Chicken Chow Mein

Recipe for Chicken Chow Mein

Almost certainly the most popular Chinese dish consumed in the country’s diaspora, chow mein (chāu-mèing) is, very simply, stir fried noodles. Of all the many varieties of chow mein, chicken chow mein is the most ubiquitous – at least in Britain. In my family if we have Chinese takeaway chicken chow mein is always lurking.

For me, trips made to my local takeaway – though few and far between – are almost always accompanied by a hefty dose of inspiration. My recipe for Chinese Crispy Beef is testament to that. And this chicken chow mein is no different; I ate and was compelled to replicate.

My compulsion to replicate was particularly strong here; many recipes for chāu-mèing seem far too complicated, with vegetables and other non-essentials thrown in without thought. Chinese cuisine is, at heart, a simple one. Few ingredients, rustic flavours; divine.

How to Make Chicken Chow Mein

As you can see, this recipe uses leftover roast chicken; chicken breast simply doesn’t do the job. Pieces of succulent brown meat combined with strips of roasted breast provides by far the best flavour.

If you must cook with fresh chicken increase the marinating time and try using chicken thigh. The brown meat of a chicken is superior in flavour and texture to breast and it’s important that the taste of the meat breaks free of the soy sauce.

The result of the recipe below is a sort-of gourmet version of the takeaway classic. Not left swimming in a watery soy sauce concoction, the noodles remain perfectly cooked with a slightly firm texture. And as a result of keeping things simple every flavour is individually recognisable and enjoyable.

For another takeaway classic, check out my recipes for Egg Fried Rice and Vegetable Spring Rolls…

Chicken Chow Mein

Serves 3-4


  • 200g egg noodles
  • 100g leftover chicken, in strips
  • 3 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • thumb sized piece of ginger, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, sliced
  • 300g beansprouts
  • 3 spring onions, roughly sliced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp soft brown sugar


  1. Create a marinade by mixing together 2 tbsp of soy sauce with half of the lime juice. Add the chicken and coat thoroughly.
  2. Cook the egg noodles according to the packet instructions (unless using fresh). Rinse through with cold water once prepared and set aside.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil in a wok until smoking hot. throw in the ginger, garlic, bean sprouts and spring onions. Stir fry for 2 minutes and set aside.
  4. Heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in the wok, again until smoking, before adding the chicken. Cook for 2 minutes before tossing in the prepared noodles.
  5. Add the remaining soy sauce, lime, salt and brown sugar, followed by the prepared vegetables.
  6. Stir fry until piping hot throughout and thoroughly mixed. Serve immediately with a further drizzle of sesame oil and a little finely sliced spring onion.

Homemade Chicken Chow Mein Recipe Takeaway Chicken Chow Mein Recipe

Cost: Roasting your own chicken and using the meat is the cheapest way of preparing what is otherwise quite an expensive product. Use it carefully – and boil the bones for stock – and what you have is enough meat for the week for around £5 (free range).

100g of chicken may not sound much, but over the course of 4 meals it stretched surprisingly far and we never felt as though the chow mein was lacking anything at all. Not bad for £2.40 all in.

36 comments on “Chicken Chow Mein

  1. Conor Bofin
    November 25, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    Very nice Nick. I haven’t cooked a chao mein in years. I must rectify that, now that you have inspired. me.

    • frugalfeeding
      December 4, 2014 at 1:51 pm

      Thank you, Conor – I hope you re-discover your chow mein…

  2. cookinginsens
    November 25, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    Well done! I want noodles!

    • frugalfeeding
      December 4, 2014 at 1:51 pm

      I’ve been indulging in plenty of ramen recently and can’t get enough.

  3. Eha
    November 26, 2014 at 1:40 am

    ‘Geography v popular recipes’ forms an interesting topic for discussion: ‘chow mein’ as a named dish seems to be predominantly popular in the United States and Great Britain. Tho’ I daresay served in other parts of the Chinese world diaspora, the term is hardly used in Australia these days altho’ most of us eat a variety of S Asian/SE Asian food, fusion or otherwise, most of the week. Interesting to research 🙂 !

    • frugalfeeding
      December 4, 2014 at 1:52 pm

      I totally agree, lots of these “western” adaptations of Asian food are very interesting indeed.

  4. Chica Andaluza
    November 26, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    Beautiful and much nicer looking than any I’ve ever had from a takeaway. Loved your cirspy beef too – I rarely get takeaways now and prefer to make my own for health/money reasons 🙂

    • frugalfeeding
      December 4, 2014 at 1:58 pm

      Thank you! The crispy beef was yummy. I don’t get takeaway very often. Just when in a rush!

  5. rammiegirl
    November 26, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    love the photos! this dish looks great 🙂 looking forward to seeing your other recipes.

    • frugalfeeding
      December 4, 2014 at 2:03 pm

      Thank you very much – take a look through my recipes. I’m sure you’ll find something you like.

  6. francesca
    November 27, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Said it before and I’ll say it again – fakeout take out is the absolute best. Well done, sir.

    • frugalfeeding
      December 4, 2014 at 1:57 pm

      Haha! Never heard it called that. But I agree – it is.

  7. Antonio Caggiano
    November 27, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    Hi Nick, I’.ve always loved Asian style kitchen and your recipe is yummy!! Thanks for sharing

    • frugalfeeding
      December 4, 2014 at 1:57 pm

      Thank you – give it a try, it’s a really simple chow mein and delicious too.

  8. glasspoolk
    November 27, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    Looks really good!!!

    • frugalfeeding
      December 4, 2014 at 2:02 pm

      Thank you – it was really rather delicious.

  9. Kaitlyn
    November 30, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    Looks awesome!

  10. Alice Percival
    December 23, 2014 at 8:46 am

    This looks so yummy!

  11. Nickole
    August 17, 2015 at 8:16 am

    This recipe looked so great I just had to try it! When I did it tasted awesome but my sauce just wasn’t as dark as yours even though I used a dark soy sauce. I was wondering if you could tell me what brand of dark soy sauce you used?

    • frugalfeeding
      September 20, 2015 at 6:23 pm

      Honestly? We’ve used a few. If it tastes delicious, I wouldn’t worry too much!

  12. nasma
    September 9, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    no printing options??

    • frugalfeeding
      September 20, 2015 at 6:15 pm

      Unfortunately not – you could copy and paste. I don’t like to encourage the use of surplus paper for the printing of recipes.

  13. Doreen
    April 20, 2016 at 2:25 am

    this sounds awesome .Going to have to make it real soon .Thks for the recipe.

  14. Doreen
    April 20, 2016 at 2:26 am

    I love the recipoes

  15. Cat
    January 30, 2017 at 11:46 pm

    Where do you add the sesame oil? I can only see a mention of a drizzle at the end and no where else?

  16. Jodie Smith
    February 25, 2017 at 5:36 pm

    I’ve marinated my chicken and I have to say it looks nothing like yours AND to make matters worse I forgot to buy ginger and this is my partner’s favorite takeaway dish so if I mess this up it’s back to take away haha

    • frugalfeeding
      April 4, 2017 at 8:25 am

      Oh no! I hope it turned out ok. Practice makes perfect, of course!

  17. Maggie
    March 24, 2018 at 4:28 pm

    Does it have to be leftover chicken or can it be raw?

  18. Jolene
    April 12, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    Made this tonight, honestly the best chow Mein I’ve made! 😋😋😋

  19. Davy P
    September 13, 2018 at 6:21 pm

    As Cat asked, when is the sesame oil added?

    • frugalfeeding
      December 17, 2018 at 2:39 pm

      Right at the end – it’s used for seasoning.

Leave a Reply to frugalfeeding Cancel reply