Easy Pad Thai

Easy pad Thai noodles recipe

The Spruce / Ali Redmond

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Total: 45 mins
Servings: 2 to 3 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
550 Calories
26g Fat
52g Carbs
31g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2 to 3
Amount per serving
Calories 550
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 26g 33%
Saturated Fat 3g 17%
Cholesterol 150mg 50%
Sodium 2034mg 88%
Total Carbohydrate 52g 19%
Dietary Fiber 5g 19%
Total Sugars 21g
Protein 31g
Vitamin C 51mg 254%
Calcium 130mg 10%
Iron 3mg 17%
Potassium 694mg 15%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Pad thai is a noodle dish from Thailand that is popular around the world. It's a dish that combines different textures and flavors perfectly—chewy noodles with crunchy bean sprouts and tender meat, and flavors that balance between salty, sour, sweet, and savory.

Although today we associate pad thai sauce with tamarind, in this Southern Thai-style recipe the sourness comes instead from a combination of easy-to-find rice vinegar and lime juice. Several hundred years ago, traditional pad thai was made in just this way—without tamarind—and versions of this original recipe can still be found in various regions of Thailand.

Look for flat rice noodles in the Asian section of the supermarket. There you'll also find fish sauce, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. For the best results, don't overcook the noodles since they'll continue softening as you stir-fry. Keep the pan hot and toss with the sauce until you reach that perfect chewy-sticky consistency. Adjust the spice level by adding more or less fresh chiles and cayenne pepper or adding a little chili sauce for extra heat.

Serve pad thai with a simple side dish like mango or papaya salad, cucumber salad, or stir-fried veggies.

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"Following the instructions, my pad thai was perfectly cooked and delicious. There are quite a few ingredients, but preparation is really quite easy. The sauce can be made ahead of time and the vegetables can be prepared and chopped in advance, so it can be cooked quickly any night of the week." —Diana Rattray

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Ingredients

For the Pad Thai Sauce:

  • 1/3 cup good-quality chicken stock

  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar or white vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

  • 3 to 4 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the Pad Thai:

  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast or 1 to 2 thighs, chopped into small pieces

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 8 ounces pad thai rice noodles

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 to 2 fresh red chiles or green chiles, finely sliced

  • 1 teaspoon grated galangal or ginger

  • 10 to 15 medium raw shrimp, peeled

  • 1 large egg

  • 2 cups bean sprouts

  • 4 green onions, sliced

  • 1 lime, cut into wedges, for serving

  • 1/3 cup dry-roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for easy pad thai
    The Spruce / Ali Redmond
  2. Combine the chicken stock, rice vinegar, lime juice, brown sugar, fish sauce, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and cayenne pepper in a cup or small bowl, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Set aside.

    Combine chicken stock
    The Spruce / Ali Redmond 
  3. Place the chopped chicken in a bowl and toss with the 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce. Set aside.

    Place chopped chicken in a bowl
    The Spruce / Ali Redmond
  4. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the rice noodles and cook approximately 6 minutes, or until soft enough to bend easily but still firm and a little crunchy when you try to eat it (undercooked by regular standards). Drain and rinse noodles briefly with cold water to keep them from sticking. Set aside.

    Noodles
    The Spruce / Ali Redmond
  5. Heat a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Drizzle in the oil and swirl around. Add the garlic, chili, and galangal or ginger. Stir-fry 1 minute.

    Heat a wok
    The Spruce / Ali Redmond
  6. Add the chicken and stir-fry 2 minutes. Add the shrimp, continuing to stir-fry until they turn pink and chicken is opaque—about 2 to 3 minutes.

    Shrimp
    The Spruce / Ali Redmond
  7. When pan becomes dry, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the pad thai sauce—just enough to keep ingredients frying nicely.

    Shrimp
    The Spruce / Ali Redmond
  8. Push the ingredients to the side of the pan (if the pan is dry, drizzle in a little oil). Crack the egg into the empty space and stir-fry quickly to scramble.

    Shrimp in pan
    The Spruce / Ali Redmond
  9. Add the drained noodles plus 3 to 4 tablespoons of the pad thai sauce. Using two utensils, lift and turn the noodles with the other ingredients. Continue in this way, adding more sauce every minute or two, until all the sauce has been added and noodles are chewy and a little bit sticky, 8 to 10 minutes.

    Pad tha
    The Spruce / Ali Redmond
  10. Fold in the bean sprouts and green onion. Remove from heat and taste-test, adding more fish sauce or lime until the desired taste is achieved.

    Fold in bean sprouts
    The Spruce / Ali Redmond
  11. Portion out onto individual plates and add a lime wedge on the side. Top with a sprinkle of chopped peanuts.

    Shrimp pad thai
    The Spruce / Ali Redmond

Recipe Variations

  • For a gluten-free version, use wheat-free soy sauce.
  • Adjust the spice level of this dish by adding less or more red chile. As written, this recipe is moderately spicy. For extra spice, leave the seeds inside the chiles.
  • Make using all chicken or all shrimp, if desired.
  • To make this vegetarian, swap the meat for cubed tofu, leave out the egg, and swap the fish sauce for more soy sauce.
  • You can also make pad thai sauce using tamarind paste.

What Is the Difference Between Lo Mein and Pad Thai Noodles?

Lo mein noodles are a type of Chinese egg noodle. They are round in shape and are typically used for Chinese stir-fry dishes. Pad thai noodles are a style of Thai rice noodles that are chewy and perfect for stir-frying when making pad thai.