I personally taste-tested various lo mein noodle substitutes to find the best one for every occasion. Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry swap, or want a substitute that fits your diet, I’ve got the answers.
Other egg noodle varieties like wonton noodles or chow mein noodles are the best substitute for lo mein noodles. Dried pasta noodles like spaghetti are life savers if you can’t go on a grocery run. Need a gluten-free alternative? Try rice noodles or veggie-based options like zucchini or squash.
I made different batches of lo mein (what else could I have made?!) to test out all the different noodle substitutes.
Lo mein noodles are a variety of Chinese egg noodles. They’re thicker and denser than the other types, making them the perfect accompaniment for rich sauces and meaty broths. They’re the base of the Chinese takeout favorite, lo mein (hence the name), but you can also find them in soups and salads.
Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:
|Other egg noodles||Thick wonton noodles best||10/10|
|Ramen noodles||Thinner and more chewy||9/10|
|Dried pasta||Add baking soda to cooking water||8/10|
|Udon noodles||Thick and chewy||8/10|
|Veggie noodles||E.g zucchini noodles||7/10|
Other Chinese egg noodle varieties
Lo mein noodles are egg noodles, so it makes sense that the best swap is with another type of egg noodle. For example, thicker wonton noodles are a great option. They’re slightly thicker than lo mein noodles, which means they can easily hold their own against heavy, oily sauces.
Hong Kong-style noodles or chow mein noodles, are the most common type of egg noodles. They’re slightly thinner than lo mein noodles, so you don’t want to overwhelm them with sauce. But you’ll easily find some in a standard grocery store.
How to substitute: Replace lo mein noodles in a 1:1 ratio with either wonton or chow mein noodles.
Udon noodles are thicker and chewier than lo mein noodles and had no problem standing up to the heavy lo mein sauce I was using. They soaked up all the flavors wonderfully. But because they’re so thick, I got full very quickly. And if you have a lighter sauce, you might need to use more of it than normal.
You’ll need a bit of patience with these noodles. Because of their thick nature, these noodles take just as long as pasta to cook! Unless you pick up some pre-cooked udon noodles, then all they need is a flash in the pan.
How to substitute: Replace lo mein noodles in a 1:1 ratio with udon noodles (weight-wise).
In a pinch, dried pasta like spaghetti or fettuccine noodles can work wonders as a substitute for lo mein noodles. They have a firmer, more al dente texture, but they’re still a great starchy vehicle for a stir-fry sauce.
And here’s a trick to make them more noodle-like: add some baking soda to the cooking water. Serious Eats discusses the science behind this hack, and I’m not going to pretend to understand it. But I tested it, and it worked! The pasta was chewier like Asian-style noodles.
You can use about a tablespoon of baking soda for every quart of water, but I usually go with 2 teaspoons to make sure it won’t add any flavor to the pasta. If you over-concentrate the water, it can give the pasta a metallic taste.
How to substitute: Replace lo mein noodles in a 1:1 ratio with spaghetti or fettuccine.
Ramen noodles are made with flour and water (no eggs), making them suitable for plant-based diets. They also have an alkaline element (kansui), which gives them their signature chewy texture.
Lo mein noodles don’t have this alkaline element, so they have a softer texture.
Fresh ramen noodles are best if you can get them, but don’t overlook instant ramen noodles. They won’t be as high quality, but they’ll get the job done if they’re all you have in the cupboard. They’re also very budget-friendly.
How to substitute: Replace lo mein noodles in a 1:1 ratio with fresh or instant ramen noodles.
Looking for a gluten-free alternative for lo mein? Rice noodles are the way to go. My first choice would be the wider rice noodles, similar to those used in Pad Thai.
They are more delicate than lo mein noodles, but can still stand up to rich sauces, as long as you don’t drown them (i.e. use too much sauce). If you’re planning a salad, the thinner varieties like rice sticks or vermicelli are nice and light, but very different from lo mein noodles.
The ease of preparation is a nice perk for rice noodles. Most of them don’t need any cooking – all you need to do is dunk them in hot water and they’re ready to go.
How to substitute: Replace lo mein noodles in a 1:1 ratio with your choice of rice noodles.
On a diet? Skip the carbs and try vegetable noodles instead.
I wouldn’t lie and tell you they’re perfectly chewy like lo mein noodles. But they’re a solid alternative for those staying healthy or with gluten sensitivities.
Zucchini noodles are the most popular type of veggie noodle because their tender texture and mild flavor make them versatile. They’re really easy to make too, all you need is a julienne peeler. Another popular option is spaghetti squash. Once roasted, the flesh becomes tender enough to shred into long, noodle-like strands.
Just like the more delicate noodles, you need to be careful not to overcook vegetable noodles or they’ll turn into a mushy mess.
How to substitute: Replace lo mein noodles in a 1:1 ratio with veggie noodles.
Other substitutes to consider
- Yakisoba noodles: These noodles are similar in size to lo mein noodles and have a similar texture. But they’re trickier to find than the other noodle options, so you might need to check a specialty Asian grocery store (in which case you can probably find lo mein noodles).
- Shirataki noodles: These are made from konjac yam, making them both gluten-free and low-carb. They’re almost translucent in appearance and are often called “miracle noodles” due to their minimal calorie content. While they’re slightly less chewy than lo mein, they’re an excellent choice if you’re aiming for a lighter, healthier dish.
- Soba noodles: If you don’t mind switching things up, give soba noodles a try. They’re made with buckwheat flour, which gives these noodles a grayish tinge and a distinct nutty flavor.
Substitutes to avoid
There were lots of suggestions on the internet for lo mein noodle substitute, but some were just plain puzzling!
Some blogs were suggesting things like chop suey or chili noodles. But these are dishes in which you can use lo mein noodles; they’re not substitutes for the noodles themselves.
Best Lo Mein Noodle Substitutes + What To Avoid
- 100 grams other Chinese egg noodle varieties
- 100 grams ramen
- 100 grams dried pasta
- 100 grams rice noodles
- 100 grams soba noodles
- 100 grams udon noodles
- 100 grams veggie noodles
- Cook your meal according to the recipe.
- Add your chosen lo mein noodle substitute at the appropriate cooking time.
- Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.