Chow Mein vs. Lo Mein: What’s the Difference?

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Chow Mein vs. Lo Mein Noodles – There are many varieties of noodles and that they are made in more than one way across the world. Of all the noodles available, Chow Mein and Lo Mein seem to be the most widely eaten ones. So, are these noodles same or different? What makes them set apart? These questions are of those foodies who love to make a healthy choice when it comes to noodles.

Frankly, not all noodles are nutritious or healthy. Noodles differ significantly in terms of their ingredients, size, and cooking style. So, all fans of noodles who are health conscious need to do a brief Chow Mein vs. Lo Mein comparison. Doing so gives an insight into the subtle differences between them.

Chow Mein vs. Lo Mein in Terms of Meaning

The word ‘Mein’ is the Chinese term for noodles, while Lo is the Chinese word for ‘toss’. So, they are tossed noodles boiled in water and usually have low amount of fat. These noodles are present in a variety of shapes and sizes and are usually had with meat, tossed vegetables, soups, and seafood. They are generally served with sauce.

chow mein vs. lo mein noodles

On the other hand, chow means fried. So, Chow Mein noodles are sufficiently fried to get that typical brown look. This is why they are tagged as twice-browned noodles. Chow Mein noodles have two varieties namely crisp and steamed. The former ones are flat, while the latter ones are a bit round. Sauces served with these noodles are usually thick brown and contain soy.

Chow Mein vs. Lo Mein in Terms of Noodle Preparation

Both of them are egg noodles, as the noodles are made using wheat flour and egg. The fresh noodles are preferable for Lo Mein, whereas dried or fresh ones are for Chow Mein. No matter which noodles you choose, it is essential to soften them prior to cooking.

To soften dried noodles, they are parboiled up to six minutes, while the fresh ones are boiled not more than three minutes. The precise cooking time is dependent on how thick the noodles are. Thus, it is important to read the instructions on the packaging material.

Regardless of whether the noodles are dried or fresh, it is important to boil them such that they are only cooked to the tooth (al dente). In absence of these egg noodles, fettucini or other Italian pasta can be a good substitute.

See also: Side Dishes for Lasagna

Chow Mein vs. Lo Mein in Terms of Ingredients

Lo Mein usually contains two staple ingredients namely beef and wheat flour noodles. Apart from that, it can also include vegetables such as minced garlic and/or ginger, broccoli, mushrooms, cabbage, peas, carrots, and bok choy. Seafood or meat are optional ingredients. While different types of sauces are served, the most commonly served are soy and hoisin.

The pan-fried Chow Mein noodles include mostly vegetables such as beans, scallions, and cabbage along with sprouts. Seafood or meat is optional. If at all sauce is served, it is usually soy sauce sprinkled with white pepper and sesame oil.


Chow Mein vs. Lo Mein differences are based on their country of origin and the region in which they are cooked. However, these differences have gone through lots of changes to give varying nutrition.

See also: Best Zoodle Maker