Panda Express Chow Mein Copycat

5 from 37 votes

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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!

A bowl of chow mein

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. 

Chow Mein:

  1. Translation: Translated, “chow mein” means “fried” or “stir-fried” noodles. 
  2. Preparation: Chow mein noodles are parboiled and then stir-fried in a wok with vegetables and other ingredients until the noodles cooked through 
  3. 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.
  4. Sauce: There is very little, if any sauce with chow mein noodles. 

Lo Mein:

  1. Translation: Translated, “lo mein” means “tossed” noodles. 
  2. Preparation: Lo mein noodles are parboiled until soft and then tossed with sauce and other ingredients. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Chow mein noodles being served from a skillet

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)
  • Onion
  • Celery
  • Cabbage
  • Chow mein sauce: soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and pepper

If you want to get creative, you can add:

  • Chicken, beef, or shrimp
  • Carrots
  • Red bell pepper
  • Snow peas
  • Shitake mushrooms
  • Bean sprouts
  • Green onion 
  • Egg
A bite of chow Mein on chopsticks

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.

Panda Express chow mein in a skillet

Panda Express Chow Mein (Copycat)

5 from 37 votes
Our Panda Express Chow Mein copycat recipe is easy to make and tastes just like the Panda Express side dish. Make a healthier version of this chow mein at home for a fraction of the price!
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 8




  • In a small bowl combine soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and black pepper. Set aside.
    Chow mein sauce in a glass dish
  • Remove Yaki Soba from packages and discard included flavoring packets. Rinse noodles well, drain, and set aside.
    Chow mein noodles being rinsed
  • 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.
    Onions and celery being sautéed
  • 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.
    Noodles and sauce for Panda Express chow mein


*In this recipe you can add a shake or two of sesame oil to the vegetable oil to add a deeper flavor, but don’t overdo it! I am not including it in the recipe because the sesame oil flavoring can become overpowering real quick if you aren’t careful. I have made it both ways (with and without sesame oil) and they both taste great.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 169kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 5gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 4gSodium: 556mgPotassium: 175mgFiber: 2gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 73IUVitamin C: 11mgCalcium: 27mgIron: 1mg

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About the author

Erica Walker

Erica lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Jared, an attorney, and her beautiful three girls. Beyond the world of recipes, she loves adventuring with everything from kayaking, to cruising, to snowboarding and taking the family along for the thrill ride.

More about Erica Walker

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How many stars would you give this recipe?


  1. 5 stars
    My kids said this was better than panda. I did add the tiny bit of sesame oil.
    I’m trying to count my macros. I viewed the nutrition facts but it didn’t say what a serving size was. Can you please advise on serving size based on the nutrition listed? Thanks for posting this recipe.

    1. We don’t have an exact serving size, but the total recipe serves 8, so about 1/8 of the recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    I LOOOVVE this recipe!! I went with adding a dab of sesame seed oil & used olive oil. I also used konjac noodles & truvia brown sugar to make it keto. Soooo good!!!

  3. We always cook our soy sauce to allow the flavors to blend, bring it to a quick boil, then allow it to cool.

  4. 5 stars
    This Panda Express Chow Mein is so delicious. I used Coconut Secret Traditional Coconut Crystals that I bought from Karman Foods for a healthier version. It’s also best paired with Vitasoy Vita Reduced Sugar Chrysanthemum Tea.

  5. 5 stars
    I made the Panda Express Chow Mein and it was truly delicious. Will be making this again for sure.

    1. I’m so glad you liked it! I think it’s even better than Panda’s because it’s less greasy. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I appreciate, cause I found exactly what I was looking for. You have ended my four day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye

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