If you love Chinese takeout, then you’ll really love learning just how easy it is to cook your own Chinese dinner at home. There’s a reason that Chinese food has become a staple cuisine all the way across the ocean in North America. Chinese cooking is full of flavor, texture, and nuance, and there’s just something about it that’s so innately satisfying and comforting. It certainly doesn’t hurt that there’s something for everyone, with plenty of vegan and vegetarian Chinese dinner ideas to complement dishes made with chicken, beef, pork, or seafood.
So, what should you make? From spring rolls to stir fry, here are 30 Chinese dishes that deserve to be included in your at-home repertoire.
Chinese Snacks and Sides
Ordering Chinese takeout is as much about the apps and the sides as it is the main meal. And fortunately, it’s pretty easy to recreate some of your favorites right in your own kitchen.
A satisfying Chinese meal always starts with appetizers. Any of these can serve as mains, too, just serve them with rice, noodles, or vegetables on the side.
1. Egg Rolls
If you can dream it, you can wrap it in an egg roll wrapper and fry it. Yes, Chinese egg rolls are endlessly versatile and as well suited to vegetarian fillings as they are to meat fillings. (Stick with spring rolls if you’re vegan, though, since there is egg in the wrapper dough.)
2. Spring Rolls
Spring rolls are similar to egg rolls but feature a thinner, vegan-friendly rice or wheat wrapper. You can bake or fry your spring rolls, or you can keep things completely fresh with raw garden rolls.
3. Scallion Pancakes
Scallion pancakes are a cinch to make, with just a handful of simple ingredients that you probably have hanging out in your pantry already. Check out our scallion pancake masterclass if you want to take a deep dive into this savory side dish.
4. Chicken Congee
Congee is a Chinese rice porridge that can be eaten plain or, as in this case of chicken congee, elevated with a succulent protein on top. It’s traditionally a side dish, but it could also stand alone as an entrée if you’re looking for something to warm your stomach.
5. Shrimp Wontons
For a light start to your Chinese meal, consider steamed shrimp wontons. It’s easy to modify the recipe and bake or fry your wontons instead (and we definitely won’t fault you if you do!), though there’s something extra satisfying about biting into a steamed wonton drizzled with a yummy, gingery sauce.
Soups are definitely deserving of their own section on this list of must-cook ideas for a Chinese dinner at home. They’re often enjoyed as part of a larger meal, but a warm bowl of Chinese soup on its own could be just the thing on a chilly evening.
6. Egg Drop Soup
Egg drop soup is surprisingly satisfying for something so simple. It also gives chicken noodle soup a run for its money as one of the best soups for keeping cozy when you’re not feeling your best.
7. Wonton Soup
Traditional wonton soup is made with dried flounder, which you may be able to find powdered at your nearest Asian market. If you can’t find it, though, fish sauce will give you a similarly ocean-forward broth for your delicate shrimp wontons.
8. Hot and Sour Soup
Hot and sour soup is a vegetarian-friendly favorite made with mushrooms, tofu, and deeply-flavored spices. You can also make it with pork. Best served on cold winter nights with a Tsingtao beer on the side.
9. Chinese Oxtail Soup
Oxtail is a braising meat and is considered to be a particularly warming winter ingredient in Chinese cooking. It’s the centerpiece of this authentic soup but can be swapped out for beef shanks or beef short ribs on the bone if your local butcher doesn’t have it in stock.
Fried Rice Recipes
Being able to cook your own fried rice at home is quite the valuable superpower. This Chinese dish has been around for thousands of years and is fully adaptable based on your tastes, preferences, and what you’ve got on hand.
10. Chicken Fried Rice
Making stellar chicken fried rice starts just the same as making any fried rice: with leftover cooked rice that’s been sitting in your fridge for at least a day. If you don’t have any at home, let this be your sign to order Chinese takeout tonight so that you have leftover rice tomorrow.
11. Shrimp Fried Rice
Shrimp fried rice, or chau fan, is a tasty take on fried rice that offers a lot of complexity in flavor without a lot of ingredients. Hint: if you can’t find Chinese rice wine, use gin instead.
12. Vegetarian Fried Rice
You can put any veggies that you choose into your vegetarian fried rice. If you want to keep it traditional, peas, carrots, onions, bell pepper, and mushrooms are the way to go—with a couple of soft scrambled eggs for protein, of course.
13. Cauliflower Fried Rice
Is cauliflower fried rice Chinese? Well, no. But it is a nutritious riff on a classic Chinese dish and a good alternative if you’re trying to avoid rice in your diet. Keep in mind that ricing your own cauliflower takes some effort, so buying it pre-riced from the freezer aisle will be a major timesaver.
When you think Chinese takeout, you probably think Chinese noodles. There are so many authentic noodle dishes to choose from, and it’s your call whether you amp up the spice or go with more subtle sauces.
14. Chow Mein
Chow mein means “pan-fried noodles,” and comes together with simple ingredients in a single skillet. Whether you opt for vegetarian chow mein or something with meat in it, make sure to use real Chinese egg noodles so you get that ideal chow mein texture in your dish.
15. Lo Mein
Takeout-style lo mein is similar to chow mein except that the noodles are stirred with their ingredients instead of pan-fried with them. This dish also uses Chinese egg noodles, so if you bought a package you may as well test out both preparations.
16. Dan Dan Noodles
Dan dan noodles are a spicy, slurpable, and totally addictive Sichuan street food. The original version is made with lots of specialty ingredients that are worth sourcing online or at an Asian grocery store. Otherwise, you can substitute some more common ingredients, such as peanut butter for Chinese sesame paste.
Dumplings for Beginners
Dumplings for Beginners
Chinese Dinner Ideas
What should I make for a Chinese dinner? you might be asking. And if so, we’ve got plenty of ideas. Now that we’ve made it through sides, apps, soups, fried rice, and noodles, let’s turn our attention to the entrees that are at the heart of traditional Chinese cuisine, with mouthwatering dishes that can be as good homemade as they are from a restaurant if you put in enough practice.
Chinese Chicken Dishes
17. Kung Pao Chicken
Kung pao chicken is a Sichuan specialty that hits that perfect balance of sweet, spicy, and savory. For the best flavor, use real Sichuan peppercorns and don’t skimp on the dried chilis.
18. Orange Chicken
Sweet, sour, tart, crispy… is there anything not to love about orange chicken? Pair with rice and garlic green beans for a complete meal that’s almost guaranteed to end up on your weekly meal rotation.
19. Lemon Chicken
Getting the fry right is essential to making amazing Chinese lemon chicken. Use a battered chicken breast or thigh to get extra crispiness where it counts, then take it to the next level with a lemon sauce that brings in just the right amount of zing.
20. Mongolian Chicken
Mongolian chicken (and Mongolian beef, for that matter) is more American than it is authentically Mongolian or Chinese, but it’s such a takeout favorite that we think it still deserves a place on your menu.
Chinese Beef and Pork Dishes
21. Stir Fry Beef and Broccoli
Flank steak is the protein of choice for this deceptively simple dish. Not a fan of broccoli? You can easily modify beef and broccoli with any vegetables you’d like, with peppers, baby corn, and even kale all working great in a pinch.
22. Szechuan Beef
Szechuan (or Sichuan) beef is a spicy stir fry with a richly complex sauce. The secret ingredient is doubanjiang, a spicy fermented bean paste. It’s worth sourcing if you can find it, since it’s used as an umami element in a ton of other Chinese dishes.
23. Sweet and Sour Pork
Sweet and sour sauce is basically the Chinese answer to BBQ sauce, featuring tomato, sugar, and vinegar. And just like BBQ sauce, we’re down to use it on mostly anything—deep-fried pork included.
24. Mapo Tofu
Wondering what tofu is doing in this section? Mapo tofu is one of the most beloved Chinese takeout foods and another Sichuan staple. It also includes plenty of ground pork, aromatics, and spices to go with all that tofu.
Chinese Seafood Dishes
25. Honey Garlic Glazed Salmon
Honey garlic glazed salmon is an excellent introduction to Chinese cooking and comes together in just 15 minutes with basic ingredients you likely already keep at your house. Serve alongside rice and vegetables for a complete Chinese meal with minimal work.
26. Sweet and Sour Fish
Sweet and sour strikes again, this time as a sauce for some delicate meaty fish. Chinese restaurants often serve this with an entire head-on fish, but if that’s too intimidating, you can easily use skinless filets instead. Sea bass, trout, or salmon will all work well here.
27. Honey Walnut Shrimp
Made with mayo, honey, and candied walnuts, honey walnut shrimp is definitely one of the most indulgent Chinese dishes you can make, but it’s also one of the most delicious. Did we mention there’s deep frying involved?
Vegetarian Chinese Dishes
28. Tofu Stir Fry
There’s absolutely nothing bland when it comes to tofu in Chinese cooking. You can make tofu stir fry with tons of different sauce and veg combinations, and so long as you get the sear right, we’re sure this will become a new favorite.
29. Egg Foo Young
Egg foo young is an easy meal that’s basically just the Chinese answer to breakfast for dinner (if breakfast is an omelet with veggies). What brings it to life is the sauce, which is made with the traditional combination of Shaoxing wine, oyster sauce, soy sauce, and sugar.
30. Buddha’s Delight (Lo Han Jai)
Buddha’s Delight, or Lo Han Joi, is healthy Chinese cooking at its finest. It’s typically enjoyed during Lunar New Year celebrations and is slow cooked to ensure that each individual vegetable takes on as much of the tangy sauce as possible.
What Do You Serve at a Chinese Dinner Party?
The same rule that applies to a Chinese takeout order also applies to a Chinese dinner party—that is to say, the more dishes the merrier. Aim for a balance of flavors, textures, and proteins, and don’t neglect meat-free classics like vegetarian chow mein. This would also be a fun occasion to experiment with traditional Chinese desserts, such as red bean cakes, egg tarts, fried dough, and mango pudding. Enjoy!
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