Thai Drunken Noodles, aka Pad Kee Mao. Savoury, spicy noodles coated in sauce, with chicken, gai-lan, garlic, red chili, and holy basil.
Ready in 25 minutes or less and fantastic for dinner or lunch. These noodles do not contain alcohol despite the name.
What do Thai drunken noodles taste like?
My Thai drunken noodles with chicken taste like chewy rice noodles coated in a spicy, savoury umami-based sauce. In every bite, you’ll taste that tender chicken and crunchy gai-lan! You’ll also experience the fragrant taste of basil every now and then.
Easy to make
This is a delicious Thai dish that is easy enough to make at home and I’m going to show you how to make Pad Kee Mao. Most of the ingredients are accessible except for holy basil, which can be replaced with normal basil. If you have Thai basil, that works well too!
There is no alcohol in these noodles despite the name. If you’re curious as to why this dish is given the name it has, read under my Frequently Asked Questions.
Many ways to make Pad Kee Mao
There are many ways to cook Thai Drunken Noodles or Pad Kee Mao Drunken Noodles as you can alternate between the proteins, greens and the noodle types. I love this version because it’s simple, accessible and just delicious!
Other sources of protein
Other sources of protein that can be used are:
You can even switch up the greens to whichever leafy green you desire. But usually gai-lan or Chinese broccoli is traditionally used.
What You’ll Need
You will need the following pad kee mao ingredients:
- dried rice noodles
- chicken thighs (or protein of choice)
- gai lan
- large red chili
- holy basil leaves, or sub with Thai basil or Italian basil leaves
- garlic cloves
- vegetable oil
- oyster sauce
- regular soy sauce
- dark soy sauce
- fish sauce
Below are tips on making my easy Thai drunken noodles recipe:
Feel free to use a protein you enjoy!
Feel free to use shrimp, sliced beef or pork, tofu or eggs! You don’t have to use sliced chicken for this recipe.
Soak your rice noodles ahead of time
Ensure your dried rice noodles are soaked in hot (not boiling) water ahead of time for 5 minutes before straining.
Peel any noodles that are stuck together
If you notice any of your noodles are clumped together, peel them apart otherwise you’ll be chomping on hard clumps of noodles.
Prepare your ingredients ahead of time
Be sure to prepare ALL of your ingredients ahead of time. I can’t stress this enough. The cooking process is very fast, less than 5 minutes in a ripping hot wok and we want to avoid overcooking any of our ingredients.
Be gentle when stir frying rice noodles
Since rice noodles have an easy tendency to break apart under high heat, be very gentle you can stir fry scooping the noodles from underneath and over. Alternatively, if you’re strong enough, twirling your wok to mix the noodles with the other ingredients is a great method.
Below are frequently asked questions about my spicyThai drunken noodles:
What makes drunken noodles drunken?
Despite the name, there is no alcohol in these Thai drunken noodles. It’s named this way because after a night out of drinking, people will usually eat these spicy noodles to cure their hangover.
What are Thai drunken noodles made of?
Traditionally they’re made of wide rice noodles, protein of choice, gai-lan (Chinese broccoli), garlic, red chili, soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce and a bit of sugar to balance out the saltiness.
Does drunken noodles have egg?
Sometimes it does. It all depends on whether you’d like to add it to your dish.
Do Thai drunken noodles have alcohol?
No, they do not, despite the name.
Can I make this dish not spicy?
Yes, feel free to omit the red chili.
Are Thai drunken noodles gluten free?
No, since soy sauce, fish sauce and some oyster sauces contain gluten. However, some brands offer gluten free versions which you can find at certain Asian grocers or online.
Can I use normal basil?
Yes! Feel free to use normal or Italian basil for this dish if you can’t find holy basil. Thai basil works too!
Can I use fresh rice noodles?
Sure, but be forewarned that these are very tricky to work with and break apart easily in the wok if you’re constantly moving them around with a metal wok spatula.
Dried rice noodles recommended though not traditional
Traditionally wide fresh rice noodles are used but these can be very tricky to work with if you read above. Therefore, I highly recommend dried rice noodles especially for beginner or intermediary cooks.
Other recipes you may like!
If you enjoyed this recipe for Thai drunken noodles, you may enjoy these other Thai recipes:
AUTHENTIC CHICKEN PAD THAI
SHRIMP PAD SEE EW
EGG PAD SEE EW
THAI GLASS NOODLE STIR-FRY
THAI RAILWAY FRIED RICE
GARLIC FRIED SHRIMP
PAD SEE EW WOON SEN
TOFU EGG PAD THAI
THAI SPICY BASIL FRIED RICE
Well, I hope you give my Thai Drunken Noodles a try! It always excites me when you make my recipes and I hope this is one you try.
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Easy Thai Drunken Noodles - Pad Kee Mao
- 200 grams dried wide flat rice noodle
- 150 grams boneless skinless chicken thighs sliced thinly
- 175 grams Chinese broccoli aka Gai-Lan chopped into 1 inch long pieces
- 1 large red chili pepper chopped
- ½ cup holy basil (or sub with Thai basil or Italian Basil)
- 3 cloves garlic or 1 tbsp
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoon water
- 2 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon regular soy sauce (not light)
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon white granulated sugar
- First soak dried rice noodles in hot (not boiling) water for 5 minutes as you prepare the rest of ingredients. Once they have soaked, strain the water and rinse under cold water leaving them to strain again. Peel apart any noodles that have clumped together.
- In a 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.
- As your pan gradually warms to medium high heat, add oil into hot wok followed by chili garlic paste and cook for 20-30 seconds. Do not burn. Careful not to inhale the smoke as it can cause a coughing fit.
- Add in sliced chicken thighs and spread apart quickly. Fry until 80% cooked.
- Throw in rice noodles and noodle sauce. GENTLY mix just until noodles are coated in sauce.
- Add water and gai-lan. Stir fry until gai-lan has wilted.
- Lastly throw in basil and give it one final mix. Serve hot and enjoy!
Heidi | The Frugal Girls
Christie, great tips on not overcooking the noodles. Soft and chewy noodles in a savory spicy sauce... I think I'm in love! 💕💕
Thanks Heidi! Glad I can share this tip!
Yum. I just love noodle dishes and this one looks amazing. Love the spice and basil!
Thanks so much Rebecca!
Drunken noodles hehe this makes me laugh. We got Thai next week and it has me wanting to learn how to make more than just a red curry !!
Haha! Me too! Because it totally would not make anyone drunk! I hope you enjoy making red curry, it's so good when homemade and done right.
Michelle | Sift & Simmer
Christie, these drunken noodles look so flavourful with all that sauce! Wish holy basil was more readily available here! It sure makes a difference!
I had Pad Kee Mao for the first time last night at a Thai restaurant. It was fantastic. After reading your article, I attempted to make it myself today. It turned out great. Thank you really much:)
Thank you for making my recipe Sara! Glad you enjoyed it 🙂
Hello!!! These noodles look amazing !! Is your calorie information per portion or for the full dish (in this case the full dish is 2 portions)?
Hi Eti! Thank you very much! Yes the calorie information is per portion which is two large servings.