Panda Express Chow Mein: A Delicious Copycat Recipe to Try at Home

A bowl of freshly made Panda Express Chow Mein copycat with crisp vegetables.

Welcome to the ultimate guide on making Panda Express Chow Mein at home. This dish, a staple in fast-food Chinese cuisine, combines savory flavors and satisfying textures. Imagine recreating this iconic dish at home, bringing a fresher and tastier version to your table.

Today, we’re diving into a copycat recipe that rivals the original. We’ll explore the secrets behind the crunch of the vegetables and the rich, umami-packed sauce coating every noodle. Whether you’re a Panda Express fan or a home cook looking to expand your skills, this recipe delivers flavor, texture, and the joy of homemade cooking.

Grab your apron and get ready. Let’s start our culinary adventure with Panda Express Chow Mein!

Why Make Panda Express Chow Mein at Home?

Creating Panda Express Chow Mein at home offers a unique opportunity to tailor the dish to your personal taste while embracing the joy of cooking. Here are compelling reasons to try this recipe in your own kitchen:

Freshness and Quality: Making this dish at home allows you to select fresh, high-quality ingredients. You control the crunch of the veggies and the tenderness of the noodles, ensuring a meal that’s vibrant and flavorful.

Customization: One of the best parts about home cooking is the ability to customize. Want your chow mein a bit spicier? Add some extra heat. Prefer more vegetables? Toss them in. This recipe gives you the flexibility to make it your own.

Healthier Options: By cooking at home, you can make healthier choices. Use less oil, opt for low-sodium sauces, or increase the veggies for a more nutritious dish compared to the fast-food version.

Fun and Fulfillment: There’s a special kind of satisfaction that comes from recreating a favorite restaurant dish at home. It’s not just about the eating; it’s about the process of cooking, experimenting, and enjoying the fruits of your labor.

Economical: Making Panda Express Chow Mein at home is cost-effective. Cooking this dish yourself can save money compared to dining out, especially if you’re feeding a family or a group.

Ready to embark on this delicious journey? Let’s dive into the ingredients and steps you’ll need to bring this dish to life.

Ingredients for Panda Express Chow Mein

To bring this delightful dish to your table, you’ll need a mix of fresh vegetables, savory sauces, and the right kind of noodles. Here’s everything you need to get started:

For the Chow Mein Noodles:

  • Chow Mein Noodles: Look for these in the refrigerated section of your Asian grocery store. Made from wheat flour, water, and egg, these noodles have a great texture. For an even closer match to Panda Express, consider overcooking them by 60-90 seconds.
  • Celery: Adds a fresh, crunchy texture.
  • Cabbage: For sweetness and crunch.
  • Onion: White or yellow, adds a mild, aromatic flavor.
  • Neutral Oil: Vegetable oil, avocado oil, or any light oil for stir-frying. Panda Express uses a generous amount, but you can adjust to preference.

For the Chow Mein Sauce:

  • Regular Soy Sauce: The all-purpose variety, saltier and thinner than its counterparts.
  • Oyster Sauce or Vegetarian Stir Fry Sauce: Adds a deep umami flavor. Not as sweet as hoisin sauce.
  • Sesame Oil: For that unmistakable Asian aroma and taste.
  • Garlic: Minced, for a punch of flavor.
  • Dark Soy Sauce: Gives the noodles their characteristic brown color.
  • Chicken Stock: Unsweetened; you can also use beef or vegetable stock.
  • Cornstarch: Thickens the sauce so it clings to the noodles. Substitute with potato starch or tapioca starch if needed.

With these ingredients, you’re set to create a dish that not only tastes amazing but is also customizable to your dietary needs and preferences. Let’s move on to the cooking instructions and bring this Chow Mein to life!

How to Make Panda Express Chow Mein

Follow these steps to recreate the iconic Panda Express Chow Mein in your kitchen. This recipe is designed to be straightforward, ensuring you get that authentic taste with every bite.

1. Prepare the Chow Mein Noodles:

  • Boil the noodles according to package instructions. Remember, if you’re aiming for the exact Panda Express texture, overcook them by 60-90 seconds.
  • Drain and set aside, tossing them with a bit of oil to prevent sticking.

2. Prepare the Sauce:

  • In a small bowl, combine the soy sauces, oyster sauce (or vegetarian stir fry sauce), sesame oil, minced garlic, and dark soy sauce. Stir well.
  • Dissolve cornstarch in the chicken stock, then add it to the sauce mixture. This will help thicken the sauce so it adheres to the noodles and veggies nicely.

3. Cook the Vegetables:

  • Heat a large pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add a couple of tablespoons of oil.
  • Sauté the onions until translucent, then add the celery and cabbage. Cook until they’re just tender but still crisp. Remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside.

4. Combine and Stir-Fry:

  • In the same pan, add a bit more oil and the prepared sauce. Heat until the sauce starts to thicken.
  • Add the cooked noodles and vegetables back into the pan. Toss everything together, ensuring the noodles and veggies are evenly coated with the sauce.
  • Stir-fry for an additional 2-3 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together.

5. Serve:

  • Once everything is heated through and well combined, transfer your homemade Chow Mein to a serving dish.
  • Optional: Garnish with sliced green onions or a sprinkle of sesame seeds for extra flavor and presentation.

Tips for Success:

  • High Heat: Cooking at a high temperature ensures your veggies stay crisp and the sauce thickens quickly.
  • Customize: Feel free to adjust the amount of sauce to suit your taste. More sauce for a richer flavor, less for a lighter version.
  • Add Protein: Make it a complete meal by adding cooked chicken, beef, shrimp, or tofu.

Enjoy your delicious homemade Panda Express Chow Mein! This dish is not only satisfying but brings a piece of the Panda Express experience into your home. Whether you’re cooking for yourself, your family, or a group of friends, this recipe is sure to impress.

Conclusion: Savoring Your Homemade Panda Express Chow Mein

Congratulations! You’ve just created a delicious batch of Panda Express Chow Mein right in your own kitchen. This recipe not only brings the flavors you love into your home but also adds a personal touch that can’t be found in any restaurant dish. By following the steps outlined above, you’ve embarked on a culinary journey that showcases your cooking skills and your commitment to serving up mouthwatering meals.

As you sit down to enjoy your homemade chow mein, take a moment to appreciate the blend of textures and flavors that make this dish so special. The crunch of the fresh vegetables, the tenderness of the perfectly cooked noodles, and the savory depth of the sauce come together in a harmony that is sure to satisfy any appetite.

Remember, cooking is not just about following a recipe—it’s about making it your own. Don’t hesitate to experiment with different ingredients, adjust the seasonings to your liking, and add your favorite proteins. The beauty of home cooking lies in its flexibility and the endless possibilities it offers to create something uniquely yours.

We hope this Panda Express Chow Mein copycat recipe becomes a cherished addition to your recipe collection, one that you’ll return to time and again. Whether you’re cooking for a casual weeknight dinner, a special occasion, or simply indulging in a craving, this dish is guaranteed to delight.

Thank you for joining us on this delicious adventure. Happy cooking, and enjoy your homemade Panda Express Chow Mein!