11 Easy, Healthy Chinese Food Recipes
How would you like to make General Tso’s chicken, Hot and Sour Soup, or pork potstickers at home? We’ve got ‘em all and more in this collection of healthy Chinese food recipes that are simple enough for weeknight dinners. We’ll share our favorite Moo Shu Chicken, a Chinese fried rice recipe, and our version of Dan Dan Noodles, just to name a few!
Chinese food is delicious, and so different from the flavors we commonly eat in Western meals. Umami-rich sauces of soy sauce, oyster sauce, fresh ginger, garlic, and more coat fresh vegetables and roast meats, and seep down into beds of rice or noodles. The meals tend to be colorful, fragrant, and balanced.
But when it comes to Chinese restaurants in the United States, all too many offer a fast food version of the meals we love, playing up the sweet and salty flavors at the expense of that richness and balance. On the flip side, cooking traditional Chinese meals at home often requires ingredients that are hard to find outside of China, not to mention specialized techniques and skills.
What’s a Chinese food lover to do? We think we’ve found the solution! Here we’re sharing 11 of our favorite simplified Chinese food recipes from the Cook Smarts meal plan service. We try to balance ease of cooking, availability of ingredients, and healthiness of meals with authenticity. So while the meals may not all be exactly what you’d expect if you visit China, they’re all weeknight-friendly, packed with veggies, and taste amazing.
Check out our printable Chinese pantry staples infographic to prepare to cook these and other Chinese meals at home! This list will help you stock up on common ingredients you may need so that Chinese food recipes can be a regular part of your weekly meal plans.
Chinese Pantry Staples
Keep your pantry stocked with many of these core ingredients of Chinese cuisine, and you'll be able to easily make Chinese dishes at home.
1. Five-Spice Pork Chops with Ginger Pan Sauce
First on our list of fantastic Chinese food recipes is Five-Spice Pork Chops. The thing about Chinese homecooking is that you can simply use your pantry staples to give common ingredients that flair of Asian flavor. These pork chops are rubbed with a spice mix, including the classic Chinese five spice, then pan-seared, sliced, and served with a warm ginger miso sauce on top. A broccoli stir-fry, cooked simply with garlic and soy sauce, as well as some sesame seeds and cashews for extra flavor and a light crunch, is one of the easiest ways to enjoy a side of veggies. This high-protein meal takes just 40 minutes to cook, from start to finish!
2. Mapo Tofu with Pork
Another of our favorite Chinese pork recipes, this popular Szechuan dish contains both tofu and ground pork, which are simmered in a spicy sauce containing everything from fresh garlic and ginger to Chinese black bean sauce to spicy chili garlic sauce. The meal is topped with lime juice and green onions, and served with a side of rice. You’ll also make spicy blistered Szechuan green beans to go on the side; we keep things simple by having you use a little of the mapo sauce to flavor the green beans rather than making a separate spice mix for them.
3. Slow Cooker Hoisin Ribs
These ribs will make your house smell amazing all day long! You’ll cook the seasoned ribs in the slow cooker for several hours, then finish them in the oven with sauce brushed on top to give them incredible flavor. The hoisin-based sauce contains a little heat thanks to the addition of chili garlic sauce. While the ribs are finishing up in the slow cooker, you’ll roast broccoli with garlic, then toss it with sesame oil, sesame seeds, and lemon juice before serving. Serve the ribs on top of a mound of steaming rice with the broccoli on the side for a memorable homemade meal inspired by Chinese pantry ingredients!
4. Moo Shu Chicken Wraps
Moo Shu Chicken Wraps are always a popular dish at Chinese restaurants, but it’s one of our favorite Chinese chicken recipes too because making it at home will take you less time than picking up takeout! In just 30 minutes, you’ll have these wraps on the table. You’ll use flour tortillas instead of moo shu wrappers since they’re more readily available (though feel free to sub them if you can find them!), then layer on chicken, carrots, mushrooms, and coleslaw mix stir-fried in a sauce of soy sauce, mirin, and brown sugar. Add hoisin or sriracha for extra flavor, and sprinkle with green onions before wrapping your meal up and enjoying.
5. Hot and Sour Soup with Fried Rice
Another Chinese restaurant staple, this hot and sour soup recipe combines salty/umami soy sauce, acidic rice vinegar, spicy red pepper flakes, and a pinch of sugar (among other ingredients) for a broth with many dimensions. You’ll add tofu, mushrooms, and bamboo shoots to make this soup more substantial, then slowly pour a whisked egg into the hot soup to create egg ribbons. To accompany the soup, you’ll follow our simple Chinese fried rice recipe using frozen vegetables for ease. This recipes calls for leftover rice, so if you don’t have any left over, be sure to make some before you start the rest of the meal.
6. Char Siu Sandwiches with Sesame Broccolini
Char siu is a Cantonese barbecued pork dish that combines sweet and savory flavors. By using a thick cut of pork and tenderizing and marinating it in traditional Cantonese flavors before roasting in the oven, you’ll create a tender, moist roast that can be used in a variety of ways — in this case, on sandwiches! These warm pork sandwiches are unique and tasty thanks to a marinade of garlic, pineapple juice, soy sauce, Chinese five spice, hoisin sauce, and more. You’ll sear the pork to golden brown on the stovetop, then finish it in the oven alongside sesame broccolini. When the pork is finished, you’ll slice it and use it to assemble sandwiches on toasted buns with hoisin mayonnaise, green onions, and cucumbers, with the broccolini on the side. Our char siu recipe has you double the pork to use in another meal from our meal plans, so you can either halve that part of the recipe or just plan for leftovers!
7. General Tso’s Chicken Stir-Fry with Farro
Another popular takeout favorite, this General Tso’s chicken is stir-fried, not breaded and fried, which makes it both easier to make and healthier to consume. Make this dish with the broccoli and bell peppers we use in the recipe, or sub in your favorite stir-fry veggies. You’ll simmer the veggies and cubed chicken breast in a spicy-sweet-savory sauce of garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, and more, which gets thickened slightly to coat the veggies and chicken. The meal gets served over semi-pearled farro, an underappreciated whole grain that we like as a stand-in for rice.
8. Pork Potstickers with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce
This impressive meal might take you a little extra time to put together if it’s your first time making potstickers — but it sure is worth it! Spiced ground pork is used to fill wonton wrappers, which you’ll fold around the filling and pinch or pleat shut. (Don’t worry, our recipe includes a short video to show you how it’s done!) You’ll steam the potstickers on the stovetop, then serve them with a homemade sweet chili dipping sauce and a side of Szechuan green beans with red pepper flakes and toasted sesame oil.
9. Shrimp Lo Mein with Vegetables
Stir-fried veggies and shrimp tossed with lo mein noodles and a flavorful sauce — what’s not to love?! Better yet, this shrimp lo mein recipe comes together in just 30 minutes. You’ll stir-fry carrots, mushrooms, snow peas, and shrimp until they’re nearly cooked, then push the veggies and shrimp to the side of your wok to simmer the lo mein sauce in the center. Then you’ll mix it all together and add the noodles so everything gets hot and the flavors meld together. The dish is finished with a squeeze of lemon juice, a sprinkle of cilantro, and feel free to add your favorite Chinese chili oil on top!
10. Mongolian Beef Noodles
Inspired by the restaurant favorite, we decided to turn Mongolian Beef into a noodle dish version — because noodles are everything. For this beef noodle stir-fry, you’ll thinly slice the beef before tossing in cornstarch for great texture and shallow-frying in oil. It then gets tossed with stir-fried green bell pepper strips and snow peas as well as lo mein noodles, and then everything is coated in a delectable stir-fry sauce of garlic, stock, soy sauce, brown sugar, and sesame flakes, with red pepper flakes for a hint of spice. This fantastic meal will take you just 40 minutes from start to finish, and is a super fun way to enjoy this dish that originated from Taiwan!
11. Dan Dan Noodles with Pork and Mustard Greens
Dan Dan Noodles are a Szechuan street food that’s traditionally very, very spicy — but we dialed it down to medium for our version (feel free to go heavy with the spice if you prefer, though!). The sauce is made with common Chinese ingredients as well as tahini for a nutty flavor and a slightly creamier texture than in many Chinese dishes. The sauce is simmered with ground pork, and served in a bowl with the egg noodles and sautéed mustard greens. The dish is finished with green onions and peanuts, as well as additional red pepper flakes or hot sauce if you need more heat.
Want more Chinese food recipes and other great dinner ideas? Our meal plan service offers 4 meals per week with the choice of original, gluten-free, paleo, and vegetarian versions, as well as an extensive archive of past recipes. All of the recipes and techniques mentioned above are a part of the service. For more info and to get a taste test with a free 14-day trial, sign up here.