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Learn the secret to the best Pad Thai! This authentic Pad Thai recipe is incredibly easy to make at home. Made with simple ingredients, in just 30 minutes, it’s fast, flavorful and vegan-adaptable!
Pad thai recipe
Pad Thai is one of the most popular and loved noodle dishes of all time! 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 shine is our Pad Thai Sauce! It is flavorful and perfectly balanced; not overly sweet like many versions you’ll find here in the states. This Pad Thai recipe is made with simple, accessible ingredients that can be made in 30 minutes, perfect for weeknight dinners! Make it with chicken, tofu or shrimp!
What is Pad Thai?
Unfamiliar with Pad? Pad Thai is a very popular stir-fried noodle dish from Thailand made with rice noodles, shallot, garlic, scrambled eggs, and a protein; typically chicken or shrimp, in a flavorful tangy, umami Pad Thai Sauce.. It’s served with fresh bean sprouts, crushed peanuts, scallions and lime.
How to make Pad Thai | ( Video)
Table of Contents
Why You’ll Love this!
- Best flavor balance! The Pad Thai sauce is a delicate balance between umami, sour and sweet. Most American versions are way too sweet; this one is just right.
- It’s adaptable! (This can be made with chicken, shrimp, tofu and /or veggies! Vegan-adaptable. )
- Quick and Easy– Once the ingredients are prepped, this takes 15 minutes of cooking time!
- Simple Ingredients. These accessible ingredients can be found in most grocery stores.
So yes, I may be biased but I think this Pad Thai tastes pretty darn amazing! Seriously! But don’t take my word for it, give it a try yourself and see what you think.
Pad THai Ingredients
Pad Thai Ingredient Notes
- The Noodles: Pad Thai is typically made with noodles called “rice stick”, which are rice noodles that are about 1/4 inch wide. Some brands are better than others- many fall apart when stir-frying. I have had the best luck with Thai Kitchen rice noodles. Make sure to soak, rather than boil, to prevent breaking.
- Protein: Add thinly sliced chicken breast, shrimp or crispy Tofu, or leave out the protein and add stir fried veggies
- Eggs: Traditional pad thai has scrambled eggs, vegans can leave this out.
- Garlic and Shallot: Shallots really elevate Pad Thai- I highly recommend shallot over onion if possible. Some versions use ginger, but in Thailand, they generally don’t.
- Garnishes: The garnishes make Pad Thai, adding texture and flavor. Sliced green onions, crushed roasted peanuts, fresh bean sprouts, Thai chili flakes and lime wedges and if available, Thai basil, all elevate!
What is Pad Thai SAuce Made Of?
The best Pad Thai Sauce is a perfect harmony of flavors between umami, sweet and sour. Our sauce has delicious umami and depth, while not being overly sweet with a lovely tang. Letting the sauce caramelize in the wok for just a few seconds, adds a lovely smokiness.
- Fish Sauce- Fish Sauce can vary in degrees of saltiness from brand to brand. I like 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.) If you are new to fish sauce, keep in mind, it has a little “funk” to it. You can start off lighter and replace the rest with soy sauce.
- Tamarind Water or Rice Wine Vinegar– authentic Pad Thai is made with tamarind water and lime juice to give it the sour component, but feel free to use Rice Wine Vinegar and lime to keep things simple here. See recipe notes for using tamarind.
- Sugar – In Thailand, it is traditional to use palm sugar but we use brown sugar, coconut sugar or regular cane sugar to add sweetness. Note: Do not be tempted to cut back on the sugar, the Pad Thai will be too sour.
- Soy Sauce -adding a little soy sauce adds even more depth.
Pad THai (Step-by-Step Instructions)
Step 1: Soak the rice noodles. Pour boiling water over the rice noodles let them soak until they are soft and pliable (about 5 minutes) but not overly soft; drain.
Step 2: Whisk the Eggs. Add a pinch of salt.
Step 3: Whisk 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, so if you alter one ingredient, you may need to adjust the others. Make sure the sugar dissolves.
Step 4: Prep the Protein & Veggies. Chop the shallot and garlic and set aside as well as your protein. If adding veggies, chop or slice them small, so they cook quickly in the wok.
Step 5: Prep all your garnishes and have everything ready to go by the stove, keeping in mind the stir fry part will go quickly!
Step 6: Stir Fry! Season the protein with salt and pepper, stir fry until just cooked through and set it aside. If adding veggies, stir-fry these now and set aside as well.
Add more oil to the wok and stir fry the garlic and shallots for just a couple minutes, scoot them over, add more oil if needed, and add the whisked the eggs, scrambling and breaking to bits.
Scoot the eggs over and add more oil and stir fry the noodles, letting the noodles get a little crispy! Turn your hood on and pour in the Pad Thai Sauce. Let the sauce caramelize for 30 seconds, until you smell the sugar caramelizing. This will add great flavor!
Add back in the cooked protein and veggies, with some of the bean sprouts and scallions. Add a squeeze of lime.
*Taste and adjust salt, lime or sugar to taste. Find the perfect balance. See FAQ’s for troubleshooting the flavors.
Step 7: Serve. Divide between 2-3 bowls and garnish with fresh bean sprouts, lime, wedge, crushed peanuts, chili flakes, scallions and basil.
How to Serve Pad THai
- 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.
- Crisp up the rice noodles in the pan before adding the sauce.
- Let the Pad Thai sauce caramelize a bit in the wok, before turning off the heat. This is the secret to the best flavor- a smoky sweetness we all crave!
Pad Thai Don’t’s
- Please, do not add ketchup or peanut butter. Just don’t. 🙂
- Do not use white vinegar instead of rice vinegar. White vinegar tastes way more acidic! It will be overly sour. But if you must, use less, and add more sugar and fish sauce to taste.
- Don’t skip the sugar– you will lose the balance of the dish. You will end up with fishy, overly sour, salty 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 huge batches. Do as you please though, just sayin’.
Yes, Pad Thai can easily be made vegan. Use vegan fish sauce or soy 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 avocado and coconut oil both have a high smoke point. Both work well here. Any neutral high heat oil will work.
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!
Try adding a little more brown sugar and and vinegar to balance it.
Add a little more brown sugar to balance it. White vinegar will do this- so always use rice wine vinegar, tamarind water or lime, which are all less acidic.
Add more acid ( rice vinegar, tamarind water or lime juice) to balance it.
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.
MORE Thai Recipes To Try!
- 15- Minute Khao Soi (Thai Coconut Noodle Soup)
- Authentic Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup)
- 30-Minute Thai Green Curry
- Thai Larb Salad
An easy, 30-minute recipe for Pad Thai made with rice noodles, your choice of chicken, shrimp or tofu, scrambled eggs, and an incredible “not too sweet” Pad Thai Sauce. Makes 2 large servings.
- 4 ounces rice noodles
- 3 tablespoons peanut oil, divided ( or use avocado oil, or coconut oil)
- 8 ounces chicken breast, tofu or prawns (peeled and deveined)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 large shallot, finely diced (much better than onion here)
- 4 fat garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 2 eggs, whisked with a fork with a generous 3-finger pinch salt if vegan, leave it out)
- 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, or regular sugar) see notes
- 3 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar (or tamarind water– see notes) do not sub white vinegar, it will be too sour.
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce (or GF liquid aminos like Braggs)
- lime wedges, fresh bean sprouts, chili flakes, chopped scallions, roasted peanuts, Thai basil
- Soak the rice noodles. Place rice noodles in a shallow pan and cover with boiling water for 4-7 minutes or until just al dente, then drain, rinse with cold water to stop cooking. They don’t have to be totally soft, just bendy and pliable.
- Whisk the two eggs in a bowl with a fork and add a generous, 3-finger pinch of salt. Set aside.
- Make the Pad Tahi 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: season with salt and pepper.
- Cook the protein: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan or wok, over medium-high heat. Sear the seasoned chicken, shrimp or tofu until cooked through. Set aside,
- Stir Fry: Gather your chopped shallots and garlic, whisked eggs, cooked noodles, cooked protein and Pad Thai Sauce around the stove. Heat a little more oil in the wok over medium heat, add shallot & garlic and stir fry 2-3 minutes. Scoot the shallot mixture to the side, add more oil, and pour in the eggs. Scramble and break them apart into little bits, and move them to the side. Add more oil, and the noodles, stirfry 2-3 minutes until noodles are soft and pliable and even a little crispy.
- Pour in the Pad Thai Sauce (turn hood on) stir everything together and cook 1-2 minute, then add the cooked protein and stirfry for a few more minutes. Just as you start to smell the sugar carmelizing, you are there! Squeeze with a little lime juice. Turn off heat.
- Taste. Adjust salt, lime, heat and sweetness to your liking; add salt, or soy sauce for more depth if you like, a squeeze of lime juice, chili flakes, or a pinch of sugar to taste.
- Toss in 1/2 the bean sprouts and roasted peanuts (or serve on the side) and sprinkle with chili flakes and scallions. 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!
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 lighter on the fish sauce- like 2 tablespoons. If going with less, replace it with soy sauce.
Poach the chicken. An easy way to cut back on the oil in the recipe is to poach the thinly sliced chicken breast in a little salted water, or broth for a few minutes, until cooked through. Drain and set aside. The thinner you slice the chicken the faster it will cook.
Tamarind: If using tamarind paste (instead of rice vinegar) make tamarind “water” by mixing 1 tablespoon tamarind paste with 2 1/2 tablespoons hot water. If using tamarind “concentrate” mix 1-2 teaspoons with 2 1/2 tablespoons water. Use tamarind water in place of the vinegar. Using tamarind is more authentic but not everyone has access to it. Tamarind is extremely sour so if unfamiliar, go light. You can always add more lime to taste.
- Serving Size: 1 ½ cups
- Calories: 409
- Sugar: 14.3 g
- Sodium: 1134 mg
- Fat: 14.2 g
- Saturated Fat: 2.1 g
- Carbohydrates: 47.4 g
- Fiber: 1.1 g
- Protein: 20.5 g
- Cholesterol: 165.4 mg
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