Succulent pieces of chicken, fresh veggies, and bouncy pan-fried noodles tossed in a simple, sticky sauce, this healthier, at-home version of Chicken Chow Mein wants to be your dinner date tonight!
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Why You’ll Love This Healthier Chow Mein Recipe
- It’s an All-In-One Meal. From protein-rich chicken to filling noodles to an array of colorful veggies, this chicken chow mein recipe has it all! It includes everything you need for a healthy meal (just like my Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry). Add a side dish if you please, or simply enjoy it as it is.
- It’s a Master of Flexibility. Like Vegetable Lo Mein, Stir Fry Noodles, and Beef Lo Mein, you can throw just about anything you have in the refrigerator at this recipe, and it will find a way to make it work. You can swap out the protein, veggies, or noodles and still end up with a delightful meal.
- The Ingredients Aren’t Complicated. Chinese chicken chow mein is made of noodles, vegetables, and tender chicken chunks all coated in a deliciously sweet, sticky, and salty sauce. This is my interpretation of the popular Chinese-American takeaway dish, made with ingredients I typically have on hand. I wanted it to be as scrumptious as the restaurant version but easily accessible (same with this Sweet and Sour Chicken).
What Is the Difference Between Chow Mein and 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 This Easy Chicken Chow Mein Recipe
For the Chow Mein
- Chow Mein Noodles. The chow mein noodles become irresistible 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 chicken thighs help make this a more satisfying meal.
- Red Bell Peppers. Red bell peppers add beautiful color, sweetness, and vitamin C 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 and fiber without the added prep work.
- Green Onions. For subtle onion flavor and color.
For the Sauce
- Soy Sauce. Soy sauce adds that must-have umami goodness to the sauce.
- Sesame Oil. Adds nuttiness to the sauce.
- Oyster Sauce + Honey. These two help make the sauce sticky and sweet.
- Chicken Bouillon. I added some chicken bouillon powder for more complex savoriness.
- Cook the Noodles. Drain and rinse them.
- Whisk the Sauce Together. I use a liquid measuring cup for this.
- Brown the Chicken. This will take about 5 minutes.
- Cook the Bell Pepper. Use the oil left over from cooking the chicken.
- Stir in the Remaining Ingredients. Pan fry the chow mein for 6 to 8 minutes more. Add 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.
What to Serve With Chicken Chow Mein
- Veggies. Vegetables are a wonderful thing to serve with bowls of chicken chow mein. Try Roasted Broccoli, Sauteed Carrots, or Air Fryer Green Beans.
- Salad. Both Asian Cabbage Salad and Asian Cucumber Salad would pair well with this dish.
- Egg Roll. For a true crowd-pleaser, Air Fryer Egg Rolls are the ultimate side dish choice.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Liquid Measuring Cups. Ideal for measuring and mixing the sauce.
- Wok. You can also use a large skillet.
- Colander. Essential for draining all the water from your noodles. These colanders collapse for easy storage.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Purchase the Right Chow Mein Noodles. Make sure you grab the kind that is designed to be cooked via boiling and avoid the pre-crisped kind. The crispy kind will not work in this recipe. If you can’t find chow mein noodles at your store, see the recipe card below for tips on what other types of noodles you can use.
- Choose Your Veggies. You can make chicken chow mein even if you don’t have the exact vegetables listed in this recipe. For example, snow peas, carrots, bok choy, garlic, mushrooms, and even zucchini would all be tasty in this dish.
- Don’t Overcook the Noodles. For that perfect bouncy noodle texture, stop cooking them just before they reach al dente. They will cook a little more when we add them back to the skillet, so you don’t want them overcooked from the start.
Chicken Chow Mein
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 1/4-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.
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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. (Don’t miss my Tofu Stir Fry too.)
Oyster sauce is widely available and tastes unique, so it is worth seeking out. If you want to know how to make chicken chow mein like the takeaway kind, you’ll want to grab some oyster sauce. If your grocery store doesn’t carry oyster sauce, you could experiment with using hoisin sauce instead.
To add some heat to your chow mein, drizzle Sriracha over the finished dish to taste. You could also sprinkle on red pepper flakes.
No, there is no need to use a cornstarch slurry for this stir-fried noodles recipe. The ingredients in the sauce help make it thick, and it will coat all the chicken chow mein ingredients perfectly.
I have not tried using a different protein in this recipe, but I think you could experiment with it. Pork, shrimp, or beef chow mein would all be delicious. (Pork lovers, this Pork Fried Rice and Pork Stir Fry are two favorites around here, so I’d recommend checking those out too.)