How to Make Perfect Chicken Pad Thai

Marinate Chicken, Soak Noodles, Fry It All Up!

Pad Thai with chicken in a bowl.
The Spruce
  • 01 of 10

    Soak the Noodles.

    Soaking the pad Thai rice noodles. D.Schmidt

    For a 1-page version of this recipe, see my: Chicken Pad Thai Recipe, OR for an easier version, see: Easy Chicken Pad Thai Recipe.

    Step 1: Warm a pot of water on the stove until just before boiling. Remove from heat and immerse rice noodles. Allow to sit while you prepare the other ingredients.


    • 8-10 oz. thin Thai-style rice noodles (or enough for 2-3 people)
    • 1 to 1 1/2 cups raw chicken breast or thigh meat, sliced
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 tsp. cornstarch
    • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
    • 3 cups fresh bean sprouts
    • optional: 2 eggs
    • 3 spring (green) onions, sliced
    • approx. 1 cup fresh coriander
    • 1/3 cup crushed or roughly chopped peanuts (or other nuts, such as cashews)
    • 1/2 cup chicken stock
    • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper


    • 3/4 Tbsp. tamarind paste (available at Asian/Indian food stores)
    • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
    • 1-3 tsp. chili sauce (depending how spicy you want it)
    • 2 - 3 Tbsp. brown sugar (more or less to taste)
    Continue to 2 of 10 below.
  • 02 of 10

    "Marinate" the Chicken

    Preparing the Chicken Marinade. D.Schmidt

    Here is

    Place 2-3 Tbsp. soy sauce in a cup (use 3 Tbsp. for 1 1/2 cups sliced chicken, or 2 Tbsp. for 1 cup chicken). Add 2 tsp. cornstarch and stir until the cornstarch dissolves. Now pour this mixture over the sliced chicken. Stir to combine. Allow the chicken to marinate in this mixture until ready to use.

    Place 2-3 Tbsp. soy sauce in a cup (use 3 Tbsp. for 1 1/2 cups sliced chicken, or 2 Tbsp. for 1 cup chicken). Add 2 tsp. cornstarch and stir until the cornstarch dissolves. Now pour this mixture over the sliced chicken. Stir to combine. Allow the chicken to marinate in this mixture until ready to use.

    Continue to 3 of 10 below.
  • 03 of 10

    Make Pad Thai Sauce.

    Adding the Tamarind Paste. D.Schmidt

    To make the Pad Thai sauce, start with the tamarind paste. Measure approx. 3/4 Tbsp. of this sticky black paste into a cup. Add 1/4 cup water and stir until the paste dissolves in the water (it helps if you use warm water).

    Now add 2 Tbsp. fish sauce, 1-3 tsp. or more red chili sauce, depending on how spicy you want it, and 2 1/2 to 3 Tbsp. brown sugar.

    Note: This may seem like a lot of sugar, but you need it to balance out the sourness of the tamarind paste. This balance is what makes Pad Thai taste so wonderful!

    If you're not sure how much sugar to use, taste-test the sauce - note that it will be very strong at this point (the taste will be "watered-down" when distributed over the noodles). Set sauce near the stove for use later.

    Continue to 4 of 10 below.
  • 04 of 10

    Prepare the Eggs (if using).

    Preparing the Eggs. D.Schmidt

    I've made eggs optional in this recipe, as I find the chicken adds more than enough protein and flavor to the dish. However, since Thai chefs do add it to their Chicken Pad Thai, I also try to include it.

    Simply crack 2 eggs into a cup or bowl and stir enough to break the yolks. Set aside.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Check the Noodles.

    Checking the Noodles. D.Schmidt

    Check the noodles by picking out a few strands with your fingers.

    The ones shown in the picture are nearly ready, but require about 5 more minutes.

    Another way to see if noodles are done soaking is to check the texture. They should be soft enough to eat, but still firm (firmer than "al dente"). Remember: the noodles still have to be fried, so don't over-soak them, or they will turn out "mushy" instead of chewy.

    I find about 20 minutes of soaking time is enough. Drain and run through with cold water to keep them from sticking. Reserve.

    Continue to 6 of 10 below.
  • 06 of 10

    Begin Stir-Frying.

    Frying the Chicken. D.Schmidt

    Place a large (deep-sided) frying pan or wok over medium-high heat. When the wok/pan is hot, add 1-2 Tbsp. oil plus minced garlic (4 cloves). Stir-fry until fragrant (30 seconds to 1 minute).

    Add the chicken (together with the marinade). Stir-fry until the wok or pan becomes dry (30 seconds to 1 minute).

    Now begin adding some of the chicken stock. Add only a few Tbsp. at a time, enough to keep the chicken frying nicely. Keep stir-frying and adding stock until all the chicken stock (1/2 cup) is used up and chicken pieces/strips are cooked (about 5-8 minutes).

    Continue to 7 of 10 below.
  • 07 of 10

    Add the Egg (if using).

    Stir-Frying the Egg. D.Schmidt

    If you're omitting the egg, go on to Step 8.

    Using a spatula or wooden spoon, push chicken to the outside of the wok or pan. Now add the egg, pouring it into the space you've made in the centre. Quickly stir-fry until egg is cooked (this part is like making scrambled eggs).

    Don't worry if some of the chicken gets mixed up with the egg - Pad Thai is a messy business, so this is just fine!

    Note: Some Thai chefs fry the egg in a separate frying pan, which is neater and also keeps your wok cleaner (egg tends to make the bottom of the wok/pan sticky). But it's an extra step I only perform when I have the time.

    Continue to 8 of 10 below.
  • 08 of 10

    Add the Noodles and Sauce.

    Adding the Noodles and Sauce. D.Schmidt

    Now add the noodles (over the chicken/egg). Pour the Pad Thai sauce over the noodles, trying to distribute it as evenly as possible.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Stir-Fry the Noodles.

    "Tossing" the Noodles. D.Schmidt

    Using two spatulas, wooden spoons, or other utensils, quickly stir-fry the noodles.

    instead of the usual stir-frying motion, or the noodles with break apart.

    After frying the noodles in this way for 1-2 minutes, add the bean sprouts plus about 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper (sprinkle the black pepper over). Continue "tossing" for 1 more minute, or until noodles are done.

    When done, the noodles will taste soft but still chewy ("al dente") and a little sticky. At this point, you can add more fish sauce if you don't find the noodles salty enough (I usually add about 1 more Tbsp.).

    Note: Do not add any more liquid (other than fish or chili sauce) as you finish stir-frying, or your noodles will become "mushy". If your wok/frying pan is too dry, push noodles aside and add 1-2 Tbsp. oil, then continue cooking the noodles until done.

    Continue to 10 of 10 below.
  • 10 of 10

    Serve the Chicken Pad Thai Immediately!

    Chicken Pad Thai
    Delicious Chicken Pad Thai, topped with Peanuts, Coriander, and Lime. Copyright Darlene A. Schmidt, 10/07/10, corp.

    Continuing to use your 2 utensils, lift noodles onto a serving plate. Top with generous amounts of fresh coriander, spring onion (green onion), and crushed or chopped nuts.

    More Serving Options: You can also add any of the following -

    • fresh lime wedges
    • a sprinkling of dried chili flakes (or ground up dried chili peppers)
    • fresh-cut red chilies (but be careful - these are deadly!), OR
    • a bottle of red chili sauce or garlic-chili sauce on the side, for those who like their noodles extra spicy
    • cold lager (or a chilled glass of your favorite white/rose wine).

    Enjoy this dish that is the perfect addition to a Thai dinner party menu