June 01, 2020



“Don’t knock it ‘till you try it” is my advice when it comes to this sandwich. The Chow Mein Sandwich is a regional classic in parts of southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It consists of a brown gravy chow mein served over crispy chow mein noodles and sandwiched in between a hamburger bun. You’ve got to try it!

Chicken Chow Mein Sandwich
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You might look at this and think that’s it’s a lot of filling for the bun. But that isn’t so when it comes to the chow mein sandwich where the motto seems to be “the more, the better”. It is not uncommon to have a dinner plate filled with chow mein and noodles served with just one itty-bitty hamburger bun. 

The origin of the chow mein sandwich is believed to have started 1920s or 1930s in Fall River, Massachusetts. (I have not been able to find any substantiated dates.) It was a time of booming industrial business, in particularly the textile industry. With a large population of European and Canadian workers, who were not accustomed to Chinese food, the Chinese restaurants adapted their menu to suit the taste of this demographic. The chow mein sandwich was born and became a staple.

Chicken Chow Mein Sandwich

I’m using the round kind chow mein noodles that most people would have access to. The classic chow mein sandwich uses flat, crispy chow mein noodles which are exclusively produced by The Oriental Chow Mein Company in Fall River, Massachusetts. It supplies to restaurants and supermarkets in the region. The locals do not want their sandwich with anything other than these flat chow mein noodles.

Unfortunately, I live just far enough away where the noodles are not available in stores. The only way to get them is to make a special trip to the southeastern region of the state or order online. If you want to try them, they can be ordered online here (this is an affiliate link, but I use and love this product).

Recipe highlights:
  • Season chicken with 3/4 of the salt and pepper. Sautée in a preheated, greased skillet until mostly cooked through. Transfer chicken to a bowl.
Raw chicken cooking in a skillet

Raw chicken cooking in a skillet

Cooked chicken being poured into a bowl

  • Add celery, onion, garlic, and the remaining salt and pepper to skillet. Cook until tender.
Onions and celery cooking in a pan

  • Add molasses, soy sauce, oyster sauce, garlic powder, and onion powder to the skillet.
  • Add the cornstarch, broth, and water mixture. Bring to a boil to thicken slightly.
  • Add chicken and bean sprouts. Reduce heat to a simmer until sprouts are tender and chicken is cooked through. Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Assemble sandwiches.
  • See recipe card below for detailed instructions.

Broth being poured into a pan of cooked onions and celery

Broth being poured into a pan of cooked onions and celery

A skillet with cooked chicken and veggies in a brown sauce

A skillet of cooked chicken chow mein

How many sandwiches does this make?
This recipe makes  between 3 to 6 servings, depending on appetite size. This one batch of chow mein yields 3 large plate size servings or 6 smaller sandwiches.

It is not uncommon for restaurants to pile a mountain of crispy noodles and chow mein and noodles on the plate. When I make them, I prefer smaller portions because I like to attempt to eat them by hand :)

How do you assemble the sandwich?
To assemble, place the bottom of a hamburger bun on a plate. Cover with handful of  crispy noodles. Ladle on chow mein and top with the other half of the bun. Enjoy!

Can other kinds of meat be used?
This can also be made with beef, pork, or shrimp. Any of the meat can be made using the ground version. Swap out the chicken broth for beef broth if making with ground beef chow mein. 

Chicken Chow Mein Sandwich

This sandwich might sound strange, but it’s really good!! Those of us who have had it can see the appeal. Even if you don’t make this recipe, the next time you have have chow mein, put some on a hamburger bun and give it a whirl!

You might like these Asian inspired recipes!


Chicken Chow Mein Sandwich


1 to 1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into strips less than 1/4-inch thick
2 teaspoons cooking oil
1 cup thinly sliced onions
1 cup thinly sliced celery
2 cups bean sprouts
1 generous teaspoon chopped garlic
1 generous teaspoon chopped ginger
1/4 rounded teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 rounded teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon molasses
1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 (14.5 ounce) can less sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1 (5 ounce) canister chow mein noodles
3 to 6 hamburger buns

  1. Add oil to a preheated a 10-inch skillet on medium heat.
  2. Season chicken with 3/4 of the salt and pepper. Add to skillet. Sautée until chicken is mostly cooked through. Transfer chicken and any juices to a bowl. It will be added back to the sauce to finish cooking.
  3. Return skillet to heat. Add celery, onion, garlic, and the remaining salt and pepper. Stir. Cover and reduce heat to medium low. Cook until tender, about 7-9 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. In the meantime, place cornstarch in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in water. Add to chicken broth. Set aside.
  5. Add molasses, soy sauce, oyster sauce, garlic powder, and onion powder to the skillet of vegetables.
  6. Increase heat to medium high. Add broth. Bring to a boil. Sauce will thicken slightly.

  7. Add chicken and bean sprouts. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until bean sprouts are tender and chicken is cooked through, about 3-5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
  8. To serve: place the bottom half of a hamburger bun on a plate. Add a handful of chow mein noodles, cover with chow mein mixture, top with the other half of the hamburger bun. (See notes below for serving size.)
Makes 3 to 6 servings.

Recipe Notes:
  1. Use 1/3 of the chow mein noodles and 1/3 of the chow mein mixture for a large serving. This makes 3 large sandwiches. Use half the amount for smaller, able to be handheld sandwiches. This makes 6 small sandwiches.
  2. Beef, pork, or shrimp versions can be made. Ground forms of the meat can be used. Swap out chicken broth for beef broth when making beef chow mein.

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  1. Sounds like great comfort food! I am also living in an area with few unique products and having to resort to travel or online ordering. I miss the convenience, but it's good for me to plan more :)

    1. This sandwich is one of those things you need to try at least once in your life...just to say you’ve tried it. It’s quite delish.
      Not having access to ingredients is quite inconvenient. I stock up on them when I get the chance, and I love the convenience of online shopping :)