How to Cook Chow Mein Noodles

  • 01 of 10

    How to Make Chow Mein Noodles

    Chow mein
    Derek E. Rothchild/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    Chow mein - the classic Chinese comfort dish. Here is a standard way of preparing noodles for chow mein. Parboiled noodles are browned on one side, then turned over and cooked on the other side. This makes the noodles browned and crunchy on the outside and tender inside. Noodles cooked this way are also called "both sides browned" and "twice browned" noodles.

    Here's what you'll need to cook the chow mein noodles:

    • 1/2 pound fresh egg noodles
    • 2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable or...MORE peanut oil, or as needed
    • 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
    • 1 12-inch skillet with a non-stick coating
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  • 02 of 10

    Preparing the Noodles

    Boiling Noodles
    Rhonda Parkinson

    Cook the noodles according to the directions on the package. If no directions are available, cook the noodles in 8 cups of boiling water until they are cooked “al dente” - tender, but with a bit of resistance in the middle. Use a wooden spoon, or cooking chopsticks to separate the noodles while they are cooking.

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  • 03 of 10

    Drain and Toss With Sesame Oil

    Chow Mein Noodles - Adding Sesame Oil to Boiled Egg Noodles
    Rhonda Parkinson

    Remove the noodles with a slotted spoon and place in a colander. Rinse the noodles twice in cold water and drain thoroughly each time.​ Toss the noodles in 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil.

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  • 04 of 10

    Oil the Frying Pan

    Chow Mein Noodles - Adding Oil to the Skillet
    Rhonda Parkinson

    In a 12-inch non-stick skillet with a non-stick coating, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil on medium-high heat. Tilt the pan and move it around so that the oil coats the bottom.

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  • 05 of 10

    Cook the Noodles

    Chow Mein Noodles - Cooking the Noodles
    Rhonda Parkinson

    When the oil is hot, use a spatula to push the noodles into the pan.Cook the noodles until they golden brown on the bottom (about 5 minutes). Press down on the noodles with a spatula during cooking - this helps form them into a nest shape and makes sure they cook evenly.

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  • 06 of 10

    Remove the Noodles From the Pan

    Chow Mein Noodles - Flipping the Noodles, step 1
    Rhonda Parkinson

    Turn the noodle cake out on a plate. I find the easiest way is to flip the noodles frittata-style: place a plate over the noodles and then invert the pan so that the noodles fall onto the plate, browned side on top.

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  • 07 of 10

    Oil the Pan and Add the Noodles

    Chow Mein Noodles
    Rhonda Parkinson

    Add a small amount of oil, 1/2 tablespoon or as much as is needed to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Slide the noodles back into the pan.

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  • 08 of 10

    Brown the Other Side of the Noodles

    Chow Mein Noodles
    Rhonda Parkinson

    Cook until they are golden brown on the bottom (usually about 4 – 5 minutes). Again, press down lightly on the noodles during cooking.
    Note: I find the exact cooking time varies depending on the type and even the brand of noodle that you are using. If, after browning both sides. the noodles aren’t quite as crisp as you like, you can fry either side for a bit longer (you shouldn't need to add extra oil to the pan).

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  • 09 of 10

    You're Done!

    Chow Mein Noodles
    Rhonda Parkinson

    Slide the noodles out of the pan onto a plate.

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  • 10 of 10

    How to Serve Chow Mein Noodles

    Cantonese Chow Mein
    Rhonda Parkinson

    The key to making chow mein is that the noodles are fried separately from the topping (the meat, vegetables, and gravy). The topping is then served over the noodles.

    Feel free to create your own meat and vegetable toppings to serve over the noodles - chow mein is a great way to use up leftovers. Or, try this basic recipe for Chicken, Pork or Shrimp Chow Mein. Just use the instructions here instead of the instructions for preparing dry wonton noodles found in the recipe.