Chop Suey vs Chow Mein

Regardless of which country you visit, there is perhaps no other cuisine that is as ever-present as Chinese dishes. They can be found almost anywhere, although there are variations in flavors and ingredients to suit local preferences. Amongst the long list of examples of their classic food, Chop Suey and Chow Mein are two of the most popular.

Top 5 List Of The Key Differences: Chop Suey vs Chow Mein

In this Chop Suey vs Chow Mein post, we will discuss the key differences between the two dishes. Our aim is to educate you about the fact that they are not the same with each other. We hope that the discussion below will clear out any confusion that you can possibly have.

1. Origin of the Dish

They are both Chinese-sounding, right? While it is indeed true that both have Chinese origins, they are from two different places, which is also exactly the reason why they vary with each other in the manner of preparation and taste. China is a large country and almost every area has its distinct cuisine.

According to experts in history and culinary, Chop Suey originated in Southern China. In the ancient times, this is an area that has been populated by Chinese Americans. The idea was to basically combine vegetables from leftovers with noodles.

On the other hand, there are also some people who are claiming that Chop Suey was developed in New York City by the culinary team serving then China’s ambassador to New York City. The main rationale behind the dish was to come up with a food that will be able to perfectly combine Chinese and American flavors.

To this day, there is still no clear information with regards to where Chop Suey has originated. It can be confusing as there are some who are asserting it is in no way developed from any part of China.

Compared to Chop Suey, the origins of Chow Mein are more factual. If historical accounts are to be believed, it is a dish that originated in Northern China, specifically from Pearl River Delta. It is a region where wheat is widely grown, which is why it has been popular for their extensive selection of noodle-based dishes.

While the egg-style noodle of Chow Mein started in Northern China, the variation that is known today is a result of multicultural influences, especially because it has already reached different parts of the world. Different flavors have also been incorporated to satisfy the changing palates of people, depending on where specifically it is served.

2. Ingredients Used

In this article about Chop Suey vs Chow Mein, it is also important that we talk about the differences based on the ingredients that can be found in each dish.

While you will have the freedom to add any ingredient that is preferred, based on the traditional recipes, these dishes utilize ingredients that are distinct from each other.

If you are cooking Chop Suey, expect that the main ingredients will consist mostly of vegetables and meat.

To be more specific, some of the ingredients that you will need include pork, beef, shrimp, chicken, snow peas, carrots, cabbage, celery, bean sprouts, and deep-fried rice or noodle.

On the other hand, if you are preparing Chow Mein, the main ingredient that you will need is the noodle. Aside from this, you will also need chicken, oyster sauce, cornstarch, celery, broccoli, onion, bell pepper, bean sprouts, and shiitake mushrooms, among others.

Again, you will have the preference to use the ingredients that you prefer, but the more authentic ones tend to be heavier on wonton noodles.

3. Preparation

We will not go through the detailed steps for the preparation of the two dishes as such would deserve a more detailed post. However, if there is one thing that is important to note, it would be the fact that the preparation of the two Chinese dishes are different from each other, which also explains why they result into varying taste.

In a nutshell, Chow Mein means stir-fried noodles, which already speaks of the way that it is going to be prepared. In English, this translates into fried noodles.

On the other hand, in the case of Chop Suey, you will heat the ingredients in the pan, beginning with the meat. You must wait until it becomes tender, and by then, this is the only time that you can add the vegetables. Cornstarch is also needed to achieve the desired consistency of the sauce.

The manner of preparation is also perhaps the reason why there are significant differences when it comes to the sauces of the two. The sauce of Chop Suey is usually thickened, which is basically because of cornstarch. Meanwhile, when Chow Mein is served, there is a little liquid that is seen, which is from the soy sauce.

To put it simply, the difference between the two lies on when the noodles are added to the dish. In the case of Chow Mein, you cook the noodles along with the other ingredients of the dish.

On the other hand, in the case of Chop Suey, noodles or rice will be added only in the end. The latter must be already pre-cooked and will not be cooked along with the other ingredients.

4. Serving

Again, there are variations when it comes to how the two dishes can be served. Depending on where you eat or how you prefer to eat them, they can be served in multiple ways.

Based on traditional practice, however, chop suey is served on the top of rice. On the other hand, this is no longer needed in the case of Chow Mein. It is made from noodles, which is going to be your source of carbs and can be filling.

5. Nutritional Value

It is pretty much impossible to determine the nutritional content of the dish because they can differ depending on where they will be eaten. For the sake of convenience, however, let us assume that a standard recipe is followed and they both have equal servings.

A 56-gram serving of Chow Mein will most probably contain 240 calories. Total fat is 14 grams, carbohydrates are 26 grams, and protein is 4 grams.

On the other hand, in the case of a 56-gram serving of Chop Suey, it contains 282 calories. Total fat is 16 grams, carbohydrates are 12 grams, and protein is 23 grams.

Of course, the numbers that have been mentioned above are for reference. Let us say that you still ate rice even if you have Chow Mein, the nutritional value will most probably change.

Regardless of whichever you are enjoying, make sure to eat in moderation. Add more vegetables to the dish if you want it to become healthier.


In sum, in this Chop Suey vs Chow Mein post, we hoped that we have already clarified some of the key differences between the two. In a nutshell, it would be safe to say that Chow Mein is the more authentic dish. The following are some of the key differences that have been discussed above.

  • Chop Suey is believed to have originated from Southern China while Chow Mein is traditionally from Northern China.
  • Chop Suey consists of meat and vegetables. In the case of Chow Mein, on the other hand, the main ingredient is noodles.
  • Chop Suey is traditionally served over rice, while Chow Mein is made from noodles and usually eaten on its own.

Is there anything else that you would like to add? If there is any knowledge that you would like to add about the key differences between the two, feel free to leave a comment below.

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