I love this Chinese vegan chow mein recipe for many reasons, but especially because it's loaded with healthy vegetables. Add chow mein noodles and a flavorful chow mein sauce and you have the perfect easy vegan dinner!
If you can't tell from my broccoli and cashew stir fry or my vermicelli noodles stir fry , I love vegan Chinese food! Give me rice, noodles and vegetables any day, but make sure they're dressed in a yummy sauce (that's the real secret!)
A rich chow mein sauce is the answer to the best vegetable chow mein. Traditional chow mein sauce is made using oyster sauce, which is obviously not vegan or vegetarian. So, in order to make chow mein without oyster sauce, we'll be substituting the oyster sauce with our own easy, homemade sauce made with basic ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.
But first, let's answer some common questions about this recipe:
Is Chow Mein Vegan?
No, chow mein sauce is not typically vegan, and depending on the type that you order, many recipes include meat.
If you want a truly vegan chow mein, you'll likely need to make your own at home. That's why I've made a recipe for exactly that!
Are Chow Mein Noodles Vegan?
Most chow mein noodles are vegan. Typically the ingredients used are water, salt and flour. However, some brands may contain eggs, which is fine if you're making a vegetarian chow mein. But, if you want it to be vegan, be sure to check the ingredients.
Is Chow Mein Healthy?
Like most Chinese foods, if chow mein is prepared with light oil and packed full of fresh vegetables and noodles, it's a nutritious meal.
- First, we'll make our vegan chow mein sauce. Add the tamari (or soy sauce), rice wine vinegar, chili garlic sauce and the cornstarch slurry to a bowl.
- Next, add your vegetable oil to a wok or large saute pan. Saute the broccoli, cabbage, carrots and red pepper for 3-4 minutes. Be careful not to overcook your veggies. You want them crisp with a bit of bite. Remove the veggies from the pan and transfer them to a clean plate.
- Cook your chow mein noodles according to the instructions on the packet, but subtract one minute from the cooking time. This keeps your noodles al dente. They'll finish cooking in the sauce. Drain and set them aside.
- Now heat the sesame oil for the chow mein sauce in the same pan you cooked your vegetables. Add the sliced garlic and saute for it 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and keep moving it around until it caramelizes. Pour you vegan chow mein sauce into the pan and reduce the heat. Let the sauce thicken, stirring occasionally.
- Now add your vegetables and chow mein noodles to the sauce and stir until everything is evenly coated in the sauce.
- Tuck in and enjoy!
Vegan Chow Mein Recipe Variations
The star of this dish is the sauce, but you can easily swap in different veggies for the one ones in the recipe. Here's a few suggestions:
- Swap the chow mein noodles for rice for a gluten free dish.
- Chow mein is great with tofu! The recipe below is for chow mein without tofu, but feel free to add it for an extra burst of flavor. You could also use tempeh or seitan.
- If you want to omit the brown sugar, you can substitute one tablespoon of hoison sauce.
- If you don't have authentic Chinese chow mein noodles on hand, substitute ramen noodles. They're a great compliment to the veggies!
- Use edamame or mushrooms instead of broccoli.
- Use purple cabbage instead of green for a hit of color. Or, make your choy mein without cabbage - use bok choy instead.
Did You Make This Recipe?
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Sure you can, simply omit the noodles and keep the sauce recipe the same. The recipe is gluten free without the chow mein noodles.
Ramen noodles are a great substitution for chow mein noodles.
Crunchy chow mein is a Cantonese/Hong Kong specialty, and it's delicious! You can buy crunchy chow mein noodles at most Asian grocers and at some major supermarkets. If you want to make homemade crunchy chow mein noodles, start with fresh chow mein noodles, and saute them in vegetable oil until they are crispy.
Chow mein is excellent with tofu, tempeh or seitan.
Craving More Easy Vegan Dinner Recipes?
Vegan Chow Mein
For The Chow Mein Sauce
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- ¼ cup tamari *or soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce *I used Sriracha omit if you don't like spicy food
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
For The Vegan Chow Mein
- 8 ounces chow mein noodles
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 8 ounces broccoli florets *approximately one small head
- 1 carrot julienned or sliced into thin matchstick size pieces.
- 2 cloves garlic sliced
- 1 cup green or purple cabbage sliced
- 1 red pepper seeds removed and sliced into thin strips
- Put the tamari, rice wine vinegar, chili garlic sauce, and cornstarch slurry in a bowl.
- Heat vegetable oil in a large saute pan. Saute the vegetables for 4 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Cook the chow mein noodles according to the packet instructions, but subtract one minute of cooking time. They'll finish cooking in the sauce. *see note 1
- Heat the sesame oil in the same saute pan. Add the garlic and saute for a further minute. *see note 2.
- Add the brown sugar and saute until it begins to caramelized. Pour the chow mein sauce into the pan. Reduce the heat and allow the sauce to simmer until it thickens (about 2-3 minutes).
- Return the vegetbales to the pan along with the noodles and allow them to heat through. Serve with rice, garnished with chopped scallions and sesame seeds.
- If you don't want your chow mein noodles to be soggy, stop cooking them a minute before the package instructions directs you too. Add a drop of oil to the water you boil the noodles in to prevent them from sticking.