Fresh egg noodles, crunchy vegetables and succulent chicken all cooked in an aromatic and flavoursome sauce. Slow Cooker Chicken Chow Mein is a simple to make noodle dish which will please all of the family.
Slow Cooker Chicken Noodles in a Chow Mein sauce
We really couldn’t have an Asian slow cooker recipes category here at Slow Cooker Club without including Chow Mein. It’s a popular choice in restaurants, being one of those dishes that everyone will enjoy. But it’s also fantastically easy to make at home so it’s a great addition to your evening meal repertoire.
As with many recipe names, the title Chow Mein (or chaomian which means fried noodles) refers to the way that the food is cooked rather than the ingredients. So although there is no frying involved in this slow cooker recipe the result tastes remarkably similar. I don’t think stir fried vegetables and noodles are ingredients that you would expect to work in a slow cooker, however technique makes all of the difference!
In the recipe steps I include instructions for ensuring crunchy vegetables, beautifully soft chicken and noodles that hold their shape. The end result is a wonderfully flavoured and textured dish which I hope you enjoy cooking and eating.
Why Make This Recipe?
- Makes a great weeknight or fake-away meal with a healthy fresh vegetables and protein.
- An easy to make one pot meal with meat, vegetables and carbohydrates all cooked together.
- Easy to change the meat and choice of vegetables in the recipe to add variety.
- Simple to follow recipe steps to ensure vegetables remain crispy, noodles soft and the chicken tender.
What You’ll Need
Exact ingredient quantities can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
Chicken – Chicken thighs stay juicy over longer cooking periods, so are great in the slow cooker. Don’t cut them up before cooking so they retain their shape. They break into chunks easily once cooked. Chicken breasts can be used if preferred but keep the pieces large to retain moisture.
Onions, garlic, ginger – White onion, garlic and ginger provide a fragrant, savoury flavour base.
Seasoning – The bold and aromatic flavour is brought by Chinese 5 Spice seasoning which is a blend of fennel, star anise, cloves, szechuan peppercorns and cinnamon. I supplement with garlic granules, chilli, white pepper, and a chicken stock cube. Honey, soy, sesame and mirin (rice wine vinegar) add sweet, salty and sour notes to the sauce.
Vegetables – Carrots, mushrooms, beans sprouts and mange tout.
Noodles – Dried egg noodles, I’ve used Sharwood’s medium thickness.
Water – To cook the noodles.
Cornflour – To stabalise and thicken the sauce.
I cooked this in my Crockpot Time Select Slow Cooker (5.6L) slow cooker. The ingredients would also fit into a smaller slow cooker such as 3.5L slow cooker.
How to make Slow Cooker Chicken Chow Mein
- Mix the spices together to blend the seasoning.
- Put the chicken, onions, garlic, ginger and mushrooms in the slow cooker. Sprinkle over the seasoning and the stock cube and then mix. Add the sesame oil, honey, soy and mirin and stir again. Cook for 3 hours on high (2 hours if using chicken breasts).
- Add the remaining vegetables and cover with the cornflour then mix well.
- Next add the egg noodles and water. Ensure the noodles are entirely submerged in the sauce. Cook for 1 hour on high.
- Toss the chicken, noodles and vegetables in the sauce to ensure everything is well coated and then serve immediately.
This is a great one pot meal which means there is a blend of carbohydrates, vegetables and protein all cooked together. So I often don’t feel the need to serve it with anything else. A perfect no fuss meal!
If I want to add some colour and bursts of flavour I scatter any of these toppings over:
- Freshly chopped red chilli’s.
- Finely sliced spring onion.
- Toasted sesame seeds.
If you want another idea for a one pot meal why not take a look at Slow Cooker Chicken Casserole.
Alternatively if you are cooking a fakeaway banquet here are some other slow cooker fakeaway recipe ideas!
- Vegetables – There are lots of vegetables that work superbly in this recipe so try adding some pak choi, bamboo shoots or water chestnuts (both of which come tinned and are really convenient).
- Frozen vegetables – You can use pre-prepared or frozen stir fry mixes to reduce preparation time. Be aware, frozen mixes will release more water as they cook which will thin the sauce.
- Noodles – There are various different types of noodles which can replace egg noodles, just bear in mind the cooking times can vary! Here is a few suggestions:
- Wholewheat dried noodles.
- Rice vermicelli noodles. Thin, pale noodles commonly found in Vietnamese dishes.
- Lentil Noodles. An egg free alternative (check the ingredients lists as brands do vary). These noodles from Waitrose look very similar to egg noodles and have a good taste and texture.
- Linguine, a long strand pasta made from flour and egg.
- Heat – I use a small amount of white pepper and chilli powder in this recipe to give a hint of heat. To add more increase the quantity in the recipe or you can sprinkle through some freshly chopped red chilli when you serve.
- Meat – Diced pieces of turkey, pork or beef make a great alternative to chicken.
- Vegetarian noodles – To make meat-free noodles leave out the chicken thighs, change the stock to vegetable and then reduce the cooking time at step 2 (above) to 1 hour. You may also want to add more vegetables or edamame beans (soy) for some protein.
Noodles – I like dried, medium thickness egg noodles as they retain their texture. Fresh noodles or fine noodles should be cooked for less time so they don’t break down.
Vegetables – Don’t be tempted to add the vegetables in at the same time as the chicken. To replicate that crisp, stir-fried crunch they need to cook for a shorter period.
Sauce – If the sauce appears thinner than you would prefer, you can leave the lid of the pot ajar for the last 30 minutes of cooking to allow some moisture to escape.
Chow mein is a very fragrant sauce, and have a balanced sweet and salty flavour. It should be rich and glossy in colour and thick enough to coat the noodles and vegetables.
It’s all in the way that the noodles are cooked. Chow Mein noodles are first softened in boiling water before being stir fried to create a drier texture. When making Lo Mein, the noodles are cooked in water first and then tossed through the sauce.
Absolutely, provided the noodles are submerged in liquid they will cook. As they absorb liquid they will also help to thicken any sauces beautifully. Put them in for the last hour of cooking on the high setting to ensure they retain their texture.
Yes, simply reduce their cooking time by half. Be aware they will not absorb as much liquid as dry noodles so less water should be added to the sauce to ensure it remains thick and glossy.
Put any leftovers in an airtight container or cover with cling film and refrigerate for up to three days. Reheat thoroughly in the microwave until piping hot. Stir half way through cooking to make sure the sauce is evenly distributed.
The recipe has a great balance of vegetables, protein and carbohydrates which makes for a fantastic meal. As it is cooked in the slow cooker rather than frying there is less oil added, reducing the amount of fat without sacrificing flavour.
Slow Cooker Chicken Chow Mein
- 500 g (1 lb) chicken thighs skinless and boneless
- 1 onion white or red, large
- 1 carrot large, peeled and cut into fine ribbons
- 150 g (1.5 cups) mushrooms
- 150 g (1.5 cups) beansprouts
- 100 g (1 cups) mangetout
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 chicken stock cube chicken flavour
- 200 g (7 oz) egg noodles dried, medium thickness
- 4 tbsp honey runny
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 1½ tbsp sesame oil
- 1½ tbsp mirin rice wine vinegar
- 2½ tsp chinese 5 spice seasoning
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp ginger thumb sized piece of fresh ginger grated, or 1 tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- ½ tsp mild chilli powder
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- 175 ml (⅓ pt) water
- Mix all of the spices together to make a spice blend (garlic powder, 5 spice, white pepper, chilli powder).2½ tsp chinese 5 spice seasoning, 1 tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp white pepper, ½ tsp mild chilli powder
- Slice the onion and mushrooms and add to the slow cooker with the minced garlic and ginger. Place the chicken thighs (see recipe note 1) on top with the stock cube then sprinkle over all of the spice blend before mixing well.500 g chicken thighs, 1 onion, 150 g mushrooms, 3 garlic cloves, 1 tsp ginger, 1 chicken stock cube
- Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, honey and mirin and stir through. Then cook on high for 3 hours. If using diced chicken breasts reduce this time to 2 hours (see recipe note 2).4 tbsp honey, 3 tbsp soy sauce, 1½ tbsp sesame oil, 1½ tbsp mirin
- Add the remaining vegetables (mangetout, carrot ribbons, and beansprouts see recipe note 3) and cover with the cornflour. Mix the cornflour and vegetables into the chicken and sauce.1 carrot, 150 g beansprouts, 100 g mangetout, 2 tbsp cornflour
- Next add the water and nests of dried noodles. Submerge the noodles in the liquid entirely so they cook evenly (see recipe note 4 if using fresh egg noodles). Cook for a further 1 hour on high.175 ml water, 200 g egg noodles
- Once cooked, toss the noodles, chicken and vegetables and break up the thighs into smaller pieces if they have remained intact. Serve immediately.
- Chicken – Don’t cut up the chicken thighs before cooking. They can break down during the cooking period and end up more like pulled chicken. The result is better when the chicken is in chunks, the thighs are easy to break into pieces once they are cooked.
- Chicken breasts – Due to the lower fat content of chicken breasts compared to thighs, reduce the stated cook time in step 3 to 2 hours instead of 3 hours. This will prevent the chicken from drying out.
- Any additional vegetables can also be added at this point. Good choices are pak choi, water chestnuts, thick cut strips of red or green peppers.
- Fresh noodles – Fresh noodles will need half the amount of cooking time so add them 30 minutes after the vegetables and then allow to cook for 30 minutes on high. Fresh noodles will also absorb less water than dried so decrease the volume of water added to the sauce by half.