Lo Mein vs Pad Thai – Key Differences

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Lo Mein vs Pad Thai - Key Differences

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It is not hard to fall in love with Asian noodle dishes. The diverse flavors are hard to resist.

When naming famous noodle meals eaten around Asia, Pad Thai and Lo Mein always pop up.

Since Asian noodle dishes are gaining popularity in international restaurants, the Lo Mein vs Pad Thai discourse is inevitable. Hence, Lo Mein and Pad Thai are often measured against each other.

Lo Mein and Pad Thai have as many differences as they do similarities.

In this article, we’ll break down the differences between these two Asian noodle dishes to make your choice easier the next time you’re caught in between these two.  

Lo Mein vs Pad Thai

The Lo Mein vs Pad Thai discussion is influenced by preference. So whether one is better is merely a matter of choice.

For instance, if you prefer your noodles with a salty flavor, you might be on the Lo Mein side of the debate. But if you like a spicy yet savory flavor, your argument might favor Pad Thai.

Nevertheless, Lo Mein and Pad Thai vary in different ways, and we will explore them in detail.

What is the difference between Lo Mein and Pad Thai?

When it comes to recipes, both Lo Mein and Pad Thai are flexible. There are often many variations of both noodle dishes. Nevertheless, here’s how they differ.

Country of origin

Lo Mein is a noodle dish of Chinese origin, while Pad Thai is a traditional Thai noodle dish.

Type of noodles

Pad Thai is made with rice noodles, while Lo Mein noodles are made with egg noodles.

Style of preparation

Lo Mein noodles are often prepared by boiling. Pad Thai noodles, on the other hand, are made by stir-frying.

Preparation time

Of these two Asian noodle dishes, Pad Thai takes longer to prepare.

Nutritional profile

For a low-fat, cholesterol-free, and carb-free diet, the nutritional profile of Lo Mein noodles is more impressive than that of Pad Thai.

Lo Mein is low in calories, fat, and cholesterol. Although Pad Thai noodles contain dietary fiber, they are higher in fat and cholesterol.

Lo Mein noodles are the healthier option among these two if you are on a low-carb, low-fat diet.

But are Lo Mein noodles the healthier option overall? You’ll find out as you go on.


Lo Mein noodles have a thicker feel and are chewier than Pad Thai noodles which are often thinner and soft.


The flavor of Lo Mein noodles leans closer to the salty side, while Pad Thai noodles are a mixture of sweet and spicy flavors.

Gluten profile

Pad Thai is an excellent noodle dish option for someone on a gluten-free diet as it is gluten-free, unlike Lo Mien which has gluten.

How they’re served

Lo Mein is seldom served with vegetables, but it’s the opposite for Pad Thai. Pad Thai is often served with vegetables as a side dish.


The salty flavor of Lo Mein is usually from the mixture of soy sauce or oyster sauce. Lo Mein is also made with sesame seed oil or scallion seed oil.

On the other hand, the spicy and salty flavor of Pad Thai comes from being made with peanuts, palm sugar, and fish sauce. Pad Thai can also be stir-fried with tamarind sauce, red chili peppers, garlic, scrambled eggs, and crushed peanuts.

Pad Thai vs Lo Mein: Taste and Texture

Pad Thai and Lo Mein have differing tastes as well as other qualities.

Let’s find out more about the flavor and texture profiles of these two famous noodle dishes.


Pad Thai gets its spicy and sweet flavor from the ingredients used to prepare it.

Lo Mein, on the other hand, has a characteristic salty flavor.


The strands of Lo Mein noodles are thick and feel chewy, while Pad Thai noodles usually have a soft and thin texture.

Which is healthier, Pad Thai or Lo Mein?

From what we outlined above, Lo Mein is the healthier option of the two because it is low in fat, cholesterol-free, and low in calories.

Pad Thai has a higher fat, cholesterol, and calorie content. Regardless, Pad Thai has considerable dietary fiber with many health benefits.

Here’s a table detailing the nutritional profile of Lo Mein and Pad Thai per serving.

Nutritional ElementLo MeinPad Thai
Saturated fat0.6 g4.3 g
Monounsaturated fat0.8 g
Polyunsaturated fat1.8 g
Trans fat 0.3 g
Protein6.5 g27 g
Sodium585 mg513 mg
Potassium143 mg312 mg
Cholesterol0 mg159 mg
Carbohydrate27 g18 g
Sugar 7.1 g
Dietary fiber 1.7 g
Calories310 Cal357 Cal

The table above shows that Pad Thai has trans fats, which are bad for you, while Lo Mein has monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat, which are healthier.

Although Lo Mein has less protein, dietary fiber, potassium, and slightly higher sodium and carb content than Pad Thai, it remains the healthier option because it is sugar-free, cholesterol-free, and low in bad fat.

Are Rice Noodles healthier than Lo Mein?

Rice noodles aren’t relatively healthier or more nutritious than Lo Mein and other egg-based noodles.

Rice noodles are lower in protein than egg-based noodles. Also, rice noodles have more carbs than Lo Mein and other egg-based noodles.

The upsides to rice noodles are that it has lower fat and lower calories than egg-based noodles and is gluten-free.

Similar Noodle Dishes to Lo Mein and Pad Thai

Other Asian-style noodle dishes include Pad Kee Mao, Pad See Ew, and Chow Mein.

Let’s talk about them.

Pad Kee Mao

Also known as drunken or drunkard noodles, Pad Kee Mao is a Thai noodle dish made from rice noodles. Pad Kee Mao is a noodle dish often served with a savory and sweet sauce.

Although several variations of Pad Kee Mao are popular in Thailand, one thing that is consistent with the dish is the chicken and Thai basil in the recipe.

Pad Kee Mao has a chewy texture and an unexpectedly sweet yet savory flavor.

Pad See Ew

Pad See Ew is a stir-fried Thai noodle dish made from wide, flattened rice noodles. Pad See Ew has a more intensely sweet and savory flavor than Pad Thai and Pad Kee Mao. The texture of Pad See Ew strays far away from that of Pad Thai, as it has a chewy feel.

Chow Mein

Chow Mein is a Chinese noodle dish made with wheat noodles. Chow Mein is often prepared by parboiling and stir-frying and has a chewy texture. Chow Mein has a unique sweet and salty flavor it gets from its ingredient-rich sauce.

Can you use Lo Mein Noodles for Pad Thai?

You should be able to use Lo Mein Noodles for a Pad Thai recipe. However, you should remember that they do not have the same texture because they aren’t made with the same type of noodles.

Lo Mein noodles are chewy and thick, while Pad Thai noodles are often soft and thin.

So, technically, you wouldn’t exactly be making Pad Thai if you’re using Lo Mein noodles because the texture is a big part of the Pad Thai experience.

What is the difference between Lo Mein and Udon Noodles?

The most significant difference between Lo Mein and Udon noodles is what they’re made with.

Lo Mein noodles are made with egg noodles, while Udon noodles are made with wheat noodles.

This difference is the reason for their texture differences.

Lo Mein noodles are al dente and thick. Meanwhile, Udon noodles are tender and thicker and do better in pasta recipes.

Another key difference between these two Asian-style noodles is that Lo Mein noodles originate from China, and Udon is from Japan.

What is the best Chinese noodle dish?

Chinese-style noodle dishes are so tasty that it is tough to rank them, but there’s only one winner in the end.

We believe the best Chinese noodle dish is Chow Mein. Here’s why.

Chow Mein is an embodiment of delicious flavors. Chow Mein sauce gives this noodle dish its in-depth taste. Chow Mein sauce is often made with oyster sauce, toasted sesame oil, freshly ground black pepper and sweet soy sauce. These ingredients combine to give Chow Mein the perfect sweet, savory umami combination.


Differences / Lo Mein / Noodle dishes / Pad Thai

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