What is the Difference Between Chow Mein and Lo Mein?

The Cantonese words for stir-fried and mixed noodles are Romanized as chow mein and lo mein. Both recipes are prepared with wheat flour and eggs, which are also used to make pasta in Italy.

The difference between chow mein and lo mein is that lo mein is frequently boiled, drained, and then served with either meats, veggies, or oyster sauce to be mixed. Similar to chow mein, stir-fried noodles can serve with whatever you desire.

Let us learn the essential difference between chow mein and lo mein below:

What is Chow Mein?

What Is Chow Mein

Chow mein means “Fried” (Chow) and “Mein” (Noodles). Taishan, a city in the Pearl River Delta southwest of Jiangmen, was the origin of Chow Mein.

While chefs in Hong Kong fried the noodles until they were crisp while those in the regions opposite Hong Kong steamed them, all Chinese cooks used a hot wok to prepare the dish.

Fried noodles are a part of chow mein. These are the crunchy snacks that are usually on your table before dinner. According to my observation, chow mein is primarily boiled vegetables and beef atop these fried noodles when ordered at a restaurant in the US.

Types of Chow Mein

Types Of Chow Mein

There are two types of chow mein in and of itself. They come in two varieties: steaming and crisp.

  1. Steamed Chow Mein: The noodles in steamed chow mein are first flash-fried, after which they are stir-fried while being combined with extra ingredients like meat or veggies and soaked in a thin sauce.
  2. Crisp Chow Mein: The noodles are crushed while being fried to produce a dish that looks like a pancake. The noodle pancake is topped with any extra toppings and sauces.

What is Lo Mein?

What Is Lo Mein

The Chinese name lo mein denotes noodles that are mixed or tossed. Lo mein recipes combine veggies with protein, such as tofu, chicken, pork, cattle, or seafood.

Lo mein is a dry version of a typical, regular noodle soup. By layering the noodle dish in some form of savoury sauce, chefs may replicate the texture of this kind of soup.

The noodles used in lo mein meals have typically been boiled, drained, and thoroughly cooked. The cooked noodles are then added to a work that is filled with various proteins and veggies. Typically, these components have been precooked before being added to the lo mein sauce.

Types of Lo Mein

Types Of Lo Mein

There are two types of Lo Mein:

  1. Authentic Cantonese Hong Kong style lo mein
  2. American Chinese lo mein.
  1. Authentic Cantonese Hong Kong-style Lo Mein: Fresh Chinese egg noodles are used to make authentic Cantonese Hong Kong-style lo mein, which is then combined with oyster sauce. Additionally, it frequently comes with veggies like yu choy sum or lettuce. Some people serve meat along with their dumplings, char siu barbecue pig, white sliced chicken, beef, or shrimp.
  2. American Chinese Lo Mein: American Chinese lo mein is a stir-fried noodle meal made from thick noodles combined with toppings such as beef, pork, poultry, or veggies with a soy sauce-based sauce. The American dish resembles soft noodles stir-fried rice in that it includes meat, vegetables, and sauce in addition to the noodles.

Difference Between Chow Mein and Lo Mein

The primary difference between chow mein and lo mein is given below:

1. Meaning

Noodles are what lo mein and chow mein refer to. The difference between chow mein and lo mein is that the name “lo mein” comes from the Chinese “lo miàn”. Lo means “to stir,” and mein means “noodles.” Low mein is a combination of stirred noodles.

The term “chau miàn,” which refers to chow mein, can be translated as “stir-fried” noodles.

2. Types of Noodles Used

Types Of Noodles Used

Another difference between chow mein and lo mein is that fresh egg noodles are usually used in low mein to ensure that the strands are delicate and supple.

On the other hand, to achieve the crunchy texture, crisp chow mein regularly uses dried egg noodles.

3. Ingredients in the Sauce

Ingredients In The Sauce

The process for making the sauce varies between lo mein and chow mein. Both make use of oyster sauce and soy sauce. The difference between chow mein and lo mein sauce is that lo mein frequently uses light and dark soy sauce.

While corn flour, chicken stock, and sugar are frequently added to chow mein. Furthermore, chow mein is lighter and has less sauce than lo mein.

This is likely because chow mein highlights the crispiness of the noodles more. You can even make it without the sauce. However, the sauce is the heart and soul of a serving of lo mein. Lo Mein has a deeper, savoury sauce.

4. Process of Preparation

Before cooking, both lo mein and chow mein must be made tender.

In comparison between lo mein vs. chow mein preparation, the noodles must be completely soft because lo mein is just tossed noodles. They always boil to achieve a level of softness. Chow mein noodles, on the other hand, are soaked in hot water because they will later be stir-fried.

Read more: What is the Difference Between Pulao and Biryani? 

Lo Mein Vs. Chow Mein

Comparing chow mein vs. lo mein is that lo mein is simply cooked noodles and sauce together. Cooked noodles are combined with sauce and additional seasonings. Typically, ingredients are topped properly after mixing noodles and sauce, resulting in a well-arranged presentation.

Stir-fried noodles are known as chow mein. In a wok, noodles are stir-fried while the sauce and other ingredients are added. During frying, ingredients are scattered all throughout. Chow Mein is frequently flavorful and dry. Both chow mein and lo mein are considered as the king of noodles.

What is the Difference Between Chow Mein and Lo Mein?

Highlighting the main difference between chow mein and lo mein in the following table:

Chow MeinLo Mein
The origin of chow mein is Southern China.The origin of lo mein is Northern China.
Chow mein, also known as “stir fried noodles.” Lo mein, also known as “tossed noodles.”
It takes 5 – 6 minutes to boil.It takes 2 – 3 minutes to boil.


Chow mein and lo mein dishes are prepared using Chinese egg noodles, which are wheat flour noodles with additional eggs, despite their distinctions. They share the same toppings. Both lo mein and chow mein include a variety of veggies and meat, poultry, and other protein sources. 

The difference between chow mein and lo mein is that chow mein is prepared with either fresh or dried egg noodles, unlike lo mein, which calls for fresh egg noodles.

Read more: What is the Difference Between Beer and Wine?

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  • Sophia Winter

    Sophia Winter, a food writer with a journalism degree, brings seven years of experience and a passion for sustainable food systems. Her global culinary adventures and participation in writing workshops enrich our website with fantastic meal ideas.

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