15-Minute Vegetable Lo Mein

$6.33 recipe / $3.17 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.60 from 20 votes
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Are you ready for the easiest of easy stir fry dinners? This Vegetable Lo Mein is the perfect no-brainer dinner for when you can’t be bothered to even think about cooking, or for beginners who are still building their skills and confidence in the kitchen. Is this the most authentic, complex, and delicious lo mein recipe out there? Nope. This one is super scaled back and designed to be the best mix of easy, convenient, and satisfying. It has fresh crisp vegetables, comforting noodles, and an easy salty sauce that will remind you of your favorite take out.

A skillet full of fast and easy Salad Bar Vegetable Lo Mein

Use Your Leftover Vegetables

This recipe is perfect for using up the odds and ends of whatever vegetables you happen to have leftover in your fridge at the end of the week. In fact, I should name it “Friday Lo Mein”. 😆 Another convenient way to get a good mix of vegetables for your lo mein without having to buy a lot of each vegetable is to hit up a salad bar! Get a pinch of this or that until you’ve got a good mix of vegetables without having to buy a huge quantity.

What else can I add to my Lo Mein?

I chose an easy mix of mushrooms, bell peppers, cabbage, and green onion for my vegetable lo mein, but there are so many other great things you can add! Here are a few ideas of things you can add from your fridge or the salad bar. 

  • Vegetables: spinach, snow peas, bean sprouts, shredded carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, or red onion.
  • Proteins: cubed tofu, chicken, shrimp, scrambled eggs. (Sauté these in the skillet until cooked through, before adding the vegetables.)
  • Make it Spicy: Add 1 Tbsp sriracha or chili garlic sauce to the stir fry sauce for a spicy kick
  • Toppings: chopped peanuts, sesame seeds, fresh green onion

*Note: I strongly suggest including either green onion or red onion in your vegetable mix, since I did not add any garlic to my stir fry sauce. Having an aromatic in the mix really helps round out the flavor of this stir fry.

What kind of noodles should I use?

Traditionally lo mein noodles are wheat and egg pasta, so if you can find that or something close to it, that would be a win. If you can make it to an Asian market you can definitely get some awesome noodles for a very low price.

The most budget-friendly and easily accessible option is to use just regular spaghetti noodles. There’s no shame in that game. I had a little more room in my budget this time around, so I went for some udon noodles that I found in the International aisle (see the package in the step by step photos). I like these noodles because they’re a bit softer than spaghetti and they tend to soak up that salty sauce a little better, but they did increase the total cost of this dish by a good 30%. 

Eating a large plate of Salad Bar Vegetable Lo Mein

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15-Minute Vegetable Lo Mein

4.60 from 20 votes
When you need dinner to be fast, easy, and satisfying, this Vegetable Lo Mein is your answer. It's as simple and satisfying as it gets!
Eating a large plate of Salad Bar Vegetable Lo Mein
Servings 2
Cook 15 mins
Total 15 mins

Ingredients

  • 6 oz. noodles ($1.86)
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce ($0.18)
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil ($0.11)
  • 1 tsp sugar ($0.02)
  • 1 tsp water ($0.00)
  • 2 Tbsp high heat cooking oil* ($0.08)
  • 3 cups mixed salad bar vegetables ($4.08)

Instructions 

  • Cook the noodles according to the package directions, then drain in colander. While the noodles are cooking, stir together the soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, sugar, and water.
  • Heat the cooking oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Once the oil is very hot and shimmering (it should not be smoking), add the vegetables and stir fry for only about one minute, or just until the edges of the softer vegetables just begin to wilt. 
  • Add the cooked and drained noodles and the prepared sauce. Continue to stir and cook until the pasta has absorbed most of the sauce and no more liquid pools on the bottom of the skillet (about 2 minutes). The vegetables will soften further during this time. Serve immediately.

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Notes

*Use any high heat cooking oil or fat of your choice. Don't skimp on the amount of oil used, as using a full 2 Tbsp helps coat the noodles and gives this a more realistic take-out flavor and mouthfeel.

Nutrition

Serving: 1ServingCalories: 313.4kcalCarbohydrates: 29.15gProtein: 9.75gFat: 17.4gSodium: 1731.1mgFiber: 4.2g
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Because there’s nothing better than a plate full of noodles!

How to Make Vegetable Lo Mein – Step by Step Photos

Package of Udon Noodles

These are the noodles I used, which are an awesome texture and soak up the sauce nicely, but did make this dish quite a bit more expensive than it *needs* to be. Regular spaghetti noodles work just fine when you’re on a stricter budget. If you have an Asian market near by, you can most definitely get good noodles for a very low cost. Whichever noodles you choose, cook them according to the package directions and then drain them in a colander.

Simple Lo Mein Sauce in a small bowl next to bottles of soy sauce and toasted sesame oil

While the noodles are cooking, make the super simplified stir fry sauce. Stir together 3 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil, 1 tsp sugar, and 1 tsp water. If you want to make it spicy, you can add 1 Tbsp sriracha or chili garlic sauce. NOTE: make sure to get *toasted* sesame oil, not regular sesame oil. The toasted variety has a much stronger, nuttier flavor. You can tell the difference by the color. Toasted sesame oil is a dark brown color, untoasted is a light straw color. Here is more information on the difference between the two.

Salad Bar Vegetables in a cardboard salad bar container

These are the vegetables I grabbed from the salad bar. You’ll need about 3 cups total, whether you’re using up leftovers in your fridge or you hit the salad bar like I did. Make sure to include some sort of onion to help round out the flavor in the stir fry.

Add high heat oil to a skillet

Heat 2 Tbsp high heat cooking oil (of your choice) in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Don’t skimp on the oil here because this really helps give the flavor and mouthfeel that you get from take out.

Briefly Stir Fried Vegetables in the skillet

Once the oil is very hot and shimmering, add the vegetables and stir fry them very briefly, like only one minute. Just until the edges of the softer vegetables begin to wilt. The vegetables will cook more after you add the noodles.

Add Noodles and Sauce to Skillet

Add the cooked and drained noodles and the prepared stir fry sauce.

Finished Salad Bar Vegetable Lo Mein

Continue to stir and cook until the noodles absorb the sauce and no more liquid pools on the bottom of the skillet (only about 2 minutes more). And that’s it! Your Vegetable Lo Mein is DONE. Dig in my friend.

A plate full of Salad Bar Vegetable Lo Mein ready to eat.

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  1. Very tasty way to use up the last of your veggies for the week! I added garlic in at the end before the sauce. I agree that it would be a good idea to double the sauce as well. Also wish I had thought to add some chicken — as is, a serving has less than 10 grams of protein, which I consider a little low. Only other annoyance was that this dish scalded my enameled cast iron despite using canola oil and turning the heat down to medium.

  2. Super easy and quite tasty! I added a smidge of Sriracha into the sauce because we like things spicy, and this was a hit! Adding to the rotation when I need to clean out the fridge of veggies! 😂

  3. My son’s friend stopped by spontaneously after work, and I reluctantly invited him to join us for dinner knowing that he’s a meat-loving guy and I had made this with tofu. Thank goodness I doubled the recipe because he had several helpings and pronounced it “incredibly good.” We all loved it. Definitely a winner!

  4. No idea why everyone is raving about this dish. NO flavor at ALL when cooked as directed.

  5. This was SO good! I added grated ginger and garlic, but I suspect that was gilding the lily. This dish was fantastic and my husband called it a keeper! Going into the rotation!

  6. This was delicious!! I want to eventually stop eating meat altogether, so I’ve been looking for delicious but affordable vegetarian recipes and stumbled onto this site. As someone who loves Chinese food, I had to give this a try and I love it!! Instead of noodles, I used linguine since I had a box that I never got around to using.

  7. This was so easy and delicious! I doubled the sauce, as some others suggested. I browned up some chicken first, removed it from the skillet, and sauteed the veg (used some cabbage, sweet onion, & red bell pepper). I did add a little hoisin, and finished it with some minced cilantro & mint, and squeezed lime over to make it sort of Thai-ish. The hubby had seconds!

    1. I don’t remember which one I had on hand when I photographed this, but you can use any of the following: avocado oil (refined), almond oil, corn oil, canola oil, grapeseed oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, sesame oil (not toasted), or sunflower oil. :)

  8. Great recipe,! I used low sodium soy sauce and added a bit of hoison sauce and Thai garlic chili sauce…and did use udon noodles. Thank you, Beth!

  9. Easy recipe to follow and great idea with the salad bar veggies, but in my opinion it was just way too salty. If I make this recipe again I will try it with reduced sodium soy sauce for sure. Other than the saltiness it was delish!