Pad Thai

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This homemade Pad Thai recipe is easy to make, tossed with a fresh and sweet and tangy sauce, and customizable with whatever protein, veggies, and spice level you prefer. (Chicken, steak, pork, shrimp, tofu and veggie-only options included below.)

Pad Thai Recipe

Raise your hand if you love pad Thai! ♡

This delicious noodle stir-fry that hails from the rich food culture of Thailand has become one of the most iconic and beloved dishes around the world in the past few decades…and happens to be one of my all-time faves too! Made with chewy al dente rice noodles, stir-fried veggies, usually at least one type of protein, and an irresistibly fresh, sweet, and tangy tamarind sauce, this national dish of Thailand is everything I adore in a good bowl of noodles. And while it is unquestionably the most popular item on the menu at most Thai restaurants around the world, I was happy to learn years ago that pad Thai is actually quite quick and easy to make at home too!

Granted, I am definitely no expert on the topic of authentic Thai cooking, and the recipe included below is completely inspired by the restaurant version of pad Thai that I was privileged to grow up with halfway around the world in the Midwest. It includes a few ingredient substitutions that are more easily available and popularly used in that part of the world and thus by no means should be considered authentic. (If you are looking for a more authentic version of pad Thai made with traditional ingredients such as dried shrimp, pickled veggies, and garlic chives, I would highly recommend trying these recipes by Hot Thai Kitchen or Thai Table.)

This recipe is still one of our family favorites, though, and is absolutely bursting with layered, fresh, and tangy flavors. It’s also easy to customize with your favorite protein, veggies and spice level when making your own homemade pad Thai. And when you’re moving quickly, the entire dish can come together easily in just a little over a half hour, making it great for busy weeknights. (Plus, the leftovers taste amazing!)

So if you happen to be a fan of these noodles too, I say it’s time to give homemade pad Thai a try!

Pad Thai Recipe | 1-Minute Video

Chicken Pad Thai Recipe

The History of Pad Thai

Details about the exact origins of pad Thai seem to vary a bit from source to source, based on what I’ve read.

But I was interested to learn that all sources agree that pad Thai is actually a relatively new dish, invented in Thailand less than 100 years ago. Some historians say that it originated in the 1930s thanks to a competition held by Plaek Phibunsongkhram, the prime minister at the time, who was trying to promote nationalism by encouraging chefs to create a new national dish with Thailand’s signature blend of sweet, salty and sour flavors. Other historians believe that the dish came about during a wartime shortage of rice, when the prime minister was encouraging cooks to create new dishes with rice noodles instead of the usual larger quantities of rice.

Whatever the exact origins, the dish immediately became a hit in Thailand and is now one of the most famous noodle dishes in the world. (It actually ranked as the 5th most popular dish in the world in this poll a decade ago!) Different countries and different cooks have definitely put their own spin on the dish in modern times, often subbing in different proteins, seasonings and veggies used in their recipes. But the base dish with its brilliant combo of stir-fried rice noodles, eggs, bean sprouts, and a tangy pad Thai sauce remains relatively consistent worldwide. And the world seems to adore it!

Here’s a great video to watch if you would like to learn more about the history of pad Thai.

Tamarind Concentrate

Pad Thai Ingredients

Before we get to the full recipe below, here are a few notes about the ingredients that you will need to the stir-fried noodles for this pad Thai recipe:

  • Rice noodles: Pad Thai is traditionally made with thin rice noodles, such as these. But any width of rice noodles that you have on hand will also work.
  • Protein: I’ve written the recipe below for chicken pad Thai, but feel free to instead use shrimp, beef, pork, tofu, or whatever protein you may prefer.
  • Veggies: From what I’ve read, the vegetables traditionally included in pad Thai can vary between regions in Thailand. But I have written this recipe with the most common mix I’ve seen of fresh bean sprouts, shredded (or matchstick) carrots, and sliced green onions.
  • Garlic: I also love to include lots of freshly minced garlic in this stir-fry.
  • Eggs: I’ve also included eggs in the recipe below, which are briefly scrambled and mixed into the noodle stir-fry. But if you are making this dish vegan, you are welcome to omit the eggs.
  • Toppings: And finally, when it comes to toppings, I vote the more the merrier and love to sprinkle my noodles with lots of chopped peanuts for crunch and an extra squeeze of fresh lime juice for tang. Plus, you are of course welcome to sprinkle on some extra crushed red pepper flakes if you would like to amp up the heat in your serving.

And here are the ingredients that you will need to make the delicious pad Thai sauce:

  • Tamarind concentrate: This is the starring ingredient in pad Thai that gives the sauce its signature tangy, sweet, and fruity flavor. Granted, some American Thai restaurants have switched to using ketchup in its place, which gives the dish a notably different and less-tangy flavor. (And also makes the dish notably more red/orange.) But I really, really recommend picking up a jar of tamarind concentrate to make the sauce taste as fresh and authentic as possible. You can purchase it online or find it in the Thai section of the grocery store. Just be sure to purchase a Thai brand of tamarind concentrate for this recipe, since the Indian brands of tamarind concentrate have a significantly different flavor and potency. (I do not recommend using Tamicon tamarind concentrate for this recipe.)
  • Brown sugar: Traditionally, pad Thai is usually made with palm sugar in Thailand. But since it can be difficult to find in American grocery stores, I’ve written the recipe below using light brown sugar (or you can use coconut sugar).
  • Fish sauce: You will also need some good-quality fish sauce for this recipe. (This brand is my favorite!)
  • Soy sauce: We will also add in a bit of soy sauce to give the dish some extra salty-umami flavor.
  • Lime juice: And of course, lots and lots of fresh lime juice.
  • Crushed red pepper flakes: And finally, you can add in whatever type and amount of chili flakes you prefer to give the dish a bit of heat.

Easy Pad Thai Recipe

How To Make Pad Thai

Full instructions for how to make pad Thai are included in the recipe below, but here is a brief overview of the process…

  1. Make the sauce. First things first — go ahead and prep the sauce by whisking all of the ingredients together (or shaking them in a jar) until combined.
  2. Cook the noodles. Next, go ahead and heat your water and cook the noodles al dente according to the package instructions, then drain the excess water. If your noodles finish earlier than your stir-fry, I recommend rinsing them briefly with some lukewarm water and tossing them with a drizzle of oil to prevent them from sticking while they wait.
  3. Cook the protein, veggies and eggs. Meanwhile, go ahead and begin your stir-fry. First, sauté your protein of choice until cooked through, then transfer it to a clean plate and set it aside. Next, sauté the veggies until crisp-tender. Then push them to one side of the pan and briefly scramble the eggs in the other half of the pan until cooked.
  4. Put it all together. Then add everything back in with the eggs and veggies — the cooked noodles, cooked chicken, sauce and green onions — and give the mixture a good toss until everything is evenly coated in the sauce.
  5. Serve. Then serve the noodles immediately while they are nice and hot, garnished with lots of toppings and fresh lime wedges for squeezing.

Easy Pad Thai Recipe

Possible Recipe Variations

As with any noodle stir-fry, there are endless ways to customize this dish to your liking when making it homemade. For example, feel free to:

  • Choose your favorite protein: I have included options in the recipe box below for how to make this recipe using beef, pork, shrimp or tofu in place of (or mixed with) the chicken. Or feel free to use whatever other protein you may love best.
  • Choose your preferred sweetener: As mentioned above, pad Thai is traditionally sweetened with palm sugar. But feel free to use whatever type of sugar or sweetener you prefer in the pad Thai sauce.
  • Make it milder/spicier: Feel free to adjust the amount of chili flakes to taste to make your noodles milder or spicier.
  • Make it vegetarian/vegan: To make this vegetarian/vegan pad thai, use tofu as your protein and vegan fish sauce or (extra lime juice, in place of the fish sauce).
  • Make it gluten-free: To make gluten-free pad thai, use gluten-free tamari in place of the soy sauce.
  • Use garlic chives: These are more commonly used in Thailand instead of green onions. So if your local market happens to carry them, just slice the garlic chives into 1-inch pieces and add approximately 1 cup of garlic chives to the dish in place of the green onions.

Shrimp Pad Thai Recipe

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Pad Thai Recipe

Pad Thai

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 -6 servings 1x

Description

This homemade Pad Thai recipe is easy to make, tossed with a fresh and sweet and tangy sauce, and customizable with whatever protein, veggies, and spice level you prefer.  (Chicken, steak, pork, shrimp, tofu and veggie-only options included below.)


Ingredients

Scale

Pad Thai Ingredients:

  • 10 ounces thin rice noodles
  • 3 tablespoons oil, divided
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup fresh bean sprouts
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 eggs, whisked
  • 3 green onions, sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • toppings: lots of chopped peanuts, extra crushed red pepper flakes, fresh lime wedges

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate (please see note below)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • juice of 1 fresh lime
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more/less to taste)

Instructions

  1. Make the sauce. Whisk all ingredients together in a medium bowl (or shake together in a mason jar) until completely combined.  Set aside until ready to use.
  2. Cook the noodles. Cook the noodles al dente according to package instructions.  Drain the noodles in a strainer, then rinse with cold water briefly to halt their cooking.  Toss briefly with one tablespoon oil to prevent the noodles from sticking.
  3. Cook the chicken (or see other protein options below). Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large sauté pan or wok over high heat. Add the chicken and sauté for 3-5 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a clean plate and set aside.
  4. Cook the veggies. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the sauté pan, along with the bean sprouts, carrots, and garlic.  Sauté for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Cook the eggs. Push the veggies to one side of the pan and add the whisked eggs on the other side.  Cook the eggs until scrambled, stirring often.
  6. Put it all together. Now add everything back in with the eggs and veggies — the cooked noodles, cooked chicken, sauce and green onions. Give the mixture a good toss until everything is evenly coated in the sauce.  Remove pan from heat.
  7. Serve. Serve immediately, sprinkled with lots of crushed peanuts, extra crushed red pepper flakes (if desired) and a good squeeze of fresh lime juice. Enjoy!

Notes

Recipe update: This recipe has been updated in 2021 to call for 2 tablespoons (instead of the original 4 tablespoons) of tamarind concentrate, to make it slightly less tangy per feedback from our readers.

Tamarind Concentrate: Please note that different brands of tamarind concentrate can vary significantly in terms of potency and flavor, so the quantity you use may need to be adjusted. (I also recommend using a Thai brand of tamarind concentrate, as Indian tamarind concentrate has a different flavor and is more concentrated.) This recipe is intended to have a fresh and tangy flavor. But if you prefer to have a sweeter sauce, similar to how many American restaurants make this dish, I recommend increasing the amount of packed brown sugar used to 1/2 cup (or more).

How To Make Shrimp Pad Thai: Season 1 pound of large shrimp (peeled and de-veined) with salt and pepper.  Sauté in 1 tablespoon oil over high heat until the shrimp are bright pink and cooked through, stirring occasionally, about 1-2 minutes.  Transfer to a clean plate and set aside.

How To Make Beef Pad Thai: Thinly slice 1 pound of lean steak (against the grain), then cut into bite-sized pieces.  Season with salt and pepper.  Sauté in 1 tablespoon oil over heat until the steak is browned on all sides, stirring occasionally, about 3-4 minutes.  Transfer to a clean plate and set aside.

How To Make Pork Pad Thai: Thinly slice 1 pound of lean boneless pork chops, then cut into bite-sized pieces.  Season with salt and pepper.  Sauté in 1 tablespoon oil over heat until the pork is browned on all sides, stirring occasionally, about 3-4 minutes.  Transfer to a clean plate and set aside.

How To Make Tofu Pad Thai: Slice 1 (14-ounce) block of extra-firm tofu into 1/4-inch slices.  Sandwich the slices between paper towels, press and drain for 30 minutes.  Cut the tofu into bite-sized pieces.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook the tofu in 1 tablespoon oil in a non-stick pan in a single layer for 2 minutes, undisturbed.  Then flip the tofu and cook on the second side for 1-2 minutes, until lightly browned.  Transfer to a clean plate and set aside.

 

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Recipe rating

140 comments on “Pad Thai”

  1. Yummy indeed but I would definitely half the tamarind paste or add more sugar because this dish was much more tangy than I’m used to.

  2. I see you put fresh ginger in the video but left it out of the recipe. I will get some because I love ginger flavor! Looks like a couple of tablespoons maybe. Thanks from r sharing your recipe.

  3. First I purchased the recommended Tamarind concentrate and the Red Boat Fish Sauce from Amazon, then patiently waited for its arrival.
    I followed the recipe for the American version. It was spot on! Thank you for the specific information! I’ll be making this dish now, when I’m hungry for it! You saved me an hour’s drive to and from the city! THANK YOU 😊

  4. The recipe was great for American fusion Pad Thai. Unfortunately I didn’t read the note about tamarind until after the fact so it was a little more tangy than I would have preferred but overall it was still delicious.

  5. Best pad Thai recipe I’ve found

  6. Made this yesterday. Chicken and shrimp for protein. Used more tamarind then called for, doubled the bean sprouts. It was great, all 3 of our family devoured it all. Good guide, now time to develop our own variation.

  7. Yum! Trying this tomorrow!

  8. What did I do wrong? It’s a dark dark brown color and taste jotting like pad Thai. I followed the recipe exactly

  9. So delicious! Perfect as is!

  10. This sounds amazing and I can’t wait to try it! Is there a way to make this ahead of time for a party though?

  11. Sounds amazing! Can’t wait to try it! Is there a way to make this ahead for a party?

  12. Definitely try using half the tamarind, mine came out very bitter even after adding another 1/3 cup of brown sugar.

  13. Hi there,
    Did you previously have a substitute for the tamarind paste that was included in the recipe? I swear a previous version included ketchup?
    I’m asking because I didn’t have tamarind paste the first time and I used your suggestion….
    Just wondering.
    Thanks
    Kim

  14. Great flavor

  15. Amazing! Added red bell pepper instead of bean sprouts and also used whole roasted cashews instead of chopped peanuts. The tamarind gives it a wonderfully tangy flavor. I saved the juices from the cooked chicken to add with the sauce. Doubled the garlic. Also used brown rice/millet noodles. Healthy and full of delicious flavor. Be sure to squeeze lots of lime and add more red pepper flakes to the plate when serving. Thank you for this recipe! Best combination pad thai ingredients ever!

  16. Soooo delicious!!!

  17. I read the note about ginger below and cannot access video. 2 ta tablespoons ginger in sauce?

  18. So I made this in a rush for my family (My husband and I and our 2 and 4 yr old) It was a big hit with everyone! I did however think on my first bite that I couldn’t really taste the sour tang of the tamarind, and made a mental note to double it next time. My kids and I ate it with some homemade sauerkraut to add a bit of tang. When cleaning up after dinner I read the note about the tamarind. Maybe write it as 2-4TBS depending on taste?
    Thanks for the great recipe.

  19. Love your recipes! I normally never comment but CAN’T WAIT to make your Pad Thai! I’m making tomorrow!

  20. Followed directions exactly. 1 lime was too much maybe? I was really excited. Not exactly sure where this went wrong, but for me, it was extremely bitter and not true to the pad thai dishes that I’ve tasted in authentic Thai restaurants. Maybe if I make peanut sauce it will be palatable. This was a negative for me.

  21. I didn’t follow this faithfully but it was fabulous. As I don’t have tamarind, I did about a tablespoon of extra sugar and a tbsp of rice vinegar. Best pad thai recipe I’ve tried, and my husband and I devoured it all in one sitting. When I make it again, I’ll use less sugar though. I’m not that American.

  22. I found it to be way too sweet, too fishy, and too salty. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t like any pad Thai I’ve ever had. If I were to make this again I would use a very small amount of brown sugar and half the amount of fish sauce, but I think I’ll try a different recipe before trying to tweak this one.