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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!
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!
Panda Express Chow Mein
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!
Pair this Panda Express Chow Mein with some of our other Asian inspired recipes like Orange Chicken, Kung Pao Chicken, and Chinese Barbeque Pork.
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.
- 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 from 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
Frequently Asked Questions About Chow Mein
Chow mein is a noodle made from wheat flour and egg.
In this recipe, we use soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, and garlic to make chow mein sauce.
Lo mein is healthier simply because the noodles used in lo mein aren’t fried.
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 or Chinese Egg 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 sauté for about 1-2 minutes or until onions start to become soft and transparent. Add cabbage and sauté 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.
- 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.
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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.
I am sorry this recipe didn’t work for you. Thanks for the tips and info you provided!
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!
I want to add broccoli and pea pods. When do I add those and how long to cook?
You can add them at the same time as the celery!
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.
We don’t have an exact serving size, but the total recipe serves 8, so about 1/8 of the recipe.
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!!!
We always cook our soy sauce to allow the flavors to blend, bring it to a quick boil, then allow it to cool.
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.
made it with two packs of ramen noodles with out the seasoning and was spot on.
Ramen noodles=Perfect. Excellent and easy Dish!
I made the Panda Express Chow Mein and it was truly delicious. Will be making this again for sure.
I’m so glad you liked it! I think it’s even better than Panda’s because it’s less greasy. Thanks for sharing!
I will try this it looks yummy delish and I love making Chinese for friends and family.
Loved this recipe! Next time will add peanuts and sesame seed. We had it for lunch and it only served 3 of us.
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