Due to China’s long history and diverse culture, it is no surprise that Chinese dishes are a culmination of distinct and delicious recipes.
Some dishes taste the best at home, served alongside white rice, and others, like dim sum and Peking duck, are best enjoyed at a restaurant.
As a Chinese-American, I was thrilled when Grace reached out to me and asked if I wanted to share some of my must-try Chinese dishes. I grew up near San Francisco, so the depth and range of Chinese food has never been far from me.
And if you can’t make it to China this year, I cannot recommend a better place to experience Chinese cuisine than San Francisco! With over 30 blocks of restaurants and temples, San Francisco’s Chinatown is a place to be reckoned with.
Also, if you can spare a trip abroad, there is nothing quite like street vendors in Hong Kong. As an avid foodie, I have tried every dish on this list and recommend them to anyone looking to try Chinese dishes.
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40 Chinese Foods to Try
Chasing Foxes is all about spreading positivity and encouraging women to level up their lives, no matter how big or small these changes are.
And one of my favorite ways to better myself is by expanding my palate and leveling up my kitchen skills. Chinese cuisine is not new to me, but I still find new dishes to try all the time
So, if you aren’t looking to take a trip to San Francisco or Hong Kong this year, I have included some of my favorite recipes below so you can experience the depth of Chinese cuisine – right at home!
And the next time you show up at a dinner party, pick one of these dishes to impress!
1. Jiaozi (Dumplings)
You haven’t lived until you’ve tried a jiaozi, or more commonly known in America, dumplings!
I still remember the smell of frozen dumplings my mom would pop on the stovetop after I had a long day in high school. Dumplings are a must-try Chinese food item because not only are they delicious, but they are also extremely accessible!
Most Asian grocery stores will have frozen dumplings, and most Chinese restaurants offer their own jiaozi on the menu.
But if you really want to be impressed, I suggest making them by hand with this recipe from The Woks of Life. Sarah and her family created The Woks of Life to share delicious Asian recipes, and this is one of my favorite recipes that I’ve tried from them!
2. Bei Jing Kao Ya (Peking Roasted Duck)
Peking duck is unlike any roasted duck you’ve ever had – it is both tender and crispy while maintaining an incredible richness.
When this dish comes out, you will know it is an event! This is partly because it is commonly served during special occasions like Lunar New Year and weddings, and because the dish is traditionally served in three courses.
The traditional method of preparing Peking duck requires an air pump, incredible knife skills, and a little boiling water.
And while I recommend going to a Chinese restaurant to experience the full presentation of a Peking duck, this is also a good at-home recipe that is a little less tedious than the traditional cooking method.
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3. Lanzhou Beef Noodle Soup
China has many delicious noodle soup recipes, but one of the best Chinese dishes is Lanzhou beef noodle soup. It is not a common dish, so unless you live in a city with a large variety of Chinese foods, you’ll likely have to make it yourself.
The dish features a clear but rich broth, shaved beef, and traditionally – hand-pulled noodles. If you’re like me and can’t always find the time to pull noodles by hand, I recommend using the Jim Do Lanzhou Ramen Noodle pack, which is also Judy’s recommendation from her Lanzhou beef noodle soup recipe here!
But if you are trying to do it all, Red House Spice has a foolproof recipe for hand-pulled noodles. It is foolproof, certified by me!
4. Dim Sum
Dim sum, or yum cha, is a collection of small Cantonese dishes served for brunch. It is a common experience for many Chinese families to get dim sum on a Saturday morning, and there are dozens of dishes to choose from.
Like some dishes on this list, it is a food item that should be enjoyed for taste and experience. I recommend trying it out if you can find a dim sum restaurant near you. And if they’re really authentic, they’ll be pushing hot plates around on a cart while you try to flag down one of the servers for the newly steamed siu mai.
Arguably, the most popular dish at a dim sum restaurant is siu mai, a steamed pork dumpling. And although the art of making dim sum is often honed from decades of experience, Lisa’s Cantonese siu mai recipe can get you 95% of the way there.
5. Huo Guo (Hot Pot)
One of my favorite things about Chinese food is how customizable many of the dishes are. Huo Guo translates to “fire pot,” but is better known by its American name: hot pot.
The dish’s name stems from the cooking method of the dish, which is a broth-filled pot placed on top of a stove top – hence “fire pot”.
There are many hot pot restaurants, but if you make this at home, you will need to get a “hot pot”. This is the hot pot I use at home. It is a portable hot plate with a pot designed to work with the heating element on top. (Bonus: It has a divider, so you can try two broths!)
For this dish, you will need soup broth, thinly shaved raw meat, and vegetables. Outside of these requirements, there is complete flexibility in what goes into your hot pot – it can be as simple or as complex as you want.
If you’re a little overwhelmed by the vagueness of “hot pot”, check out Made With Lau’s ultimate guide to hot pot at home!
6. Gong Bao (Kung Pao Chicken)
Kung Pao chicken is a fan-favorite in both China and America. While Panda Express serves a solid Kung Pao chicken, nothing beats homemade Chinese cooking.
My favorite Kung Pao chicken recipe is from The Woks of Life – it is the perfect amount of tangy and tasty! I serve it with a side of white rice for the perfect 30-minute weekday dinner.
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7. Hong Shao Rou (Red Braised Pork)
Everyone loves a good char siu, which I give credit to later down the list, but not enough credit is given to hong shao rou. Also known as red braised pork, this beloved Chinese dish is sticky, savory, and melt-in-your-mouth tender!
The fragrant dish is simmered in various aromatics, Shaoxing cooking wine, and soy sauce to give the braised pork a glossy caramelized look and incredible texture.
It is as good as it sounds, and my favorite recipe is Omnivore’s Cookbook red braised pork recipe. You can adjust accordingly to your taste, but I think this recipe has the right ratio of sweet and savory down to a tee!
8. Duo Jiao Yu Tou (Steamed Fish Head with Diced Hot Red Peppers)
Don’t judge a book by its cover; this applies to one of my favorite Chinese dishes: duo jiao yu tou. You might be nervous about eating a steamed fish head, but it is easily one of the most underrated Chinese foods! The diced hot red peppers bring out the sweetness of the fish, and it is a truly incredible but simple dish.
My mom often made this homely dish for me whenever the weather got cold, or I felt a little sniffly. She believed the spices cleared out your nostril, and after having this dish throughout my childhood, I believe it too.
While my mom’s recipe is not publicly available, Miss Chinese Food’s Steamed Fish Head recipe is a very close second.
9. Lap Cheong Fan (Chinese Sausage Rice Cooker Rice)
Sometimes, the best things in life are simple, and it doesn’t get simpler than this dish. I always keep a stack of lap cheong, or Chinese sausage, on hand in my house. My favorite brand is Kam Yen Jan Chinese style sausage. I included an Amazon link here, but you can usually find it for much cheaper at an Asian grocery store.
For an effortless meal on a particularly busy weekday, I love popping a few Chinese sausages in my rice cooker to cook alongside my rice. This dish has 30 seconds of prep time and no real cooking involved.
When your rice is done, so is your sausage! Take them out, slice them up and serve them over the same rice that you just made. If you need a little more guidance, I have included a more in-depth guide here from The Woks of Life.
This recipe does require a rice cooker, but if you’re looking to cook more Asian food, you should definitely consider a rice cooker! This is the one I have; it is simple and makes perfect rice every time. Tiger is one of the most reputable rice cooker brands out there, and my parents had ours for 20 years until we needed a new one – so it’s definitely worth the investment!
10. Goo Lou Yok (Sweet and Sour Pork)
Another popular American dish, which is also one of the popular foods for China, is sweet and sour pork. It is known as goo lou yok, or ancient pork in China.
Many Chinese restaurants serve this dish, but I do prefer making this quick dinner entree at home. I find this dish’s sweet and savory flavors extra brilliant when home-cooked.
Made With Lau’s sweet and sour pork recipe is my go-to recipe for this worldwide favorite!
11. Mapo Tofu
Anyone who says they don’t like tofu has not tried enough tofu. A killer dish that will definitely hit home is mapo tofu – a Sichuan staple that is both tasty and spicy!
The dish consists of tofu braised in a traditionally spicy, oily sauce with minced meat. I prefer beef as that is the traditional protein choice. This deliciously spicy and savory dish is one of my childhood favorites.
Sichuan peppercorn is a signature spice from the Sichuan Province and the star of this dish. Its signature “numbing” effect is what makes this dish so memorable and delicious! If you’re ready to take the heat, I recommend this mapo tofu recipe from The Woks of Life.
12. Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork)
I love Texas barbecue as much as anyone, but Chinese barbecue holds a special place in my heart, especially char siu. Char siu is super juicy and savory, so it is no surprise that it’s one of the most popular foods for China and America. If you have been to a Chinese BBQ restaurant, you can often see it hanging by the hooks in the front.
No words can describe the tender and juicy flavors of this pork dish. It has unparalleled umami flavor and is definitely a must-try. If there is a Chinese BBQ restaurant near you, grab some char siu in the morning when they’re freshly finished, and you can thank me later.
Unfortunately, I no longer live near my favorite Chinese BBQ restaurant, but I have made this char siu recipe multiple times. The vibrant red color from this recipe is an accurate reflection of the vibrant taste and texture that follows your first bite. And don’t skip the fermented bean curd; it makes all the difference!
13. Chow Mein
Chow mein is a fan-favorite and for a good reason. You could be in Chinese food heaven with 15 minutes, a couple of household ingredients, and some noodles! I am not saying this is the best chow mein recipe in the world, but it certainly is up there.
I also love how simple and flexible chow mein is to make at home. I find that I normally have the ingredients for this dish sitting in my house. The recipe I included uses chicken, but any protein will work; some of my favorite alternatives are pork and shrimp. A good homemade chow mein will knock the socks off any dinner guest!
14. Fried Rice
I love fried rice; it is the ultimate easy Chinese dinner. You can see a running theme here. I love Chinese dishes, but I really love a simple and quick Chinese recipe.
A pro tip for fried rice is using leftover rice. Leftover rice is drier and will be able to soak up all the juicy flavors you add to it while maintaining the individual grain texture fried rice is known for. In addition, you can add anything to fried rice, so it’s like cooking and clearing out your fridge – all in one quick 30-minute meal.
Personally, I find that homemade fried rice never tastes as good as restaurant-made fried rice since home stoves can never get quite hot enough to impart that wok flavor fried rice is known for.
But if you are insistent that you can do it at home, I included a recipe below. Christie, the owner of Christie At Home, is a Canadian-Asian food blogger, and she makes mean chicken fried rice. I have included the recipe here if you want to try it out for yourself.
15. Hui Guo Rou (Twice-cooked Pork Slices)
If I could describe this dish in three words, it would be tender, crisp, and delicious. Huo guo rou, or twice-cooked pork, is among the most popular Sichuan dishes.
This two-step cooking method allows the pork to be crispy while remaining tender and juicy. It is one of the more laborious dishes on this list, but after you have your first bite of this dish, you will get why people still make this recipe!
I have included my favorite homemade hui guo rou recipe here.
16. Yu Xiang Rou Si (Sichuan Pork with Garlic Sauce)
I know there have been a lot of Sichuan pork dishes here, but Sichuan cuisine is popular for good reason! It’s good!
If you love complex flavors, you have to try this Sichuan pork dish. This dish is sweet, spicy, tangy and the best of all – super garlicky! The acidity of the Sichuan pickled chili is a perfect match for the richness of the pork.
This dish does require a little more prep, but once you’ve tried it, you’ll think it was worth the work!
Some of the ingredients in this dish might be difficult to find, but Wei Guo from Red House Spice listed several commonly found alternatives to her Sichuan pork with garlic sauce recipe that won’t take away from the traditional flavors of this dish.
17. Xiaolongbao (Chinese Soup Dumplings)
Xiaolongbao has become increasingly popular in recent years. Especially since Din Tai Fung, a Michelin-starred restaurant, entered the American market. I have only been to the Los Angeles location, so I cannot speak for the other locations, but Din Tai Fung has to be one of the best chain restaurants in America, and their soup dumplings are Michelin-star-worthy.
Xiaolongbao is popular in both China and America because of the dish’s delicate bite but delicious and rich flavor. These dumplings are made with a paper-thin wrapper and filled with a rich broth and meat filling. So when you take a bite from this dumpling, your mouth will get both a juicy filling and a flavorful broth. It is a “perfect bite” every time.
But if you don’t have a Din Tai Fung near you, you can try this Chinese soup dumpling recipe from The Woks of Life. I have never personally tried this recipe, but Judy has never let me down before.
18. Zhajiangmian (Black Bean Noodles)
Zhajiangmian has become popularized by Korean dramas, but the dish is actually a Chinese dish! It is widely available in Beijing, and is one of the few dishes that is perfect in its simplest form.
This noodle dish derives its complex flavor from ground bean sauce, but maintains its sweet brilliance through pork fat and meat. I haven’t found a restaurant in the United States that rivals the noodles I have had in Hong Kong yet, but this recipe can often fill the void.
19. Huntun Mian (Wonton Soup)
The Chinese version of chicken noodle soup is definitely wonton soup. Wontons are wrappers filled with juicy meat that make the perfect healing meal when accompanied by soup.
I like to use this wonton soup recipe and freeze my leftovers for a standby frozen meal. Even though I often had it when I was sick growing up, I like to just have wonton soup regularly because it’s delicious and so simple to make at home!
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20. Suan La Tang (Hot and Sour Soup)
Another common dish in Chinese-American restaurants is hot and sour soup, also known as suan la tang. This hearty soup is both delicious and filling. There are a lot of variations in hot and sour soup in the world, but I prefer the more traditional version, especially when it is a home-cooked meal.
The important thing about hot and sour soup is the variety of textures and the perfect consistency. Nailing the perfect thickness can be difficult with this soup, but I have found this hot-and-sour soup recipe to be pretty much foolproof.
21. Dan Tat (Hong Kong Egg Tarts)
If there is one Chinese dessert everyone has to try, it is Hong Kong egg tarts. The famed Golden Gate Bakery in San Francisco is known for its flaky and sweet egg tarts, and there is always a line out the door to remind you. As someone who has stood in that line many times, I hate to admit that they are indeed that good.
These small circular tarts are a flaky pastry that is filled with a soft and smooth egg custard. Compared to American desserts, Hong Kong egg tarts are definitely much less sweet, but every bit as delicious. The delicate flavors of this pastry are incredible – especially when they’re fresh out of the oven!
I know many of us don’t live near San Francisco. And even when I did, I didn’t always have the time to wait in line for those tasty tarts. This is my favorite at-home recipe for Hong Kong egg tarts. Don’t be discouraged if they don’t come out perfect; it can take some time to perfect that perfect combo of a flaky crust and delicious and smooth filling!
22. Baozi (Steamed Bao Buns)
These tasty, fluffy steamed buns are a standard comfort Chinese dish. They have been popularized as street food in China, but have also become popular in America.
There are many varieties of bao buns; some have sweet custard fillings, while others are filled with hearty meats. There are even cutely designed ones like the panda bun Grace had in Asia above! For a bun to be a bun, it just needs to have a fluffy white wrap made from bao bun flour and steamed to cook!
Bao bun flours typically have low gluten levels, so that a properly fluffy bao can be made. My personal favorite fillings are egg custard for sweet baos, and minced pork for savory baos. Red House Spice’s steamed bao bun recipe is my favorite fail-proof recipe for this Chinese dish!
23. Ji Zhou (Chicken Congee)
Chicken congee is a comforting and hearty dish. It’s perfect for cold weather as the broth is warm and flavorful. It is one of my staple winter dishes!
Congee is rice that has been cooked with a large amount of water until the grain has softened and creates a porridge consistency. Many variations of congee exist in Chinese cooking, but a reliably tasty congee is chicken congee.
Typically, congee has to be cooked for hours to reach the desired texture, but this chicken congee recipe uses just one pot – an Instant pot, to create the rich flavors and smooth consistency of chicken congee in half the time and half the mess!
24. Ròu Jiā Mó (Chinese Hamburger)
Although commonly referred to as Chinese hamburgers, rou jia mo is closer to a Chinese sloppy joe.
The dish is essentially perfectly spiced meats that are stuffed into a bao. There are many variations of this dish, so don’t feel constrained to stick to a traditional recipe. I think Judy nailed it with this Chinese hamburger recipe!
25. Cong You Bing (Scallion Pancakes)
Every cuisine has its version of flatbread, and China is no exception. Scallion pancakes are flat, flaky pancakes filled with aromatic scallions, making them the perfect carby snack or wrap.
This traditional northern dish is widely available in China, and requires just a handful of ingredients that you most likely already have in your house. Try this scallion pancake recipe out if you want to spice up your next wrap recipe!
26. Lo Mai Fan (Chinese Sticky Rice)
Chinese New Year means li xi, red envelopes filled with money that is typically given to children, and Chinese sticky rice.
This simple but tasty dish consists of sticky rice, Chinese sausage, dried shrimp and dried mushrooms. And together, they make the perfect sticky rice combo. Becca from Cooking Therapy has a Chinese sticky rice recipe that reminds me of New Year celebrations from my childhood. It’s definitely a nostalgic and delicious dish!
27. Chun Juan (Spring Rolls)
Spring rolls, or chun juan, are eggroll’s lighter and crispier cousin. I personally prefer the thin wrappers on spring rolls as they remain crispy and light while still containing juicy and flavorful fillings.
I still fold spring rolls with my family today during the holidays, so if you’re looking to also incorporate some family time into your cooking, I would consider making homemade spring rolls. Delicious family fun! This homemade spring rolls recipe also comes with rolling instructions in case you’ve never rolled a spring roll before.
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28. Chou Doufu (Stinky Tofu)
I suggest this with a big disclaimer: stinky tofu is very stinky. I have personally never made stinky tofu, and it was an ordeal to find a homemade stinky tofu recipe.
But I felt that it is probably one of the least accessible Chinese dishes to find. It is the fermented bean curd in stinky tofu that produces its eye-watering odor, but also what gives it the delicious and umami flavor.
No, it doesn’t taste stinky, but the smell is pretty intense. I recommend trying it once in your life, but proceed with caution.
29. Chuan Chuan Xiang
Unfortunately, I don’t have a recipe to share with you for this dish, but it is kind of self-explanatory.
Chuan chuan means “skewered food” and this dish is essentially a classic hot pot where the ingredients are on skewers. Instead of a broth, the skewered foods are placed in boiling oil.
It is a popular street food item in Chongqing, but has not yet made its spread to the United States. Luckily, it is fairly easy to recreate at home. After all, everything tastes better when it is on a stick.
30. Fān Qié Chǎo Dàn (Fried Eggs with Tomatoes)
It doesn’t get easier, simpler, and cheaper than this Chinese staple. Chinese egg tomato stir-fry is a very common homemade dinner dish because of the simple ingredient list and cooking process.
The tangy tomatoes create a light but flavorful taste when scrambled with eggs, sugar, and sesame oil. This Chinese tomato egg stir-fry recipe is a busy weeknight staple in my house.
31. Ma Yi Shang Shu (Braised Pork with Vermicelli)
Noodles are delicious and will always be my favorite, but vermicelli does not get the love and respect it deserves. This Sichuan dish uses vermicelli noodles and ground pork to create an aromatic and savory dish that will perfectly top over some white rice.
Traditionally, this dish is made with mung bean vermicelli because they have a softer texture. You can grab some on Amazon here or find them at your local Asian restaurant. I mostly cook this dish by eye and season with my heart now, but when I first made this dish, I used this braised pork with vermicelli recipe from Omnivore’s Cookbook.
32. Jian Dui (Sesame Balls)
Sesame balls are one of my favorite Chinese desserts! These sesame balls are deep-fried and normally filled with a sweet filling like red bean paste or black sesame paste.
The sesame ball’s chewy texture is made from sticky rice flour, and this gives it the perfect chew despite its crispy exterior.
Jian dui is a great snack and best had piping fresh, so I use this sesame ball recipe when I have a rampant craving for sesame balls.
33. Har Gow (Dim Sum Shrimp Dumplings)
Siu mai is often considered the star of the show at dim sum, but har gow can hold its own on any dim sum table. Har gow consists of a shrimp or shrimp filling that is wrapped in a thin and translucent wrapper. It is traditionally steamed.
Again, I recommend anyone who is having dim sum for the first time to try it in person as it is every bit about the experience as it is about the food. But if you don’t live near a dim sum restaurant, this har gow recipe is a great substitute!
34. Dan Dan Mian (Dan Dan Noodles)
People take this Sichuan dish seriously. It is an easy Chinese dish to make, but difficult to master. This Sichuan dish combines thin noodles with a spicy, savory space and is topped with flavorful pork and peanuts.
When done right, the dish coats your mouth with a spicy and savory richness unlike anything else! I can still feel the numbing spice from this dan dan noodle recipe, but this dish always leaves me wanting more!
35. Da Pan Ji (Big Plate Chicken)
This dish is big, bold, and delicious. Big plate chicken is traditionally made with a whole chicken, but that is not always practical. Hence, I normally use this big plate chicken recipe that only utilizes boneless chicken thigh.
Big plate chicken uses a variety of Chinese spices to bring out the sweetness of the chicken, and the meat is laid on top of noodles so that it can soak up the delicious and rich flavors of both the spice and meat.
It really is a big plate of chicken – so there will be plenty of leftovers to spare.
36. Hainan Ji Fan (Hainanese Chicken Rice)
This classic chicken dish has been adopted by many different cultures, but originated in Hainan, a province in China.
Hainanese chicken rice requires quite a bit of work, but the payoff is worth it! A whole chicken is cooked to create a broth that will be used to cook the rice and served on the side. A true Hainese chicken rice recipe places special attention on the rice, as that is truly where this dish shines.
This Hainanese chicken recipe uses chicken fat in the rice cooking process, which is the only way this dish should be made.
37. Mi Fen (Guilin Rice Noodles)
There have been a lot of popular noodle dishes on this list, but one of the most underrated, but equally delicious, Chinese noodle dishes is Guilin rice noodles.
This noodle dish contains a clear but rich beef broth paired with Guilin rice noodles, and refreshing toppings like bamboo shoots and shallots.
It is not a dish that can be easily found in America, so I recommend this Guilin rice noodle recipe if you want to try out this underrated dish.
38. Char Siu Bao (Steamed BBQ Pork Buns)
Both bao and char siu have been featured on this list, but the combination of the two is an experience in its own right.
Char siu baos combine the light fluffiness of a bao with the savory and sweetness of char siu. For this reason, this superstar dish deserves its own spot on this list. I prefer my char siu bao piping hot, so I recommend this char siu bao recipe if you don’t have a bao place near you.
39. Ya Xi Fen Si Tang (Vermicelli with Duck Blood)
This is definitely one of the more uncommon dishes on this list, but it is one of the popular foods for China. The vermicelli is a nice noodle to pair with duck blood’s rich and salty flavor. This dish is salty, spicy and rich!
In addition, this duck blood vermicelli soup is also very easy to make at home.
Since I can’t fly to Nanjing every time I have a craving for this salty and fresh dish, I used this duck blood vermicelli soup recipe instead!
40. Tang Yuan (Sweet Rice Balls)
This dish is both delicious and gorgeous. Tang yuan are glutinous rice balls filled with black sesame filling, and typically served in a sweetened liquid.
The chewy and soft texture of the ball gives a great mouth feel when bitten into, and the traditional black sesame filling is both sweet and aromatic. It can be found at multiple festivals in China, but I have found it hard to find this dish in the United States.
My family’s favorite recipe to recreate this dish at home is this tang yuan recipe from Red House Spice.
Chinese Food FAQ
Chinese food typically uses a lot of vegetables and lower amounts of meat and carbs than is traditionally found in American food. Of course, there are also unhealthy Chinese foods, but Chinese dishes can be both healthy and delicious.
Not all Chinese dishes contain gluten, but it is fairly common to find gluten in Chinese food. I recommend recreating your favorite Chinese dish at home if you are concerned about gluten in your food.
There is no “most popular” Chinese food dish since Chinese food is very popular everywhere. Some of the most popular Chinese dishes include chow mein, fried rice and Kung Pao chicken. I have included recipes for these popular dishes above.
There are many types of Chinese cuisine, but the four primary cuisines in China are Cantonese cuisine, Shandong cuisine, Jiangsu cuisine, and Sichuan cuisine.
China’s national dish is the Peking duck, and the dish’s origin can be traced back to Beijing.