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What’s the Difference Between Chow Mein and Lo Mein?

A plate of lo mein noodles with vegetables and chopsticks.
Martin Rettenberger/Shutterstock.com

We all love a good night of Chinese takeout. From savory fried rice to flavorful dumplings, takeout is excellent for a date night or an evening of Netflix. But when it comes to chow mein and lo mein, what’s the difference?

Although both dishes are very similar, the textures and flavors of each noodle dish can be very different.

In Cantonese, lo mein translates to “mixed” or “tossed,” while chow mein means “stir-fried.” These translations relate to how each dish is prepared.

Lo mein consists of pre-cooked egg noodles that are “tossed” with sauce, veggies, and protein. The main centerpiece of this dish is the sauce, which can include soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, sugar, garlic, and even ketchup.

On the other hand, chow mein includes egg noodles that are “stir-fried” with protein, sauce, veggies, and eggs. These noodles can be steamed with their ingredients or fried separately, but they are always crispy and chewy.

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So, while chow mein highlights crispy noodles, lo mein noodles are soaked in a sauce for a softer texture.

Regardless, both noodle dishes make an excellent addition to your cozy Chinese takeout.

Are you looking to skip the takeout and get creative in the kitchen? Why not dig into some authentic Asian recipes for your home cooking?

Kelsey Opel Kelsey Opel
Kelsey Opel is a freelance writer and digital storyteller based in Austin, Texas. She enjoys writing for food, entertainment and mental health spaces. Off the clock, she loves indulging in an avocado margarita and chips and queso at her favorite Tex-Mex spot in town. Read Full Bio »
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