Chinese food has been one of my favorite types of cuisine since I can remember. I love trying new dishes, but I’ve recently noticed that many people get confused about the differences between chow mein and lo mein. It doesn’t help that both come in different varieties and include chicken. So, what is the difference between lo mein and chow mein chicken, and which is better?
While the two are relatively similar, chicken lo mein and chow mein mainly differ in the structure of the noodles, as well as the meat and vegetables used for their preparation. Moreover, lo mein usually uses stronger sauces.
By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly which noodle dish is best for your taste buds as well as your nutrition. So today, I’m here to set the record straight. My goal is to uncover the main differences between chicken lo mein and chow mein, so you can decide the one for you when it’s time to order your next delicious Chinese dinner. Let’s dive into it!
The noodles are one of the key differences between chicken lo mein and chow mein. While both dishes feature cooked wheat flour noodles, they go about it differently.
For chicken lo mein, the dish is usually prepared with soft noodles boiled separately but then mixed with the stir-fry ingredients, giving it a softer texture. Chow mein features crispier fried noodles, making them stand out in the mix of ingredients.
When it comes to picking a favorite between the two when it comes to noodles, I prefer the former because of its softer texture and chewy consistency. The boiled noodles fill my mouth with sweetness as I savor them in every bite — a pleasure only chicken lo mein provides!
When it comes to the contrast between chicken lo mein and chow mein, another big difference between these two dishes is the meat. If you look inside a plate of chicken lo mein, you will most likely find some light-colored poultry pieces — chicken strips. However, chow mein typically features pork, beef, and chicken as the meat of choice.
It’s important to note that both chicken lo mein and chow mein can feature other meats besides chicken or pork. Moreover, tofu or shrimp can be used in either of these dishes.
So far, I’ve tried a bunch of different options, and I haven’t found any that I don’t enjoy.
When comparing these two favorites, talking about the relevant vegetables is key. It’s no secret that these two dishes contain a variety of vegetables, which can vary depending on where you buy them.
Generally speaking, though, there are some differences between chicken lo mein and chow mein regarding veggies. Here’s a quick overview:
- Lo mein: Often contains carrots, bean sprouts, and snow peas
- Chow mein: Typically includes cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and celery. Also, chow mein is more about the noodles than the veggies.
While the vegetables in each dish will vary depending on the recipe, the ingredients in the two tend to remain roughly the same.
So while you might find yourself having different vegetables in either dish due to regional preference or other factors, expect them to feel familiar whichever you try!
The sauce is one of the most unique differences between lo mein and chow mein. Chicken lo mein is typically made with a traditional oyster sauce, providing a unique sweetness while adding a fair amount of umami flavor.
This sauce is incredibly popular in many East Asian dishes, though it doesn’t always favor everyone’s taste buds. On the other hand, chow mein typically comes without any sauce at all or with a rather light sauce. Some recipes may call for soy sauce or hoisin sauce, but more often than not, it’s none at all.
While you can certainly add your own sauces to either type of noodle dish, if you prefer something with a little more sweetness or umami flavor, then lo mein is probably the better option for you.
In contrast, if you like your noodles with no sauce or just a few drops of soy sauce and hoisin, then chow mein will be more up your alley. It really just comes down to personal preference!
If you’re looking for an option that’s better for you, consider taking a closer look at both dishes’ nutrition and benefits.
Chicken lo mein can be quite nutritious. Most dishes contain plenty of vegetables, like peas, carrots, bok choy, and lean protein from the chicken. It can provide plenty of fiber and nutrients like iron, magnesium, and vitamin C. 
However, it can also have a lot of sodium because of all the sauces used in its preparation. And if it contains too many egg noodles, it could have a high carbohydrate content which could be unhealthy in large amounts.
Chow mein is usually made with pan-fried noodles or steamed rice noodles, but it’s also often served with fried wontons or spring rolls, which could add up to a lot of unhealthy fat content. On the other hand, if your chow mein is made with steamed veggies and lean proteins like tofu or chicken breast, you stand to reap more health benefits from it than from chicken lo mein. 
So really, when it comes to nutrition, both dishes are on more or less equal footing — all that matters is what ingredients are used in their preparation and how healthy those ingredients are!
Which of the Two Is Better?
So, now that I’ve outlined the differences between chicken lo mein and chow mein, you may be asking yourself – which one is better?
The answer really depends on what you’re looking for in a dish. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to determine which is the right one for you:
- Is flavor my top priority? If so, chicken lo mein may be the better option, with its oyster and soy sauce blend giving it a savory-sweet taste.
- Am I looking for something with a bit of crunch? Chow mein has that delicious crispiness that you can only get from stir-fried noodles.
Ultimately, both noodles offer different flavors and textures and make a delicious dish. So, if you’re looking for a dish to tantalize your taste buds, why not try both? It’s the best way to find out which one you like best!
Whether you choose lo mein or chow mein, remember that either dish offers plenty of flavor and texture – it all depends on which kind of meat you’re in the mood for!