Chicken Pad Thai Noodles are the perfect easy weeknight meal. Best of all, this homemade meal prep recipe is full of authentic flavors and so much better than restaurant takeout! Plus recipe video!
Chicken Pad Thai is my favorite thing ever to order whenever we go for Asian takeout. In fact, if I had to choose just one food that I wouldn’t mind eating forever, it would noodles OR anything Thai-inspired.
Pad Thai has to be the most popular dish that everyone thinks of when it comes to Thai food. But in Thailand, Pad Thai is just a common street dish you can find just about everywhere.
We have family in back in Bangkok and used to visit there often. I fell completely head over heels in love…especially for the food.
Their signature flavors made up of sweet, sour, spicy and savory are serious the best!
I spent a big chunk of my visits in the kitchen just following my aunts along and helping them out with meals whenever they let me. Of course, Pad Thai was on my list of things we had to perfect.
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST CHICKEN PAD THAI NOODLES AT HOME:
First off, you’re going to need to replicate the FOUR signature flavors of Chicken Pad Thai.
Sweet – coconut sugar
Spicy – sambal oeleck (red garlic chili paste)
Sour – Tamarind concentrate
Salty – Fish sauce
Luckily, you can usually find these ingredients at your local Asian shop or in the International section of your grocery store
2. Next are the rice noodles.
The key is to prepare your rice noodles until they are just al dente so they don’t turn mushy when you fry them. I like to soak mine in hot water for about 7-10 minutes, then rinse with cold water. They should look like this 🔽
3. The vegetables
For my Chicken Pad Thai recipe, I usually like to add a colorful assortment of veggies.
Red bell peppers, purple cabbage, carrots, bean sprouts and cilantro. You can easily swap out whatever vegetables you like or have on hand. Use a mandoline or food processor to make super thin pieces.
We use chicken here, but you can also add shrimp for a Chicken and Shrimp Pad Thai version or even beef or pork. Leave out the meat and add tofu for a meatless version.
The best part about making your own restaurant takeout style Chicken Pad Thai at home is that dinner can be on the table in as little as 25 minutes. Or less if you have everything prepped ahead of time!
Much quicker and better than takeout! Plus, it reheats beautifully so it makes delicious leftovers for lunch the next day.
Make ahead tips and substitutions for Chicken Pad Thai Noodles
- wash and chop your vegetables the day before and store in a zip-top bag or sealable container in the fridge
- slice chicken and store in an air-tight container in the fridge the day before
- add shrimp or make this with beef, pork or fried tofu for a vegetarian version instead
- use the skillet to cook the noodles before-hand and this can be a one pot meal
- instead of rice noodles – use spiralized veggies like zoodles or sweet potato noodles
- if you don’t have access to tamarind concentrate (more watery – NOT tamarind paste which is thicker) – use 3 tablespoons lime juice or rice vinegar instead. I use the one below which I get at my local Asian supermarket.
- use gluten free tamari or coconut aminos for a gluten free version
- fish sauce is HIGHLY recommended for that unmistakeable Thai flavor. For a VEGAN & GLUTEN version, check out FYSH SAUCE as a great substitute. But if you still t must skip it, use additional soy sauce instead
- if you like a saucier Pad Thai – double the sauce and add desired amount to noodles. Save the leftovers for a stir-fry or even a salad.
WEEKLY MEAL PREP-TIPS FOR YOUR SCHOOL OR WORK LUNCH BOWLS.
- Chicken Pad Thai would make delicious leftovers or make a batch on Sunday meal prep and pack for your weekly school or work lunch bowls
- For easier weekly meal prep – prepare all the vegetables ahead of time and store in an airtight container the night before.
- Pack with your favorite side – Jasmine rice, brown rice, cauliflower rice or spiralized vegetables – zoodles – I use this lunch container
More lunch bowls:
- 3-1/2 Tablespoons tamarind concentrate more watery - NOT tamarind paste which is thicker(HIGHLY recommended but if you can't find it, sub with 1/4-1/3 cup fresh lime juice)
- 2 teaspoons Thai red chili sauce Sambal Oelek or Sriracha to taste)(I like mine spicy so I usually add about 3/4 tablespoons)
- 4 Tablespoons fish sauce highly recommended**
- 3 Tablespoons oyster sauce recommended - use gluten free if necessary or low sodium soy sauce (use gluten free tamari or coconut aminos for paleo friendly version)
- 4 Tablespoons coconut sugar or brown sugar
- 1.5 teaspoons concentrated tomato paste optional for additional color and to mimic the North American version as the authentic Thai version does not use this
- 8 ounces dried uncooked rice noodles
- 2 Tablespoons cooking oil avocado oil for a healthier version
- 6 oz chicken breast sliced thinly
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 shallot diced
- 1/3 cup grated carrots
- 1 red or green bell pepper thinly sliced (I used a combo of both for color, but you totally don't have to)
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
- 1 lime wedge
- salt, black pepper and more fish sauce to taste
- Chopped fresh cilantro bean sprouts, chopped roasted peanuts, green onions and additional lime wedges
- Prepare the rice noodles according to package instructions. (I usually just soak mine for 6-7 minutes in boiling water). They should be soft but not mushy - see my photo above for how it should look at this point. Drain and immediately rinse under cool water and set aside in a colander.
- While the noodles are cooking, whisk together the sauce ingredients in a medium bowl. If you prefer a sweeter pad thai - add additional sugar. For a spicier version, add additional chili paste.
- Heat the oil in a large wok or non-stick skillet over high heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned and mostly cooked through (about 3-4 minutes). Stir in the ginger, garlic, and shallots and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the carrots and bell pepper and cook for 1-2 minutes, until tender crisp. Push all the ingredients over to one side of the pan. Pour the beaten egg and scramble directly in the skillet.
Add noodles and pour the sauce over top. Toss with tongs to evenly coat noodles. Remove from heat (do not overcook the noodles or they will get soggy).
- Squeeze in juice from the lime wedge and adjust seasoning by adding some salt, black pepper, fish sauce, (tomato paste - if using) and chili paste.
- Serve hot on a large platter with garnishes by sprinkling on cilantro, bean sprouts, peanuts and green onions and additional lime wedges on the side.
- For meal prep, divide the noodles evenly into lunch boxes and store in refrigerator until ready to reheat.
If you like more sauce, double the amount of sauce and add desired amount and save the rest in an airtight container for next time or use it up in a stir-fry or salad.
**Fish sauce is available in the Asian food section of most grocery stores or you can purchase it online. They also make a VEGAN version as well as a gluten free version. I HIGHLY recommend using any one of these, as it adds important saltiness and irreplaceable Thai flavor to the dish. If you must make a substitution, use additional low-sodium soy sauce.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Reheat gently in the microwave with a splash of water or chicken broth to keep the noodles from drying out
It’s 30 Minute Thursday, don’t forget to stop by and check out more 30 minute meals from my blogger friends:
Interested in other Asian Recipes? Check out this Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken