Chop Suey vs Chow Mein: A Food Face-Off

chop suey vs chow mein

Chop suey and chow mein are two tasty foods that originated in China, though there are some that argue that chop suey is an American-Chinese cuisine. Rest assured these two food preparations have Chinese roots in them. We will examine both of these preparations in this food-face-off article so that we can see their differences and you can identify which among the two you would most likely try out. This is going to be a chop suey vs. chow mein piece for the ages.

Chop Suey


In the culinary world, chop suey is defined as a stew of mixed ingredients. These ingredients are sliced pieces of meat and vegetables. There are many stories about how chop suey was made. Whether these stories are true or not is highly debatable. One thing is certain though is that in all of the stories chop suey follows its definition as a mixed meat and vegetable stew.

Pork, chicken, fish, or shrimp are often the base meat ingredient that you will find whenever you order chop suey in restaurants. Sometimes it will be a combination of any of the meat products mentioned.

Carrots, broccoli, cabbage, scallions, celery among others are the vegetable choices often mixed with the meat to produce the salivating chop suey.

Cooking Chop Suey​

Cooking chop suey is not that difficult. If you have the following main ingredients on hand then everything will be quite simple.​

  • Meat (pork, chicken, fish, or shrimp)
  • Vegetables (cabbage, carrots, celery, snow beans, mushrooms, bell peppers, and other vegetables you want to mix)
  • Garlic and onion
  • Oyster sauce and soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • Broth from any of the meat you are using or most common are chicken and shrimp broths

Chop suey is very popular because it is easy to cook. To cook chop suey, you will need to:

  • Sauté the garlic and onions
  • Add-n your meat
  • Season the meat with salt and pepper and then allow it to cook for a few minutes
  • Pour the oyster and soy sauce and stir it
  • Pour down the broth and season it again to taste that suits you

Tips: If you want to make the stew a bit sticky, then you can add some cornstarch powder and stir it till you are able to achieve the stickiness that you prefer.

There are many chop suey recipes that you can find. This recipe is just the basic principle on how you can cook chop suey.

Chow Mein

Chow Mein

Chow mein is another popular dish that came from the Chinese. Similar to a chop suey, it is a mixture of meat and vegetables but with noodles. In the western world, it is one of the most recognizable Classic dishes in Chinese takeaway restaurants. Cooking stir-fried noodles originated in the Northern provinces of China.

Technically, chow mein is a general term when in Chinese when you talk about stir-fry noodles. There are, however, a lot of varieties and recipes where the process of stir-frying noodles is being used.

Ideally, chow mein is characterized as a crispy noodle and its opposite lo mein as a soft noodle. This is not the actual case though as originally chow mein can also be soft. The main difference between this two noodle recipes is how they are prepared.

Cooking Chow Mein​

Cooking a stir-fry chow mein is also a fairly easy procedure. You will need the following main ingredients for a very simple chow mein dish.​


  • Egg noodles
  • ​Meat (pork, chicken, shrimp)
  • ​Onions and garlic
  • ​Cooking oil
  • Vegetables (cabbage, carrots, snow peas and spring onions)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Soy sauce
  • Chicken broth


  • First,heat an ample amount of oil and then sauté the garlic and onion.
  • A dd yo ur choice of meat. It could be just one variety, or you can mix the meat products mentioned above.
  • Once the meat is cooked, you can toss in your vegetables and mix them well together.
  • Add your soy sauce together with salt and pepper.
  • Add the chicken broth.
  • When it comes to a boil you will add your eggs or flour noodles to the mixture.
  • Stir the preparation.
  • Cover it to allow the noodles to absorb the broth and make it soft.
  • After a few minutes you know have your very simple chow mein.

Preparation for this is quite easy. You can watch this chow mein cooking video to help you as you cook this dish.

How Are Chop Suey And Chow Mein Different?

The main difference between these two delightful dishes is how they are prepared. One is a combination of meat and vegetables and then stewed while the other one is stir-fried and added with noodles.

You can also include their origin as something that sets it apart. The chop suey is said to be created by Southern Chinese people who migrated to America. In addition, it is also common for people in Southern China to create something out of leftover meals. Chow mein on the other hand originates from the Northern part of China.

They also differ in how they are served. Usually chop suey is served on rice while the chow mein already has the noodles incorporated on it.

How Are The Dishes Similar?​

Despite being different in a few things, both are actually similar in a lot of ways.Both dishes have the same base ingredients. Sliced pieces of meat and vegetables are the base ingredients of both food preparations. Pork, chicken, shrimp, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, snow peas, and black soy are just a few ingredients that are common between the two.

Both are also very easy to make and very flexible. This means that if you have any other vegetable or meat preference you can simply toss it in your wok and it will still come out as chop suey or chow mein. You can clearly experiment on both dishes and substitute a lot of the ingredients.

And yes, you can cook both in a frying pan or any pan that is if you do not have any wok around.​

Chop SueyChow Mein
OriginDebatable; Believed to be created by Southern Chinese Immigrants in AmericaNorthern China
IngredientsComes in different sizes / fully customizable as wellMixed pieces of meat and vegetables with noodles
PreparationHandle and shoulder strap, can be a bit heavy to carry even without the knivesStir-fried in olive oil
How it is servedExpensiveCan be served on its own or be served on with bread or sandwich

Which Should You Choose?

Well, without any hint of doubt, both these food preparations are really very mouthwatering. The choice of which is better will be based on your preferences. Do you like something that is stewed? Or do you prefer a stir-fried dish?

The decision from which to choose is in your hands. It will be better though to try both and enjoy these Chinese cuisines.

Have you tried any of these dishes? How was your experience? Tell us your experience by leaving a comment and don’t forget to share this article.​


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here