Chinese Food Recipes That Beat Your Favorite Takeout

Chinese food recipes are best served when they're hot and fresh. So, if you're bringing your takeout across town just to chow down, it's not the most ideal situation. It doesn't get any easier when you're living on a budget, either. That plate of sweet and sour chicken for under 10 dollars might sound good, but what if it's cold? Even reheating your Chinese leftovers has its pitfalls.

That's where home cooking — and this big range of recipes for Chinese and Chinese American classics — comes in. Turns out, making a dish of fried rice yourself is far cheaper and fresher than anything piled into takeout containers. You may not be able to get the real deal, but you'll be darn close and you'll be sporting some bragging rights for how you made some of the most amazing Chinese dishes out there from the comfort of your own home kitchen. Cooking from scratch also allows you to control some of the more unhealthy aspects of the popular dishes you know and love as well, from the amount of sodium in your soy sauce to whether or not you use MSG (which really you shouldn't be worried about, by the way).

The only question that's left is: What do you want for dinner tonight? Looking for crispy and saucy sesame chicken that takes under a half-hour to cook, ways to make homemade har gow, or wondering how to get the lowdown on lo mein? Well, get cooking. It's time to talk the talk and to wok the wok with Chinese food recipes that beat your favorite takeout.

Sesame chicken

Ever eat an order of sesame chicken from a Chinese restaurant and you may find yourself somewhat mystified by how it's both crispy with saucy without being soggy. How do they do that? Believe it or not, you can actually make it yourself with a bit of know-how and this recipe from chef and food writer Cecilia Ryu. Restaurant-level sesame chicken may seem a bit daunting to do on your own at first, but then. as Ryu says, "you realize that it's simply about going step-by-step, not about any secrets or serious culinary chops." Just follow the steps as written and you'll be perfecting your own restaurant-quality poultry in no time.

30-Minute chicken fried rice

One of the most beautiful things about making fried rice is simply where it comes from. By using the dried-up leftover rice from the last time you ordered Chinese food for takeout, you get even more Chinese food. Brilliant!

By using the most basic quantities of fresh (or leftover, you do you) chicken and veggies, a couple of sauces, and some aromatics, you too can be chowing down on this chicken fried rice recipe within mere minutes. Once your prep in the kitchen is all lined up, which is known as mise en place, you may find the dish cooks up far faster than you anticipated!

Copycat Panda Express orange chicken

Got a hankering for some Panda Express but can't make it out of the house for whatever reason? No problem. This copycat Panda Express orange chicken promises to deliver the right amount of orange flavor in its sauce that will have you convinced you're eating the real McCoy. You might need to go out hunting for a few ingredients to accomplish this take on a Panda Express menu favorite, like safflower and grapeseed oil. But once you have them, your pantry game will have leveled up to the point where you can make this dish again, and again, and again.

Quick and easy chicken stir fry

This chicken stir fry recipe has to pretensions of being an authentic concoction, but don't think that means you can't do it. Stir frying is a fast and effective cooking technique, and this recipe is among many out there that introduces you to the basics of an incredibly versatile way to cook up every last scrap of vegetable and protein in your fridge. Best of all, it's a great way to cook up dinner if you've got a lot of mouths to feed at the same time, as this recipe is fit for eight servings right out of the pan.

20-minute sesame chicken

The speed at which some Chinese restaurants can pump out order after order make them exceedingly reliable spots to pick up dinner. But what if we told you that you could make yourself a plate of sesame chicken almost as fast as the chefs at your favorite takeout joint? This 20-minute sesame chicken recipe keeps things quick and simple by keeping everything in one pan — a nice bonus when it comes to the clean-up stage — and it pledges to be a crave-worthy dinner that stands alone. "This is a dish so good that it doesn't really need any sides," says Mashed contributor and recipe developer Carina Finn.

Spicy chicken potstickers

Spicy chicken potstickers like these can make for a nice platter of appetizers, but we won't blame you if you fix up and chow down on a bunch of them yourself. You can also freeze a bunch for later, as there are just that many to make here. Stuffed with ground chicken, cabbage, carrot, shitake mushrooms, and sweet potato vermicelli, these dumplings are both light and filling. Whether you take them boiled or fried, we're positive you'll return to this recipe again and again. Intimidated by making dumplings from scratch for the first time? No sweat, as the process isn't that hard, to begin with, and gets even easier as you go.

Classic orange chicken

Ksenia Prints and her blog At The Immigrants Table are the sources for a lot of delicious plates, but this recipe for orange chicken stands out. It coats some crispy-on-the-outside-juicy-on-the-inside cuts of fried chicken in a bright, tangy orange sauce that balances sweet with sour nicely. If you want to maximize the flavor of this recipe, however, make sure you don't skip the marinade stage. "We found that marinating the chicken in the orange sauce gave the best results in terms of flavor and texture, resulting in and chewy, soft pieces," Prints writes.

Quick sesame chicken

It takes a lot of guts to say your recipe will put an order of the same thing for takeout to shame, but that's what this recipe for classic sesame chicken does and dang it, it delivers (no pun intended). Made in less than 10 steps and less than 30 minutes total, the only thing you really need to watch out for is when the oil gets hot. Just make sure to follow some of these tips for cooking with oil to keep you safe while keeping your food crispy. Once you've got that down, this recipe will help you reach sesame chicken glory.

Sweet and sour chicken

"Make it for dinner and discover how much better homemade Chinese can be than take-out!" this Mashed contibutor proclaims about her recipe for sweet and sour chicken. It's a take on the classic dish originating in Shanghai that's bursting with the tang and sugary tastes of chicken fried up with sweet red and yellow peppers and pineapple, balanced by its sauce's kick. Taking little more than 30 minutes, we're positive that this easy recipe ought to find a place on your table, and maybe even trump those nights you plan on ordering Chinese for dinner.

20-minute beef and broccoli lo mein

Once you whip up this recipe for beef and broccoli lo mein yourself, you'll wonder why you ever ordered it for takeout (or paid for it when you see just how cheap it is to make this dish). As it goes for any of these Chinese dishes, however, you need to make sure all your ingredients are chopped and ready to go before you start cooking. That way, you can make sure you can make it in the advertised timespan, which can start to move pretty fast when cooking gets underway. That's just labor, though — the fun part comes from both cooking this up and eating it.

Beef and broccoli stir fry

There's a lot to be said for the noodle-based and crispy-saucy chicken dishes that folks jump to when thinking of Chinese food. Yet, sometimes there's nothing quite like a classic plate of juicy, marinated beef and broccoli stir fry on a bed of fluffy rice. There's only one thing better, actually: when you make it yourself within 30 minutes' time. When you see that it's cost you just a fraction of what a restaurant charges per serving, you'll be even more in love with this recipe. The only issue is that orange slices and Chinese fortune cookies aren't automatically included, though that's an easy enough fix for a motivated home cook.

Har gow shrimp dumplings

A pillar of the dim sum experience, har gow — or shrimp dumplings — are undeniably delicious. But why wait until an occasion comes up to enjoy them when you just can make them yourself in the comfort of your own home? We're not talking about stuffing a bunch of chopped shrimp in some wonton wrappers, either. With this recipe for Cantonese-style shrimp dumplings, you're even making the wrappers from scratch! As technical as that may sound, it still only takes under an hour to put together a tasty dim sum experience for yourself.

Copycat P.F. Chang's lettuce wraps

Not only are these copycat P.F. Chang's lettuce wraps filled with saucy, aromatic chopped chicken that's just like the real thing, but they're a solid and relatively carb-free dish that's as much as easy fit for a quick lunch as it is a delicious appetizer course for dinner. If you're a fan of P.F. Chang's, you're in luck, as Mashed contributor Lindsay Mattison has gone to considerable lengths to test the types of ingredients, cooking methods, and sauces for you, all to come up with something far cheaper than the restaurant's offering without sacrificing an iota of quality.

20-minute egg roll in a bowl

Because of its deconstructed presentation and the removal of a deep-fried wrapper, this recipe for egg roll in a bowl isn't exactly an example of traditional Chinese takeout. However, it's still a delicious stir fry at heart that we'll make for dinner any day of the week. The recipe calls for a 20-minute burst of cooking that results in a sweet, sour, and salty dish you can wrap up and fry before digging in. That said, it's perfectly fine to eat over fresh rice, too If you do want to want to wrap it up, however, be sure to skip buying the original recipe's garnish!