In just under 30 minutes you can have homemade Vegetable Lo Mein! Make this quick and easy recipe right in your kitchen, with its savory sauce, veggies, and soft, chewy noodles. It’s a recipe made for two, but you’re going to want to make a double batch!
This is THE veggie lo mein recipe that you must have in your weeknight dinner rotation. You’re going to love how ridiculously easy and quick it is to make. And although it makes two healthy-sized servings (and by healthy I mean substantial), I’m willing to bet you’re going to want to double it.
It’s one of those recipes you want to eat the next day for lunch, or breakfast (cold noodles anyone?!), or forevermore. Like Spicy Teriyaki Lettuce Wraps or Easy Mushroom Ramen…this recipe is Asian-inspired, from a Chinese-American restaurant, and is going to be in your weekly repertoire.
My lo mein journey starts way back in my junior high days. I lived in a suburb outside of the Twin Cities; it was fairly small at the time but just on the cusp of growing into another metropolitan hot spot.
In those good old days, we had a small, local Chinese restaurant that we would frequently get take-out from or go to for dinner. And they had a lo mein that was the bee’s knees. It was on my must-have list. It was saucy and noodle-y and veggie-tastic.
And the thing was: it had these skinny egg noodles, opposed to thick ones, and I was in love. This is why this recipe features those same skinny noodles. The ones that stole my heart.
Now, since writing this post and experiencing that restaurant’s version of lo mein so many moons ago, I can see how this version of the recipe could be referred to as chow mein as well. The two noodle dishes often are mixed up, so let’s take a look.
Lo Mein vs. Chow Mein
While it may seem that the difference between lo mein and chow mein is in the type of noodles used, it’s actually in the difference in preparation.
Bee, from Rasa Malaysia, explains that chow mein translates to “stir-fried noodles”, whereas lo mein translates to “tossed noodles”, whereas chow mein translates to “fried noodles”. They’re both made from wheat and egg, the difference is just in the preparation of the noodles.
San-J helps break down the types of chow mein dishes for us even further. There are two types of chow mein noodles: steamed, when the noodles are flash-fried then tossed with the ingredients, and crispy, when the noodles are pressed flat while frying.
On the other hand, San-J gives us some key notes for lo mein as well. Whereas chow mein’s star is the noodles, lo mein is all about the sauce. You’ll know it’s lo mein when the entire dish is coated in sauce, and there are a considerable amount of veggies and maybe protein mixed in.
As I mentioned, the main overall difference is in the preparation of the noodles. Chow mein noodles are parboiled, then finish cooking through a stir-fry process. Whereas, lo mein noodles are completely cooked before getting tossed with the sauce and other ingredients.
Chow mein is drier, whereas lo mein is all about saucy noodles.
While both dishes use egg noodles, lo mein noodles are typically thicker, to hold up to the sauce, and chow mein can be made with either fresh or dried egg noodles. As you’ll see, this recipe does use dried egg noodles for the sake of availability.
The type of noodles I use do lean more towards the chow mein end of things, however, the other factors in sauciness (it’s a focus!), preparation method (noodles are completely cooked before being tossed with the other ingredients), and that there are a considerable amount of vegetables, lend it to the lo mein side of things.
Ingredients for Vegetable Lo Mein
We have a very straightforward and simple list here, friends. With a few basics you’ll already want to have on hand for a lot of at-home Chinese-inspired recipes, it’s easy!
- Chinese Noodles – As mentioned above, we’ll be using egg noodles for this recipe. Just below I talk more about the specific noodles I use in this recipe, and how they differ from the thicker, traditional lo mein noodles.
- Yellow Onion – they get slightly caramelized and the thin slices weave their way through the noodles creating a luscious flavor and texture!
- Red Bell Pepper – a beautiful pop of color and crisp crunch.
- Snow Peas – color, texture, and oh so good for you.
- Carrots – you can julienne the carrots yourself or make it easy and buy them pre-shredded.
- Garlic – I feel like this is a flavor no-brainer.
- The Sauce – lo mein is all about the sauce! This version uses 4 simple ingredients… keep reading for more info!
What kind of noodles are best for making lo mein at home?
I already mentioned that the noodles are key to me. Remember, my nostalgic heart that fell in love with the unique thin noodles in lo mein all those years ago in the little restaurant we frequented?
For this recipe, I use store-bought dried Chinese egg noodles for ease, as I know I can always find them in the grocery store nearby. There are several other noodle options you can go with, however.
If you’re able to, you can find fresh egg noodles at a local Asian market and prepare them according to package directions. These will generally be thicker than the variety I make this recipe with, and you’ll likely want to double the sauce if using thicker noodles.
In an effort to keep things as easy as possible for you, we are using dried noodles (again, typically more of a chow mein thing) and then cooking them fully before tossing with the other ingredients (lo mein there!).
Here is a list of the noodles I’ve had the best results with, for both their thickness and texture in the lo mein. Keep in mind, these are thinner noodles.
- Kame Chinese Noodles (affiliate link) – I find these noodles to have the perfect width and texture. I used to find them at Whole Foods, but no longer can. I have found them at Hy-Vee in the Twin Cities, but you can check on their website to locate the product (not sponsored BTW).
- China Bowl Chinese Noodles (affiliate link) – I’ve also used other products labeled as Chinese noodles with good results, though the thickness can vary slightly. The ones in the link are in the ingredient photo and video; I found them at Whole Foods.
- Ramen Noodles – I find these are a good substitute if needed.
These noodles have the perfect width and texture for this lo mein recipe!
If you do prefer lo mein with a more traditional, thicker noodle, look for lo mein noodles in the store or go ahead and get the fresh noodles.
In a pinch, you can also use spaghetti or linguine noodles, cooked to al dente.
What is in this Lo Mein Sauce?
This sauce is super easy to make and uses pantry staples for Asian-inspired cooking.
- Oyster Sauce – full of umami flavor! It’s just slightly sweet and salty and adds complex flavor to the lo mein sauce. The addition of oyster sauce means this isn’t a vegetarian recipe, but rather pescatarian. If you don’t eat fish, you can find vegetarian (or vegan) friendly oyster sauce, in some grocery stores.
- Soy Sauce – the standard, and a must for the base of this sauce.
- Dark Soy Sauce (affiliate link) – now, this is an ingredient you might not have on hand immediately, but it’s one that you’ll want if you like to make a lot of Asian-inspired food at home. Dark soy sauce is used for both flavor and to darken dishes. It has a slightly sweet aspect to it and is rich in flavor. If you don’t have any, you can substitute traditional soy sauce in this recipe.
- Sesame Oil – adds an earthy, nutty flavor to the sauce, ever so slightly. A little bit of sesame oil goes a long way!
How to Make Homemade Lo Mein Noodles
Are you ready to see how easy this recipe is? How in less than 30 minutes you’ll have a savory, noodle-and-veggie-loaded dinner ready to devour?
First, boil the noodles just under al dente. Because we’re also going to toss the noodles and sauce at the end of the cooking process, we don’t want them to be over-cooked. That’s no good, then they become mushy and soggy. Boiling them just under al dente ensures that they will keep their bite, chewiness, and remain noodle-y (yes, a word in the FITK vocabulary!).
Drain and rinse the noodles to stop the cooking process. They will reheat when they’re added to the vegetables at the end.
Meanwhile, whisk the sauce together. This easy step can be done as the noodles cook, or while the veggies sauté.
Then, it’s time to cook the veggies. Use a wok or a large skillet for the veggies as they need enough space to move around and cook evenly.
For the vegetables, start with the onion slices. The onion adds the first layer of flavor, and it is going to become slightly caramelized resulting in a slightly sweet, rich flavor.
Then, once the onion is tender, add the garlic. And if you’re here then you know that we never skimp on the garlic. It’s sliced in this recipe because it’s 100% delicious to get a slice of garlic in a bite. You can also mince or finely chop it if preferred.
Next, add the red bell pepper, snow peas, and carrots to the skillet. These veggies are all pretty crunchy, so they need a minute to soften up. They’ll sauté as the flavor of the onion and garlic meld together, too.
Now that the vegetables are almost ready, it’s time to add the noodles to the wok or skillet. Along with the noodles goes the sauce. Toss it all together, and continue to cook to heat the noodles and sauce together.
Now for the best part — eating! Vegetable Lo Mein is absolutely delicious served with scallions and a few sesame seeds for texture. It’s also completely acceptable if you don’t have any time to wait and just need to dig in. I get it!
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely! Thinly slice a chicken breast and cook it in a little oil in your wok or saucepan. Then remove it from the pan and set it aside while you cook the vegetables. Add it back in with the noodles and sauce to reheat as needed. This method will also work well with shrimp or cubed pork.
The options are really endless here, and you can customize the vegetables in this recipe so easily. Mushrooms would be excellent – cook them with the onions and allow the moisture to evaporate out of them before adding the remaining veggies. Bean sprouts would be a great crunchy addition. Bok choy is loaded with nutrients and would be excellent as well (add it with the bell pepper, etc.). Broccoli is another favorite!
Yes, in a pinch you can substitute spaghetti or linguine noodles in this recipe. I would recommend doubling the sauce in this case, too.
You can use regular soy sauce in its place.
Excellent! As with takeout, these noodles soak in the flavor and reheat great both in the microwave or on the stovetop the next day. If they have seemed to dry out a little, toss with a splash of soy sauce to liven them right back up.
If using thicker noodles, I would recommend doubling the sauce to make sure the dish is still saucy enough.
More Quick & Easy Asian-Inspired Recipes
- Cauliflower Teriyaki Lettuce Wraps
- Pineapple Fried Rice
- Curried Shrimp Fried Rice
- Cheesy Pepper Jelly Wonton Cups
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!
Vegetable Lo Mein for Two
- 4 ounces Chinese noodles generally 1/2 package
- 1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon regular soy sauce
- 1 1/2 Tablespoon vegetable oil or another neutral oil
- 1/2 medium yellow onion thinly sliced (~ 1 cup)
- 2 garlic cloves thinly sliced
- 1 cup carrots shredded or julienned (2 medium)
- 1 red bell pepper thinly sliced
- 3-4 ounces snow peas
- Optional: sliced scallions for garnish
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook Chinese noodles for 1-2 minutes (see package directions and cook 1-2 minutes less than the recommended cooking time to ensure they don’t overcook later). As they boil, stir to unfold the noodles. Drain, rinse in cold water and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, make the sauce by whisking together the oyster sauce, sesame oil, and soy sauces. Set aside.
- In a wok or large skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Add onion slices and cook for 4-5 minutes, until tender. Add garlic, continuing to stir for 1 minute as it becomes fragrant. Add carrots, bell pepper, and snow peas. Cook for 4-5 minutes until tender.
- Add the par-boiled noodles to the wok and pour in the sauce, stirring to coat. Continue to cook for 1-2 additional minutes until noodles are cooked through and sauce is distributed evenly. Serve immediately with scallions as desired.
This recipe is part of our Date Night Recipes to Love roundup. Check it out!