken are stir-fried in a sesame-soy sauce! It’s a SIMPLE and FAST recipe that anyone can make. It's cheaper than ordering take out, your family will be impressed, and you'll love how EASY it is to prepare!
Recipe Flow Tips – While one thing is happening, make sure you are moving on to the next step, i.e. while the chicken marinates, mince the garlic. While the chicken cooks, make sure you're quickly chopping the cabbage and carrots, and so forth. The recipe moves fast once you get going so either prep everything in advance or work quickly/work ahead during any "downtime".
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
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Ingredients  

Chow Mein Sauce

  • ¼ cup lite soy sauce, or coconut aminos may be substituted
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch, or arrowroot powder may be substituted
  • ¼ cup oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, sometimes labeled as just ‘rice vinegar’
  • 4 teaspoons granulated sugar, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil, or to taste

Chow Mein

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch strips (or boneless skinless chicken breasts)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, canola oil, or olive oil
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
  • 5 cups green cabbage, finely chopped** (see step 7 for time saving tip)
  • 1 cup matchstick carrots**, see step 7 for time saving tip
  • 1 cup celery, sliced into thin half moon shapes
  • 8 ounces chow mein noodles or ramen noodles, dry/uncooked
  • ¾ cup water
  • 4 green onions, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch segments
  • Finely sliced green onions, for garnishing

Instructions 

  • Chow Mein Sauce – To a small bowl, add the soy sauce, cornstarch, and whisk well to combine. Tips – I recommend lite or reduced sodium soy sauce so the dish doesn't become too salty. Liquid aminos or coconut aminos also work fine. You need to use the cornstarch or arrowroot because it helps thicken the sauce when exposed to heat. Don't skip it.
  • Then add all the remaining sauce ingredients, whisk to combine; set aside. TipOyster sauce doesn't make the recipe taste fishy nor like oysters and is essential in this Chinese-inspired recipe. I don't recommend skipping it nor substituting with more soy sauce (it'll just taste more soy-like) and won't have the signature unami, lightly sweetened, ultra rich flavor that oyster sauce lends to the dish. Oyster sauce reminds me a bit like hoisin sauce which would be a better sub if you have it on hand instead.
  • Marinating – To a medium bowl, add the chicken pieces, add 2 tablespoons of the chow mein sauce over the top, stir to combine; set aside for 10 to 15 minutes while you prep/chop the other ingredients.
  • Noodles – While the chicken marinates, boil the chow mein noodles according to package directions; drain and set aside. TIp – Most noodles cook very quickly and make sure not to overcook them.
  • Chow Mein – While the noodles are cooking (or after if they cooked very fast), to a large, deep, high-sided skillet (of at least 10-12 inches or use wok if you have one, although a wok is not necessary), add the 1-2 tablespoons veg/canola/olive oil, add the chicken and marinating liquid from the bowl (just dump it all in), and cook over medium-high heat for about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir and flip frequently to ensure even cooking.
  • Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute; stir constantly.
  • Add the cabbage, carrots, celery, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until cabbage wilts and softens. Tips – To save time, you can use 1 to 2 bags (it will depend on their size, they vary from brand to brand) of coleslaw mix with carrots. The cabbage is usually quite finely chopped so it will cook quicker and the quantity of carrots may be a bit skimpier than if you chop them yourself, but it's a time-saving option. Bagged cabbage with carrots will also cook a bit faster too, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Add the cooked noodles, the chow mein sauce, water, green onion segments, stir to combine, and cook for 1 minute.
  • Garnish with additional green onions as desired and serve immediately. Extra chow mein will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days. I don't recommend freezing this recipe.
  • Reheating – When reheating leftovers, you may want to drizzle a bit more soy sauce and/or oil over the chow mein since it is prone to drying out as it sits as well as when you reheat it. Or, simply set it out on the counter 30-45 minutes before you want to eat it and consume at room temp which is what we tend to do.

Notes

*Noodles – Make sure you do NOT use dry “chow mein” noodles made with wheat in place of egg-based chow mein noodles. The former are better as a crunchy garnish or topping but not something you want to use as the main noodle in the recipe.
Note that if you use a substitute your finished Chinese chicken chow mein likely won’t have that same signature texture. 
However, if you don’t order your noodles online or can’t find chow mein noodles at your local grocery store, you can also try: 
  • Ramen noodles — The best substitute since they remain fairly chewy once stir-fried. Open 3 normal sized packages (about 3 ounces each) of cheapie ramen, discard the seasoning packets, and boil as directed to soften, and then stir them in to the cooked chicken and veggies for the chow mein. It’s what I use and do in this 15-Minute Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry with Ramen Noodles recipe.
  • Thin wheat somen noodles — The daintiest, skinniest, thinnest stir-fry noodle! 
  • Pad thai noodles — Are much wider and usually chewier than chow mein noodles. Also called flat rice noodles. If you’re craving Chicken Pad Thai, my recipe is incredible!
  • Angel hair or thin spaghetti — These are Italian in origin, but will work in a pinch! 

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 585kcal, Carbohydrates: 53g, Protein: 26g, Fat: 30g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 24g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 92mg, Sodium: 1808mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 10g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Welcome to AverieCooks! Here you’ll find fast and easy recipes that taste amazing and are geared for real life. Nothing fussy or complicated, just awesome tasting dishes everyone loves!

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Please note: I have only made the recipe as written, and cannot give advice or predict what will happen if you change something. If you have a question regarding changing, altering, or making substitutions to the recipe, please check out the FAQ page for more info.

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Comments

  1. Hi Averie! I love your recipes. Just curious, do you think this recipe will work ok with sesame oil and/or is there a subsitute you recommend? My little guy is allergic to sesame. Thanks so much!

    1. Potentially you mean to say ‘without’ sesame oil (assuming so if you have someone with a sesame allergy).

      So in that case, yes just omit it and use another oil in its place like canola, vegetable, or olive oil.