This copycat Panda Express Chow Mein recipe comes together in as little as 20 minutes! It makes the perfect side dish to your other favorite Chinese takeout dishes or add some protein and turn it into a meal all on its own.
Don’t miss our lo mein recipe, either – chow mein’s awesome cousin, also ready in just 20 minutes.
Easy Chow Mein Recipe – Panda Express Copycat
If you love Panda Express Chow Mein, you will love this copycat recipe, and if you don’t care for their chow mein, that’s ok – because I think our version is even better! The recipe is simple, the ingredients list is small, and it’s ready in just 20 minutes. Plus, you don’t have to deal with mall crowds or take the chance that it has been prepared for a while and is starting to dry out.
At home, you can have perfect chow mein loaded with your favorite ingredients anytime you want. I kept this recipe simple, adding just a few veggies, as that’s the way it’s prepared at Panda Express and I like using this as a side for other Chinese takeout copycat recipes (like honey walnut shrimp or beef and broccoli). However, you can easily add some protein to make it more filling if desired.
What is Chow Mein?
Chow mein is a popular Chinese takeout dish made with noodles tossed with a simple sauce, with aromatics like garlic and veggies. The name literally translates to “fried noodles” or “stir-fried noodles” which refers to how the noodles are cooked.
While this Panda Express copycat recipe is for veggie chow mein, it’s often quite common to find the dish with chicken, shrimp, or another protein.
Chow Mein vs Lo Mein
Chow mein and lo mein are two dishes that are very similar and therefore often confused. The difference is in the preparation of the noodles and the sauce.
Chow mein has very little sauce and the noodles are pan-fried after being parboiled, which gives them a somewhat crunchy and oily texture. When making lo mein, however, the noodles are completely cooked before being added to the dish. Lo mein also has more of a sauce and can be slurped.
This stir fry is made with ingredients like noodles, soy sauce, and veggies.
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
- Soy sauce – I recommend low-sodium to reduce the saltiness of the dish.
- Brown sugar – Sweetens the sauce just a bit and balances out the other flavors.
- Garlic & Ginger – For wonderful aromatics and flavor.
- Vegetables – Onions, celery, and cabbage are added to this dish.
- Vegetable oil & sesame oil – Vegetable oil helps to cook the ingredients while sesame oil adds the classic flavor.
- White pepper – This seasons the dish.
- Yaki-Soba noodles – Discard the seasoning packet, you won’t need it for this recipe.
What are Chow Mein Noodles?
In this recipe, we’re using Yakisoba noodles which are ramen-style noodles you can find in the refrigerated section of your grocery store. You can also find dry chow mein noodles, which would need to be cooked according to package instructions.
The above ingredients are for your classic Panda Express Chow Mein but you can absolutely customize it to your personal preferences.
- Add some protein. Chicken, shrimp, beef, pork, and tofu are all common additions. Cook the protein separately and then toss with the cabbage right before adding the noodles.
- Add other veggies. Onion, celery, and cabbage are the base of most chow mein recipes but that doesn’t mean they’re the only veggies you can add. Carrots, mushrooms, bell peppers, water chestnuts, and even broccoli can make great additions.
- Use ramen noodles. Yaki-Soba noodles are ideal and what’s used to make chow mein, but if you have trouble finding them, ramen noodles can be used in a pinch.
How to Make Chow Mein
Ready to make Panda Express at home? Dinner will be ready in under 30 minutes.
(Scroll down to the printable recipe card for details and measurements, and don’t miss the video below.)
- Make the sauce. Whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and white pepper.
- Cook the noodles. Add the noodles to boiling water. Cook until they loosen then drain.
- Cook the veggies. Cook the onion and celery in both oils until tender. Stir in the cabbage and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Assemble. Add the noodles and the soy sauce mixture to the veggies. Stir to combine well and cook for just 2 minutes or so. Enjoy!
Video: How to Make Chow Mein
Chow mein, especially a simple veggie version like this one, is typically served as a side dish with other Chinese takeout dishes. It pairs well with beef stir fry, beef and broccoli, and chicken stir fry. To round out the meal, you can’t go wrong with some crab rangoon or an egg roll.
How to Store & Reheat Leftovers
- Storing leftovers. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- To reheat. The best way to reheat is on the stovetop. You may want to add a splash of water or a bit of sesame oil to prevent it from drying out. You can also reheat individual portions in the microwave, if desired.
More Copycat Recipes:
- Dole Whip (Disney Copycat)
- KFC Coleslaw
- Mexican Pizza (Taco Bell Copycat)
- Zuppa Toscana (Olive Garden Copycat)
- Asian Chicken Salad (Applebee’s Copycat)
Chow Mein (Panda Express Copycat)
- 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 2 packages refrigerated Yaki-Soba (5.6 ounces each), seasoning packet discarded, see note below
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1/2 yellow onion , thinly sliced
- 3 ribs celery , sliced diagonally into small pieces
- 2 cups shredded cabbage
- In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and white pepper; set aside.
- In a large pot of boiling water, add the Yaki-Soba noodles; cook until loosened, 1-2 minutes; drain well.
- Heat both oils in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery; cook, stirring often, until tender, 3-4 minutes. Stir in cabbage until heated through and a little tender, about 2 minutes.
- Add in the Yaki-Soba noodles along with the soy sauce mixture; stir well until combined, about 2 minutes.
- Serve immediately and enjoy.