How many calories does a plate of Chow Mein have?

Chow Mein is a popular Chinese noodle dish that is loved by many for its delicious flavors and varied textures. However, with its starch-heavy noodles and protein and vegetable mix-ins, some may wonder just how many calories are packed into a typical plate of Chow Mein.

In this article, we will provide a thorough breakdown of the average calorie content in a serving of Chow Mein. We will look at the calories in the main noodle and sauce components, as well as popular protein and vegetable add-ins. Read on to get a detailed understanding of the calorie count you can expect from your favorite takeout or homemade Chow Mein.

Calories in Chow Mein Noodles

The base of any Chow Mein dish is the noodles. Chow Mein is typically made with wheat-flour noodles that are stir-fried to give them a crispy, lightly charred texture while maintaining an al dente bite.

A portion of 6 ounces (about 2 cups) of plain Chow Mein noodles contains around 300 calories. As a starch-based food, the noodles are predominantly carbohydrates with a small amount of protein. Let’s break down the nutrition facts:

Nutrition Facts for 6oz (2 cups) Chow Mein Noodles

Calories 300
Total Fat 1g
Sodium 5mg
Total Carbohydrates 60g
Dietary Fiber 2g
Protein 6g

As you can see, the calories come mainly from carbohydrates. There is very little fat or protein in plain Chow Mein noodles.

So a standard 2-cup portion of noodles accounts for about 300 of the total calories in a plate of Chow Mein. This will vary some depending on the exact brand and style of noodle used.

Calories in Chow Mein Sauce

In addition to the noodles, Chow Mein gets most of its flavor from an umami-rich sauce. This sauce is made with a savory combination of soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, Shaoxing wine, stock, corn starch, and other seasonings.

A 1⁄4 cup serving of a typical Chow Mein sauce contains approximately:

Nutrition Facts for 1⁄4 cup Chow Mein Sauce

Calories 60
Total Fat 0g
Sodium 480mg
Total Carbohydrates 12g
Dietary Fiber 0g
Protein 1g

The sauce adds a good amount of sodium from the soy sauce and oyster sauce. It also contains 12g carbohydrates per quarter cup serving. So a typical plated Chow Mein with 1⁄2 cup total sauce would contribute about 120 calories from the sauce alone.

Calories in Chow Mein Protein

In addition to the noodles and sauce, Chow Mein is loaded up with protein foods like chicken, pork, shrimp, or beef. This gives the dish more flavor, texture, and nutrients.

Let’s look at the calories found in 5 ounces (about 1 cup) of a few common Chow Mein proteins:

Calories in 5oz (1 cup) Chow Mein Proteins

Food Calories
Chicken Breast 230
Pork Tenderloin 240
Shrimp 120
Beef Sirloin 290

The protein ingredients add a sizable amount of calories ranging from 120 for shrimp up to 290 for beef. Chicken and pork fall in the middle with 230-240 calories per serving.

A typical plated Chow Mein may contain 1 to 1 1/2 cups total protein, contributing 230 to 350 calories depending on the types used.

Calories in Chow Mein Vegetables

Chow Mein isn’t complete without an assortment of mixed vegetables like cabbage, bean sprouts, carrots, celery, onions, and bell peppers. These add nutrition, color, crunch, and flavor contrast to the dish.

Most vegetables are very low in calories by volume. Even when combined with a bit of oil and salt during stir-frying, a 1-cup portion of mixed veggies will only have about 50-70 calories.

So if a Chow Mein contains around 2 cups of assorted vegetables, this would add 100-140 calories to the total.

Putting It All Together

Now that we’ve looked at the calories in each key component, let’s combine them to estimate the total calories in an average plate of Chow Mein:

Food Calories
Chow Mein Noodles (2 cups) 300
Sauce (1/2 cup) 120
Protein (1 – 1 1/2 cups) 230 – 350
Vegetables (2 cups) 100 – 140
Total Calories 750 – 910

Based on typical ingredient amounts, a full plate of Chow Mein contains around 750 – 910 calories. This range accounts for differences in protein options and vegetable quantities.

Some key points:

– Chow Mein noodles themselves pack nearly 300 calories per average serving.

– The savory sauce also contributes a significant number of calories for a sauce.

– Meat and veggies make up the rest of the calories in balanced amounts. Shrimp is the lowest calorie protein.

– Serving sizes matter! More noodles, sauce, and protein can quickly increase the total calories.

So in summary, a hearty plate of Chow Mein will provide between 750 and 910 calories on average. Watch your portion sizes, go easy on the sauce, and load up on low-calorie veggies to keep the calories down in this delicious noodle dish.

Ways to Reduce Calories in Chow Mein

If you are looking for ways to lighten up your Chow Mein, here are some simple strategies:

– Use lower-calorie noodles like shirataki noodles or zucchini noodles in place of wheat noodles. This can save over 200 calories.

– Opt for lighter sauces like broth-based stir fry sauce instead of heavy oyster or soy-based sauces to trim 50+ calories.

– Load up on non-starchy veggies like broccoli, cabbage, beansprouts, etc. They provide nutrients and fullness with minimal calories.

– Stick to lean proteins like chicken breast, shrimp or firm tofu instead of higher fat meats.

– Request for sauce to be served on the side and use a light drizzle rather than a full sauce-drenched plate.

– Skip deep-frying the noodles and proteins. Instead, lightly mist oil and stir-fry for a healthier cooking method.

– Ask for brown rice instead of noodles if you want a lower carb, higher fiber base under the Chow Mein.

– Order a small rather than regular or large portion to control calories. Take half home for leftovers.

With some simple tweaks, it’s easy to enjoy all the taste of Chow Mein in a lighter, more figure-friendly way.

Low-Calorie Chow Mein Recipe

If you want to control calories and boost nutrition in your Chow Mein, consider making a lighter version at home. Here is a delicious recipe:

– 8 ounces shirataki noodles or spiralized zucchini
– 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
– 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed
– 3 cups mixed stir-fry veggies (like cabbage, broccoli, carrots, bell pepper)
– 1 tablespoon grated ginger
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 1/4 cup stir-fry sauce or broth
– 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
– 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
– 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
– 2 green onions, sliced


1. If using shirataki noodles, rinse, drain, and pat dry. If using zucchini noodles, spiralize zucchini into noodles.

2. In a large non-stick wok or skillet, heat 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and stir-fry for 5-7 minutes until browned and cooked through. Remove chicken to a plate.

3. Add remaining 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil to the pan. Stir-fry vegetables for 2-3 minutes just until tender-crisp.

4. Push veggies to the sides of the pan and add garlic and ginger to center. Cook for 30 seconds until fragrant.

5. Add noodles, chicken, stir-fry sauce/broth, soy sauce, vinegar and red pepper flakes. Toss everything together and cook for 2-3 minutes until noodles are heated through.

6. Remove pan from heat. Garnish Chow Mein with green onions and serve warm.

This lightened up version uses lower-calorie noodles, minimal added oil, and gets bold flavor from fresh garlic, ginger and vinegar instead of heavy sauces. Make it vegetarian by using extra firm tofu instead of chicken.

With around 500 calories for a large bowl, this healthy homemade Chow Mein is a delicious option when you want to enjoy the taste without all the extra calories. Play around with different veggie add-ins and sauce flavors to make it your own.

The Healthiest Way to Enjoy Chow Mein

While Chow Mein is not the lowest calorie option out there, there are certain ways to enjoy it in a healthy, responsible way:

– Stick to a single serving instead of unlimited refills. Avoid the “family-style” sharing approach.

– Fill up on non-starchy vegetables to add nutrients and fiber. This enhances fullness.

– Ask for sauce on side and use sparingly to control sodium and calories.

– Pair it with a light side like broth-based soup instead of fried rice or egg roll which will add even more calories.

– Avoid deep fried appetizers and sugary drinks which ramp up calories fast.

– Savor every bite. Eat slowly and mindfully to satisfy your tastebuds with less food.

– Have it occasionally as a treat meal, not an everyday option. Work it into your calorie budget wisely.

Chow Mein can absolutely be part of a healthy diet when enjoyed properly. Be intentional about portions, pairings and frequency to maximize nutrients and keep calories in check.

The Bottom Line

A typical plate of Chow Mein contains between 750 and 910 calories, based on the calories found in the noodles, sauce, proteins and vegetables that make up this classic Chinese favorite. Pay attention to serving sizes, choose lean proteins and bulk up on non-starchy vegetables to control calories. With a few simple adjustments, it is possible to enjoy the delicious flavors of Chow Mein as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

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