Pad Thai Sauce

A small bowl of pad thai sauce ready for a noodle dish

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  • Total: 10 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Servings: 2 to 4 servings
  • Yield: 2/3 cup
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
58 Calories
0g Fat
14g Carbs
1g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2 to 4
Amount per serving
Calories 58
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1326mg 58%
Total Carbohydrate 14g 5%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Protein 1g
Calcium 10mg 1%
*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 beloved dish from Thailand that is popular around the world. It typically consists of flat rice noodles, meat or tofu, bean sprouts, peanuts, egg, and a flavorful sauce. The salty, sour, sweet, and savory sauce can easily be made at home with a short list of ingredients. Some versions use peanut butter, but this traditional recipe does not. The finished dish is usually garnished with peanuts for a nutty flavor and crunch.

The key to good pad thai sauce is tamarind. Tamarind is a kind of tropical fruit that comes in pods and adds a signature tangy flavor to dishes like pad thai. The best way to buy tamarind is as a prepared paste, available by the jar or bottle at Asian or Mexican markets. You can also find high-quality fish sauce, soy sauce, and chile sauce at Asian markets or at most well-stocked grocery stores.


Click Play to See This Pad Thai Sauce Recipe Come Together


  • 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons tamarind paste (to taste)
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons palm sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon chile sauce (or 1/3 to 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for pad thai sauce
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  2. Place all ingredients in a cup or small bowl and stir to dissolve both the tamarind paste and sugar. (Note: You will need lots of sugar to balance out the sourness of the tamarind.) When taste testing, keep in mind the following tips: In order to achieve the best results, your pad thai sauce should taste sweet first, followed by spicy-salty, and sour last.

    All ingredients are added to a cup and stirred with a spoon
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  3. Add more sugar if it tastes too sour to you, or add more chile sauce for more intense spiciness. Note that the sauce will taste almost too strong at this point, but once distributed throughout the noodles, the flavor will mellow.

    Adding more brown sugar to the sauce using a spoon
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  4. Your pad thai sauce is now ready to be used, or store it in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 2 weeks.

    Pad thai sauce in a bowl with a spoon, ready to use
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

How to Use

Pad thai sauce is most commonly used to make (you guessed it) pad thai. The sauce can be made up to a few days ahead of time and stored in the fridge.

  • When making pad thai, cook or soak your rice noodles until slightly firm (or al dente). They will finish cooking in the pan.
  • As the noodles cook, stir-fry your other ingredients. Chicken, shrimp, and tofu are the most common protein choices, however, pork and beef can also be used.
  • Add the sauce and noodles and stir-fry until the noodles are tender and the meat is cooked through.
  • Garnish your pad thai with bean sprouts, chopped peanuts, and/or fresh cilantro and serve with extra chile sauce for more heat.

Recipe Variations

  • Vegetarians and vegans can enjoy a vegan-style pad thai, which substitutes vegetable stock for the chicken stock in the sauce and omits the fish sauce.
  • Those with gluten sensitivities can substitute the soy sauce for a wheat-free variety or use liquid aminos as a replacement.