United Airlines Flight 89 left the airport around 2:30 p.m., officials told CBS 2.
The flight turned around 45 minutes later.
Five flight attendants suffered minor injuries due to the turbulent weather, officials said.
United issued the following statement Thursday:
“United flight 89 from Newark to Beijing returned to Newark today after encountering turbulence while in flight. The aircraft landed safely in Newark with 189 passengers and 16 crew members on board. Five crew members sustained injuries. Our team in Newark is reviewing the event.”
Three flight attendants were taken to University Hospital in Newark while two were taken to nearby Trinitas Hospital.
Their injuries were not critical, described as "bumps and bruises."
The airline has offered hotels in Newark for the evening. United said it will accommodate passengers on a flight to Beijing Friday morning.