Easy Pad Thai with Chicken

from 8 votes

Toss the takeout menus and whip up a hot and fresh Thai favorite with this recipe for Easy Pad Thai with Chicken.

Easy Pad Thai with Chicken on a plate with chopsticks, cilantro, shredded carrots, shredded purple cabbage, scallions and peanuts

Mastering an easy recipe for Pad Thai with Chicken at home is both the best and worst culinary discovery to ever happen in my kitchen.

I have made this recipe three times in two weeks. I am now a three-time member (and soon to be president) of the Pad Thai Clean Plate Club and am currently accepting all Spanx donations.

Various sizes of bowls containing bean sprouts, rice noodles, spices, soy sauce, diced chicken and chicken stock

Pad Thai ranks among my top three all-time favorite takeout dishes (the others being Mongolian Beef and Sticky Pineapple Chicken). There’s just something about rice noodles stir-fried with garlic and tossed in a sweet and tangy sauce that inspires me to order this dish time and time again.

But it wasn’t until I shared an Instagram photo that I was inundated with requests to create a DIY version of this popular Thai dish. Challenge accepted!

Tongs holding rice noodles over large stockpot

Now you can whip up this takeout-inspired favorite at home with this quick and easy recipe. No rice noodles? No problem! Just swap in your noodle of choice.

And my #1 tip for stir-fry success at home: Mind your mise en place. Stir-frying is a super-fast cooking method, which means it’s crucial to have all your ingredients prepped and within reach before you fire up the flames.

Wooden spoon in skillet with bean sprouts, rice noodles and diced chicken

Don’t let the list of ingredients fool you. Five of them are garnishes (read: optional) and the other non-traditional ingredients can be found in most major supermarkets. Just soak the noodles, whisk together the sauce and then stir-fry it all together for the freshest, most flavorful takeout-fakeout win.

The best easy pad Thai with chicken on serving plate with cilantro, shredded carrots and purple cabbage, sliced scallions and peanuts

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Main Course

Easy Pad Thai with Chicken

Toss the takeout menus and whip up a hot and fresh Thai favorite with this recipe for Easy Pad Thai with Chicken.
Author: Kelly Senyei
3.88 from 8 votes
Easy Pad Thai with Chicken on a plate with chopsticks, cilantro, shredded carrots, shredded purple cabbage, scallions and peanuts
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 servings


For the sauce:

  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons tamarind concentrate/paste
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sambal Oelek (chili sauce)
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh black pepper

For the noodles:

  • 8 ounces Thai rice noodles
  • 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 3 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • Vegetable oil, for stir-frying
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups fresh bean sprouts
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup sliced carrots, for garnish
  • 1/2 cup shredded red cabbage, for garnish
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • 1/4 cup sliced scallions, for garnish
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped peanuts, for garnish
  • Lime wedges, for garnish


Make the sauce:

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the tamarind concentrate with ½ cup warm water. Whisk in the remaining sauce ingredients. Set aside.

Make the noodles:

  • Fill a large pot with hot water. Add the rice noodles and cover the pot, allowing them to soak and soften for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they're barely al dente. (Alternately, cook the noodles according to the package instructions.) The noodles will be stir-fried so do not overcook them at this point.
  • Drain the noodles and rinse them with cold water to prevent them from sticking together.
  • Cut the chicken breasts into thin, 1-inch slices. Place the chicken in a medium bowl. Whisk together the cornstarch with the soy sauce then pour it over the chicken, stirring to coat.
  • Heat a wok or large nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil then add the minced garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and cook, stirring continuously, for 30 seconds until the garlic is golden brown and fragrant. Add the chicken to the pan (including all liquids), and cook, stirring frequently until it is no longer pink. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of chicken stock at a time to the pan while the chicken is cooking to prevent it from drying out. (You may not use the entire ¼ cup of chicken stock.)
  • Add the noodles to the pan then pour in the prepared sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil, and using two flat spatulas, lift and turn the noodles to combine all of the ingredients. (Don't stir the noodles too vigorously or they'll break.) Continue cooking the noodles for 1 to 2 minutes until the sauce thickens slightly, then add the bean sprouts and cook for 1 more minute. The noodles are fully cooked when they are chewy and no longer crunchy.
  • Transfer the noodles to serving dishes and garnish with the sliced carrots, shredded red cabbage, cilantro, scallions, peanuts and lime wedges.

Kelly's Notes:

  • A majority of the specialty ingredients in this recipe can be found in the Asian aisle of most supermarkets. My preferred brand of rice noodles is Annie Chun's Pad Thai Noodles.
  • It's important to bring the sauce to a boil so that it will thicken enough as it cooks with the noodles.
  • Make sure you have all of your ingredients prepped and ready to go before you start cooking. This is a fast recipe that comes together in less than 10 minutes once the garlic hits the pan.
  • ★ Did you make this recipe? Don't forget to give it a star rating below!


Calories: 394kcal, Carbohydrates: 75g, Protein: 17g, Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 36mg, Sodium: 1749mg, Potassium: 456mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 24g, Vitamin A: 55IU, Vitamin C: 8.7mg, Calcium: 51mg, Iron: 1.8mg


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Recipe by Kelly Senyei of Just a Taste (inspired by Darlene Schmidt). Please do not reprint this recipe without my permission. If you'd like to feature this recipe on your site, please rewrite the method of preparation and link to this post as the original source.

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  1. 5 stars
    Going to use this recipe for the second time now! We really love the taste and varieties you can make using the garnishes. Thanks for sharing this recipe, it is going in my recipe notebook! :)

  2. This is a great recipe but I wish I had added the sauce and let it thicken a bit before I added the noodles. It took too long and my noodles ended up getting overcooked. Also, I feel like it needs more noodles, but that is probably just me :)

    1. Hi Tammy – The fish sauce is what really gives pad Thai its characteristic taste, so substituting anything for it will compromise the flavor. I’ve read that Worcestershire or a mixture of soy sauce and shiitake mushroom stock could work. If you try either of those, let me know how it turns out!

  3. I love this recipe and I’ve been making it like once a week since I discovered it! Super easy and so delicious! I never thought I would ever use up a whole bottle of fish sauce, but I’m on my second!

  4. I also have eaten many pad Thais, wether being home made or from the Restraunt and this sauce is perfect. One of my Thai friends told me soak the noodles in cold water for at least 2 hours and this will help them to not become soggy or dry. I find it comes out a lot better.

  5. Hi Kelly,
    This is a favorite at our house! I’m a dietitian and I feature some of my favorite healthier recipes on my website Nutritionistics.com. I’ve posted your pad thai there with a link to your website. Thanks so much for sharing!

  6. I made this recipe once as written and unfortunately didn’t love it. It seemed too overpowering (especially on the salt and tamarind). However, I just made it a second time with the following adjustments and found it to be perfect! First, I cut the tamarind and fish sauce in half. I also added chopped shallots with the garlic. And I added scrambled egg (1 per serving you are making) at the stage after chicken is cooked, before adding noodles and sauce. Plus I only attempted cooking 2 serving at a time instead if 4 – this made the whole process more manageable. These adjustment really worked for me so I thought I’d share!

  7. I ordered the Thai ingredients that you had links to Amazon for earlier this week and we are making this tomorrow night for dinner!! Absolutely can’t wait! Will tell you about it next weekend! xo

  8. We loved how fresh the toppings were. When I made the pad thai it was really strong flavored. I have never cooked with tamarind and I wonder if cutting back on that would help? It just seemed like something was overpowering. Any suggestions? I really want to make it again.

    1. Hi Tess! Check the Asian foods section of your largest local grocery store. Otherwise, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s both stock it. Enjoy!

  9. The first time I ever tasted Pad Thai with chicken was in 1979 I worked with a young lady from the Philippines and she made it for my birthday, I never tried making it but always wondered how, it’s easy and I can’t wait to try this dish again.

  10. Wonderful recipe – thank you! I have tried so many different recipes, and this is the one to finally make the recipe book :) My husband and I loved it!

  11. Julie: if you can’t find the fresh sprouts…so easy to sprout your own Mung Beans if you can find the whole-dried beans-easy to store too! I made this last night for the first time, we loved it, but too many noodles, I’d prefer less, but no fault of the recipe–drove to Asian store 20 minutes away to get Tamarind, was worth it! Thanks.

  12. Thanks so much for a recipe for Pad Thai that shares how to actually make the sauce. Now if only it were easy to get Bean Sprouts where I live!!!

  13. Thanks for the yummy recipe, Kelly. I made it tonight and it was fabulous and easy! I added a couple of eggs and 1/2 of a lime and served with Sriracha. Your recipe is a keeper! :)

  14. Well, this turned out excellent, though I mistakenly put in 1/4 C of red pepper flakes instead of 1/4 t…. If you like it hot, that was HOT. Know a way to tone it down after that disaster of mine? I was thinking adding peanut butter or possibly yogurt.

    1. So glad you enjoyed the recipe, Jon! Unfortunately, because the crushed red pepper flakes are actually large-sized pepper pieces, it may be hard to dilute their spiciness. I’d start by adding citrus such as fresh lime juice, which often helps cut the heat.

  15. This was simple & totally rocked on the first attempt. We substituted brown rice vinegar for the tamarind paste, but will be grabbing that for our many future pad thai meals with this recipe!! Thank you, Kelly! Perfect.

  16. I made this for dinner earlier this week, and was really pleased at how it turned out. I love pad thai for takeout, but am allergic to eggs so hardly ever order it anymore as most restaurant versions contain egg. Now I can make and eat this egg-free version as often as I want! I’m definitely adding this to my meal rotation. Thank you!

  17. I love Pad Thai with chicken, but I never tried to make it! With your recipe and directions, I just may give this a try now. Thanks!

  18. The dish was easy to whip up, as promised, and visually very impressive (although let’s be honest: who really wants to eat red cabbage? Masochists, that’s who.) We didn’t like it because it was salty. As. Balls.

    i think 1/4 cup of fish sauce is way too much, and the taste was overpowering. i have yet to find a recipe that actually tastes like what i order for takeout. i guess i’ll have to keep looking.

    (Protip: rinsing off the noodles can’t be emphasized enough. The first time i attempted pad thai, i made pad glue. Those noodles get real sticky if you don’t take the hose to them after cooking)

  19. The only thing it’s missing is a couple of eggs, added after the garlic is done. Add to pan; once the eggs begin to set up, about 15 to 20 seconds, stir to scramble, then proceed with the chicken.

  20. Any recommendations on tamarind paste? I have never bought it and have only recently seen it in our new Whole Foods. I’ve had recipes call for it in the past and was never able to find it. Now that I have, I’m not sure if it makes any difference which brand I purchase. What’s the difference between the paste and concentrate?

  21. Gorgeous pad thai. It’s one of those things I order all the time and love to make at home. You’ve made it look so simple and your pictures is so inviting. Thanks for reminding me of this great dish.

  22. My husband adores pad Thai. I’ve always been a bit of a skeptic because I have had a couple of bad experiences with the sauce (ie they used KETCHUP. Ick.). I like that you use tamarind in this sauce. I will have to give it a try.

  23. Gorgeous Pad Thai, Kelly! Now, we can all easily make it at home. Thank you for sharing. Pinning!

  24. Pad Thai is a favorite around here…although my husband likes it with shrimp, I’ll eat it any way, shape or form. This looks wonderful, Kelly!

  25. I read the comment for substituting the fish sauce and that it wasn’t recommended. What if I do have a fish allergy, any recommendations for a substitute? Thank you! Can’t wait to try it.

  26. This looks so good! I had a craving for Thai food earlier, so this comes at the right time!

  27. Pad Thai is one of those dishes I always thought was to difficult to make but you make it look as easy as 1 2 3.

    1. Hi Deirdre! The fish sauce it what really gives pad Thai its characteristic taste, so I wouldn’t recommend substituting anything for it (unless you have an allergy). Hope that helps!

  28. My local Thai restaurant is about to lose it’s best pad Thai customer….so long takeout. This looks absolutely delish!

  29. One of my favorites, but I have never made it at home. Now I can give it a try…thanks! Looks delicious!

  30. This is one of my favorite take-out dishes. Your recipe looks easy and delicious. Thank you for sharing :)

  31. This looks perfect! Can you believe my husband still has not tried pad Thai?? This is now on my list for the next week… so he can experience only the best Thai food dish ever. Plus this seems super simple… which is always a bonus in my book.

  32. I LOVE pad thai but I’ve never made it on my own – this looks absolutely delicious and I would totally make this for dinner during the week! It seems quick and easy and that’s what I need!