Bring restaurant quality Chicken Pad Thai home with this authentic pad Thai recipe. It’s sweet, savory, and absolutely flavor-packed for a fantastic easy meal.
Chicken Pad Thai Recipe
Whether you’re a huge fan of Thai food or trying it for the first time, you are going to love this Chicken Pad Thai recipe! It’s quick and easy to make, unlike many recipes out there that can take hours, and while I did stick to authentic ingredients they’re all ones you should have no trouble finding at the local food marketing.
With rice noodles, chicken breasts, and veggies, this pad Thai recipe makes a complete and filling meal. It’s a bit savory and a bit sweet with a lot of umami flavor, thanks to the fish sauce and soy sauce. It’s not super sweet like some you’ll find in the restaurants, but you can add more sugar if needed.
Pad Thai (occasionally spelled phat Thai or phad Thai) is a stir fry dish made with rice noodles, eggs, veggies, and a protein. It’s very popular in Thailand and often served as a street food instead of at a formal restaurant. It can be made with chicken, shrimp, tofu, or just veggies and the sauce is made with tamarind, fish sauce, and palm sugar.
Pad translates to “to stir fry” and Thai simply refers to Thailand. So the meaning of pad Thai is literally “Thai stir fry”.
Pad Thai has a flavor that’s equal parts sweet and savory. (Though many times in American Thai restaurants it’s very sweet.) It’s a little salty, a bit nutty, and also has a deep umami flavor. The taste of pad Thai also changes based on the ingredients used.
Most pad Thai is gluten free, since it’s made with rice noodles, but it is not guaranteed. You should always ask to confirm if enjoying the dish in a restaurant. In the case of this pad Thai recipe, double-check the labels of the ingredients you grab as it can vary from brand to brand but most likely, yes, this recipe will be gluten-free.
Chicken pad Thai isn’t made with a long list of ingredients, though some of the ingredients may be a bit unusual. You can usually find them at your local market, any Asian food market, get them on Amazon.
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
For the Pad Thai Sauce
- Palm sugar – See notes below.
- Fish sauce – The base of the sauce. There really aren’t any substitutions for this and it’s a key ingredient, so don’t skip it!
- Tamarind paste – Helps to sweeten the sauce and gives a unique flavor.
- Lime juice – Use freshly squeezed if possible.
- Soy sauce – Adds umami flavor.
- Red pepper flakes – For just a slight hint of heat.
For the Pad Thai Noodles
- Vermicelli rice noodles – Cook according to package instructions.
- Vegetable oil – For sautéing the chicken.
- Chicken breast – Cut into bite-sized pieces.
- Garlic – Use fresh for best flavor.
- Eggs – A traditional ingredient, similar to Chinese fried rice.
- Scallions – Use only the green part.
- Bean sprouts – Divided, as some are used as a garnish.
- Garnishes – Fresh chopped parsley, chopped peanuts, and lime wedges are traditional garnishes.
A Note on Palm Sugar
I used this palm sugar for convenience. This style of palm sugar dissolves in liquid. Palm sugar in its natural form is a hard disk. To use, you need to cook it in the sauce before starting to assemble the pad Thai. I believe this is the easiest way to cook this recipe, instead of using the hard disks.
I used traditional ingredients for this recipe, however there are always ways to switch it up. Here are a few ideas.
- Veggies I suggest – Baby corn cut in half, thinly sliced bell pepper, thinly sliced sweet onion, matchstick carrots, snow peas, zucchini, cabbage, or broccoli. I would saute the veggies after the chicken step and would use another 1 tablespoon of oil. Place on a plate and repeat with the remaining steps. Add them back to the skillet at the same step you add the chicken back in.
- Other proteins that work – Shrimp, pork, beef, and tofu all work great in pad Thai.
- Make it sweeter – Even though there is a cup of palm sugar along with the tamarind, this pad Thai is not super sweet like you find at most American restaurants. It is still sweet but has more of a balance between salty, sweet, acidic, and umami. If you want it sweeter, add up to another 1/2 cup of palm sugar, granulated sugar, or brown sugar.
How to Make Chicken Pad Thai
Ready to make pad Thai at home? Here’s how to do it.
(Scroll down to the printable recipe card for details and measurements, and don’t miss the video below.)
- Make the pad Thai sauce. Shake the sauce ingredients in a large jar with a lid until combined.
- Cook the noodles. Cook the rice noodles according to the package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
- Cook the chicken. Cook the chicken in a large wok with olive oil until almost done. Transfer to a plate.
- Cook the eggs. Wipe out the wok then saute the garlic until just fragrant. Stir in the eggs. Add the chicken and combine it with the eggs.
- Add the other ingredients. Add the noodles, stirring with tongs so they don’t stick together. Add the sauce and toss to coat. Cook for 10 minutes, until about 3/4 of the sauce is absorbed. Add the scallions and part of the bean sprouts.
- Serve. Garnish with the remaining sprouts, cilantro, peanuts, and lime wedges.
Video: How to Make Pad Thai
How to Store Leftovers
Enjoy your chicken pad Thai as soon as it’s finished cooking, as the noodles absorb the sauce fairly quickly.
- Storing leftovers. If there are any leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Reheat. To reheat, I suggest microwaving or heating back up in the wok/skillet. The noodles will absorb all of the liquid, to counteract this I like to put some unsalted chicken or vegetable stock in the skillet to break up the noodles and loosen everything up. How much you add is up to the volume of leftovers you have. Just add a little at a time to your desired preference.
- Freeze. You can also freeze pad Thai for up to 3 months in a freezer-safe container. Thaw in the fridge then reheat with the directions above.
More Asian Recipes:
Chicken Pad Thai
For the Pad Thai Sauce
- 1 cup palm sugar (see note below)
- 1/3 cup fish sauce
- 3 tablespoons tamarind paste
- 2 tablespoons lime juice , freshly squeezed
- 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
For the Pad Thai Noodles
- 14 ounces vermicelli rice noodles
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 pound chicken breast , thinly sliced into bite-sized pieces
- 4 cloves garlic , minced
- 4 large eggs , well beaten
- 4 scallions , green part only, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 cups fresh bean sprouts , divided
- fresh chopped parsley , for garnish
- finely chopped peanuts , for garnish
- lime wedges , for garnish
- Place the palm sugar, fish sauce, tamarind paste, lime juice, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes into a large jar with a lid. Shake vigorously until combined. (If all the sugar doesn’t dissolve, give it a stir until it is incorporated. Alternatively, you can place the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and whisk them together.) Set aside.
- Cook the rice noodles per the directions on the package. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop them from cooking, set aside.
- Heat a large wok (I use a 14-inch wok) or very large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil; once hot, add the chicken and cook until almost done, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
- Wipe out the wok and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the garlic and cook until just fragrant, 20 seconds.
- Add the well-beaten eggs and stir them around until just done.
- Add the chicken back to the pan and mix it with the eggs.
- Add the noodles and break them up so they are not sticking together, mix everything together (doing this with tongs makes it easier.)
- Add the sauce and stir so everything is coated.
- Allow to cook, stirring occasionally until 3/4 of the sauce is absorbed, about 10 minutes.
- Add the scallions and 1 cup of fresh bean sprouts. Toss to combine.
- Serve immediately. Garnish with the remaining fresh bean sprouts, fresh cilantro, peanuts, and lime wedges.