How to Make Chow Mein

Three Parts:Prepping Your IngredientsStir-Frying and Serving Your DishMaking It Your Own

Although making chow mein isn't difficult, preparing it does takes time. Chow mein is a versatile dish that can be adapted to suit your preferences. Beef, shrimp or pork can be substituted for the chicken, and crispy noodles can be used instead of soft noodles. The chow mein recipe below will make enough servings for 4 to 6 people.


Main Ingredients

  • 8 ounces (227 grams) wonton noodles
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts (or protein source of your choice)
  • 1 pound (254 grams) fresh bean sprouts
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped in 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 pound (254 grams) broccoli or bok choy, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 pound (227 grams) fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 sweet red pepper, cut into chunks
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped
  • Peanut oil (for frying)

Marinade Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

Sauce Ingredients

  • Low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • Salt and pepper

Part 1
Prepping Your Ingredients

  1. Image titled Make Chow Mein Step 1
    Place 1 pound (454 grams) of fresh bean sprouts in a colander. Rinse them thoroughly, then allow the bean sprouts to drain while you prepare the other ingredients. This should be done about an hour before the rest of the recipe is ready.
    • If you're not a fan of bean sprouts, that's completely fine. Some recipes leave them out entirely or replace them with 1 cup of Chinese long beans or green beans. You simply cut them into about 1" (2.5 cm) pieces, boil them for 1 minute, blanch them in ice water for 1 minute more, and set aside.[1]
  2. Image titled Make Chow Mein Step 2
    Make your marinade. Place 1 tablespoon (14.8 ml) of oyster sauce in a small mixing bowl. Add 1 teaspoon soy sauce, along with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch until it becomes one uniform, thickened consistency.[2]
    • Again, every recipe is different. Some choose to skip the marinade entirely. If you're watching your salt in take, you may want to just stir-fry your chicken (or whatever meat you choose) plain.[3]
  3. Image titled Make Chow Mein Step 3
    Cut 2 chicken breasts into thin strips. Place the chicken strips in the oyster sauce mixture and allow the chicken to marinate for 20 to 25 minutes. Continue making your sauce and cutting up your veggies while the chicken marinates.
    • You can also use this marinade with pork or beef, too. Alternatively, you could use your own marinade if you have a favorite.
    • Tofu and shrimp may also be substituted instead of chicken, though you may want to skip the marinade for those.
  4. Image titled Make Chow Mein Step 4
    Make the sauce for the chow mein. Place 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth into a mixing bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon oyster sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Blend 1 teaspoon cornstarch with 4 tablespoons (59.1 ml) water, then stir the cornstarch mixture into the sauce. Set the sauce aside once it's thickened.[4]
    • Many recipes make a sauce that's a bit sweeter. Consider adding a tablespoon or two of brown sugar, honey, or half a tablespoon of plain white sugar.[5]
  5. Image titled Make Chow Mein Step 5
    Place 8 ounces (227 grams) of dry wonton noodles in a bowl of salted, boiling water. Allow the noodles to soften (it should take about 5 to 7 minutes), and then drain the noodles thoroughly, setting aside.
    • The noodles are the most confusing part. Yaki Soba noodles will get you close to what you experience in Chinese take-out restaurants (they're usually refrigerated). You can also buy fresh, dried, or steamed chow mein noodles. If they're steamed, you need only to soak them in cold water. However, regardless of what type of noodle you use, it's probably safe to follow the instructions on the package.

Part 2
Stir-Frying and Serving Your Dish

  1. Image titled Make Chow Mein Step 6
    Chop 2 celery stalks, 1 pound broccoli or bok choy, 1/2 onion, 1 red bell pepper and 1/2 pound (227 grams) fresh mushrooms and 1 scallion. Keep them separate – you'll be cooking them separately later.
    • The beauty about chow mein is that you can really use whatever vegetables you like. Cabbage and carrot are awfully common, too. Just dice it up and it'll be ready for stir-frying.
  2. Image titled Make Chow Mein Step 7
    Place 2 tablespoons of peanut oil in the wok. Heat the oil, then stir in the marinated chicken strips. Remove the chicken from the pan when the chicken is no longer pink.
    • Set the chicken aside – you'll be tossing it back in after the vegetables are done.
  3. Image titled Make Chow Mein Step 8
    Place 2 more tablespoons of peanut oil in a wok. Fry the wonton noodles in the hot oil, one small batch at a time. Remove the noodles when they turn golden.
    • You may not need that much more oil after the chicken, or you may need plenty. Just make sure there's enough oil in the pan for it to adequately stir-fry whatever's inside.
  4. Image titled Make Chow Mein Step 9
    Add the chopped vegetables to the wok, one type of vegetable at a time. Remove each vegetable before adding the next vegetable. Add more oil as needed. Stir fry all of the vegetables, except for the scallion. Add salt and pepper to taste.
    • Add 1/4 cup of water and place a lid on the wok when you stir fry the broccoli or bok choy. Because of this, it's easiest to do last.
  5. Image titled Make Chow Mein Step 10
    Place all of the ingredients in the wok, except for the noodles, sauce and shallot. Stir well, then make a well in the center for the sauce. Stir the sauce, then pour the sauce into the well. Stir again.
    • Add the scallion, stir, and then pour the chow mein over the wonton noodles. Mix it up as you like.
  6. Image titled Make Chow Mein Step 11
    Serve the chow mein. Place it all into a big bowl with tongs or a large fork and spoon and let your guests serve themselves. Provide extra soy sauce on the side, too, if needed.
    • Make sure you have both chopsticks and a fork at the ready – some people aren't proficient at chopsticks and prefer using a fork (and some are the other way around).

Part 3
Making It Your Own

  1. Image titled Make Chow Mein Step 12
    Consider making the sauce a bit sweeter. If you're looking to recreate chow mein from your favorite take-out shop, you'll likely want to add just a bit of sweetness to the sauce. A tablespoon or two of brown sugar, honey, or a bit of white sugar can do the trick.
    • You may want to use hoisin sauce as well, which is generally available at special Asian markets.
  2. Image titled Make Chow Mein Step 13
    For a more Americanized chow mein, add shredded cabbage and carrot. Most American chow mein contains only the very basic cabbage and carrot. If you're looking to replicate a recipe, these are a sure bet. But again, any vegetable will taste delicious – and make it healthier, too.
    • Plenty of people are fond of onion and garlic. If you're one of them, consider adding 3 cloves of garlic and one sliced onion to your pan and stir-frying until golden.
  3. Image titled Make Chow Mein Step 14
    Switch up your protein, or go vegetarian. Chicken is pretty standard in chow mein, but that doesn't mean you have to include it in your recipe. Beef, pork, shrimp and tofu work too. What's more, you could just skip the protein source entirely – though the meal becomes a lot less hearty without it.
    • If you do like the idea of making vegetarian chow mein but don't care much for tofu, simply up your quantities of your favorite vegetables. It'll give the dish more nutrients and more color.
  4. Image titled Make Chow Mein Step 15
    Experiment with different types of noodles. Some people find they prefer working with steamed noodles that only require soaking beforehand. Others find that the pan-fried, generic chow mein noodles work just fine, so why mess with a good thing? And yet others have diet restrictions, and need to use mushroom noodles or other variants. It all can work, so feel free to experiment.
    • If you're going low-carb, mushroom (or shirataki) noodles are a good substitute. However, if you're crafty, you could also use zucchini or squash noodles, though the taste will morph as a whole.

Things You'll Need

  • Strainer
  • Mixing bowl
  • Colander
  • Wok, or large frying pan
  • Knife and cutting board
  • Fork
  • Spoon
  • Measuring spoons


  • You may use vegetable oil instead of peanut oil if need be.

Article Info

Categories: Pasta and Noodles