Panda Express Chow Mein

4.82 from 49 votes

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If you’re looking to make your own Chinese food at home instead of spending money on takeout, then this recipe for Panda Express Chow Mein is perfect for you!

Tongs pulling up Panda Express chow mein noodles from a pan to show length

Panda Express Chow Mein is a side dish that you can get at Panda Express. It’s made with noodles and vegetables. This 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!

This Chow Mein recipe uses fresh, simple ingredients from right in your own pantry, and it can be on your table in less than 30 minutes! It’s one of those recipes that makes enough to feed the whole family, so if there are leftovers, you can store them in a sealed container. The noodles reheat beautifully and you can eat from this dish for up to a week!

A bowl of Panda Express chow mein with vegetables

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 three 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.

A skillet with prepared Panda Express chow mein

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 lo mein noodles and then stir fry them in oil after they have been well drained. You can also use ramen noodles. No matter what you use, be sure to discard the flavor packet if one is included. If you don’t have any of these on hand, you can get away with using a simple spaghetti noodle or linguini noodle and stir-frying them.

Onions and celery being sautéed to make chow mein

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 according to package instructions. Yakisoba noodles, lo mein noodles, or even ramen noodles can also be used. If using ramen, I have found they work out best if they are undercooked by a minute.
  • Onion (white or yellow onion)
  • Celery
  • Cabbage
  • Chow Mein Sauce

Chow Mein Sauce:

For this chow mein sauce we only use a few simple ingredients:

  • soy sauce
  • brown sugar
  • garlic
  • ginger
  • black pepper

You can also add a little oyster sauce or a splash of cooking Chinese cooking wine to the sauce for more depth of flavor. If you want to make more of a saucy sauce (not like Panda Express and more of a lo-mein style), you can double the sauce recipe, and add a cup of chicken broth. Heat the sauce on the stovetop until sugar is dissolved and slowly add a slurry of cornstarch and water until the sauce slightly thickens JUST enough to lightly coat a spoon. Then add the sauce to the noodles to taste (you may not want to use all of it).

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
  • Tofu
Panda express chow mein in a bowl

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 from this dish for up to a week!
  • Use a large wok, skillet, or deep-walled non-stick pan to make stir-frying easier.
  • 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.

Storing and Reheating Chow Mein

To store leftover chow mein, cool it down to room temperature and place it in an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 4-5 days. To reheat, use the microwave for quick warming, the stovetop for better control, or the oven for larger portions. For microwave and stovetop, add a touch of oil, if needed, and heat until it’s heated through. In the oven, cover with foil and bake at 350°F for 20-30 minutes. Keep an eye on it to prevent overcooking. You may need to add a bit of water or sauce to maintain moisture. Enjoy your reheated chow mein!

More Panda Express Recipes

Pair this Chow Mein with some of our other Asian-inspired recipes like Kung Pao Chicken, Chinese Barbeque Pork or any of these other Panda Express recipes:

Frequently Asked Questions About Chow Mein

Is chow mein a rice or a noodle?

Chow mein is a noodle made from wheat flour and egg.

What is chow mein sauce made of?

In this recipe, we use soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, and garlic to make chow mein sauce.

Is chow mein or lo mein healthier?

Lo mein is healthier simply because the noodles used in lo mein aren’t fried.

Chow mein noodles being served from a skillet

Panda Express Chow Mein (Copycat)

4.82 from 49 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 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
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 sauté for about 1-2 minutes or until onions start to become soft and transparent. Add cabbage and sauté 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 really quickly if you aren’t careful. I have made it both ways (with and without sesame oil) and they both taste great.
  • Feel free to add more vegetables or a variety of vegetables to your chow mein. Just because Panda express only uses onions and celery doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself!
  • Don’t overcook the noodles. Overcooking them can cause them to break. You want them to be just heated through. 

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 three beautiful 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.

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How many stars would you give this recipe?


  1. 1 star
    I am unsure if any of these reviewers have actually tried Panda’s noodles. This recipe — although grateful for the time and effort it took to post it on a blog — is not it. It is not even close to it. The flavor is by far mediocre, and I had to make several adjustments to save the batch. As a seasoned cook who loves trying new recipes, this one was the biggest disappointment in a very, very long time.

  2. 5 stars
    My kids are annoyingly picky and noodles from Panda Express are one of the only things they love. I didn’t have a lot of hope but they actually really liked this. It was easy and delicious. I didn’t have any vegetable oil, so I used olive oil and it worked. I also doubled the sauce recipe based on other comments but I probably shouldn’t have done that. It was a little too salty, I’m sure the recipe as written would’ve been better (my mistake). I don’t know what the person who wrote the novel in the comments was talking about – it had enough vegetables (similar to panda Express portions) and the sauce tasted just like panda Express. Also adding garlic at the end makes sense since it doesn’t need a long time to cook. I used cabbage from a bag of shredded cabbage, purple cabbage, and carrots. Anyway, I’m very happy to have found this recipe because now I have a meal I can make regularly that my kids will actually enjoy.

  3. 4 stars
    I used fresh chow mien noodles which I boiled for 3 minutes before stir-frying. Good, basic recipe, though next time I’d add more of the soy sauce mixture because it could use a bit more moisture.

  4. 5 stars
    What should I do with the yakisoba seasoning? I don’t want to discard it because I want to do my part for the food waste effort. How would I make this recipe waste-free?

    1. We haven’t tried using them for anything else, but if you come across any ideas let us know!

  5. 5 stars
    Awesome recipe! I used red cabbage, carrots, and celery; coconut aminos instead of soy sauce, spaghetti noodles and no brown sugar. Very easy and tasty! Saving to my favorites 🙂

  6. 1 star
    I made this recipe exactly as published, except that I only had 10 oz of noodles, so I used 2/3 of the listed quantities.

    There are several problems with this recipe:
    1. Even 10 oz of noodles are a LOT of noodles, and you actually used 17 oz of noodles. In your pictures, it looks like about 2 oz of noodles. Very unrealistic representation.
    2. Not enough veggies. I kept the ratios the same as you listed, yet the cabbage and celery “disappeared” in the huge vast of noodles.
    3. OK, the biggest problem. The sauce. I made the full amount you listed, even though I had 1/3 less noodles. It was NOT NEARLY enough sauce. Also, I’m not sure that a soy sauce based “sauce’ is right for this. It did not look or taste like Panda Express chow mein.

    One additional comment. The garlic should be sauteed at the start along with the onions and celery, in order to release the flavors and aroma of the garlic, before adding other ingredients. Having the garlic swim around in the sauce and added last, doesn’t do much as far as the garlic.

    The bottom line is that I felt like I was eating a bowl of “sauceless” spaghetti. Definitely didn’t get any kind of Panda Express vibe.

  7. 5 stars
    I left out celery and cabbage due to not having it on had and paired it with a pepper steak dish. I used sesame oil and I will be making this again and again my family loved it. Thank you for the recipe!

    1. I would steam them until bright green, which is a short amount of time that sneaks up on you if you’re not watching. MUCH better and more like a Chinese restaurant than cooking them in the sauce.

  8. 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.

  9. 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!!!

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

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. 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