Thai Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao). Chewy rice noodles stir fried in a delicious sauce, chicken, vegetables, holy basil with spicy flavors! Ready in 30 minutes.
A popular dish in Thai cooking for good reason! It is one of my favorite dishes in Thai cuisine! I honestly can't get enough of this dish.
Great as a meal!
These spicy noodles are a fantastic option as a meal for dinner or lunch. They truly hit the spot thanks to the savory sauce and spicy aromatics.
What are Thai Drunken Noodles?
Thai Drunken Noodles (aka Pad Kee Mao in Thai) is a popular dish that comes from Thailand. Pad Kee Mao is made of wide fresh noodles stir fried in a salty umami tasting sauce. The sauce consists of soy sauce, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce and sugar.
My simple version of these noodles come with chicken or a protein of your choice, Chinese broccoli (aka Gai Lan), carrots, red chili, garlic, and holy basil. Many Thai restaurants or street food vendors will serve this dish.
Pad Kee Mao has become extremely popular on social media, thanks to the incredible flavors and those bouncy wide noodles! You'll find many Thai recipes for it online, but my version is easy to make and delicious!
Easy Drunken Noodles Recipe
Thai Drunken Noodles are amazingly simple to make at home! It's one of those stir fries where the cooking process takes less time than the preparation. The good news is the actual cooking process only takes less than 7 minutes!
The star ingredients to this dish are the chewy rice noodles, chili garlic paste, holy basil and that savory sauce. Together they make an amazing combination for a flavor explosion! The best part about this dish is you can substitute the veggies and protein if you prefer something else. So, it's quite versatile. I share some suggestions below in the FAQ section.
You’ll need the below ingredients for Thai drunken noodles. Please scroll down to below recipe card for exact measurements.
Note: Most Asian grocery stores will carry these ingredients. You may find some at your select grocery store or online, like on Amazon.
- Fresh rice noodles: I highly recommend fresh wide rice noodles over dry rice noodles. Your local Asian grocery store will carry fresh noodles. I understand fresh rice noodles may not be accessible to all. So, feel free to substitute with wide dry rice noodles.
- If you're using wide dry rice noodles, follow the package instructions. Or soak them in boiling hot water for 1 minute until they're limp but firm to touch and strain. Do not oversoak. Alternatively, you can soak them in warm water for 15-30 minutes.
- Boneless skinless chicken thighs: or substitute with chicken breast or any protein of your choice, such as beef, ground pork, shrimp or tofu.
- Chinese broccoli, aka Gai-Lan: your local Asian market will carry this popular Asian leafy green in the produce aisle. Make sure to trim the thick stalk ends off as they are tougher to eat. If you can't find this vegetable, substitute with bok choy or choy sum (aka Yu choy)
- Carrots: or substitute with other vegetables like baby corn, red bell pepper, snow peas or snap peas.
- Red chili pepper: traditionally this dish uses Thai bird's eye chili peppers but these thai chilies are extremely spicy! If you can handle the heat of Thai chilis, then go for it! Or substitute with any red hot peppers you can handle. I like using capsicum annum.
- Thai holy basil, or substitute with regular Thai basil: or substitute with regular basil (aka Italian basil) as a last resort. The types of basil range in flavor and aroma, so I prefer using holy basil or fresh thai basil as a first resort. This ingredient is commonly used in Thai cuisine.
- Fresh garlic cloves
- Neutral oil: like avocado oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil or canola oil. Avoid olive oil, coconut oil or any heavy scented oils.
- Regular soy sauce: aka all-purpose soy sauce. The label will simply say "soy sauce". This is different from dark soy sauce, which is darker in color and thicker in viscosity. You may also substitute with light soy sauce.
- Dark soy sauce: this is different from regular soy sauce. It's much thicker in viscosity and darker in color.
- Oyster sauce: or substitute with vegetarian stir fry sauce which is like a vegan oyster sauce. This sauce offers a deep umami taste to this Thai noodle dish.
- Fish sauce: or substitute with vegan fish sauce. Many Thai dishes will use this salty sauce. It also offers a deep umami taste.
- White granulated sugar, brown sugar, palm sugar or cane sugar will work.
How to Make Thai Drunken Noodles
In a small bowl, combine noodle sauce ingredients. Set aside.
In a mortar and pestle or food processor, grind garlic and chopped red chili into a chunky wet paste.
Microwave fresh rice noodles for 2-3 minutes until warm and pliable to separate. Then split each rice noodle roll into half, so it's easier to eat. (If you're using fresh noodle sheets, slice them into 1 inch wide strands. If you're using dry rice noodles, you won't need to do this).
In a wok or large skillet on medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil. Once oil is hot, add sliced chicken thighs and spread apart quickly. Fry until cooked. Remove and set aside.
Lower to medium heat, add chili garlic paste and carrots and cook for 20-30 seconds. Move to the side of the pan.
Raise to medium-high heat, pour in remaining oil into empty space of pan. Then add rice noodles and noodle sauce.
GENTLY toss until noodles are coated in sauce. Allow noodles to sit in the pan for 30-45 seconds or more without movement so they can char for extra flavor!
Toss in gai-lan and gently toss with noodles.
Add in cooked chicken and holy basil.
Toss to mix. Remove off heat and enjoy!
This dish is best consumed same day, but it will last up to 4 days in an airtight container stored in the fridge. To reheat, cook on the stove top and add a splash of hot tap water to the noodles to help loosen them. Alternatively, you can microwave them for 2-3 minutes.
Can I substitute the fresh rice noodles with dry wide rice noodles?
Yes! But please follow package directions. Or soak them in hot boiling water for 1 minute until limp but firm to touch and strain immediately. If you have time, you can also soak them in lukewarm water for 15-30 minutes.
Where do you find fresh wide rice noodles?
The Asian market will carry them in the fresh noodle section. I would opt for the rice noodle sheets as they are slice and separate. However, if you can't find those, feel free to use rice noodle rolls (like I am) or in Chinese "Cheung fun". Microwave the rice noodle rolls for 2-3 minutes on 1-minute intervals until they're pliable. Then split each one into half so they're easier to eat.
May I use another protein?
Yes! Feel free to substitute with any of the suggested proteins below:
- Beef, sliced thinly.
- Ground beef
- Pork with fat marbling through, sliced thinly.
- Ground pork
- Tofu or fried tofu pockets
- Or serve with a fried egg on top.
Can I use or add other vegetables?
Yes! Feel free to use these suggestions if you wish:
- Bok choy
- Yu Choy
- Choy Sum
- Green onion
- Red pepper, green pepper, yellow pepper or orange pepper
- Baby corn
What's the difference between Pad Kee Mao vs. Pad See Ew?
Both Thai dishes are remarkably similar to the eye; however, there are a few key differences. Pad Kee Mao is packed with a variety of other vegetables and herbs, such as Gai-lan, carrots, holy basil, sometimes baby corn, finger root. Also, it's much spicier than pad see ew thanks to the red chili garlic paste. On the other hand, Pad See Ew is less spicy, and the primary vegetable is Gai lan.
Other recipes you may enjoy!
If you enjoyed my Pad Kee Mao recipe, you may like these other recipes:
Easy Thai Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao)
- 550 grams fresh rice noodles separated (see Notes for dried rice noodles)
- 250 grams boneless skinless chicken thighs sliced thinly
- 175 grams Chinese broccoli aka Gai-Lan, chopped into 2 inch long pieces with stalk ends trimmed
- 80 grams Holy basil or sub with Thai basil or Italian Basil
- 70 grams carrots julienned
- 2 large red chili pepper chopped
- 6 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil or any neutral oil
- In a small bowl, combine noodle sauce ingredients. Set aside.
- In a mortar and pestle or food processor, grind garlic and chopped red chili into a chunky paste. Set aside.
- Microwave or steam fresh rice noodles for 2-3 minutes until warm and pliable to separate. Then vertically split each rice noodle roll into half, so it's easier to eat. (If you're using fresh noodle sheets, slice them into 1 inch wide strands).Using dry rice noodles? Follow package directions or soak them in lukewarm water for 30 minutes or in hot boiling water for 1 minute, until limp but firm to touch. Strain, gently separately them. No need to cut them.
- In a wok or large skillet on medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil. Once oil is hot, add sliced chicken thighs and spread apart quickly. Fry until cooked. Remove and set aside.
- Lower to medium heat, add chili garlic paste and carrots and cook for 20-30 seconds. Move to the side of the pan.
- Raise to medium-high heat, pour in remaining oil into empty space of pan. Then add rice noodles and noodle sauce.
- GENTLY toss until noodles are coated in sauce. Allow noodles to sit in the pan for 30-45 seconds or more without movement so they can char for additional flavor!
- Toss in Chinese broccoli and gently toss with noodles. Cook until greens have slightly softened.
- Add cooked chicken and holy basil. Gently toss. Remove off heat and enjoy!
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