Chow Mein

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Easy 30-minute vegetarian Chow Mein offers plenty of veggies and an addictive savory sauce coating it allToday I’m sharing all my tips and tricks on how to make Chow Mein better than takeout!

If you’re not a vegetarian and want to add meat to your chow mein, then try this beef chow mein or chicken chow mein instead.

Overhead image of Chow Mein with tongs in it, ready to be served.

Chow Mein is packed with veggies and makes for the perfect “clear out the fridge” kind of meal! While I’m not vegetarian, I love packing meals full of veggies and this is one of my favorites. It’s also one of the best ways I know to get my kids to eat veggies — add them to noodles and a sauce and they’ll eat every last bite. 

Overhead image of a bowl of chopped veggies that go into Chow Mein.

How to make Vegetarian Chow Mein

Chow Mein is incredibly easy and quick to make. Once the veggies are prepped, the actual cook time is very brief.

  • Prep veggies. Thinly slice/chop all the veggies: the pepper, carrots, celery, green onions, garlic, ginger, mushrooms, and cabbage.
  • Prep sauce. All the sauce ingredients get whisked together in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Cook the noodles. Follow package directions to prepare the noodles.
  • Stir fry the veggies. Now that everything’s prepped, it’s time to cook! Start with the onions, garlic, and ginger. Next, cook the veggies  and then add in the noodles, along with the sauce. 
  • Toss to combine, garnish, and enjoy!

QUICK TIP

What’s the difference between chow mein and chop suey? One of the big distinctions is that chow mein is served with some type of noodle, whereas chop suey is served with rice.

Overhead image of the vegetables being cooked in a skillet.

Vegetarian Chow Mein sauce

  • Cornstarch: Use just a little for thickening.
  • Soy sauce: Avoid dark or sweet soy sauce; use regular or lite. 
  • Vegetarian oyster sauce: This gives an amazing depth of flavor (don’t worry it doesn’t make the dish taste like oysters). Hoisin sauce can be used in a pinch, but the flavor will be different. If you aren’t vegetarian and just want a veggie-loaded entrée, you can use regular oyster sauce.
  • Vegetable stock: I prefer the heartier flavor of stock, but broth also works here. Use low sodium if worried about salt. Again, if you aren’t vegetarian, you can use chicken stock or broth in place of the vegetable stock.
  • Brown sugar: Add just a little to balance everything out.
  • Sesame oil: It adds a great authentic flavor.

Image of all the veggies in the pan, being cooked for this Chow Mein recipe.

Noodles for Vegetarian Chow Mein

  • Yakisoba (such as Fortune® brand) are typically found in refrigerated produce section of grocery stores.
  • Dry spaghetti is a nice alternative, especially if you’re using up food that you have on hand. If using, pick the thin spaghetti. The flavor will be slightly different, but still good.
  • Dry chow mein noodles (such as Wel-Pak®) are usually found in the non-refrigerated Asian aisles of grocery store.
  • Fresh chow mein noodles are a good option but are often hard to find in the U.S. Try checking for them at Asian grocery stores.

Image of Chow Mein noodles being added to the skillet.

Vegetable variations

One of the great things about this vegetarian Chow Mein is how easy it is to customize. As long as the veggie quantities remain fairly consistent (and the veggies are thinly sliced so they’ll cook in time), you can use basically whatever you like. Below are some ideas:

  • Bean sprouts
  • Thinly sliced green bell pepper
  • Snow peas or sugar snap peas
  • Thinly sliced yellow onion
  • Thinly sliced red cabbage
  • Small broccoli florets
  • Water chestnuts
  • Thinly sliced zucchini or yellow squash

Overhead image of the sauce that goes over this Chow Mein.

Adding protein

If you’re looking to add additional protein while keeping this dish vegetarian, you can add in some tofu. I love this guide to cooking tofu.

If you aren’t vegetarian, feel free to add in some cooked chicken, beef, or shrimp. You could also serve this chow mein as a side dish to grilled chicken or grilled steak.

Up-close image of the cooked Chow Mein in a pot with tongs.

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Vegetarian Chow Mein

4.6 from 10 votes
Easy 30-minute Vegetarian Chow Mein offers plenty of veggies and an addictive savory sauce coating it allToday I’m sharing all my tips and tricks to make Chow Mein better than takeout!
Print Recipe

Vegetarian Chow Mein

4.6 from 10 votes
Easy 30-minute Vegetarian Chow Mein offers plenty of veggies and an addictive savory sauce coating it allToday I’m sharing all my tips and tricks to make Chow Mein better than takeout!
Course Dinner, Main Course, Vegetarian
Cuisine Chinese, Vegetarian
Keyword beef chow mein, vegetarian chow mein
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 2 servings (large; 4 small servings)
Calories 446kcal
Cost $5.12

Ingredients

  • 3 cups green cabbage, thinly sliced in small shreds
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced (~1 inch piece)
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced (~2 large cloves)
  • 3/4 cup julienned carrots (~1 large carrot)
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced celery (~2 stalks)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups thinly sliced red pepper (~1 large pepper)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups thinly sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup green onions (~3 onions)
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 package (6 ounces) chow mein noodles
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons lite soy sauce
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons vegetarian oyster sauce (regular oyster sauce if not vegetarian)
  • 1/3 cup veggie stock or veggie broth (chicken stock/broth works if not vegetarian)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar lightly measured, do not pack!
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted (or plain) sesame oil
  • Freshly cracked pepper
  • Optional: toasted sesame seeds

Instructions

  • VEGGIE PREP: Prepare the ingredients in advance, because the cooking goes fast! Finely shred the cabbage, coarsely mince the ginger and garlic (don't want too fine of a mince or they burn; don't use jarred/tube ginger or garlic). Peel the carrot and then julienne into very small/thin pieces. (I cut into rounds and then cut into matchsticks) Very thinly slice the celery. Thinly slice the red pepper and halve those thin slices if they're long. Thinly slice mushrooms. Thinly slice the green onions to separate the white root from the green. You should get about 1/4 cup thinly sliced white roots. Reserve the thinly sliced green parts for later.
  • SAUCE PREP: Add the cornstarch and soy sauce to a small bowl and whisk with a fork until completely smooth. Stir in the vegetarian oyster sauce, vegetarian stock, brown sugar, and sesame oil. Add pepper to taste (I add about 1/2 teaspoon). Whisk until smooth. Reserve for later.
  • NOODLES: Follow package directions to prepare the chow mein noodles. Rinse in cold water and set aside.
  • COOK: Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet pan on high heat. Add the white roots of the onion for a minute or two and then and in the garlic and ginger. Be very careful to make sure neither burn -- only cook for about 20 seconds. Add red pepper, carrots, and celery. Stir fry, stirring nearly constantly for 2-3 minutes.
  • COOK CONT.: Add in the shredded cabbage and mushrooms. Stir constantly until veggies are crisp-tender and cabbage is wilted, about another 2-3 minutes. (You don't want the veggies to be mushy/soggy; they should be crisp-tender). Stir in the cooked noodles and the sauce mixture. Toss with tongs for 1 minute until thickened and ingredients are incorporated. Add in the thinly sliced tops of the green onions and toasted sesame seeds, if desired. Enjoy immediately.

Video

Recipe Notes

If want to add additional protein, you can add in some tofu
If you aren't vegetarian, add in some cooked chicken, beef, or shrimp. You could also serve this chow mein as a side dish to grilled chicken or grilled steak.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 446kcal | Carbohydrates: 62.7g | Protein: 12.9g | Fat: 22.3g | Sodium: 2490.6mg | Fiber: 18.7g | Sugar: 22.9g

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23 Comments

  1. This is one of those awesome clean-out your fridge meals for veggies – you can throw in whatever you have hanging out! Looks delicious! Happy weekend lady!

  2. This sounds delicious! I’ve never tried making chow mein before, but now I’m intrigued! And I love that you can switch it up depending on your tastes. Pinned!

  3. You’re the best at fast, easy yet super delicious dinners. This looks great, and my favorite part is how you can use whatever veggies and protein you want. Sometimes it’s hard when you have a recipe that has a laundry list of specific ingredients…and you never end up making it because you never have them on hand. Know what I mean?

  4. This is such a great dish! So many great things about it! Love all the colors and veggies that are packed in there. And I really love how easy and quick all of your dishes are. They make me actually want to make things other than cake, haha.

  5. I love chow mien and have never made it at home. We love it, and it’s high time I made some homemade take-out! This looks delicious, Chelsea! 🙂

  6. 5 stars
    I don’t feel like cooking dinner tonight. If I could click my heals and and wish for something to appear before me this is what I would choose! DELISH!

  7. 5 stars
    Saw this on Buzzfeed yesterday and had to try it. Oh man am I glad I did. This was one of the easiest and tastiest recipes I’ve had in a long time! Now I can’t wait to try out all of your other recipes. Thank you!

    1. SO good to hear! Thanks so much for your comment and review Krystle! So glad you liked it and hope you enjoy the next recipe you try 🙂 Have a great weekend!

  8. 5 stars
    Okay first of all, WOW! I’ve been a vegan for almost 4 years now and every time I drive past Panda Express my mouth still waters for the chow mein. I happened to come across some chuka soba noodles from Sprouts and did a quick google search for vegan chow mein at the store and came across this recipe. This recipe was simple enough and had many ingredients I already owned. I came home and made it and YUM! Both me and my non-vegan husband were floored. Such a simple recipe but seriously this recipe is a home run. This definitely does it for me, it tastes just like chinese takeout. I omitted the sugar, and subbed teriyaki for oyster sauce and it was fabulous. Thank you for this delicious recipe!!

    1. This comment made my day!! So thrilled it was a home run and you both enjoyed it 🙂 Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment and review Rachel!

  9. Hello,
    I am a tidy bit miffed that the recipe was tagged as vegetarian, but uses several meat ingredients: beef and oyster sauce. It might be delicious, but it’s a waste of time for me. Please use honest tags.

  10. 5 stars
    this was great! Made the recipe completely vegan and just used amino acids in place of soy sauce and oyster sauce. Made it a little salty, but was quickly looked past for it was absolutely delicious! Threw some baked sesame tofu in it at the end and even the babies ate it up!
    Will be saving this for future cooking and find me a good vegan “oyster” sauce recipe.

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