Pad Thai

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This restaurant-quality Pad Thai recipe is surprisingly easy to make at home and customize with whatever noodles, proteins, veggies, and spice level you prefer.  (Chicken, steak, pork, shrimp, tofu and veggie-only options included below.)

Pad Thai Recipe

In the latest edition of Things-We-Loved-Back-Home-But-Are-Missing-Majorly-Here-In-Barcelona, we turn today to some of the best noodles on earth.

Pad Thai, of course. 

I’m not sure why, but there are currently only a handful of Thai restaurants in all of Barcelona — none of which are anywhere near our place, and none of which come super-highly rated by our local friends.  Which has been a bit of a bummer, especially for a girl (hi!) who used to have a total Thai takeout obsession back home.  I miss my weekly Curry Monday, Pad Thai Tuesday, and Fried Rice Wednesday specials!

That said, after a year of lamenting our Thai takeout situation here, I finally decided to cut the complaining and just teach myself how to cook some of our faves en casa.  I wasn’t interested in those close-but-not-quite kind of copycat recipes, that so often happen with takeout classics.  I wanted recipes that tasted like the real deal.  Turns out, it’s surprisingly do-able!

My first triumph of the year was nailing our favorite Everyday Thai Curry recipe, aptly named because Barclay and I are obsessed and cook it all the time.  My second was a new Thai fried rice recipe, which will be hitting the blog sometime soon.  But perhaps best of all, I think I’ve now finally perfected a homemade Pad Thai recipe that legit tastes like the restaurant version.  Or arguably, even better.  This recipe is full of fresh and tangy flavors, it’s lightly sweetened with brown sugar (vs. the heaps of sugar that many American restaurants add nowadays), it can be made as pleasantly-mild or as knock-your-socks-off-spicy as you prefer, and it is ridiculously good.  Just as any Pad Thai should be.

I will note that there is one special ingredient that I’m going to strongly recommend you add to your grocery (or Amazon) list to make this dish happen.  But otherwise, the ingredients here are all pretty standard stir-fry fare.  And of course, when made at home, you have the flexibility to customize your Pad Thai recipe with whatever kinds of proteins, veggies, noodles and hot peppers that you prefer.

So if any of you also happen to live in a place where really good Pad Thai is hard to come by — or hey, if it’s one of your faves and you’re ready to finally learn how to make it from scratch too — grab a bag of noodles and let’s make a batch together!

Pad Thai Recipe | 1-Minute Video

Chicken Pad Thai Recipe

What Is Pad Thai?

So exactly what is Pad Thai?  In case you’re new to this one, I think it’s safe to say that it is probably the most famous Thai noodle dish.  It’s made with rice noodles, some type of protein (chicken, shrimp, beef, pork, tofu, etc.), a few light veggies and eggs.  Then everything is tossed together in a yummy Pad Thai sauce, made with an irresistible blend of sweet, savory, tangy and spicy (if you’d like) fresh ingredients.  And finally, sprinkled with the juice of a fresh lime and lots and lots of crushed peanuts.

It is delicious.

To be sure, authentic street food versions in Thailand can vary significantly from the Thai restaurant versions served around the world.  But the version below is one that will hopefully taste familiar, and made with ingredients that you can easily source at your usual grocery store.

Easy Pad Thai Recipe

Pad Thai Ingredients:

Alright, grocery list time.  To make this easy Pad Thai recipe, you will need:

  • Pad Thai Sauce: See below.
  • Pad Thai Noodles: Thin rice noodles are typically used, but any width will work.
  • Oil: Any kind of mild oil that you like will work — olive oil, avocado oil, peanut oil, coconut oil, etc.
  • Protein: You guys voted by a landslide for a Chicken Pad Thai recipe on Instagram, so that’s what I have photographed and written out below.  But I have also included instructions for how to make Pad Thai with shrimp, pork or beef.  Or a meatless Pad Thai (with or without crispy tofu).
  • Veggies: I went classic and included used fresh bean sprouts and shredded carrots in this recipe.  But feel free to add in any other stir-fry veggies that you love.
  • Garlic: For extra flavor.
  • Green onions: Actually, garlic chives are the authentic ingredient to use here.  But since they can be hard to find, I have written this recipe using green onions.
  • Eggs: Which we will whisk, scramble and add to the stir fry.
  • Toppings: I highly recommend topping your noodles with lots and lots of chopped peanuts.  And of course, a fresh lime wedge.  Plus some extra crushed red chili flakes if you would like some extra heat.

Tamarind Concentrate

How To Make Pad Thai Sauce:

To make this Pad Thai sauce, you will need:

  • Tamarind ConcentrateWhich is — ta da! — the secret ingredient I highly recommend getting your hands on.  Tamarind concentrate is one of the starring ingredients in authentic Pad Thai.  It has a sweet and tangy flavor, and in my opinion, totally makes this dish!  When shopping, be sure to look for tamarind concentrate (not paste) that is made with 100% tamarind and no added sugars or corn syrup.  You can find it at Asian groceries, or I just buy mine on Amazon.
    • I should note, though, that many American Thai restaurants have switched to using ketchup instead of tamarind concentrate, which yields a much more sweet and red-ish Pad Thai.  So if you can’t track down tamarind concentrate, you can try subbing in 3 tablespoons of ketchup and 1 tablespoon of lime juice instead of the tamarind concentrate.
  • Brown sugar: Actually, palm sugar is traditionally used in Pad Thai sauce.  But if you don’t have that in your pantry (like me), regular brown sugar will work just as well.
  • Fish sauceOne of my favorite pantry ingredients!  It’s going to smell a bit funky as you’re whisking up the sauce.  But trust me — fish sauce is a critical ingredient in making these noodles taste like the Pad Thai we all know and love.  That said, not all fish sauces are created equal.  I’m a big fan of Red Boat and Three Crabs fish sauce brands, both of which are a bit more expensive but have a richer flavor and don’t smell quite as “fishy.”  But really, any kind of fish sauce you can find will work.
  • Soy sauce: I prefer low-sodium.
  • Lime juice: Freshly-squeezed, of course.
  • Crushed red pepper flakes: Or you can use sriracha or garlic chili sauce, or whatever your preferred hot sauce may be.

To make the Pad Thai sauce recipe, simply whisk all of these ingredients together until combined.  Or do what I do, and just combine them in a mason jar and shake-shake-shake until combined.

Easy Pad Thai Recipe

How To Make Pad Thai:

Heads up — once you begin cooking the actual stir-fry (step 3 and on), this recipe actually goes really fast.  So I highly recommend prepping all of your protein, veggies, eggs, sauce and toppings ahead of time so that you don’t get held up partway through.

To make this (chicken) Pad Thai recipe, simply…

  1. Make the sauce. (As mentioned above.)
  2. Cook the noodles. Meanwhile, cook your noodles al dente according to package instructions.  Then drain, rinse with cold water, and toss with oil to prevent them from sticking.
  3. Cook the chicken. Sauté the chicken on high heat until it’s cooked through.
  4. Cook the veggies. Sauté the bean sprouts, carrots, and garlic briefly.
  5. Cook the eggs. Push the veggies to one side of the pan, and add the eggs on the other side.  Then scramble the eggs, stirring occasionally.
  6. Put it all together. This is the fun part!  We’re going to add everything back into the pan — the cooked noodles, chicken, sauce and green onions.  Toss, toss, toss.  Then…
  7. Serve. Dish it up while it’s nice and hot, sprinkled with lots and lots of crushed peanuts, extra crushed red pepper flakes (if desired) and a good squeeze of fresh lime juice.

Shrimp Pad Thai Recipe

Possible Variations:

As you can imagine, the possible variations for these Pad Thai noodles are pretty limitless.  Feel free to:

  • Use a different protein:  I have included directions in the recipe below for how to make beef, pork or shrimp Pad Thai.  Also, how to make meatless Pad Thai with or without tofu.
  • Use more veggies: We love adding extra veggies to this dish, such as chopped bell peppers, onions, snap peas, mushrooms, or whatever else might sound good.  (If making this dish meatless without tofu, I especially recommend adding in extra veggies.)
  • Use brown rice noodles: Instead of traditional white rice noodles, feel free to sub in brown rice noodles instead to make this a step healthier.
  • Use zoodles:  To add even more veggies to this dish, feel free to substitute zucchini noodles for 50% (or 100%) of the rice noodles.
  • Make it more peanut-y: If you love a good peanut sauce, feel free to stir 1-2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter into the sauce as well.
  • Make it spicier/milder: Just use more/less of the crushed red pepper flakes, or skip them entirely.
  • Make it sweeter: If the sauce isn’t as sweet as you would like, stir 1-2 additional tablespoons of brown sugar.

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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


This easy Pad Thai recipe tastes just as good (or better!) as anything I’ve had in a restaurant.  Plus it’s easy to make and customize with whatever ingredients and spice level you love!  Chicken, steak, pork, shrimp, tofu and veggie-only options included below.



Pad Thai Ingredients:

  • 1 batch Pad Thai Sauce (see below)
  • 10 ouncethin rice noodles
  • 3 tablespoons oil, divided
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup 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, lime wedges

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup 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)


  1. Make the sauce. Whisk all ingredients together in a medium bowl (or shake together in a mason jar) until completely combined.  Set aside.
  2. Cook the noodles. Meanwhile, cook your noodles al dente according to package instructions.  Drain the noodles in a strainer, then rinse with cold water briefly to halt their cooking.  Toss with one tablespoon oil briefly, to prevent the noodles from sticking.
  3. Cook the chicken (or see other options below*). Heat one 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 lightly golden on the edges and cooked through.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a clean plate.
  4. Cook the veggies. Add the remaining one 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 eggs on the other side.  Cook the eggs until scrambled, stirring often.
  6. Put it all together. Then add everything back in — the cooked noodles, chicken, sauce and green onions.  Give the mixture a good toss until everything is evenly coated in the sauce.  Remove pan from the heat.
  7. Serve. Then serve the Pad Thai while it’s nice and hot, sprinkled with lots of crushed peanuts, extra crushed red pepper flakes (if desired) and a good squeeze of fresh lime juice.


Tamarind Concentrate: This recipe is made to taste more like authentic Pad Thai, which has more tang and less sweetness than you will typically find in some American restaurants.  If you would like a less tangy dish, I recommend adding just half of the tamarind concentrate to begin (then you can also toss the noodles with extra in the end, if you want more).  And if you would like the dish to be on the sweeter side, I recommend increasing the amount of brown sugar to 1/2 cup.  Also please note that different brands of tamarind paste can vary significantly in terms of potency and tartness.

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.

The Best Pad Thai Recipe

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100 comments on “Pad Thai”

  1. 5 stars
    This looks so delicious. I can’t wait to try it.

  2. No , don’t even put soy sauce in Pad Thai. It’s not in the recipe. You put soy sauce for stirred fry or some Asian soup. Normally in Chinese food, Japanese or Korean food.
    Fish sauce plays a big role for Thai food.

    • Good fusion America style

    • I agree. I don’t know why so many people don’t even bother to learn even a little bit about Thai cuisine. In one blog, “peanut butter” was used. No. Just no.

  3. This was my first time making Pad Thai (we used tofu for protein), or any dish of the style, and it turned out great! It had exactly that particular flavor that I love in Pad Thai. My only complaint is that there were a bit too many noodles for our taste. The second time we cut down on noodles and doubled the tofu and it was more to our liking, so if you’re into a higher protein ratio I can recommend increasing it.

    • Made this recipe today and it was delicious. Everything is there in terms of flavor. I can now tweak it for my palate. Next time I will redone the tamarind a hair and increase the chilli.

  4. I made this for dinner tonight and my husband, who doesn’t usually like pad Thai, ate an entire plate full and packed some for his lunch tomorrow. I did the shrimp version and also added snap peas, bell pepper, and onion. I also added peanut butter to the sauce! I added my noodles slowly at the end because I had a feeling it would be too many and I was right. Id say maybe 3/4 of that amount would be sufficient especially when using all the veg! Great recipe

  5. This was amazing!! I followed the recipe exactly! The pack of noodles I had was only 8oz but it was more than enough. Next time I may add a little extra veggies (because why not?!)
    The sauce tasted just like take out…only better. I’ll be cooking my own pad Thai from now on. Thank you for this great recipe!

  6. Review from someone that actually made the recipe-
    It’s rare that something is 100% inedible, but this pad thai ended up in the trash. We followed the recipe (didn’t make any substitutions) and our sauce turned out really dark and overpowered by the tamarind. It does not taste like a genuine pad thai and the sauce was so overpowering, that we could not eat the meal. There seems to be mixed reviews on this recipe, but adding peanut butter like others suggest does not make this a genuine pad thai recipe nor does it actually follow the recipe.

  7. This is the only thing I ever order at my favorite Thai restaurant. Now I have this amazing recipe. This could be dangerous :)

    Saved. Pinned. And can’t wait to make it this weekend! Plus, I love that I can customize it with my favorite veggies, noodles, protein, and toppings. Thanks Ali!

  8. I wanted and expected to LOVE this recipe. I’ve been looking forward to making it for a week. I made it tonight and we didn’t love it. The sauce was overpoweringly tangy. I used the exact ingredients and proportions. It just didn’t taste like the pad Thai we’ve grown to love from our local Thai restaurants….which I believe to be very authentic. We will reheat the leftovers tomorrow and add more brown sugar and add peanut butter and you suggested.

  9. We made this recipe as directed (no peanut butter) and loved it!! I feel like those complaining about tartness just need to add a little more sugar, if you want it to taste more like the pad Thai in many American restaurants. But we thought it was perfect as is. 😍

  10. Best Pad Thai we have ever tried! Thanks for such a great recipe with detailed instructions, Ali.

  11. Made this recipe today and it was delicious. Everything is there in terms of flavor. I can now tweak it for my palate. Next time I will redone the tamarind a hair and increase the chilli.

  12. I made this last night and followed the recipe exactly. I thought it was amazing. I added a lot of lime and peanuts to the top. Thanks for ANOTHER great recipe.

  13. Made this for my son’s 25th bday gathering this past week and it was a hit! I’m making it again tonight for a family dinner. So easy and quick to make. Now I don’t have go to a Thai joint to get Pad Thai. Thanks for a great recipe.

  14. Perfect! Made this tonight and my husband and both were nuts over it! I will make this over and over again!

  15. Does not taste like restaurant Pad Thai at all!!! :( and why is their soy sauce in Pad Thai?!? We didn’t like it at all. So if my ours looking for authentic Pad Thai…this is not it!!!

  16. Delicious recipe! Subbed ketchup & lime juice for the tamarind as I didn’t have any handy. Flavour was on point. A little on the sweet side, so I would maybe cut down on the sugar a wee bit next time. Make sure to squeeze extra lime juice before eating and add all of the toppings (green onions, crushed peanuts, etc). Makes a lot of noodles, I would consider reducing the noodles by a bit adding extra veggies next time as some suggested.

  17. Easy and delicious! Just a bit difficult to get all the ingredients.

  18. Excited to make this, but in the video it says to put in ginger, but the recipe states garlic. Which is correct?

    • Garlic. Ginger is never really used in Thai recipes, just in dishes that have strong influences from China or India. This Pad Thai recipe is not correct.

  19. What can I used instead of fish sauce?

  20. Great recipe! I halved it since it’s just two of us and came out fine. I did order the tamarind and the fish sauce from the links. Used cabbage instead of bean sprouts and a few dashes of sriracha b\c I was out of pepper flakes. Will def make again !

  21. Delicious pad thai. Could have used a bit less tamarind, but over all, a great recipe.
    thank you so much.

  22. We absolutely loved this!! Great flavor.

  23. Is there anything else I can use besides fish sauce. We are vegitarians and don’t eat fish.

  24. Followed recipe except cut down brown sugar from 1/3 cup to 1/4 cup. Why was my sauce sooooo black and thick and sticky and strong? Couldn’t eat it and was so looking forward to it. 1/4 c tamarind concentrate (not paste) and 1/4 c soy. Can anyone tell me what happened?

    • I meant 1/4 c tamarind, 1/4 c fish sauce and 2 T soy

    • I had the same problem. I’m reading through the reviews and gathering that the tamarind concentrate can just be too strong. Next time I plan to use much less of that and see if that helps

    • I think I figured it out! Certain brands of Tamarind Concentrate come from India and are much more concentrated than ones that come from Thailand or Vietnam. I think the concentrate should be more brown than mine which is straight black. I’m going to try to find different Tamarind Concentrate in the future.

  25. Oh. My. Sweet lord. This recipe was absolutely incredible. I have been craving pad Thai during quarantine, and I happened to take the stir fry tamarind from a random online order. Followed this nearly to a T — had no peanuts, but honestly the sauce was so good that I didn’t miss them. I will be making many, many times!

  26. I loved the Pad Thai Sauce recipe! Used it in a Pad Thai including shrimp and leftover vegetables. I must say I used a lot less fish oil. I am not familiair with the brands used, but mine (blue elephant) tends to be very flavourful. Too much would turn the dish salty. I think I used about 25% of the recommended amount.

  27. My daughter and I made this tonight since we cannot eat at our usual Thai place right now. I drove all over our area looking for all the ingredients because I wanted to follow the recipe exactly. It was way too tangy! Probably could have left out the lime and possibly adding more sugar and pepper might have been the better option. Overall Ok but not at all authentic.

  28. Love this recipe! We have made it so many times and I love the sauce.

  29. I’ve tried so many Pad Thai recipes and OMG!! finally found one that tastes like a real Thai restaurant! I can’t believe it’s only a few ingredients.

  30. I think you should remake this recipe. The tamarind paste overpowers the food. I love all your recipes but this recipe wasn’t good.

  31. I love this pad Thai recipe! I make it all the time probably a dozen times in the last six months. I would not change a thing! It’s so good and everyone who has had it loves it. It does take me about 60-90 minutes all in to make but it’s so worth it

  32. I have never made pad Thai before but this turned out pretty good with me having to wing some things. I bought a different tamarind concentrate that on another Thai cooking website said not to use (I saw that after the fact. It’s from India). It was pretty potent so i added a little water and extra sugar.
    I didn’t have any of the veggies so i julienned some red peppers and used broccoli too. I added some salt and pepper to the chicken and eggs because i wasn’t sure if there would be enough flavor with the sauce alone.
    I wasn’t sure what the sauce was supposed to taste like (it didn’t taste great freshly made) so i took some of the plain dish out and mixed it so i wouldn’t ruin all the food if it wasn’t to our liking. It was really tasty! My husband liked it before i added the extra sugar (i used palm sugar as other sites said it was more authentic) but i needed a little more and it improved it a lot for me. It all came together really great!
    Next time I’ll try the soy sauce maybe. There was a slight flavor missing that would have made it spot on and I’m not sure what it is. I had a friend growing up whose parents were from Thailand and they had a restaurant so I was missing their food but this came really close and was really good. No complaints, not even from the kiddos!

  33. Made this pad Thai and I used pork. Didn’t have the tamarind sauce so I substituted with some dates and rice vinegar. I added peanut butter but it then left a grainy look. It was delicious and my husband loved it! I don’t think the peanut butter is necessary, the peanuts that you garnish with are enough.

  34. This was absolutely delicious! I’ve been looking for new recipes to break us out of our usual dinner rut and this was perfect. Easy, quick and very tasty. Next time I am making a double batch so that I have leftovers for the next few days. Any recommendations on other recipes using tamarind concentrate?