Homemade Pad Thai (Chicken)

This Chicken Pad Thai Recipe rivals any restaurant but is made with pantry friendly ingredients, is less expensive and on your table in 30 minutes!  It boasts the most irresistible savory, sweet, salty, sour Pad Thai Sauce that readers call, “AMAZING,” “phenomenal” and “⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.”   You can customize the heat, veggies and protein of your your Pad Thai recipe – the possibilities are endless and so is the deliciousness! 

WATCH: How to Make Pad Thai (Chicken)

Chicken Pad Thai


 

Close up view of Chicken Pad Thai in a blue pan.
ingredient icon

Homemade Pad Thai Ingredients

I am telling you upfront that this is an Americanized version of Pad Thai but it tastes like authentic Pad Thai.  Authentic Pad Thai uses tamarind paste which can either be difficult to locate or just not as realistic because you will probably only ever use it for your Pad Thai recipe.  Instead, I’ve used the classic substitute of lime juice and rice vinegar.  I’ve also used brown sugar in the place of palm sugar.   Our other cast of characters that we simply whisk with our lime juice, rice vinegar and brown sugar include soy sauce, fish sauce, peanut butter, chili sauce, dried basil, dried coriander and pepper.  This dynamic sauce is simple but tastes authentic with its tangy, savory slightly spicy kick.

Aside from tasting yummy-licious, a great thing about making your own Pad Thai Sauce is you can completely customize the Pad Thai Sauce to your liking.  Add more chili sauce if you like it spicier, add more lime juice if you like it tangier.  I tend to like it tangier, so in this Chicken Pad Thai recipe, I have you cook the Pad Thai in the sauce and then have you taste it and add one additional tablespoon lime juice to give it more tang.  If some of your eaters like it more tangy or spicier, individuals can customize their own servings with fresh limes and chili sauce.

Let’s take a closer look at what you’ll need to make this recipe (full measurements in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):

FOR THE STIR FRY NOODLES

  • Rice Noodles: Look for ¼-inch wide rice noodles in the Asian section of your grocery store. I use Thai Kitchen Stir Fry Rice Noodles.
  • Chicken: Use chicken breasts or thighs sliced into thin strips, then into 2-inch pieces.
  • Oil: Use a neutral, high smoking point oil such as vegetable or peanut oil for stir frying. Do NOT use olive oil because it can burn at high heat and can overpower the noodles.
  • Toasted sesame oil: A “secret ingredient” that adds an irresistible, subtle nutty flavor.
  • Vegetables: Use your favs! I recommend thinly sliced red bell pepper, matchstick carrots and bean sprouts.
  • Shallots: Shallots are small, mild-flavored onions with a subtle garlic undertone, ideal for stir fries to add a depth of flavor without overpowering the dish.
  • Garlic: I use four cloves, use more or less depending on how much you love garlic.
  • Peanuts: Make sure they are unsalted or your Pad Thai will be too salty!
  • Eggs: Two eggs will be beaten before adding to the stir fry.
  • Finishing touches: Cilantro and green onions add the extra herbaceous nuances at the end of cooking.

FOR THE STIR FRY SAUCE

  • Soy sauce: This grounds the sauce and adds the salty, savory undertone. Please use low sodium soy sauce so your sauce isn’t too salty.
  • Fish sauce: This will not make your recipe taste fishy! Fish sauce is used in all Thai cooking for fabulous umami flavor. It’s like the umami of soy on steroids.
  • Lime: You may use fresh or bottled lime juice but fresh is always best. I will freeze lime juice in cubes so I always have some on hand.
  • Rice vinegar**: **This balances the sweet and savory. Make sure to use unseasoned rice vinegar. If you don’t keep it stocked, you may substitute with white vinegar.
  • Brown sugar: This adds sweetness to balance the soy, fish sauce and lime juice.
  • Peanut Butter: Use your fav! However, I find spoonable, conventional peanut butter (peanut butter you can spoon right out of the jar without having to mix the oil back in) to work the best. Brand name peanut butter such as Skippy or Jif are perfect for this recipe.
  • Asian chili sauce**: **Use your favorite Asian chili sauce or paste like Sambal Oelek. Use more or less to taste.
  • Seasonings: Ground coriander, ground ginger, dried basil and pepper add a depth of complex flavor and elevate this Pad Thai recipe to the BEST!
Top view of Chicken Pad Thai with lime and cilantro.

How to Make Chicken Pad Thai

Let’s take a closer look at how to make Pad Thai with step-by-step photos (full recipe in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):

  1. Prepare Rice Noodles. Soak according to package directions, taking care they are a slightly crunchy/al dente because they will cook more in the sauce. Rinse noodles in cold water, drain and toss in with 1 teaspoon sesame oil.
  2. Make Stir Fry Sauce. Add all the Sauce Ingredients to a medium mixing bowl. Whisk together and set aside.
  3. Stir Fry Chicken. Add chicken to sizzling hot oil in a large wok or deep saucepan. Let it cook undisturbed for 1 minute, then continue to stir fry just until cooked. Transfer to a plate.
  4. Stir Fry Vegetables. Add bell peppers and shallots to sizzling oil in the now empty pan. Stir fry for 1 minute, then add carrots and garlic and stir fry 1 additional minute.
  5. Add Eggs. Pour in the beaten eggs over vegetables and cook, stirring constantly, just until scrambled.
  6. Add Sauce and Noodles. Add then toss until evenly combined and continue to stir and cook until noodles are al-dente, 1-2 minutes.
  7. Add Chicken Back. Stir in chicken, bean sprouts, green onions and peanuts and heat through.
  8. Garnish. Taste and add one additional tablespoon lime juice if desired for more tang (optional, I prefer it this way) and chili sauce to taste. Top with cilantro and serve.

Best Pad Thai Recipe Tips

  • As discussed, don’t overcook your Pad Thai noodles so they are perfectly chewy.
  • For maximum efficiency, use the time while the noodles are soaking to whisk together your Pad Thai Sauce ingredients.
  • Have your Pad Thai Sauce ready and all your chicken and veggies chopped before you start cooking because the actual cooking process is super quick and you want everything ready to go at your fingertips.
  • If you don’t like heat at all, start with less than one tablespoon chili paste.  I would say 1 tablespoon is about a 3 on the heat scale at a Thai restaurant, which is what most people order.
  • Add additional lime juice at the end of cooking if you want it tangier.
  • Garnish, garnish, garnish!  Crunchy peanuts and cilantro are the crowning glory of this Chicken Pad Thai!

Chicken Pad Thai in a green blue bowl.

Chicken Pad Thai Recipe Variations

I love that by making Pad Thai at home you can customize to your own tastes by adding different vegetables or proteins and making it tangier, sweeter or spicier.

  • Veggies:  As far as veggies go, I’ve included red bell peppers, matchstick carrots and bean sprouts because this combo is my fav out of everything I’ve tried but you can omit the red bell peppers and carrot or substitute them for whatever veggies you want.  Having tried different combinations, however, I DONT suggest skipping the bean sprouts.  They add a fresh crunch that will be missed.
  • Shrimp Pad Thai:  If you don’t want to make Chicken Pad Thai, you can leave the chicken out or substitute it for shrimp or tofu.  If substituting shrimp, use 8 oz. peeled, deveined medium shrimp.  Cook them as you would the chicken just until opaque, about 3 minutes.  Remove to a plate per the chicken instructions.
  • Tofu Pad Thai:  For Pad Thai with tofu, use 4 ounces of extra-firm tofu, cut into ½ inch cubes and add them to the skillet with the noodles at the end of cooking.

Now that you know more than you ever wanted to about Chicken Pad Thai, it’s time to go make your own world famous worthy Pad Thai in the comfort of your own home.  In 30 minutes.

How to Serve Pad Thai Chicken

Pad Thai is a meal-in-one complete with protein, veggies and starch, so call dinner done or serve it with:

Pad Thai Chicken FAQs

What is the main flavor in Pad Thai?

Pad Thai is a harmonious blend of sweet, savory, and tangy notes. It’s salty from the fish sauce, sour from the tamarind pulp (I use pantry friendly substitutes in my version) and sweet from the palm sugar (we substitute brown sugar in my version) with plenty of crushed peanuts, cilantro and bean sprouts.

Is Pad Thai supposed to be sweet or spicy?

Pad Thai is meant to be a balanced combination of sweet, savory, tangy, and slightly spicy flavors. While it has a touch of sweetness from ingredients like sugar, it is not overly sweet. The spice level can be adjusted according to personal preference by adding more or less Asian chili sauce, but traditional Pad Thai has a mild to moderate spiciness.

More Recipes like this Chicken Pad Thai:

Close up view of a fork taking a bite of Chicken Pad Thai.

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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

This Chicken Pad Thai Recipe is unbelievable with the most incredible pantry friendly Pad Thai Sauce!  It tastes even better than takeout and only 30 minutes to make!  You can use chicken or make it vegetarian Pad Thai or Shrimp Pad Thai!

Best Pad Thai Recipe

This Chicken Pad Thai Recipe rivals any restaurant but is made with pantry friendly ingredients, is less expensive and on your table in 30 minutes! Devour your favorite Chicken Pad Thai smothered in the most irresistible savory, sweet, salty, sour Pad Thai Sauce with crunchy peanuts and veggies!   You can completely customize your recipe to include whatever veggies or protein you want to make it Chicken Pad Thai, Shrimp Pad Thai or Vegetarian Pad Thai!  The possibilities are endless and so is the deliciousness! 
Servings: 4 servings
Total Time: 28 minutes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes

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Ingredients

Stir Fry

  • 8 oz. ¼” wide rice noodle may sub fettuccine*
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or peanut oil
  • 1 lb. chicken breast, sliced into thin strips then 2” pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper thinly sliced then halved
  • 1/3 cup minced shallots
  • 1 1/2 cups Matchstick carrots
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 cups (6 oz.) Bean Sprouts
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice (optional)

Sauce

Instructions

  • Prepare rice noodles according to package directions, taking care they are a slightly crunchy/al dente because they will cook more in the sauce. Rinse noodles in cold water, drain and toss in with 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Set aside.
  • Add all of the Sauce Ingredients to a medium mixing bowl. Whisk together and set aside.
  • While rice noodles are soaking, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable/peanut oil in a deep large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Once very hot, add chicken and let cook undisturbed for 1 minute then continue to stir fry just until cooked. Transfer to a plate. Wipe out pan.
  • Heat one tablespoon oil in same skillet and heat over medium high heat. Add bell peppers and shallots and sauté 1 minute. Add carrots and garlic and sauté 1 additional minute. Reduce heat to medium and pour beaten eggs over vegetables and cook, stirring constantly, just until scrambled.
  • Add sauce and noodles and increase heat to medium-high. Toss until evenly combined and continue to stir and cook until noodles are al-dente, 1-2 minutes. Stir in chicken, bean sprouts, green onions and peanuts and heat through.
  • Taste and add one additional tablespoon lime juice if desired for more tang (optional, I prefer it this way) and chili sauce to taste. Top with cilantro and serve.

Video

Notes

*Rice noodles can usually be found in the Asian section of your grocery store.  Sometimes they are called stir-fry rice noodles.  If you can’t find them, then Amazon is a great option.

original SAUCE quanity

I have updated this recipe to include 1.5X the amount of sauce on 10-26-21 per reader requests.  If you made it previous to this date and prefer the original, here it is:

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148 Comments

  1. Kate says

    Great recipe. My husband says it’s one of the best meals I’ve made in ten years. I didn’t have the dried coriander, so I imagine it would be even better that way. Keep making such yumminess. 🙂

    • Jen says

      Yay Kate! I am so happy you and your husband enjoyed it! Thanks for taking the time to leave such a sweet comment!

  2. Anna says

    This turned out AMAZING!!! Even my kids liked it and they are so picky!! Definitely making this A LOT ❤️❤️!!

    • Jen says

      Thank you for taking the time to comment, Anna! I am so happy this was such a hit, yay! I hope you have fun exploring my site and hopefully find some more family favorites!

  3. Tracey says

    This was ridiculously yummy, I make allot of your recipes and they never disappoint! You’re quite a chef! Thank you

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Tracey, thank you so much for making my recipes!

  4. Mar says

    I don’t ever leave reviews – but this recipe is sooo good. I tweaked a little (skipped the carrots, used pea shoot because WF was out of sprouts, and included a red chili pepper sliced up which I highly recommend if you like a little heat – I’ll probably add 2 next time. Also skipped the egg because of personal preference). I’m obsessed!

    • Jen says

      Thank you, Mar! I am so happy you enjoyed this recipe and that your adjustments worked well! Thanks for taking the time to leave a review!

  5. Megan says

    Bless you for this recipe!! I have been craving good Pad Thai since moving to a new country and now that I’m pregnant I’ve literally cried wanting to go back and get it. We had our favorite Thai restaurant we’d go to all the time and since moving to a new place have not found what I was looking for. THIS!! Best Pad Thai!!

    • Jen says

      Yay! I am so happy to hear this Pad Thai was a winner! Thank you so much, Megan!

  6. Peter Brosch says

    This is one of the best pad, Thai recipes I have cooked. I made this many times now and even for a happy hour and it was completely gone. However, I feel I am a pretty good cook and there’s no way you can do everything in 30 minutes there is just too many steps from cutting all the chicken and all the vegetables and making the sauce then the noodles it just takes way longer. That is the only negative for this recipe.

    • Jen says

      Thanks for your review Peter! I am so glad that it has been a repeat meal!

      • Ruann says

        I wish you told us how many servings this recipe makes. I don’t know how much to make for a crowd!

        • Jen says

          Hi Ruann, the servings are listed in the recipe card. It makes 4 servings. Enjoy!

  7. Robert Orzechowski says

    Great tasting recipe.

    • Jen says

      I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  8. Jasmine says

    If we have tamarind paste, what is the suggested amount to use in the sauce instead of the lime juice and rice vinegar?

    • Jen says

      Someone commented that they used 1/2 Tablespoons of tamarind paste and it was perfect! Hope this helps!

  9. Michael Norman says

    LOVE the flavor – crazy delicious! Thanks for all you do to make me look like a superstar chef at home! My only issue is with the “30 minutes to table” – maybe if I had all of the prep work done ahead of time, but it took almost that long just to cut the matchstick carrots – ha! But I am happy I stuck with it and had the pleasure of eating it. So good!

    • Jen says

      Thank you! I’m so glad that it was worth the time!

  10. Tanya says

    Absolutely delicious, quick and easy recipe. So full of flavour. Thanks for sharing:-)

    • Jen says

      Thanks! I am so happy to hear it!

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