The BEST Pad Thai Recipe made with simple ingredients that is easy, fast and flavorful! Make this with your choice of chicken, shrimp or tofu! Vegan-adaptable. GF!
The dream was always running ahead of me. To catch up, to live for a moment in unison with it, that was the miracle. ~ Anias Nin
Here’s a simple easy recipe for the BEST Pad Thai that contains very accessible ingredients and only takes about 15 minutes of actual cooking time. The Pad Thai Sauce is so flavorful and balanced- it is as close as comes to the real deal without having to take a trip to the Asian market.
Believe me, when I tell you, I’ve had a lot of Pad Thai in my life. Here and all across Thailand! It’s one of my favorite things to eat, and so I’ve made a practice of learning how to perfect this dish. It’s all about the flavor balance of the sauce, and the texture of the noodles.
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. What I love about this Pad Thai recipe is how adaptable and customizable it is. Make this with chicken, or shrimp or tofu. YES, you can even make vegan Pad Thai !!! Here’s my recipe for vegan fish sauce that will come in handy. 😉
how to make pad thai! | 30 second video
Simple and easy!
I have paired this recipe down to its simplest components. I also make a more authentic version, emulating what we learned in Thailand- using tamarind and such, but here I’ve wanted to create it with ingredients most everyone has on hand.
It really doesn’t need to be complicated to taste amazing. It is ALL about balance!
Give it a try. Once you have the ingredients together, see if you can cook it in 15 minutes! It’s a fun challenge. It took me 20 minutes the first time, then finally down to 15!
Read the whole recipe through first and then give it a go. You will be faster and faster the more you practice, and I think you will like the recipe enough to want to try this over and over.
For the easiest cooking experience, make the Pad Thai recipe using a wok – but you can also use a skillet, if in a pinch. Also the recipe works best, when not doubling or tripling in the wok- see notes!
Make the Pad Thai with tofu (like you see above) or chicken or shrimp — take your pick. If going for chicken, make sure to read the notes at the bottom of the recipe, especially if looking to reduce fat.
We’ve been poaching the thinly sliced chicken in a bit of water instead of frying it, and this is the way it was done at the restaurant. In fact, they actually poached the chicken in water ahead to save even more time, which is always an option.
Cutting the chicken very thinly really cuts down on cooking time, plus it just works better in the recipe. Remember to cut across the grain. So here I’ve cut it into ⅛ -¼ thin strips about two inches long.
To save a few calories, I poach it in a little salted water, until cooked through which just takes a couple of minutes. Then I set it aside.
Another secret to this flavorful pad thai recipe is the shallot. And of course garlic. But shallot more than anything adds so much flavor to this dish, way more than substituting onions. So try to seek out shallots at your grocery store, it will make a big difference -trust me!
Sometimes I’ll add ginger, but it’s not imperative- and to save time, I’ll use store-bought, already peeled garlic.
Ginger paste, that comes in a tube is also another time-saving product I’ll buy at the grocery store.
Saute the garlic and shallot and prep the remaining ingredients.
Pad Thai Sauce Ingredients!
The secret to the Best Pad Thai, is the sauce! It must be balanced. Salty, sweet and sour!
- 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 traditionally tamarind) and lime, add the sour component.
There is a delicate balance between salty, tart and sweet, and when you find it, totally elevates the dish! This sauce to my palate is perfectly balanced.
Try it and see for yourself. You may adjust to your personal taste.
AND please do not leave the sugar component out. You will end up with fishy, sour pad thai that tastes terrible. TRUST ME.
How to Make Pad Thai:
- Make Pad Thai Sauce
- Prep the protein and vegetables
- whisk the eggs
- cook the noodles
- Put it all together!
Follow the directions on the package of the noodles or pour boiling water over rice noodles and let them soak just until they are pliable (about 7-8 minutes) They don’t need to be totally soft, as they will soften as you sauté them.
Then place everything by the stove and cook it up!
If going for a vegan pad thai, make the vegan fish sauce recipe ahead, it’s actually quite good, and keeps for months.
I hope you after you make this, you’ll think this is the Best Pad Thai recipe, you’ve ever made too! 😉
Haha! Let me know in the comments below! 🙂
Happy weekend. xo
The Best Pad Thai Recipe
Best-Ever PAD THAI! An easy recipe with simple accessible ingredients with the most amazing flavor! The best part … once you have your ingredients together it only takes 15 minutes of actual cooking time! See recipe notes for tips and tricks!
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 15 mins
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 2 1x
- Category: Main
- Method: stir-fried
- Cuisine: Thai
- 3–4 ounces dry pad thai noodles (rice noodles)
- Boiling water to cover noodles
- 1 large shallot, finely diced ( mush better than onion here)
- 4 chopped garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon chopped ginger (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
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)
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce (or GF liquid aminos like Braggs)
- 1/4– 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
- juice of ½ lime, plus more for garnish
- lime wedges, fresh bean sprouts, chili flakes, chopped scallions, roasted peanuts.
- Place rice noodles in a shallow baking dish and boil enough water to cover them. Cover with boiling water for 6- 8 minutes, until tender, then drain. ( They don’t have to be totally soft, just pliable)
- Chop shallot, garlic and ginger and set aside.
- In a small bowl whisk the two eggs with a fork and a generous, 3-finger pinch of salt.
- In another small bowl, make the Pad Thai Sauce. Whisk fish sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar and soy sauce. ( see notes)
- Prep the protein. Chicken: slice chicken into very thin strips and season with salt and pepper. 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 corn starch. Shrimp: Peel and season with salt and pepper. Sear the seasoned chicken, shrimp or tofu in a wok with hot oil until cooked through over medium high heat. Set aside, blot with paper towels, wipe out pan. Turn heat off.
- Gather your shallots, whisked eggs, noodles, protein and pad thai sauce around the stove. Heat 2 tablespoon peanut or vegetable 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, add the whisked eggs. With a metal spatula, scramble them and break them apart into little bits, letting them brown just 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 the chicken, tofu or shrimp. Turn and toss the noodles for a few more minutes. It will smell quite fishy at first – turn your fan on – but it will mellow out perfectly. 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 the lime. Taste. Adjust salt, lime and sweetness to your liking adding a pinch of salt, more lime or more sugar to taste. Give one more toss and serve immediately. Divide among two plates.
- Garnish with 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!
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. It is an acquired taste. If going less, you will need to add a little salt to taste.
Tips for speed: 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) 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!
- If using tamarind, make tamarind “water” by mixing 1 tablespoon tamarind paste with 2 tablespoons water. Use in place of the vinegar. This is more traditional but I realize not everyone has access to tamarind.
- TEXTURE IS KEY! Everything from frying the noodles to adding the bean sprouts and roasted peanuts elevates this.
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