Vegetable Lo Mein (Instant Pot + Stovetop)

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Step up your weeknight dinner routine with this quick and easy Instant Pot Lo Mein recipe. Loaded with veggies and tossed in a delicious homemade sauce, this one-pot vegetable lo mein recipe can quickly and easily be on your table in under 30 minutes.

A white bowl with Instant Pot lo mein topped with sesame seeds with a white and black towel to the left and a set of chopsticks to the right.
Instant Pot Lo Mein

If busy weeknights often leave you reaching for the take-out menus, believe me, I have been there. With the help of your Instant Pot, those nights can easily be a thing of the past.

This quick and easy Instant Pot lo mein is going to shake up your take-out dinner rut. Ready and on the table in less time than it takes to order and pick up your take-out, this one-pot recipe for veggie lo mein is sure to be a hit.

What is Lo mein?

Lo mein, or Lao mian in Cantonese, roughly translates to “tossed noodles”. Made with noodles, vegetables, protein, and a delicious sauce, this Chinese noodle dish is considered a dry version of a noodle soup.

The two main kinds of lo mein include the Cantonese style lo mein and the American Chinese style lo mein. Cantonese-style lo mein includes a thin sauce and might include wontons or sliced beef brisket.

On the other hand, American Chinese style lo mein uses a soy sauce-based sauce in the noodle dish. This recipe more closely follows the American Chinese style lo mein with its thick soy sauce-based sauce.

Difference between Lo mein and Chow mein

Lo mein and chow mein are often used interchangeably since both dishes contain noodles, vegetables, and protein. It’s important to note that while the ingredients might seem similar, they are, in fact, two different dishes prepared in unique ways.

The word mein, used in both dishes, simply means noodles. The main differences between lo mein and chow mein has to do with both the method the noodles are cooked and the type of noodles used.

Chow mein noodles are thin, dried noodles that are soaked in hot water but not fully cooked before being pan-fried in oil for a crunchy finish. These crispy noodles are then tossed in a light and delicate sauce.

Lo mein, on the other hand, uses fat, chewy noodles. The noodles are then fully cooked and drained noodles before being stirred with a thick, rich sauce and vegetables. They are not typically stir-fried, which results in a smoother noodle texture.

A more in-depth look at the differences between lo mein and chow mein can be found in this article Low Mein vs. Chow Mein: What’s The Difference and Common Recipes

Best noodles for Lo mein

Chinese egg noodles work best for an authentic lo mein. However, if you are in a pinch or aren’t able to find any lo mein noodles at the store, here are a few alternatives to try:

  • Yaki soba noodles
  • Spaghetti
  • Bucatini
  • Linguine
  • Fettuccine
  • You can also use fresh noodles from the refrigerated section.

Where to buy lo mein noodles

Lo mein noodles are widely available at most grocery stores. However, you may need to check the Asian or International aisle to find them.

If you are looking for fresh lo mein noodles, you might need to look in the refrigerated section or at your local Asian grocery store or market.

Alternatively, ordering them from Amazon is always a great time-saving tip, and keeping them on your subscribe and save will keep your pantry stocked whenever the craving for lo mein hits.

Why you’ll love this vegetable lo mein

It’s hard to beat a quick and easy weeknight dinner that is also filling and loved by all. Here are some reasons I love making this veggie-loaded lo mein.

  • Packed with veggies – A delicious way to feed your family more veggies without anyone grumbling about it.
  • It is a versatile dish – you can use any veggies you want. What better way to use all the lingering veggies in your refrigerator!
  • Healthier than take-out or Panda Express lo mein. You know exactly what is going into the dish, and you can feel good about feeding it to your family any night of the week.
  • Easy one-pot recipe that takes less than 30 minutes!

Here’s what you need to make Instant Pot vegetarian lo mein

Ingredient notes/swaps

  • Lo mein noodles – Chinese lo mein egg noodles work best but can be replaced with spaghetti, bucatini, linguine, fettuccine, or yaki soba noodles.
  • Peanut oil – You can also substitute this with avocado oil.
  • Ginger garlic paste
  • Vegetables – A medley of thinly sliced onion, bell peppers, carrots, cabbage, and green onion.
  • Water – For cooking the noodles.
  • Lo mein sauce – Made with soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, rice vinegar, Chinese cooking wine, dark soy sauce, white pepper, and sugar.

How to prep ahead

Looking for a quick and easy way to speed up the process for making this lo mein on a busy weeknight? Here are a few ways to prepare in advance –

First, you can chop and store the vegetables for this veggie lo mein in the refrigerator up to 5 days in advance. Simply prepare them on your weekly meal prep day and have minimal prep time when you are ready to make lo mein.

Another way to prepare for this vegetarian lo mein is to make the lo mein sauce in advance.

  • Add soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, rice vinegar, Chinese cooking wine, dark soy sauce, white pepper, and sugar in a glass jar.
  • Close the lid tightly, and give it a good shake until all of the ingredients are combined.
  • This sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
A white bowl with Instant Pot Lo Mein on a blue counter with chopsticks to the right and a white towel to the left.
Instant Pot Lo Mein Recipe

Tools

Instant Pot cooking time for noodles/pasta

The formula is simple – recommended cooking time on the box divided by 2 + 1 minute.

For example, if the guideline on the box says 11 minutes, you should round it down to 10 minutes. Divide by 2 to get 5 minutes, then add 1 minute for a total cooking time of 6 minutes.

If the pasta box shows a range, e.g., 11-13 minutes, I pick the middle number in the range, which is 12. I would then do the math as per the formula above and cook the pasta in the Instant Pot for a total of 7 minutes.


NOTES

  • Use frozen stir-fry mix to cut down chopping time. Feel free to use up any veggies lying around in the fridge too :).
  • The veggies in a lo-mein should have a crispy texture, so it is vital to add them last. You can also stir-fry the veggies in a wok as the noodles cook in the Instant Pot.
  • If using an Instant Pot, transfer the noodles to a bowl once cooking is complete to avoid the noodles drying out and getting overcooked. Alternatively, remove the steel inner pot from the Instant Pot.

Variations and substitutions

  • Chinese cooking wine: You can substitute it with mirin (Japanese cooking wine). If you don’t have either, use a tablespoon of hoisin or oyster sauce to get that sweet, tangy, and savory taste.
  • Dark soy sauce – Gives the dish the restaurant-like deep brown color and the umami taste. If you don’t have it, substitute it with regular soy sauce.
  • Mix up the veggies – you can add broccoli, spinach, bok choy, mushrooms, snow peas
  • Frozen stir-fry veggies – Though typically cabbage, carrots, and bell peppers are used, I often use frozen storebought stir-fry mix as I have while shooting for this recipe.
  • Noodles – Egg noodles work great but feel free to use yaki soba noodles, spaghetti, bucatini, linguine, or fettuccine.
  • Use chicken or veg broth instead of water to add more flavor.
  • Add protein (shrimp, chicken, scrambled eggs, or tofu) – If making over the stovetop, make sure to cook the protein first and then set it aside. Stir-fry the veggies next. Add the protein back to the wok along with the noodles. 

Storage tips

If you find yourself with leftovers of this vegetable lo mein, store them in an air-tight container for up to 4 days.

Pink circle with light bulb

Frequently asked questions

Are Lo mein noodles gluten-free?

No, traditionally prepared lo mein noodles are not gluten-free. If you are looking for a gluten-free option, try using rice noodles instead of the traditional lo mein noodle. Alternatively, gluten-free spaghetti would also work in place of lo mein noodles.

Do I need to use dark soy sauce?

No. While I think the dark soy sauce adds more flavor as well as the deep-brown color to the dish, you can always substitute regular soy sauce instead of dark soy sauce.

Can I double the recipe?

Yes, you can but remember this when making it in the Instant Pot. The cooking time will not change. You may not need to double the water entirely. Just add enough water to submerge the noodles.

Is there another name for lo mein noodles?

You may also see lo mein noodles labeled as lo mein egg noodles.

Is lo mein spicy?

No. Lo mein is not usually made in a way that would be considered spicy unless you intentionally increase the chili-garlic sauce in the recipe.

Other Asian-inspired recipes to try

A white bowl with Instant Pot lo mein topped with sesame seeds with a white and black towel to the left and a set of chopsticks to the right.
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Veggie Lo Mein Noodles (Stovetop + Instant Pot)

Author : Anushree Shetty
Quick, easy, and delicious this veggie lo mein recipe cooks up in under 30 minutes for a filling dinner perfect for busy weeknights.
Prep Time : 6 mins
Cook Time : 10 mins
Pressure building time : 5 mins
Total Time : 21 mins
Servings : 4

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 8 oz spaghetti or fettucine or wide Lo mein noodles
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil or avocado oil
  • 1 cup onion thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
  • 2 cups water for Instant Pot

Veggies

  • 2 cups chopped bell peppers or 1 large
  • 1 cup julienned carrots
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 3 green onions finely chopped (separate the green and white parts)

Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce sambal Olek
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine optional, see notes
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce optional
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper optional
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • salt to taste

Garnish

Instructions
 

Instant Pot instructions

  • Set the Instant Pot to ‘Saute’ mode and adjust the setting to ‘More’. When the display reads ‘Hot’, add oil.
  • Once the oil is heated, add onions. Cook the onions for about 3-4 minutes until it starts browning on the edges.
  • Add ginger garlic paste and saute for about a minute to make sure the raw taste disappears.
  • Scrape the bottom of the pot to make sure onion bits are not sticking. Add water.
  • Break the noodles in half and place it into the pot in layers. Make sure the noodles are submerged in water.
  • Pressure cook for 4 minutes at high pressure [see note on cooking time]. When the cooking cycle is complete, release pressure.
  • The noodles may be a little watery, but they will absorb the liquid in a few minutes. Use a fork to separate any noodles that are clumped.
  • Add the veggies and mix them in. They'll cook in the residual heat. [You can use frozen veggies, too – no need to thaw].
  • Mix all the ingredients under the sauce section in a bowl. Pour the sauce over the noodles.
  • Use tongs to coat the noodles with sauce. Do a taste test and add salt as needed. To finish it off, add sesame oil and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.
  • Garnish with green onions before serving.

Stovetop Instructions

  • Cook the noodles as per the package instructions. Rinse under cold water and set aside.
  • Mix all the ingredients under the sauce section in a bowl and set aside.
  • Add peanut (or avocado oil) to a large wok or skillet kept over medium heat.
  • Once the oil is heated, add onions and ginger garlic paste
  • Cook the onions for about 2-3 minutes, and then add the veggies (reserve the green onions for later).
  • Continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add the sauce and mix well.
  • Add the cooked noodles to the wok. Use tongs to coat the noodles with sauce.
  • Do a taste test and add salt if needed.
  • To finish it off, add sesame oil and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.
  • Garnish with green onions before serving.

Notes

Instant Pot cooking time for noodles/pasta

The formula is simple – recommended cooking time on the box divided by 2 + 1 minute.
For example, if the guideline on the box says 11 minutes, you should round it down to 10 minutes. Divide by 2 to get 5 minutes, then add 1 minute for a total cooking time of 6 minutes.
If the pasta box shows a range, e.g., 11-13 minutes, I pick the middle number in the range, which is 12. I would then do the math as per the formula above and cook the pasta in the Instant Pot for a total of 7 minutes.

Variations and substitutions

  • Chinese cooking wine: You can substitute it with mirin (Japanese cooking wine). If you don’t have either, use a tablespoon of hoisin or oyster sauce to get that sweet, tangy, and savory taste.
  • Dark soy sauce – Gives the dish the restaurant-like deep brown color and the umami taste. If you don’t have it, substitute it with regular soy sauce.
  • Mix up the veggies – you can add broccoli, spinach, bok choy, mushrooms, snow peas
  • Frozen stir-fry veggies – Though typically cabbage, carrots, and bell peppers are used, I often use frozen storebought stir-fry mix as I have while shooting for this recipe.
  • Noodles – Egg noodles work great but feel free to use yaki soba noodles, spaghetti, bucatini, linguine, or fettuccine.
  • Use chicken or veg broth instead of water to add more flavor.
  • Add protein (shrimp, chicken, scrambled eggs, or tofu) – If making over the stovetop, make sure to cook the protein first and then set it aside. Stir-fry the veggies next. Add the protein back to the wok along with the noodles. 
For additional tipsCheck the post for more info on storage tips, meal prep ideas and variations!

Disclaimer: Approximate nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and can vary depending on the exact ingredients/brands used. If you have health issues, please work with a registered dietician or nutritionist.

Nutrition

Calories: 369kcalCarbohydrates: 59gProtein: 11gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gSodium: 1001mgPotassium: 543mgFiber: 6gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 5746IUVitamin C: 79mgCalcium: 72mgIron: 2mg
Diet : Vegetarian
Course : Lunch / Dinner recipes
Method: Instant Pot
Keyword : Easy, Panda express, One pot recipe, asian noodles
Cuisine : Asian

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