May 23, 2024
Is chow mein gluten-free? Discover the truth about gluten-free chow mein, including safe substitutes, tips for eating out, and a delicious recipe for homemade chow mein.


For those who follow a gluten-free diet, finding delicious and safe meals can be a real challenge. Chow mein, a popular Chinese dish consisting of noodles and stir-fried vegetables or meat, is one such meal that is often questioned by gluten-free eaters. In this article, we will explore the topic of chow mein and gluten, including the ingredients commonly used, safe substitutes, and tips for enjoying it without worry.

The Ultimate Guide to Gluten-Free Chow Mein: Everything You Need to Know

Before we dive into gluten-free chow mein, let’s define what chow mein is and what ingredients it typically contains. Chow mein is a Chinese dish that is made with thin, wheat-based noodles, stir-fried vegetables, and sometimes meat or seafood. Other common ingredients include soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, and wheat flour.

Now, the big question: are these ingredients gluten-free?

No, unfortunately, they are not gluten-free. Wheat, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and hoisin sauce all contain gluten, while wheat flour is obviously a gluten-containing ingredient. This means that traditional chow mein recipes are off-limits for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. So, how can you enjoy chow mein without worrying about gluten? Keep reading.

How to Enjoy Chow Mein without Worrying about Gluten

You have two options for eating gluten-free chow mein: ordering it at a restaurant or making it at home. If you’re eating out, be sure to inform your server about your gluten intolerance or celiac disease. Ask if they have gluten-free options on their menu, or if the cook can make a gluten-free version of chow mein for you. Unfortunately, not all restaurants will accommodate gluten-free requests, so it’s best to call ahead and ask beforehand.

When making it at home, there are several guidelines to follow to ensure a gluten-free experience. Use gluten-free chow mein noodles, which are widely available in health food stores or online. Gluten-free soy sauce, oyster sauce, and hoisin sauce are also available from several brands. Be sure to read labels carefully to check for any hidden sources of gluten, such as wheat starch or hydrolyzed wheat protein. And finally, use a separate and clean pan or wok for stir frying to avoid cross-contamination with gluten-containing ingredients.

Common mistakes to avoid when cooking gluten-free chow mein include using regular noodles or sauces that contain gluten, and not cleaning the pan thoroughly before cooking.

Gluten-Free Eating Made Easy: Chow Mein Edition

If you’re new to gluten-free eating, it can be overwhelming at first. But with some practice and knowledge, it can become second nature. The key is to always read labels carefully and choose gluten-free products whenever possible. There is a growing variety of gluten-free products available on the market, including chow mein noodles and sauces.

Some brands to look out for include King Soba, Jovial, and Explore Cuisine. These brands offer gluten-free chow mein noodles made from rice, corn, or mung bean starch. For sauces, brands such as San-J and Lee Kum Kee offer gluten-free soy sauce and hoisin sauce respectively. Just be sure to check the label to confirm the ingredients are gluten-free.

Chow Mein: Is It Safe for Those with Gluten Intolerance or Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is consumed. Gluten intolerance or sensitivity is a non-celiac condition in which a person experiences symptoms such as headache, bloating, and diarrhea after consuming gluten. For both groups, consuming chow mein made with gluten-containing ingredients can trigger uncomfortable symptoms, and in the case of celiac disease, can cause long-term damage to the body.

However, there are several gluten-free alternatives that can be used in chow mein recipes. For example, rice noodles, zucchini noodles, or spaghetti squash can be used in place of wheat-based noodles. Coconut aminos or Tamari sauce can also be used as a substitute for soy sauce. And for those who want to avoid pre-made sauces altogether, a homemade sauce can be made using gluten-free ingredients.

Feasting on Gluten-Free Chow Mein: A Delicious and Healthy Alternative

Choosing to eat gluten-free chow mein can actually be a healthier alternative. Most chow mein recipes include a variety of vegetables, which are high in vitamins and fiber. Additionally, using gluten-free noodles can reduce the amount of refined carbohydrates in the dish, which can lead to a more balanced blood sugar level.

Here’s a recipe for gluten-free chow mein:


  • 1 package (8 oz) gluten-free chow mein noodles
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 cups sliced cabbage
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup sliced scallions
  • Sesame seeds for garnish


  1. Cook chow mein noodles according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a wok or large pan, heat avocado oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and peppers and stir fry for 3-5 minutes until softened.
  3. Add cabbage, garlic, and mushrooms and continue to stir fry for another 3-5 minutes.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice vinegar, honey, and red pepper flakes.
  5. Reduce heat to low and add cooked noodles and sauce to the wok. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes until noodles are coated in sauce and heated through.
  6. Top with scallions and sesame seeds, and serve.

From Soy Sauce to Noodles: The Gluten-Free Substitutes in Chow Mein Recipes

As previously mentioned, there are several gluten-free substitutes that can be used in chow mein recipes. Here’s a breakdown of some common gluten-containing ingredients in chow mein and what you can use instead:

  • Wheat-based noodles: Use rice noodles, zucchini noodles, or spaghetti squash.
  • Soy sauce: Use coconut aminos or Tamari sauce.
  • Oyster sauce: Use a gluten-free oyster sauce, or simply omit if unavailable.
  • Hoisin sauce: Use a gluten-free hoisin sauce, or make your own using gluten-free soy sauce, honey, and Chinese five-spice powder.

Some recommended gluten-free brands for each ingredient include:

  • Chow mein noodles: King Soba, Jovial, Explore Cuisine
  • Gluten-free soy sauce: San-J, Kikkoman, Coconut Secret
  • Gluten-free oyster sauce: Lee Kum Kee, Kikkoman, Wok Mei
  • Gluten-free hoisin sauce: Kikkoman, Premier Japan, Wok Mei


Chow mein may seem like a gluten-filled dish at first glance, but with the right knowledge and ingredients, it can actually be a delicious and gluten-free option. From alternative noodles to homemade sauces, there are several ways to make chow mein safe for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

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