When you've got a hankering for Chinese food, but don't want to shell out for takeout or head to a restaurant, turn to one of these classic Chinese recipes for dinner. Many taste just like your favorites from your neighborhood joint, while others bring a more traditional Chinese flavor you may not have discovered yet. Once you familiarize yourself with some of the techniques and signature ingredients, you'll want to add these to your regular repertoire.
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Vegan Chinese Five-Spice Baked Tofu
If you haven't tried Chinese five spice, you may want to adjust the level in this vegan baked tofu. It combines fennel, star anise, cinnamon, pepper, and cloves into a unique and assertive taste that can catch some palates by surprise. This simple baked tofu makes a great introduction to the spice blend.
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Chinese Barbecued Pork (Char Siu)
Hoisin sauce, soy sauce, honey, five spice, and more combine to create the succulent marinade for this fork-tender pork. You'll often see it in stir fries, noodle dishes, and stuffed inside buns at Chinese restaurants, often with a bright red color and a delicious sticky glaze. Serve yours with stir-fried vegetables over noodles or with rice.
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Homemade Chinese Dumplings
These crispy-bottomed dumplings often show up on the table at Lunar New Year, but you can fold up a batch whenever. While crimping them closed can take a little practice, they also make a great family cooking project. The dumplings are boiled to cook through, but you can also pan fry them afterward, if you like some crunch.
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Chinese Pearl Meatballs
Use a slightly fattier blend of ground beef or pork for this Chinese specialty to get the meatballs to hold together well. Their glutinous rice covering looks like the balls are encrusted in "pearls," which gives them their name. It also creates a fun crunchy-soft texture.Continue to 5 of 39 below.
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Chinese Green Beans
For a delightful Chinese side dish, try these Sichuan dry fried green beans. Dry frying results in a crinkly, slightly charred exterior, perfect for holding the umami black bean, soy, and sherry sauce. Because the beans hold the sauce so well, they don't need as much as you might think, letting the beans' flavor really shine.
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Stir-Fry Beef with Veggies
With plenty of veggies, tender flank steak, and a flavorful soy sauce, this simple stir fry will please both Chinese food novices and longtime fans. Separate the bok choy leaves from the stalks and add the stalks first; they take longer to cook. Once you master the recipe, try swapping in different vegetables, like broccoli, slivered carrots, or snap peas.
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Sixi Scallop Stir-Fry
The word sixi means "four happiness," or lots of happiness and it will definitely make your taste buds feel that way. The scallop and vegetable stir fry makes a simple dish for a quick and easy supper or a low-lift part of a larger, more elaborate spread. And because it requires no special ingredients, it's a great intro for those new to Chinese cooking.
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Congee—or Chinese rice porridge—makes a warming and comforting breakfast or a stick-to-your-ribs dish for anytime. The rice base is incredibly simple, and you can add a whole array of toppings, including shredded chicken, shiitake mushrooms, vegetables, lotus root, or just about any veggies, meat, or crunchy bits you like.Continue to 9 of 39 below.
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Quick Shrimp Stir-Fry
This entire shrimp stir-fry recipe comes together in under 30 minutes, making it a surefire weeknight meal. It really lets the flavor of marinated shrimp shine, with just a light soy and ginger sauce. Serve it with white rice for a whole meal or by itself as part of a larger banquet.
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Fried Egg Rolls
Yes, you can create those crunchy egg rolls that make takeout Chinese so worth it. And because you roll and fry 'em up right in your own kitchen, you can eat as many as you want without judgement. They taste best when fresh, so either make only as many as you can eat, or save this recipe for a party where you can serve them up hot.
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For a crowd-pleasing Chinese appetizer, look no further than these simple pork potstickers. This recipe also includes a soy and sesame oil dipping sauce, but you can dip them in plain soy sauce, sweet and sour sauce, or even hoisin if you prefer.
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Steamed Pork Buns
Char siu bao, or Chinese steamed pork buns, appear on many dim sum menus, but you can also make them at home. Pillowy dough surrounds a sweet and sticky barbecued pork filling for a filling meal starter. You can also make these ahead and freeze, if you need a make-ahead appetizer or afterschool snack.Continue to 13 of 39 below.
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Spinach Soup with Tofu
For a healthy and vegetarian soup, try this spinach and tofu version. Spinach and mushrooms pack in the nutrition, while ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice wine will fill your home with delectable Asian flavors. For crunch, sprinkle some roasted sesame seeds or dried seaweed flakes on top.
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Peking Duck with Scallions and Honey
It doesn't get much more festive than Peking duck, a classic Chinese holiday dish. Traditionally served with Mandarin pancakes and scallions for sprinkling, Peking duck makes a great communal dish. If you don't have a cool, windy place to dry the duck, hang it in an unheated room with a fan instead.
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Sweet and Sour Pork
Popular with kids for its sweet, sticky sauce, this simple pork dish frequently appears in Cantonese cuisine. Pineapple gives it a tropical sweetness, while soy sauce and five spice powder in the pork marinade balances it out. Serve it with white rice to soak up the sauce and sesame seeds for extra crunch.
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Steamed Whole Fish
Don't feel intimidated by cooking a whole fish—this recipe actually calls for very few ingredients and a simple preparation, although the end result looks and tastes complex. Make sure to purchase very fresh fish and both clean and dry it thoroughly before using. If you like a more assertive flavor, increase the ginger.Continue to 17 of 39 below.
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Instant Pot Orange Chicken
A perennial family favorite on the Chinese food take-out menu, orange chicken is a wonderful combination of sweet and tangy with a little spice. This Instant Pot recipe simplifies the preparation, eliminating the need for separate pans to fry the chicken pieces and simmer the sauce. Served over rice with a sprinkling of green onions and sesame seeds, it will look like take-out but this dish is healthier and fresher tasting.
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Asian Lettuce Wraps
An umami oyster sauce gives these Asian lettuce wraps a delicious flavor and you can easily make them gluten-free by using sauces that include no gluten products. They also make a great meal for those trying to avoid carbs or as a starter for a noodle or rice-based main.
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Zhaijiangmian is a popular noodle dish in China, but it also appears in other Asian cuisines. Some cultures use pork belly or tofu, different vegetables, or adjustments to the sauce. This Cantonese version uses both light and dark soy sauce, as well as chili bean sauce and sesame oil for a slightly sweeter profile than versions found in Hong Kong or Korea. Make it ahead and freeze, to enjoy as a simple dinner later on.
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Shanghai Noodles with Chicken
Many Chinese or Asian markets sell the thick Shanghai noodles in packages, but you can use Udon or even linguine or tagliatelle for this chicken stir fry if you can't find them. This dish usually appears on Chinese menus as a side, but it also makes a nice, light main dish.Continue to 21 of 39 below.
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Mongolian Chicken with Mung Bean Sprouts
This Mongolian chicken recipe has a sweet, umami sauce with a bit of kick from hot pepper flakes and garlic. Serve it with stir fried Shanghai noodles and a steamed green vegetable for a satisfying meal—no takeout menu required.
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Daikon, Carrot, and Tomato Beef Stew
You may not think about hearty stews when you imagine Chinese cuisine, but this filling beef, carrot, daikon, and tomato dish will change your mind. You can substitute potato or sweet potato for the daikon if you don't care for it, but it will have a very different flavor.
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Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup
Considered Taiwan's national dish, beef noodle soup will show up on many menus throughout the country and in many variations. This one will fill your kitchen with its comforting aroma as the beef simmers in a rich, soothing broth. Serve with fresh greens, cilantro, pickled mustard greens, and chili oil to adjust the heat.
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Beef Chow Fun
This popular Cantonese dish uses flank steak, baby corn, wide rice noodles known as hor fun, and a simple soy and black bean-based sauce for an easy meal that's quick enough for a weeknight. If you don't have fresh baby corn, canned will also work.Continue to 25 of 39 below.
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Chicken Chop Suey with Ginger
Believe it or not, this familiar Chinese restaurant dish actually originated in San Francisco and not China. But with its ginger-forward flavor, tender shredded chicken, and crisp-tender vegetables, it's easy to see why so many love it. Optional MSG powder punches up the flavor, but you can leave it out, too.
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Braised Eggplant in Garlic Sauce
Chili garlic sauce gives this braised eggplant and minced pork dish its signature spice. You can find it at most Asian markets or online. Use long, thin Chinese eggplant for best results. Blanching the eggplant slightly before braising will help it soak up less oil, since eggplant can be a bit of a sponge.
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Strips of beef get dry fried until they become chewy and crispy in this spicy Sichuan dish. Julienned carrots add texture and color, but you can replace one of the carrots with celery or another vegetable for variety. Adjust the amount of chili to taste, depending on your spice tolerance.
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Sesame Seed Dessert Balls
You can find these popular sesame seed balls at street market stalls and dim sum restaurants in China and Taiwan. They usually have sweet red bean paste inside, but you can also use sesame seed paste. Frying the balls so they stay puffed and cylindrical can take some practice. They're also best served right away.Continue to 29 of 39 below.
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Red Bean Soup
The Chinese consider red azuki beans a yang or warm food, so this sweet red bean soup often appears at Lunar New Year. You can find dried beans, tangerine peel, and dried lotus seeds at Asian markets or online. If you don't have tangerine peel, orange peel will also work.
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Lunar New Year would not be complete without these simple, rolled sweet almond cookies. Press a single almond in the center of each and brush with egg white for a pretty, glistening presentation. Store in a sealed container, if not enjoying right away.
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Nian Gao Cake
Traditionally, this nian gao cake gets steamed in a bamboo steamer for about three hours, but this recipe calls for baking instead for an easier preparation. If you haven't used glutinous rice flour before, you can expect the batter to have the consistency of a milkshake instead of the thickness of a typical cake batter.
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Those who don't eat meat can enjoy pillowy fried wontons with this recipe, which uses water chestnuts, carrot, and tofu instead of pork or chicken in the filling. To make the recipe vegan, substitute oil for the beaten egg. Soy sauce, plum sauce, or even sweet and sour sauce all make excellent dippers.Continue to 33 of 39 below.
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Vegan Wonton Soup
Wonton soup is a takeout standard, but you can make your own meat-free version at home. It makes a great light lunch or dinner or a starter for a larger meal. If you use frozen wonton skins, make sure to thaw them completely before using.
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You may need to stop yourself from polishing off these crab rangoon before even getting to the platter. Stuffed with a cream cheese and crab mixture and fried, these wonton packets make a perfect party pleaser. While they're likely an American invention, they feel right at home on Chinese menus.
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Kung Pao Chicken
A standard on many American-Chinese menus, this kung pao chicken includes diced deep-fried chicken, peanuts, and chili peppers. Use fewer peppers for a milder dish and unsalted peanuts if possible, to keep the dish from getting too salty. For a lighter version, stir fry the ingredients instead.
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Shrimp Fried Rice
When you have leftover rice to use up, this shrimp fried rice will do the trick. It's also very versatile. Substitute shrimp for chicken, pork, or ham, add any other veggies you have on hand in place of or in addition to the peas. Leave out the eggs if you aren't a fan, and adjust the sauce to taste.Continue to 37 of 39 below.
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Moo Goo Gai Pan
Moo goo gai pan—or chicken with mushrooms—appears on many Westernized Chinese restaurants. It's traditionally made with button mushrooms, but you can use other types, too. Other versions include a range of vegetables, so use whichever you prefer.
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War Su Gai
Not every Chinese dish is a stir fry or wonton. This fried boneless chicken dish known as war su gai has a flavorful oyster sauce-studded gravy and crunchy slivered almonds on top for a more unusual dish that tastes just as wonderful as all the greatest hits.
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Blanched Broccoli with Oyster Sauce
Tender blanched Chinese broccoli tastes great with meaty oyster sauce and a little ginger. If you can't find gai lan (also known as Chinese broccoli), use broccolini or regular broccoli instead. You may need to adjust the cook time, depending on the maturity of your broccoli.