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Panda Express Chow Mein recipe is a very close replica of the restaurant’s signature side dish. Make a healthier version of this chow mein at home for a fraction of the price!
Panda Express Chow Mein
Panda Express Chow Mein is one of our favorite dishes when we’re craving Chinese food but it can be inconvenient, not to mention pricey, to grab take-out all the time. So why not make it at home? This chow mein recipe uses fresh, simple ingredients from right in your own kitchen and in less than 30 minutes! It’s so simple to throw together when the mood strikes, and tastes just like the restaurant version.
Chow Mein vs Lo Mein
Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between chow mein and lo mein but after I go through the 3 main differences, you will easily know which is which. The biggest difference is simply knowing that one is stir-fried and the other is tossed in sauce.
- Translation: Translated, “chow mein” means “fried” or “stir-fried” noodles.
- Preparation: Chow mein noodles are parboiled and then stir-fried in a wok with vegetables and other ingredients until the noodles cooked through
- Texture: Because chow mein noodles are stir-fried, the noodles become slightly crispy and a bit oily. The fried texture makes it so it can’t really be “slurped”. Some think that chow mein noodles are strictly crunchy, deep fried noodles like the kind that comes in a canister but that is only one type of chow mein noodle. The most common kind of chow mein noodle is the stir-fried kind, like they use at Panda Express.
- Sauce: There is very little, if any sauce with chow mein noodles.
- Translation: Translated, “lo mein” means “tossed” noodles.
- Preparation: Lo mein noodles are parboiled until soft and then tossed with sauce and other ingredients.
- Texture: The texture is more soft in a lo mein noodle. It feels similar in texture to a spaghetti noodle. A lo mein noodle is easy to slurp.
- Sauce: Lo mein is tossed in a good amount of sauce.
Some may argue that Panda Express chow mein is a LO mein but looking over these qualifications above, you know that is actually IS a chow mein. Panda got it right. The noodles are stir-fried, they are a little oily, there is little sauce used, and they aren’t easy to slurp. In my opinion, it all comes down to that “slurp” test! Now, can you make this recipe a lo mein if you wanted to? Absolutely! It is DELICIOUS as a lo mein! Just boil up your noodles separately and double the sauce. Toss together and serve.
What Kind Of Noodles Are Best?
With chow mein, you can get away with using several different kind of noodles. As long as you stir fry them in some oil, you should be good to go! We like to use Yakisoba because I think the texture comes out just right every time but you can also cook up some dry chow mein noodles and then stir fry them in oil after they have been well drained. If you don’t have either of these on hand, you can get away with using a simple spaghetti noodle or linguini noodle and stir-frying them.
Panda Express Chow Mein Ingredients
The ingredients in Panda Express Chow Mein are simple. I love how Panda Express doesn’t complicate things. Of course if you are making this on your own you can take your own creative liberties and add extras to your liking. Here’s the basic ingredients:
- Chow mein noodles (prepared)
- Chow mein sauce: soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and pepper
If you want to get creative, you can add:
- Chicken, beef, or shrimp
- Red bell pepper
- Snow peas
- Shitake mushrooms
- Bean sprouts
- Green onion
Suggestions for this Recipe
- This simple recipe makes several good sized servings, so if you find yourself with leftovers, store it in a sealed container in the fridge. The noodles reheat beautifully and you can eat on this dish for up to a week!
- In this recipe you can add a shake or two of sesame oil to the vegetable oil to add a deeper flavor, but make sure to use it sparingly. The sesame oil flavoring can overpower the rest of the flavors. I have made it both ways (with and without sesame oil) and they both taste great.
- This recipe calls for celery, onion and cabbage but you could add shredded carrots, pea pods, broccoli or any of your favorite veggies to this dish.
Main Dishes to Serve with Panda Express Chow Mein
Pair this Panda Express Chow Mein with some of our other Asian inspired recipes and you can have a full-on family style Chinese take-out night at home for a fraction of the price of going out.
- P.F. Chang’s Mongolian Beef
- Panda Express String Bean Chicken Breast
- Jared’s General Tso’s Chicken
- Orange Chicken
- Crock Pot Cashew Chicken
- Kung Pao Chicken
- Lettuce Wraps
- Chinese Barbecue Pork
- Ham Fried Rice
Panda Express Chow Mein (Copycat)
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger grated
- ground black pepper to taste
- 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 5.6 oz packages refrigerated Yaki Soba noodles (Found in the produce section of the grocery store. Usually the 3 packages are sold together in one 17oz. pack)
- 2/3 cup chopped celery chopped diagonally
- 1 medium-sized onion thinly sliced
- 2 cups chopped cabbage
- In a small bowl combine soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and black pepper. Set aside.
- Remove Yaki Soba from packages and discard included flavoring packets. Rinse noodles well, drain, and set aside.
- Heat oil in a large wok or skillet. Add celery and onion and saute for about 1-2 minutes or until onions start to become soft and transparent. Add cabbage and saute an additional minute.
- Add Yaki Soba noodles and soy sauce mixture with the vegetables and stir-fry over medium-high heat for an additional 2-3 minutes or until noodles are heated through.