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Get ready to take your taste buds on a trip to Thailand with this authentic Pad Thai recipe! In this post, I’ll be sharing my take on this tasty dish, complete with step-by-step instructions and helpful tips to ensure your Pad Thai turns out perfect every time. From the tangy tamarind paste to the crunchy peanuts and fresh lime juice, this dish is a true explosion of flavors and textures. Are you ready for an adventure?
What Is Pad Thai?
Pad Thai is made with stir-fried rice noodles, protein, vegetables, and a sweet and savory tamarind sauce. A street food in Thailand, Pad Thai is a very popular dish in Thai restaurants in the United States.
This version of Pad Thai uses chicken for the protein element, but baked tofu, shrimp, or pork could easily be substituted.
I’m all for quick minute weeknight meal, and I definitely have those on the site, like broccoli cheddar soup or steamed salmon. However, I am even more interested in homemade meals with maximum flavor and texture. I don’t mind, and in fact enjoy, a more challenging recipe. The payout is immense and I always learn so much.
Pad Thai is a learning opportunity. You will see recipes with short cut ingredients, but the result is going to be missing something. I highly recommend going to your local Asian grocer and picking up the following ingredients:
Tamarind pulp is the insides of tamarind fruit pods squished together. It comes in a block and is slightly sticky.
To use tamarind pulp for this recipe, mix 2 ounces (about 2 Tablespoons) of pulp with 1/2 cup boiling water. Mix together and strain to remove the solids (seeds, etc.). The liquid will be used in the sauce.
I tested this recipe with bottled tamarind concentrate, and it was not nearly as good. I really recommend the pulp.
These little shrimpies are unfamiliar to most Western cooks. Fear not, friends! They add a depth of flavor to the Pad Thai that can’t be replaced. For this recipe, they are ground up in a food processor and stir-fried prior to adding the aromatics. They are quite fragrant, but do not be deterred. Sally forth to stir-fry greatness!
Chinese Pickled Mustard Greens
Despite being pickled, these add to the sweetness of the dish. They are not critical, but nice if you can find them.
Dark Soy Sauce and Fish Sauce
This is not an exhaustive list of ingredients (see recipe card for that), but these are the ones that you may not be able to find at your general supermarket.
Equipment For Pad Thai
To make Pad Thai you will need the following:
A Wok Spatula:
1 Sharp Knife:
You’ll also need a cutting board, two large bowls, many small bowls, a fine mesh sieve, and a small food processor is nice to have, but not completely necessary.
How to Make Pad Thai
Prep The Noodles
Place 8 ounces of rice noodles in a large bowl, and cover with hot water. Let them soak for 20 minutes, then drain in a colander and set them aside.
Prepare ALL of Your Ingredients
Once you start stir-frying, you will not have time to stop and prepare anything. Have all of your ingredients ready to go in their own bowls. Things that go in the wok together can share a bowl. Don’t forget the limes and peanuts.
Order of Operations
Stir-Fry the ingredients in the following order:
- Dried Shrimp
- Shallots, Garlic, Mustard Greens (if using)
The recipe card outlines more detail on these steps. Make sure you read the recipe carefully before you begin.
What if I don’t Have A Wok?
That’s ok! You can use a cast iron skillet set over medium-high heat.
Can I Make Pad Thai On An Electric Stove?
Definitely! Check out this post about the basics of stir-frying for more information.
Go Forth With Confidence!
I can’t wait for you to make this Pad Thai! I love making something that seems like “restaurant food” in my own kitchen. If you feel like you need to brush up on your stir-frying skills, re-visit this post about the process of stir-frying.
Tell Everyone You Know!
We want all of our friends to experience the magic of making Pad Thai at home. Please share this recipe on your social channels and tag me in your photos! I love to see what you make.
Please leave a comment telling us how your Pad Thai turns out, or with any questions.
Restaurant Quality Pad Thai
- 1 14" carbon steel wok or a large cast iron skillet
- 1 wok spatula
- 1 Sharp knife
- 1 cutting board
- 1 small food processor optional
- 1 medium-sized fine mesh sieve
- 7 medium bowls
- 3 small bowls
- 1 large bowl like a mixing bowl
- 1 large serving bowl
- 8 oz medium width rice noodles (rice sticks)
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground white pepper optional, but nice
- 1 Tablespoon regular soy sauce
- 1 large boneless skinless chicken breast or 2-3 thighs
- 2 shallots sliced
- 4 cloves garlic rough chopped
- 1/4 cup small dried shrimp pulverized
- 1 Tablespoon Chinese pickled mustard greens optional
- 2 oz tamarind paste (pulp) You can use 3 Tablespoons of tamarind concentrate, but the flavor will not be as good.
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 1/4 cup brown sugar or palm sugar
- 2 Tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sriracha or to taste
- 3 large eggs lightly beaten
- 1 bunch scallions, divided greens only sliced into 1 inch pieces
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 1/4 cup unsalted, or lightly salted roasted peanuts finely chopped
- lime wedges
- 1 large pinch scallions from previous step
- more bean sprouts if you wish
- Place 8 oz of rice noodles in a large bowl. If they are very long, break them in half to help with stir-frying. Cover the noodles with hot tap water. Set a timer for 20 minutes. Let soak.
- Continue with prep. When the timer goes off, drain the noodles into a colander. Set the noodles aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine the cornstarch, baking powder, white pepper, and soy sauce. Whisk to combine.
- Slice the chicken into thin slices against the grain. Add to marinade. Mix and set aside. Wash cutting board.
- Thinly slice the scallions. Place in small bowl.
- Roughly chop the garlic. Add to the same small bowl.
- Pulverize the dried shrimp either in the food processor (easiest), or chop very finely with a knife. Add to a separate bowl
- Place the Chinese pickled mustard greens in a separate bowl, if using.
- In a medium bowl, add the tamarind pulp and boiling water. Carefully mix until the pulp is broken up and combined with the water.
- Pass the pulp and water through a fine mesh sieve into another medium bowl. Discard solids.
- Add the brown sugar, fish sauce, dark soy sauce and sriracha to the strained tamarind pulp. Mix to combine.
- Slice the scallion greens into 1 inch slices. Reserve some for garnish. Get the bean sprouts out of the package.
- Have the peanuts, lime wedges, scallions, and bean sprouts ready to go in their own bowls. I know, so many bowls. It's worth it, I promise.
- Make sure you have all of your ingredients ready to go and within reach before you begin cooking. Set a large serving bowl next to your cooking space.
- Heat your wok over high heat (medium high if you're using a cast iron skillet). When you start to see smoke, add 2 Tablespoons of neutral oil around the sides of the wok.
- Carefully add the chicken. Let it sear for a few seconds before you start moving it around. Stir-fry until cooked through. Add to serving bowl.
- Add another Tablespoon of oil to the wok. Add the eggs. Stir fry. Remove to serving bowl. If the eggs or chicken stuck, boil some water in the wok, and carefully scrape the stuck bits up. Rinse the wok and put it back on the heat.
- Add 2 Tablespoon of oil to the wok. Add the pulverized dried shrimp. Stir fry for about 1 minute. Add the scallions and garlic, and stir-fry until the scallions are translucent. Add the Chinese pickled mustard greens and stir fry another 30 seconds.
- Add another Tablespoon of oil to the pan if needed and add the noodles. Stir-fry for about 1 minute.
- Add the sauce. Add the chicken and eggs from the serving bowl back into the wok. Add the scallions (except those you saved for garnish) and bean sprouts.
- Stir-fry until all of the ingredients are incorporated. Remove to serving dish.
- Let each person garnish their own plates with peanuts, lime wedges, and additional scallions and bean sprouts.
- Squeeze lime over the finished pad Thai and enjoy!