Effortless Pad Thai! Less than 30 minutes to authentic, real-deal Pad Thai noodles.
When it comes to iconic Thai cuisine, Pad Thai will always be part of that conversation. Alongside Tom Yum, this might be the most popular Thai dish worldwide!
“Pad Thai” literally translates to “Thai stir-fry” English, with “Pad” meaning stir-fry or sauté, and “Thai” indicating its origin in Thailand.
While this may be one of the most popular street food in Bangkok, I would only order it in Thai restaurants! The street versions are never quite as good – I find most of the flavours to be too watered down, and never quite as complex as restaurant versions.
But I do love the flavours of Pad Thai! Plenty of dishes are sweet, tangy and savoury, but none taste quite like Pad Thai. I set out to make my own at home, and I was amazed at how quick and easy it is with VERY MINIMAL ingredients!
Why you will LOVE this Pad Thai Recipe
- QUICK & EASY: With just a few key ingredients you can whip up a plate of Pad Thai that is restaurant-quality in less than 30 minutes! Simple and speedy, this is one of my top choices for a quick weeknight dinner when you want something delicious without spending hours in the kitchen.
- FLAVOUR EXPLOSION: Pad Thai is beloved for the perfect harmony of Thai flavours! It’s just the right balance of sweet, savoury and sour, all blended in one dish. It’s not a spicy dish, so this is family-friendly too.
- CUSTOMISABLE: Pad Thai is incredibly versatile! It is easy to adjust the ingredients and allow for various substitutions to suit different dietary preferences! Whether you’re a carnivore, pescatarian, vegetarian, or vegan, there’s a Pad Thai version for you.
- AUTHENTIC FLAVOURS: This recipe gets you an authentic plate of Pad Thai!
Key Ingredients for Pad Thai
- Rice Noodles: Pad Thai noodles are typically made from rice flour, giving them their distinctive chewy texture. The choice of rice noodles is crucial to achieving the right Pad Thai experience. Typically the rice noodles come in a dry form, and requires prep work to soften before cooking.
- Proteins: I used big juicy prawns for my Pad Thai, but common protein options include chicken or tofu, or a combination of these.
- Dried Shrimps: Most Pad Thai recipes will not include dried shrimps, but it will elevate your dish so much more. Dried Shrimps provide a delicious umami layer of flavour, while giving the noodles a nice textural change with its gritty texture. Give dried shrimps a quick rinse under water, and chop to smaller pieces.
- Garlic and Shallots: These aromatics are essential for building flavour in the stir-fry.
- Bean Sprouts: Beansprouts add a nice crunch to the dish, but you can pretty much use any vegetable of choice.
- Garlic Chives: This is the herb of choice for Pad Thai. It can be easily replaceable with spring onions or green onions.
- Garnishes: Chilli flakes, chopped peanuts, lime wedges, and more fresh beansprouts are preferred garnishes to add to the dish for final touch of crunch and brightness, enhancing both texture and taste. Personally I’m not a fan of chopped peanuts, so I omit from my own plate!
- Chai Po (preserved radish): Chai po is sometimes stir fried with Pad Thai in Thailand. These are preserved radish that is sweet and salty. It’s chewy but it does have a slight crunch to it. In Singapore, there are two versions of it: a sweet-salty version and a saltier version. Use the sweeter version for better balance of flavours. I do not add this to my Pad Thai usually!
The Pad Thai Sauce
The most essential part of Pad Thai, that makes Pad Thai unique – the seasoning! You need just three ingredients:
- Tamarind Paste: Tamarind paste provides the signature tangy, mildly sweet flavour to Pad Thai. It’s a key ingredient that sets this dish apart. This is the Adabi brand that I always use, but it may not be too widely available globally. This is a good alternative. Generally, the tamarind paste should NOT have any other added salt or sugar, or any other flavourings.
Tamarind paste is convenient and widely available, but you can also use tamarind pulp. To a tablespoon of pulp, add about 4-5 tablespoons of warm water. Work hands in to loosen the tamarind from the seeds. Strain the mixture and discard the seeds. Use just the tamarind liquid.
- Fish Sauce: Fish sauce adds a salty umami depth to the dish, contributing to its savoury profile. I use the Tiparos brand of fish sauce, but any brand available to you will work, such as this. For vegetarians and vegans, replace this with soy sauce or other fish sauce alternative of choice.
- Palm Sugar: Palm sugar lends the sweetness to Pad Thai, balancing the sourness of tamarind. If using block palm sugar, thinly shave off what you need with a knife. You can substitute it with coconut sugar (my choice!) or brown sugar if needed.
- Water: A splash of water is crucial to create a saucy sauce. Use warm water to dissolve the sugar and for easier stirring. Not only does it help to combine the sauce ingredients to a sauce, it will also the noodles to combine easier with sauce in the wok.
In this recipe, I used a tablespoon each of the ingredient to get the sauce. This is a good base to start from. Always taste test and adjust accordingly! Every brand will have their own degree of flavour and intensity. The sauce should be a good blend of sweet, tangy and salty – no one flavour should overpower. Basically if it tastes good as is, it’s good to go!
How to Make Pad Thai
Step 1: Soak the Rice Noodles
Begin by soaking the rice noodles in hot water until they become pliable, then drain them.
Soak in water for 30 minutes, or until the rice noodles are malleable – this is too long for me so this is my go-to step instead.
Soak the rice noodles in hot water for 5 minutes until the noodles are soft and malleable. Immediately drain once the noodles are soft. If too soft, the noodles might break easily when being stir fried.
Step 2: Prepare the Sauce
Combine tamarind paste, fish sauce, palm sugar, and water to create the Pad Thai sauce. Adjust the proportions to achieve your desired balance of sweet, sour, and savoury.
Step 3: Sauté Aromatics
In a wok or large skillet, sauté garlic, shallots and the dried shrimps in oil until fragrant.
Step 4: Add Protein
Once fragrant, add proteins of choice such as shrimp, chicken, or tofu, to the wok and cook until they are cooked through.
Push the ingredients to one side, and add egg. Scramble to cook and combine with the rest of the ingredients in the wok.
Step 5: Stir in Noodles
Add the soaked rice noodles to the wok, followed by the sauce. Toss everything together until the noodles are well-coated and heated through.
Add the bean sprouts and garlic chives next and stir fry to combine.
Step 6: Garnish and Serve
Remove from heat, garnish with more bean sprouts, chilli flakes, chopped peanuts, and lime wedges. These add texture, crunch, and freshness to the dish.
More Recipes Like This
- Pad Kee Mao | Spicy Thai Basil ‘Drunken Noodles’
- Pad Woon Sen | Thai Stir Fried Glass Noodles
- Pad See Ew | Thai Stir Fried Rice Noodles
Pad ThaiCourse: Recipes
1 serving (2oz/60g) dry rice noodles, soaked in boiling water for 5 minutes
- PAD THAI SAUCE
1 tbsp tamarind paste
1 tbsp palm sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsps warm water
- PAD THAI
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 shallot or 1/4 medium onion, sliced
1 tbsp dried shrimp, medium size, roughly chopped
5-6 medium sized shrimp, or as many as you like
1/2 cup bean sprouts, loosely packed
3-4 stalks garlic chives, cut into 2” pieces
lime, chili flakes, roasted peanuts, bean sprouts and garlic chives
- Start by soaking the rice noodles in warm water for about 10-15 minutes or until they become pliable. Drain and set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the tamarind paste, fish sauce, palm sugar, and warm water to create your Pad Thai sauce. Stir until the sugar completely dissolves. Adjust the balance of flavours to your liking.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic, sliced shallots and dried shrimps. Sauté for about 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
- Push the garlic, shallots and dried shrimps to one side of the wok, and add proteins. Allow shrimps to cook, or until both sides of the shrimp has turned orange.
- Push ingredients to one side and pour in egg. Scramble the egg until it is cooked, before stir frying with the other ingredients.
- Toss in the soaked and drained rice noodles, followed by the Pad Thai sauce. Stir-fry everything together for 2-3 minutes until the noodles are well-coated and heated through.
- Add bean sprouts and garlic chives and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
- Transfer your Pad Thai to a serving plate, garnish with lime wedges, chilli flakes for spice, chopped roasted peanuts, and remaining fresh bean sprouts and garlic chives.