Make delicious shrimp lo mein at home and skip the takeout with this simple recipe. Featuring Chinese egg noodles, juicy shrimp and vegetables tossed in a restaurant-worthy sauce, this 20 minute meal will become a dinner time favorite.
Lo mein was a family favorite on Chinese takeout nights when I was a kid. Our order would always consist of at least one variation of lo mein, some boneless spare ribs and General Tso’s chicken.
Looking back at what we ordered for a family of four always makes me laugh because now as an adult and a family of just two, we order the same, if not even more food.
Why does my husband eat so much?
Inspired by the delicious taste of takeout, this shrimp lo mein recipe is even better. Why? Because it’s made at home with ingredients you can control and takes just 20 minutes. There’s also a bunch of ways to customize the dish based on your preferences and what you have on hand. Frozen shrimp work just as well as fresh making it incredibly convenient as well.
Chewy egg noodles, juicy shrimp, tender vegetables and a crave-worthy sauce combine in this easy dinner which will become a guaranteed fast favorite.
What is shrimp lo mein?
Lo mein is a Chinese stir fry dish with noodles. It can be made with any protein such as beef, chicken, pork, shrimp or tofu. Shrimp lo mein is one of the quickest cooking options making it perfect for homemade takeout.
The vegetables vary in lo mein dishes but typical choices include, carrots, green onions, cabbage, peppers and snow peas. They’re tossed with noodles in a rich saucy mixture which brings much of the flavor to the dish.
Lo mein is traditionally made with egg noodles but this is flexible and alternatives such as ramen, rice noodles and even spaghetti are all possible. Fresh lo mein noodles will feature a more doughy and chewy texture whereas dry noodles need to be cooked longer and have a texture more similar to traditional pasta.
Shrimp lo mein vs. chow mein
In some American takeout restaurants, lo mein and chow mein are synonymous. Historically, however, the dishes do vary.
Chow mein is a dryer noodle dish due to the way the noodles are cooked. Lo mein relies more heavily on the sauce, like General Tsos, for flavor whereas chow mein fries the noodles and features a lighter sauce.
Lo mein actually means “tossed noodles” while chow mein translates to “fried noodles.”
Ingredients to make shrimp lo mein
This quick at home version of the classic takeout dish uses easily accessible ingredients but is also incredibly customizable.
- Lo mein noodles – Fresh or dried noodles will work. Fresh is best if you can find them and will give that classic doughy takeout noodle taste.
- Shrimp – Fresh or frozen shrimp are interchangeable for this recipe. Choose peeled and deveined for quicker preparation. Medium size is great for a dish like this whereas you might want larger shrimp for kung pao shrimp.
- Extra virgin olive oil – One of the main reasons I like making takeout dishes at home is so that I can choose the cooking oil. Restaurants never use high quality oils and swapping extra virgin olive oil for canola or vegetable oil is such an easy health swap.
- Garlic – While I know minced garlic is convenient, fresh is best for this stir fry dish.
- Carrots – Thinly sliced carrots are a common refrigerator vegetable and work well in stir fries like this.
- Green onions – Offering both flavor and color to the dish, green onions are a classic staple in any Chinese food.
- Soy sauce & teriyaki sauce – This is where all the flavor comes from in lo mein. Using premade teriyaki sauce really cuts down on the ingredient list and keeps this a simple meal. Be sure to choose gluten-free versions of these sauces if needed.
- Crushed red pepper flakes – Chili peppers or red pepper flakes are optional but a great way to add flavor and a bit of kick to the dish.
Customizing lo mein to what you have on hand
You can easily make this shrimp lo mein recipe your own by changing the ingredients to reflect your tastes or what you have on hand in the fridge.
Vegetables like napa cabbage, thinly sliced peppers, crunchy snow peas and sliced mushrooms are all great swaps or additions. Bean sprouts, water chestnuts and bamboo shoots add great crunch if you have any of those.
My Pro Tip
Using a premade coleslaw mix can be a really quick and easy way to add vegetables to any lo mein dish.
Feel free to add to the total quantity of vegetables in the recipe as well. While you’ll likely have to adjust the soy sauce and teriyaki accordingly to coat the added volume, bulking up a dish with vegetables is a great way to increase satiety without adding tremendously to the calorie count.
Making shrimp lo mein at home
Start by cooking the lo mein noodles according to the package directions. If using fresh noodles, this will be significantly quicker than dry noodles. Drain well and set aside. Do not rinse the noodles. The starch from the cooked noodles help to thicken the sauce when tossed with the other ingredients.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the carrots and sauté for a few minutes until slightly softened.
Push the carrots to the side of the pan then add the shrimp. Cook the shrimp until mostly pink then toss together with the carrots. Stir in the garlic, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, green onions, cooked noodles and red pepper flakes if using. Toss everything together and cook for two to three minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from the heat, garnish with additional chopped green onions and serve. A drizzle of toasted sesame oil, while not necessary, is also a nice way to finish off this dish and add a touch more flavor.
Do I need to use a wok to make lo mein?
No, while woks can be used, a large skillet will work just fine for making lo mein at home. It’s more important that the oil is hot before adding the ingredients than the shape of the cooking apparatus.
A hot pan ensures the vegetables and shrimp cook quickly to a crisp tender rather than a soft mushy texture.
Is lo mein healthy?
Lo mein is one of those dishes than when ordered out for takeout, probably doesn’t sport the best nutritional profile. However, when you make it at home and can choose your cooking oil along with the quantity of vegetables, shrimp lo mein can be a healthful choice.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Fast and flavorful
- Cheaper than takeout
- Controlled nutrition
- Crave-worthy saucy noodles
Once you see how easy it is to turn out restaurant-quality Chinese dishes like this at home, shrimp lo mein will be quickly earn a spot on the weekly dinner rotation. Without the need for any one-off ingredients, this recipe pulls in all the takeout flavors you love in a dish that couldn’t be simpler to make.
If you want to expand your takeout at home horizons, make sure to try out sweet and sour tofu, kung pao chickpeas and honey orange sesame chicken. For something spicier with more kick, give gochujang chicken thighs a try.
And for another Asian noodle dish, try this spicy udon beef stir fry recipe.
Shrimp Lo Mein
- 8 ounces lo mein noodles
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin oil
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 pound medium sized raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- ⅓ cup low sodium soy sauce
- ¼ cup teriyaki sauce
- 1 cup green onion plus more for garnish, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
- Cook lo mein noodles according to package directions. Drain well, set aside.
- Place the olive oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat.
- Once hot, sauté carrots for 2 minutes. Push carrots to the side, add the shrimp and sauté for another 3 minutes. Once shrimp are pink, stir all the ingredients together.
- Stir in garlic, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, green onions, noodles and red pepper flakes if using. Cook for 2-3 minutes by stirring continuously.
- Remove from heat and garnish with additional green onions.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.