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This incredible Pad Thai is made with simple ingredients and can be made in 30 minutes! Make it with chicken, shrimp or tofu and veggies! Vegan-adaptable. Includes a video!
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Pad Thai is a classic stir-fried rice noodle dish hailing from Thailand made with chicken, shrimp or tofu, scrambled eggs, crushed peanuts, bean sprouts and lime.
Here’s my easy recipe for Pad Thai made with simple, accessible ingredients that can be made in 30 minutes. Use chicken breast, shrimp, or crispy tofu and feel free to add fresh veggies!
How to make Pad Thai | 60- sec Video
Believe me when I tell you I’ve had a LOT of Pad Thai in my life here and all throughout Thailand.
What makes this recipe so good is the Pad Thai Sauce! It is flavorful and balanced, and not overly sweet like many versions you see in the states. It is as close as it comes to the real deal without having to take a trip to the Asian market.
why I love this PAD Thai Recipe
It’s all about the flavor balance of the sauce, and the texture of the noodles.
- It’s adaptable! ( it can be made with chicken, shrimp, tofu and /or veggies!)
- Vegan-adaptable! ( use vegan fish sauce and tofu, leave out the eggs, add veggies!)
- This Pad Thai recipe is fast and delicious!
- It’s made with simple accessible ingredients.
So yes, I may be biased but I think this tastes pretty darn amazing! Seriously! But don’t take my word for it….give it a try yourself and see what you think.
- Rice Noodles: Pad Thai is typically made with rice noodles, about 1/4 inch in width (also called rice stick). Some rice noodles break apart too easily, I have the best luck with this Thai Kitchen Rice Noodles brand.
- Fish Sauce: Fish Sauce can vary in degrees of saltiness from brand to brand. I like this Red Boat Fish sauce, or Thai Kitchen Fish Sauce (found at most grocery stores) best for this recipe. (*Vegans can sub our vegan fish sauce and soy sauce.)
- Sweetener: use brown sugar or honey to add sweetness. In Thailand, it is traditional to use palm sugar. Note: Do not be tempted to cut back on the sugar, the Pad Thai will be too sour.
- Vinegar: Typically, Pad Thai is made with tamarind paste to give it the sour component, but to keep this simple we substitute Rice Vinegar. Note: White vinegar will be WAY too acidic here and will throw off the balance.
- Protein: Add chicken, shrimp or crispy Tofu
- Shallot: Shallot versus onion really elevates Pad Thai.
How to Make Pad Thai (in 5 Easy Steps)
- Soak the rice noodles in hot water until al dente.
- Whisk together Pad Thai Sauce in a bowl.
- Prep the protein and vegetables.
- Whisk the eggs in a bowl.
- Stir-fry the Pad Thai all together!
STEP 1: Soak the Rice Noodles
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Each package is different. Or try pouring boiling water over rice noodles in a big bowl or shallow baking dish and let them soak until they are pliable (about 7-8 minutes) but not overly soft, drain.
Step 2: MAKE THE PAD THAI SAUCE
Whisk the pad thai sauce ingredients together in a small bowl- keeping in mind, there is a delicate balance between salty, sour and sweet, and when you find it, totally elevates the dish!
- Fish sauce ( or vegan fish sauce) and soy sauce add the salty component.
- Brown Sugar or honey add sweetness. (In Thailand it is traditional to use palm sugar.)
- Rice Vinegar or tamarind paste and lime juice, add the sour component. Note: White vinegar will make this too acidic.
Step 3: PREP the Protein & VEGGIES
Chop the shallot and garlic and set aside.
If using chicken, for the fastest cooking, make sure to thinly slice- perfect when using a wok!
You can also poach the chicken in water, for a low-oil version, or sear it in the wok.
If making this with crispy tofu or shrimp, stir fry it ahead in the wok and set aside, along with any veggies you want to add.
Step 4: Whisk the eggs
Whisk the eggs with a generous pinch of salt and set aside.
Step 5: Stir-Fry!
Once your ingredients are prepped and ready, place everything near the stove. The stir fry itself will take under 10-15 minutes.
Serve with fresh bean sprouts, lime wedges and crushed toasted peanuts.
How to Serve it!
- Serve with lime wedges
- Add fresh bean sprouts
- Sprinkle with crushed roasted peanuts (or try this amazing Peanut Chili Crunch!)
- Add chopped scallions or Thai basil.
- Serve with Thai chili flakes, sriracha or chili paste for extra heat.
- Read the whole recipe through before you give it a go.
- Prep everything first, then place it near the stove. Cooking goes very fast here!
- Cut chicken very thinly to cut down on cooking time. Remember to cut across the grain. So here I’ve cut it into ⅛ -¼ thin strips about two inches long.
- To lower calories, poach the chicken in a little salted water, until cooked through which just takes a couple of minutes. Then set it aside.
- Use shallot. Shallot adds so much flavor here- much more so than onion.
Pad Thai Don’t’s
- Please, do not add ketchup or peanut butter. This is not “real” Pad Thai. 🙂
- Don’t skip the sugar– you will lose the balance of the dish. You will end up with fishy, sour pad thai that tastes terrible. TRUST ME.
- Don’t try to make too big a batch. You want the noodles to get slightly crispy in the pan, and the sugars to caramelize, giving them that incredible smoky flavor- this is difficult to achieve if making more than two servings.
Yes, Pad Thai can easily be made vegan. Use vegan fish sauce and crispy tofu as the protein, and leave out the eggs.
The secret to the best Pad Thai is not overcooking the rice noodles, using a very hot wok, cooking in smaller batches so rice noodles can caramelize, and having the perfect balance of flavors- not too sweet, not too sour, and not too salty.
Peanut oil adds the best flavor, while coconut oil has a high smoke point. Both work well here.
Any quick-cooking vegetables that can be cooked in a wok can be added to Pad Thai- asparagus, green beans, matchstick carrots, bell pepper and bok choy to name a few. Feel free to add steamed broccoli too!
I hope that after you make this, you’ll think this is the best Pad Thai recipe you’ve ever had too! 😉 Haha! Let me know in the comments below! 🙂
PS. It is my hope that through cooking, we not only learn new ingredients and techniques but also learn more about the culture and people from which the food we make originates. Cooking can be a way of celebrating all our unique and beautiful differences. I’d like to believe expanding our repertoire in the kitchen can also expand our hearts.
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- 30-Minute Thai Green Curry
- Thai Larb Salad
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 15 mins
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 2 1x
- Category: Main
- Method: stir-fried
- Cuisine: Thai
An easy recipe for Pad Thai made with simple, accessible ingredients with the most amazing flavor! Make this with your choice of chicken, shrimp or tofu.
- 4 ounces dry pad thai noodles (rice noodles)
- Boiling water to cover noodles
- 1 large shallot, finely diced (much better than onion here)
- 4 garlic cloves, rough chopped
- 1 teaspoon ginger, chopped (optional)
- 2 eggs, whisked with a fork with a generous 3-finger pinch salt ( if vegan, leave it out)
- 6–8 ounces tofu, chicken breast or peeled prawns
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil, wok oil or coconut oil
- 1 lime
Pad Thai Sauce:
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce (see notes- or use vegan fish sauce)
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar (or coconut sugar, palm sugar, honey or regular sugar) see notes
- 3 tablespoons of rice vinegar (or tamarind water– see notes) Do not sub white vinegar, it will be way to sour.
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce (or GF liquid aminos like Braggs)
- lime wedges, fresh bean sprouts, chili flakes, chopped scallions, roasted peanuts.
- Cook the noodles. Cook according to package directions (or place rice noodles in a shallow bowl or baking dish and boil enough water to cover them. Cover with boiling water for 7- 8 minutes, or until al dente, then drain. They don’t have to be totally soft, just bendy and pliable)
- Chop shallot, garlic and ginger and set aside.
- Whisk the two eggs in a bowl with a fork and add a generous, 3-finger pinch of salt. Set aside.
- Make the Pad Thai Sauce: whisk fish sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar and soy sauce. (see notes) in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Prep the protein. Chicken: slice chicken into very thin strips and season with salt and pepper. Crispy Tofu: Blot tofu with paper towels pressing down firmly. Cut tofu into ¾ inch cubes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and for extra crispy, dredge in a little corn starch. Shrimp: Peel and season with salt and pepper.
- Cook the protein: Sear the seasoned chicken, shrimp or tofu in a wok with hot oil until cooked through over medium-high heat. Set aside, on top of a paper towel, wipe out the pan. Turn heat off.
- Stir Fry the Pad Thai. Gather your chopped shallots and garlic, whisked eggs, cooked noodles, cooked protein and Pad Thai Sauce around the stove. Heat 2 tablespoons peanut oil in the wok over medium heat, add shallot-garlic-ginger and stir, cooking just a few minutes until golden and fragrant.
- Make a well in the center of the wok, scooting the shallot mixture to the side of the pan, add the whisked eggs. With a metal spatula, scramble them and break them apart into little bits, letting them brown just a little, and incorporate them into the shallots continuing to break them into small bits.
- Add the drained, semi-soft noodles and toss with the egg mixture, stirring, flipping, frying constantly for 3-4 minutes until noodles become soft and pliable.
- Add the Pad Thai Sauce and cook 1 minute. It will smell quite fishy at first – turn your fan on – but it will mellow out perfectly. Add the cooked chicken, tofu or shrimp and turn and toss the noodles for a few more minutes. Cook until the noodles are soft (but still a little chewy) adding just a little water if it seems too dry.
- Toss in the bean sprouts and roasted peanuts (or serve on the side) and sprinkle with chili flakes and scallions. Squeeze with a little lime juice. Taste. Adjust salt, lime and sweetness to your liking adding a pinch of salt, more lime or more a pinch more sugar to taste. Give one more toss and serve immediately. Divide among two plates.
- Garnish with more bean sprouts, fresh scallions, cilantro or basil, chili flakes, lime wedges and roasted crushed peanuts. Or make this Peanut Chili Crunch!
DO NOT BE tempted to cut out the sugar – understand that Pad Thai Sauce is a very delicate balance between sweet (sugar), salt (fish sauce) and acid (vinegar or tamarind) . I’ve already lowered the sugar as much as I could while preserving the balance. That being said, if you are intent on cutting the sugar back, cut back the on the vinegar and fish sauce as well. 🙂 *Leaving the sugar or honey out will result in terrible Pad THAI! Also the same with leaving out the fish sauce (or vegan fish sauce) or leaving out the acid.
Fish sauce: If you are not accustomed to fish sauce, or are using a brand you haven’t tried before (some are fishier than others) feel free to go a little lighter on the fish sauce- like 2 tablespoons. It is an acquired taste. If going less, you will need to may add a little more salt to taste.
DOUBLING: Doubling the recipe will double the time and be much harder to manage all at once, in one wok. If doubling, I highly recommend cooking in two batches in the wok.
Use time-saving ingredients like store-bought peeled garlic (or minced garlic) and ginger paste in a tube. Using pre-cooked chicken is fastest -leftover rotisserie chicken is perfect. Also you could make the Pad Thai sauce ahead!
Tips for health: An easy way to cut back on the oil in the recipe is to poach the thinly sliced chicken in a little salted water (just enough to barely cover) and poach in the pan or wok for just a few minutes. Drain and set aside. The thinner you slice the chicken the faster it will cook.
TIPS for flavor:
- Peanut Oil and chili flakes really really elevate this dish!
- Tamarind: If using tamarind (instead of rice vinegar) make tamarind “water” by mixing 1 -2 teaspoons tamarind paste with 2 tablespoons water. Or use 1-2 teaspoons of tamarind “concentrate” with 2 tablespoons water. Use this in place of the vinegar. This is more traditional but I realize not everyone has access to tamarind. Tamarind is extremely sour so if unfamiliar, go light. You can always add more.
- TEXTURE IS KEY! Everything from frying the noodles to adding the bean sprouts and roasted peanuts elevates this.
- Serving Size: ( with chicken breast)
- Calories: 588
- Sugar: 16.9 g
- Sodium: 1063.3 mg
- Fat: 21.4 g
- Saturated Fat: 3.2 g
- Carbohydrates: 65.3 g
- Fiber: 1.2 g
- Protein: 30.1 g
- Cholesterol: 248.1 mg
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Can I substitute sesame oil for peanut oil? And I do not have a wok so what would be the best pan to use?
Hi Aneesha! Sesame oil is not good for frying and is not the right flavor here- I don’t reccomened. Do you have coconut oil or avocado oil? I use a well-seasoned cast iron skillet, but any skillet should do ok.
Absolutely delicious! This will be a repeat meal in our house!
Awesome Pamela 🙌
Wow! What a spectacular meal we had. The techniques here are amazing and new to me. I used twice as many noodles and tofu (also added some veg) and it still came out luscious. Thank you!
Great to hear Laura!
This is the best pad Thai recipe I’ve ever made. Made it with shrimp and with chicken and the flavors are incredible. I make a double serving on the blackstone and it comes out perfect every time! Thank you for this go to recipe to impress my friends 🤗
Awww- love it Janessa! So happy this has been working well for you. Really apprecate the comment and rathing. 🥰
Really delicious recipe! Thank you! I did only one Tbs fish sauce to limit sodium and it still tasted great. Didn’t have fresh garlic or ginger so subbed garlic powder and ground ginger—mixed in with sauce. Added broccoli and peppers for veggies.
Perfect! Love the addition of veggies here!
This truly is the the best Pad Thai. Made it with chicken, with shrimp, sometimes add veggies. It never fails, and the Pad Thai sauce is deep and flavorful.
I’m so glad you enjoyed this Al. Yes, so many ways to adapt this basic recipe!
This recipe was spot on in terms of replicating the flavor of pad Thai, but with ingredients that home cooks are likely to have. The light cornstarch coating on the tofu made it nice and crispy. I used brown rice noodles, and added some frozen broccoli & shredded carrots along side the bean sprouts for extra fiber and color. Loved this dish! Definitely a keeper!
Another solid recipe Sylvia!!! thank you so much for sharing.
Thanks so much!
I had no idea what pad thai was so the description at the start was super helpful 😀 Also my girlfriend made it for me and it was absolutely delicious… would recommend to a friend. Also please mail me some the next time you make it LOLJK
Great to hear Sandy!!!
Hi I never made Padthi before. but I have to say this was fast and easy .and so very good. I also used 2 tablespoons of peanut sauce because I did not have roasted peanuts.to add to the flavour. Thank you very much.Anna. I give it a 5.
Packed with flavor and oh so easy! Subbed Worcestershire sauce for the fish sauce and added red bell peppers and sliced baby bok choy to the bean sprouts. Used tofu. Will definitely make again.
Sorry about that Sam. Can you describe the taste? Did you substitute anything?
This exceeded expectations – my first attempt at making Pad Thai and it was a hit! I used a few more veggies, basil and lime as suggested. The flavor was perfect!!!