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Despite their diverse origins, ingredients, and cooking ways, chop suey and chow mein are sometimes mistaken. So, what actually distinguishes the two dishes? Learn all there is to know about the distinctions between chow mein and chop suey.

Chinese cuisine is one of the world’s most popular, and for good reason: it’s insanely tasty. While Chinese cuisine differs greatly from place to region, it often has two fundamental characteristics with my favorite meal: it is simple to prepare and very gratifying to consume.

The popularity of Chinese food has resulted in a large number of Chinese restaurants all over the globe, increasing the impact of the country’s culinary methods. Not only are Chinese restaurants widely available in most places, but Asian fusion and even Chinese-Western fusion are rapidly sprouting everywhere.

With the increasing availability of Chinese-influenced recipes, the distinctions between various meals have grown blurred, making it difficult for many people to distinguish one dish from another.

This takes us to a contentious issue: Chow Mein vs. Chop Suey. Today, we’ll debunk a few misconceptions and explain the key distinctions between the two famous recipes.


While chow mein and chop suey are sometimes misconstrued, their roots are very different.

Chow Mein is definitely Chinese, having roots in the country’s north. However, because to its simplicity, it swiftly spread throughout the nation, with modifications adapted by chefs of other cuisines. Its appeal was aided by the ability of egg-based noodles to retain taste and the fact that it can be rustled together in minutes.

Now for the chop suey. It is debatable when the dish initially appeared. Some claim it has Cantonese roots in southern China, while others claim it was developed in the United States by 19th-century Chinese migrants who intended to create a blend of Chinese and Western cuisine.

Rice vs Noodles

One of the most noticeable distinctions between chop suey and chow mein is that one is cooked with rice and the other with noodles.

Chow mein is a Chinese term that means “fried noodles.” It is pronounced chao mian. The noodles are normally produced with wheat flour and egg and are exquisitely created to provide a pleasing flavor.

American chop suey, on the other hand, is often served with rice. Some versions are cooked with noodles, but for the most part, it is served with rice.


Aside from the fact that chow mein typically has noodles and chop suey generally contains rice, there are additional ingredient and taste characteristics that distinguish the two.

Meat (typically pork or chicken), cabbage, bok choy, a thin sauce (always soy, garlic, or oyster sauce), and egg noodles are all staples of chow mein.

Chop suey, on the other hand, was initially centered on combining a variety of leftovers, thus its regulations are less stringent.

That is why this is such a perplexing subject: Chop suey has no official meaning. Its name relates to a wide variety of foods. In essence, it is a stir-fried rice or noodle meal prepared with leftover meat, veggies, and a thick sauce.


For the uninformed, this one may be a little more subtle, but it’s crucial: the sauce.

See, chow mein is generally served with a thin sauce, either soy sauce or garlic. Because the sauce is subtle, it does not overshadow the tastes of the chow mein, so you get a lot more out of the pork and veggies in the meal.

Chop suey, on the other hand, has a considerably richer sauce. It is either highly sweet or very salty, and it adheres to the components to pack in the taste.

Overall, the distinctions between the two are minor, which is where the misunderstanding stems. In essence, chop suey is loaded with ingredients and is often (but not always) served on a bed of rice. Chow mein, on the other hand, is usually made with fried noodles and a mild sauce.


Which is better chow mein or chop suey?

Chow mein is said to be a more traditional Chinese meal than chop suey.

What’s in chop suey and chow mein?

Chop suey is a dish that combines cooked beef and veggies with a sauce and is served over rice or noodles. Chow mein, on the other hand, cooks the pork, veggies, noodles, and sauce all at the same time. The sauces are similar, albeit chop suey might be a touch hotter at times.

What the heck is chop suey?

) is a dish in American Chinese cuisine and other varieties of overseas Chinese cuisine that consists of meat and eggs cooked fast with vegetables such as bean sprouts, cabbage, and celery and wrapped in a starch-thickened sauce.Chop suey (tpsui)

Does chop suey or chow mein have crunchy noodles?

Both are Chinese-American favorites, but there are some key distinctions. Here’s how you can know whether you’re eating chow mein: The foundation is crispy stir-fried noodles. In reality, this is the simplest method to distinguish between chow mein and chop suey.

Does chop suey taste like chow mein?

Although the two meals seem to be identical, the manner they are cooked distinguishes them as unique foods. The sauces for each meal vary significantly, with chop suey often having a thicker, starchy gravy-like sauce and chow mein having a thinner soy-sauce based topping.

What’s the healthiest Chinese food to order?

Steamed brown rice, sautéed or steamed veggies, spring rolls, or soups like egg drop soup or hot and sour soup are healthier options. Other wonderful veggie-based alternatives include edamame, lettuce wraps, braised bamboo shoots, and cucumber salad.

Is Chinese chop suey the same as lo mein?

What is the difference between these Chinese dishes? Chow mein and lo mein are both made using noodles (mein), although chop suey is usually served with rice. All of these meals are made with chopped vegetables, may include a meat-based protein, and are topped with a sauce.

Is chow mein wet or dry?

Wet noodles are boiling noodles, while dry noodles are deep-fried noodles. Water is a critical component that determines which variation of chow mein will end up on your plate. If you want to prepare wet chow mein, you’ll need to use more water than usual.

What does chow mein consist of?

What is the composition of Chow Mein? Chow mein comes in numerous varieties, but this one is created with noodles, cabbage, celery, green onions, and garlic. Sesame oil, soy sauce, oyster sauce, ginger, brown sugar, and cornstarch are used to make Chow Mein sauce.

What is American chop suey called?

Stephanie posted this on September 21, 2020 (updated on April 10, 2023) 140 *Affiliate links may be included in this content. This One Pot, Crock Pot, or Instant Pot Classic American Chop Suey Recipe is simple to prepare!

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