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How To Reheat Chow Mein – I Test 3 Methods [Pics]

There’s nothing better than freshly prepared chow mein. 

Of course, if you’re like me, you tend to order a little bit too much (not that I’m complaining).

Then you find yourself with the all too common late-night cravings, and remember, you still have leftover chow mein!

But how do you reheat it so that you don’t end up with a rubbery mushy mess?

I experimented with a few different ways of reheating chow mein to find out which method works best.

Stomach growling? Let’s jump in!

A note on my experiment

I ordered a ton of chow mein takeout and stored it in the fridge overnight.

The following evening, I tried three different ways to reheat it.

I used:

  • Wok or frying pan (the best method)
  • Microwave (okay if you’re in a rush)
  • Oven (the worst method)

The main problem with reheating chow mein is mushy noodles, so I was looking for methods where this didn’t happen. 

My favorite method was reheating the chow mein in the wok or frying pan – it really brought the noodles back to life.

Reheating them in the oven was my least favorite method. There was a noticeable loss of flavor and texture.

Reheating chow mein in a wok or frying pan

Heat a non-stick frying pan or wok on medium-high heat. Add one tablespoon of oil and wait until it’s hot (it will look slightly shimmery when it’s hot enough). Add the noodles and use kitchen tongs to toss them around the pan for about 3 to 4 minutes.

How to reheat chow mein in a wok or frying pan:

  1. Heat a wok or non-stick pan on medium-high heat.
  2. Add one tablespoon of oil and let it get hot. To test the temperature, drop a small piece of noodle into the oil. It should sizzle straight away.
  3. Add the noodles and toss for 3 to 4 minutes, until heated through. If you’re heating more than one portion, it will take longer.
  4. If the noodles are dry, add a splash of sauce or water to the pan. Soy sauce works well.

Use your best judgment when it comes to adding oil. 

If you’ve got particularly oily chow mein, you might not need any extra oil.

Using kitchen tongs is a great way to toss the noodles evenly.

I find that you can end up with some overcooked noodles if you use a spatula or spoon because they’ve been resting on the bottom for too long.

Chow mein can lose some vibrance in the fridge, and the vegetables can become less crispy. 

Frying some fresh ingredients in the pan before adding the chow mein can give the dish a lift.

My go-to’s are garlic, ginger, and bok-choy. 

You can also up the spice by adding in some freshly diced chili peppers.

My verdict

Using a wok or a pan to reheat chow mein was my favorite method.

The combination of the oil and the frequent tossing of the noodles meant that I could avoid the dreaded mushy noodles.

The sauce’s flavor was still there as well, which is something that I found faded with other methods.

Reheating chow mein in a microwave

Place the chow mein in a microwave-safe bowl and cover. If your noodles are dry, add a small amount of soy sauce or water to help keep them moisturized. Heat in 30-second intervals, making sure to stir in between so that the noodles reheat evenly. 

How to reheat chow mein in the microwave:

  1. Place the chow mein into a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Cover with either a damp paper towel or plastic wrap (leaving a small gap so the steam can escape).
  3. OPTIONAL: Add a tablespoon of soy sauce or water.
  4. Heat in 30-second intervals, making sure that you stir the noodles in-between.
  5. Let the chow mein rest for 60 seconds before serving.

Top tip: avoid using the microwave for seafood chow mein. Seafood quickly overheats in the microwave, and you’re left with a rubbery mess.

Always transfer your chow mein from the takeout container to a microwave-safe bowl.

Takeout containers often have metal handles or are made from plastic that will release harmful chemicals into your food once heated. 

Unless your container is labeled as BPA-free and has no metal, use a microwave-safe bowl. 

My verdict

This wasn’t too bad of a method. It is quick and convenient, so great if you’re in a hurry.

Where it was lacking, though, was that you could tell that it wasn’t fresh.

The microwave made the noodles slightly chewy, and the flavors weren’t as vibrant as the day before.

Reheating chow mein in an oven

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Spread the chow mein out evenly in an oven-safe tray. Cover the noodles with foil and add a few tablespoons of soy sauce or water (or leftover chow mein sauce if you have it). Heat for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the noodles are warmed through. 

How to reheat chow mein in the oven:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
  2. Evenly spread out the chow mein on an oven-safe dish.
  3. Sprinkle with soy sauce or water and cover with foil.
  4. Heat the chow mein for 5 to 10 minutes.

The extra liquid creates steam (which is trapped by the foil) and makes sure you won’t end up with dried-out noodles. 

I prefer soy sauce because it adds a bit of extra flavor to the dish.

My verdict

Out of the three, this was my least favorite method of reheating the chow mein. 

The noodles were noticeably mushy as the slow reheating process overcooked them.

I also found that even with the added liquid and the foil covering, the noodles were still a bit dry.

How to store chow mein

To store chow mein in the refrigerator, let the noodles cool and transfer them to an airtight container. You can keep the noodles in their takeout containers, but these aren’t always airtight, so you can end up with dry noodles. Chow mein will last 3-4 days in the fridge.

If you put the noodles into the refrigerator before they have fully cooled, you’re more likely to have mushy noodles due to condensation locking in extra moisture.

Can you freeze chow mein?

Yes, you can freeze chow mein. Noodles that are a little underdone freeze best. If you have overdone noodles, they can turn mushy after freezing. Certain vegetables will also become a bit limp after freezing (bok choy, for example). Chow mein will last for 2-3 months in the freezer.

The dish will still be edible after 2-3 months, but the quality will deteriorate.

How to freeze chow mein:

  1. Cool the chow mein to room temperature.
  2. Portion out the chow mein.
  3. Place it in an air-tight container or freezer bag. If you’re using a container, don’t go for one with lots of extra space. 
  4. Remove as much air as possible from your freezer bag, or place a layer of plastic wrap over the top of the chow mein in the airtight container.
  5. Label and place in the freezer.
  6. Use within 2 to 3 months of freezing.

Cooling the chow mein before freezing is important. 

If you put hot chow mein into the freezer, ice crystals will form inside the noodles, and they’ll break down when you thaw them.

To remove the air from a freezer bag, submerge the open bag in a bowl of water. The water will force the air out, and you can seal the bag.

You could also use a straw to suck the air out. 

This isn’t possible in an airtight container, so I use a layer of plastic wrap over the noodles to limit air exposure.

Too much air exposure in the freezer will lead to premature freezer burn. 

How to reheat frozen chow mein

Thaw your chow mein before reheating it, or you can end up with mushy noodles. 

Defrost the chow mein in the refrigerator overnight, or hold it under cold running water. Avoid using the microwave as it can negatively affect the texture of the noodles. 

Once thawed, reheat the chow mein in a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add a splash of soy sauce or water to keep the noodles moist.

How long does chow mein last?

Chow mein will last for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator, as long as you store it in an airtight container.

As a good rule of thumb, always do a smell check with refrigerated leftovers. Eating chow mein that has been in the refrigerator too long puts you at risk for food-borne illnesses.

If you are freezing chow mein, it can last up to 2 to 3 months. Any longer, and you risk noodles that have fallen prey to freezer burn.

The BEST Way To Reheat Chow Mein

There’s nothing better than freshly prepared chow mein. 
Of course, if you're like me, you tend to order a little bit too much (not that I'm complaining).
Then you find yourself with the all too common late-night cravings, and remember, you still have leftover chow mein!
But how do you reheat it so that you don't end up with a rubbery mushy mess?
I experimented with a few different ways of reheating chow mein to find out which method works best.
No ratings yet
Cook Time 4 mins
Total Time 4 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 1 person
Calories 459 kcal

Equipment

Wok or frying pan

Ingredients
 

  • 1 portion chow mein
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce or water

Instructions
 

  • Add one tablespoon of oil and let it get hot. To test the temperature, drop a small piece of noodle into the oil. It should sizzle straight away.
  • Add the noodles and toss for 3 to 4 minutes, until heated through. If you’re heating more than one portion, it will take longer.
  • If the noodles are dry, add a splash of sauce or water to the pan. Soy sauce works well.

Notes

Use your best judgment when it comes to adding oil. 
If you’ve got particularly oily chow mein, you might not need any extra oil.
Frying some fresh ingredients in the pan before adding the chow mein can give the dish a lift.
My go-to’s are garlic, ginger, and bok-choy. 
You can also up the spice by adding in some freshly diced chili peppers.

Nutrition

Serving: 100gCalories: 459kcal
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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