Chop Suey vs Lo Mein: Stir-Fry Face-Off

Welcome to the ultimate noodle battle! Today, we’ll be comparing chop suey vs lo mein. These popular noodle dishes are favorites for many because of their unique tastes and textures.

In this article, we’ll break down what makes each dish special. Whether you love the variety of ingredients in chop suey or the delicious noodles in lo mein, this comparison will help you figure out which one you like more.

The Origins of Chop Suey and Lo Mein

Chop SueyLo Mein
Originated in the Guangdong province of southern ChinaOriginated in Northern China during the Han Dynasty
Created as a fusion of Chinese stir-frying techniques and American ingredientsTraditionally made with wheat flour noodles, vegetables, meat, or seafood
Adapted by Chinese immigrants in the United StatesIntroduced to different countries by Chinese immigrants
Became a staple in Chinese-American cuisineEvolved into various regional and international variations

Before we delve into the differences between chop suey and lo mein, let’s look at the origins of these popular dishes in Chinese cuisine, which have captivated taste buds worldwide.

Chop suey, meaning “assorted pieces” in Cantonese, originated in Guangdong, southern China. It was adapted by Chinese-American immigrants who introduced a Western twist to their traditional flavors, incorporating stir-frying techniques that date back to mid-19th-century China. This dish uniquely blends Chinese culinary practices with American ingredients.

Lo mein, which translates to “stirred noodles” in Mandarin, hails from Northern China and boasts a history that spans over 2,000 years, originating during the Han Dynasty. It is made by combining noodles with a savory sauce, then stir-frying with vegetables, meat, or seafood.

As Chinese immigrants settled in new regions, they mixed in local tastes and foods, making new versions. Chop suey and lo mein exemplify how cuisine can bridge cultures, and today, they are staples in Chinese-American cooking, offering a beloved taste of the East across the United States, with each version a bit different.

bowl of lo mein noodles, topped with broccoli and bell peppers.

Chop Suey vs Lo Mein: Key Differences

Now, let’s explore what makes chop suey and lo mein unique, focusing on their textures and flavors to help you appreciate these dishes more.


Chop suey and lo mein offer contrasting eating experiences. Chop suey is typically served without noodles and features a mix of crunchy vegetables and tender proteins, providing a satisfying contrast of textures that range from crisp to soft.

On the other hand, lo mein is known for its smooth and silky noodles. The noodles are boiled and then stir-fried, allowing the sauce to seep into them and give them a chewy texture.


Chop suey commonly includes proteins such as chicken, pork, beef, or shrimp, combined with a variety of vegetables like bell peppers, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, water chestnuts, and bean sprouts.

This dish invites creativity—you can even make a vegan version using tofu or tempeh. Traditionally served over rice, chop suey can also be adapted into a noodle dish by serving it over stir-fried noodles.

Meanwhile, lo mein’s key ingredient is its noodles, made from wheat and eggs, which provide a chewy base that complements every other element in the dish. Proteins such as beef, shrimp, chicken, or tofu and vegetables like broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, scallions, and mushrooms add crunch and color, while additions like bean sprouts, bok choy, or snow peas enrich the dish further.

Colorful assortment of freshly chopped vegetables on a plate.


Chop suey features a bold sauce made with soy sauce, garlic, and ginger, often enhanced with a dash of sesame oil or oyster sauce. This rich mixture brings out the freshness of the vegetables and the savoriness of the meats.

It’s also often customized with additional spices, such as white pepper or a dash of sugar, to balance the saltiness, making it not only flavorful but also adaptable to various taste preferences.

Lo mein, on the other hand, is known for its savory, slightly sweet sauce that combines soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and a hint of sugar. The quick stir-frying process ensures that the noodles absorb the umami from the sauce while maintaining their chewy texture.

Related Article: While learning about chop suey and lo mein, you might be wondering how lo mein compares to pan fried noodles. Check out our article on Pan Fried Noodles vs. Lo Mein to find out how they compare.

Making Your Choice: Chop Suey or Lo Mein?

Deciding between chop suey and lo mein really comes down to what you’re in the mood for. If you want a hearty dish with deep flavors, go for chop suey. It’s packed with a rich blend of meat or seafood and colorful veggies.

If noodles are more your thing, you might prefer lo mein. It’s got tasty noodles, lots of different vegetables, and your choice of protein, all mixed with a delicious sauce. It’s a real treat for anyone who loves a good stir-fry.

Think about what you feel like eating and the occasion. Chop suey is perfect for a cozy, filling meal at home. If you want something lighter but still crave stir-fry noodles, try lo mein. Both choices promise a tasty food journey. Feel free to try both and find out which one you like more.

Top view of chop suey dish next to a bowl of lo mein, surrounded by bowls of sauce, on a dark wooden table.


The debate over chop suey vs lo mein shows just how diverse and artistic Chinese cuisine is. These popular stir-fry dishes are always a hit because they leave you wanting more after every bite.

Chop suey combines different ingredients like meat or seafood and colorful vegetables, creating a delicious dish that’s sure to please your taste buds.

Lo mein, on the other hand, is all about stir-fried noodles. The noodles are cooked just right and mixed with tasty sauces. This mix gives a perfect blend of flavors and textures.

Both dishes are loved all over the world for their unique tastes—whether you’re a fan of chop suey’s bold flavors or you prefer the noodle-filled goodness of lo mein, there’s something for everyone. Why not give these tasty Chinese dishes a try today?


What is the main difference between chop suey and lo mein?

The main difference lies in their ingredients and preparation. Chop suey is primarily a dish of mixed meats and vegetables served over rice, often with a thicker sauce. Lo mein is a noodle dish that combines noodles with vegetables and protein, coated in a lighter, often soy-based sauce.

Is chop suey or lo mein healthier?

Both dishes can be made healthier, depending on the ingredients used. Generally, lo mein can be lighter if less oil is used in cooking, while chop suey can be packed with a variety of vegetables. Opt for lean proteins and plenty of veggies in either dish to boost their nutritional value.

Can chop suey and lo mein be made vegetarian?

Absolutely! Both dishes are versatile. For vegetarian chop suey, use tofu or tempeh as the protein and skip any animal-based sauces. For vegetarian lo mein, simply substitute the meat with tofu or another plant-based protein and ensure the sauces are vegetarian-friendly.

How long does it take to cook chop suey and lo mein?

Both dishes are relatively quick to prepare, usually taking about 20 to 30 minutes. Lo mein might require a bit less time since it involves simple stir-frying of noodles and mix-ins. Chop suey could take slightly longer if you’re using a variety of vegetables and proteins that need different cooking times.