Easy Pad Thai

6 Servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Easy Pad Thai with Shrimp, tofu, rice noodles, and peanuts in a quick sauce made from authentic fish sauce. Ready in less than 30 minutes!

Asian Recipes like this Pad Thai are a classic comfort food. Discover the delicious world of Thai cuisine with our collection of flavorful dishes, including Thai Green Curry, Thai Basil Chicken, and Thai Red Curry.

Pad Thai Recipe

Pad Thai is a fantastic dish that is synonymous with Thai cuisine. Its harmonious blend of sweet, sour, and spicy flavors is guaranteed to captivate your taste buds. This quick and easy recipe features an appetizing combination of rice noodles, succulent shrimp, and tofu, all brought together with a tangy sauce. Perfect for a family meal or a party appetizer, this authentic Pad Thai recipe will transport you to the vibrant streets of Thailand.

Once you gather the ingredients, the hardest ones are the rice noodles and the fish sauce, the rest of the dish is a breeze to make. One of the most prominent flavors of Thai food is the inclusion of fish sauce. Though fish sauce can seem like a scary ingredient, it is actually similar to eating anchovies in Caesar dressing.

You can taste the flavor of umami (a savory/salty flavor) but you don’t actually taste a “fishy” taste from it. Many people who make Chicken Pad Thai would never even guess that there was seafood in the dish based on the fish sauce.

The origins of Pad Thai can be traced back to World War II when rice was scarce, and the Thai government encouraged the consumption of noodles. This delectable dish has since become a beloved staple of Thai cuisine, showcasing the perfect balance of flavors and textures. Prepare this dish at home, and impress your family and friends with your culinary prowess.

You’ll want to serve Pad Thai with Light Crispy Chinese Chicken Salad or papaya salad. Other great appetizers include Crab Rangoon or Egg Rolls.

Easy Pad Thai Collage of cooking steps

How to Make Pad Thai

Homemade Pad Thai can be easily made in your kitchen with readily available ingredients and a few simple steps. No need to go to the Pad Thai restaurant to get the real thing. Check it out! 

  • Step One: Prepare the rice noodles in hot water.
  • Step Two: Cook shrimp and tofu on medium-high heat.
  • Step Three: Cook the eggs.
  • Step Four: Combine ingredients and sauce.
  • Step Five: Garnish with fresh bean sprouts and serve!

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Pad Thai?

Pad Thai is a rice noodle dish traditionally made with chicken, shrimp, and tofu that also has eggs, fish sauce, sugar, and vinegar. A quick stir fry with soaked rice noodles, it is a classic Thai recipe that is very popular in Thai restaurants.

How can I thicken my Pad Thai sauce?

If you’d like to have a little thicker sauce, simply add a tablespoon of cornstarch to a quarter cup of water. Mix it really well to make a cornstarch slurry. Add the slurry while making the sauce in step six in the instructions.

What proteins are used in Pad Thai?

Most restaurants will offer a version of Pad Thai that includes shrimp, chicken, and tofu. We stick with shrimp and tofu in this version to help create an easy recipe because Shrimp Pad Thai is the most classic representation of this recipe. Some people will add chicken to the shrimp and tofu, but adding the chicken flavor in on top of it only muddles the flavors instead of enhancing them.

How do you cook Rice Noodles?

There are two schools of thought about rice noodles. Some people like the all-soaking method where you soak in cold water for 30-45 minutes before draining. The second method is to boil them for one minute, steep for 5 minutes, then drain and rinse before adding to recipes. I prefer to boil/steep and rinse because I can do that while cooking the rest of the ingredients in the wok.

Can you make Pad Thai ahead?

You can certainly cook the ingredients minus the shrimp and noodles ahead of time. Then when ready to eat, soak/cook the noodles while cooking the shrimp and toss it all together. The whole recipe is such a breeze to make though, it would also work to just prep the ingredients ahead and stir fry when ready.

Can I make Pad Thai without fish sauce?

Fish sauce is a key ingredient in Pad Thai, but you can replace it with soy sauce or tamari if you’re vegetarian or have a fish allergy.

Key Ingredients in Pad Thai

Pad Thai Sauce is actually a very easy mix of the finest ingredients including fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, and chili peppers. The sugar helps to temper the strong fish sauce flavor, the vinegar adds acidity and a bright flavor while the chili peppers add the traditional spice.

  • Fish Sauce: Yes, this is a strong flavor, but when tempered with the other ingredients you won’t taste the fish sauce flavor on its own. What is fish sauce? It’s fermented fish. Leaving the ingredient out will impact the flavors of the recipe significantly. If you are vegan/vegetarian, try substituting tamari or a vegetarian mushroom oyster sauce for the fish sauce.
  • Rice Vinegar: The rice vinegar acts to provide a tangy dimension of flavor to the recipe and helps to blend in the fish sauce. In a pinch, if you don’t have rice vinegar you can substitute apple cider vinegar which has a similarly sweet profile.
  • Sugar: The sugar does not make this recipe sweet. It balances the umami, vinegar, and salty flavors of the rest of the sauce ingredients. Don’t leave the sugar out. You can use palm sugar, brown sugar, or coconut sugar for an even more authentic flavor! 
  • Crushed Pepper Flakes: The dish is not spicy but does balance the flavors with a bit of heat from crushed red pepper flakes. You can swap this for a hint of Sriracha in a pinch.
  • Lime Juice: Fresh lime juice from lime wedges adds a punch of freshness since the rest of the sauce ingredients are bottled or packaged.
  • Tamarind Paste: Tamarind Paste in Pad Thai Sauce is a classic ingredient that we leave out in this recipe. Why leave it out? We feel like we mimic the authentic flavors without the tamarind paste. If you prefer to add in the paste, add in 2 tablespoons of paste in step 6 with the rest of the sauce ingredients and stir well until combined.
  • Rice Noodles: As the foundation of the dish and cooked in hot water, these gluten-free noodles provide a light and satisfying texture. Flat rice noodles are the best, but you can use regular round rice noodles too. 
  • Shrimp: Succulent and tender, shrimp adds a delicious seafood element to the dish.
  • Tofu: Extra-firm tofu provides a hearty and protein-rich component.
  • Peanuts: The nutty flavors of roasted peanuts are unmistakable and shouldn’t be skipped unless you have an allergy of course! 

Substitutions in Pad Thai

There’s not much to substitute if you’re going for the authentic flavor of the street-food version of this recipe. However, you will still get incredible flavor from this dish, even with a bit of subbing. 

  • Shrimp: Substitute with chicken, beef, or a combination of proteins.
  • Fish Sauce: Replace with soy sauce or tamari for a vegetarian or fish allergy-friendly option.

Can you make Pad Thai Ahead of TIme?

You can certainly cook the ingredients minus the shrimp and noodles ahead of time. Then when ready to eat, soak/cook the noodles while cooking the shrimp and toss it all together. The whole recipe is such a breeze to make though, it would also work to just prep the ingredients ahead and stir fry when ready.

Traditional Pad Thai

Variations on Pad Thai

There are numerous ways to customize and create variations of Pad Thai to suit your personal preferences or dietary needs. Some popular alternatives include:

  • Vegetarian Pad Thai: Omit the shrimp and add more tofu or a mix of your favorite vegetables.
  • Spicy Pad Thai: Increase the amount of crushed red pepper flakes or add fresh Thai chilies for an extra kick.
  • Beef Pad Thai: Replace shrimp with thinly sliced beef for a different protein option.

How to Serve Pad Thai

Pad Thai is a delicious and satisfying meal on its own, but you can also serve it alongside other Thai dishes to create a complete and diverse dining experience. Consider offering appetizers such as Spring Rolls or Chicken Satay

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How to Store Pad Thai

  • Serve: This dish is best served fresh and hot. Keep at room temperature for up to 2 hours before storing.
  • Store: Place in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Reheat in a wok or frying pan with a little oil and soy sauce or chicken broth.
  • Freeze: This recipe can be frozen for up to 3 months in a sealed container or freezer-safe bag. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat on the stovetop in the sauce for best taste.
Pad Thai in bowl with lime wedges

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Easy Pad Thai Recipe

Easy Pad Thai with Shrimp, tofu, rice noodles, and peanuts in a quick sauce made from authentic fish sauce. Ready in less than 30 minutes!
Yield 6 Servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Thai
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 14 ounce rice noodles
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 pound shrimp , peeled and deveined
  • 8 ounces extra firm tofu , cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 3 carrots , julienned
  • 1/4 cup crushed peanuts
  • 2 green onions , chopped
  • 1 lime , cut into wedges
  • cilantro , for garnish (optional)


  • Add the rice noodles to boiling water for 1 minute, then turn off the heat and let sit for five minutes.
  • When softened rinse with cold water and set aside.
  • Add vegetable oil to a wok on high heat and add the shrimp and tofu cubes.
  • Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, then remove the shrimp and tofu from the pan (leave the oil in the pan).
  • Add the eggs into hot oil, and chop with a spatula into little pieces as your cooking them.
  • Add softened noodles, shrimp, tofu, rice vinegar, fish sauce, sugar and red pepper.
  • Serve topped with peanuts, bean sprouts, carrots, green onions and lime wedges.


  • Some recipes call for Tamarind Paste. We don't add it because it is an obscure ingredient and the recipe tastes great, even without it. If you prefer to add in the paste, add in 2 tablespoons of paste in step 6 with the rest of the sauce ingredients and stir well until combined.



Calories: 555kcal | Carbohydrates: 73g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 272mg | Sodium: 1549mg | Potassium: 387mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 5305IU | Vitamin C: 11.2mg | Calcium: 175mg | Iron: 3.6mg
Keyword: Easy Pad Thai
Pad Thai Pin 1

Photos used in a previous version of this post.

Easy Pad Thai Collage

Pad Thai Recipe

Traditional Pad Thai
classic pad thai
Traditional Shrimp Pad Thai
Easy Pad Thai Recipe

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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  1. I had such high hopes for this recipe but as some of the reviews state, it did not look at all like the finished picture above. The sauce was very thin and light in color. My measurements were spot on with the recipe. It did taste somewhat like pad Thai, but the texture of the sauce was not there and it did not really coat the noodles. This was a no-go for me.

  2. Sauce did not thicken or stick to the noodles, tasted fine but not like I would want to go back for more. Disappointed.

    1. I’ve made it both ways and felt this recipe didn’t need it and it makes it accessible to more home cooks.. However, definitely use some if you like, it is a delicious add!

    2. I have been searching for a great Pad Thai recipe. In my search, I have read that vinegar can be substituted for Tamarind Concentrate. Not sure how that tastes.

  3. This recipe was super easy and i loved it but i did make some slight changes to it. I julienned about a thumbs size of fresh ginger, 2 large cloves of garlic, 8 serrano chili peppers sliced, 2 jalapenos sliced to the oil right before cooking the meat for that extra flavor. I also added in some fresh tamrid in the sauce with brown sugar instead of white and doubled the sauce recipe to mix with the rice noodles. My husband loved it!

      1. Sabrina, The picture looks perfect. That is what caught my eye. I too like peasnut butter in my sauce. Isn’t that the idea of home cooking? You make the dish your own. Thanks.

    1. I made this tonight. The taste was great, but the colour was very light. I’m from the Caribbean so I added browning to get the colour.

  4. I made this recipe tonight. It had a great taste. I added 1/8 cup of peanut butter for a slightly more peanut buttery taste. Overall, this was spot on regarding taste. It had a great taste, but a few tips for others that may not be as avid chefs (like me). I am not necessarily the best cook, so this reminder is worth it. DO NOT OVERCOOK! The rice noodles are easy to become mush (I have not cooked with them before and the ones I had really should only have been cooked 1 minute and sat 3 for a firmer noodle – they ended up as mush for me because I waited 5 1/2 minutes). I added snow peas and baby corn, but I overcooked those too (yikes – I am such a rookie) because I wanted to cook the sauce items and had already added all the ingredients when I started adding the sauce ingredients. I feel like the sauce items should be mixed together first and heated before adding the noodles, shrimp and tofu, so it cooks properly / blends/heats, but maybe that is just because I wasn’t using a real wok (I don’t have one, so I used a large sauté pan. Overall the flavors were excellent, just would have changed my technique / sequence a bit. It moves pretty quickly once you start cooking so be prepared. Thanks for the recipe. I will definitely get it down next time.

  5. This recipe is GOLD!!!

    I did add more chopped peanuts only because the restaurant I would normally order it from had more peanut flavor …. and my family all likes different levels of “stars” or “heat” so they added sriracha to theirs at the table and they were ASTONISHED how much it tasted like our favorite restaurant pad Thai!

  6. I agree with Whitney. It tasted good but the flavor was very faint like something is missing from the sauce. And mine came out really dry. I double check all my measurements and can’t see any place where I made a mistake.

  7. Hi,
    Starting step 6 when noodles are added to the wok, should I use high heat or medium heat?
    How did your noodles get a bit of orange color?
    I will make this as soon as I get your reply.
    I tried to make pad Thai in the past and failed miserably.
    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.

    1. So happy to help you get it right!
      You’ll want to use medium heat when adding the noodles. I didn’t add anything extra to get the orange color but if you want it to be like how you get it at restaurants, feel free to add 1 tablespoon of tamrind paste.

  8. I just made this dish and it didn’t turn out. The sauce was not thick and the color was not like picture. It tasted ok but was missing something in sauce.

    1. I haven’t tested any for flavor but I know most stores carry bottled vegan fish sauce now.
      Let me know if you find one you would like to recommend.

  9. Might have done something wrong, but this dish was crazy salty and the sauce didn’t thicken at all. 🙁

    1. Did you adjust any of the measurments or ingredients? If you’d like you can email me at contact @ dinnerthendessert.com and we can troubleshoot what might have happened. I just need more info to be helpful.

  10. Just to let you know, you forgot to name the chopped peanuts in the final cooking description. I feel they should be added a bit during cooking and then as garnish as well.
    Glad to have your recipe out there.

  11. I can’t wait to try your pad Thai recipe!  The ones I’ve tried before were mediocre at best.  Thank you!

  12. This looks totally awesome! I know for sure this would be a huge hit in my house!

  13. Who needs delivery when you can make this beautiful dish at home?? My kind of meal!

  14. I have been trying to find a great Pad Thai recipe that’s also easy for SO LONG. I think this one is it! Love all the flavors that you have here. can’t wait to try it!

  15. I’m definitely going to try this, but wanted to ask if you feel the lack of tamarind doesn’t change the flavor too much.

  16. To me, pad thai is all about that sauce. And you nailed the flavors here. Also, I would recommend NOT skipping the bean sprouts on top–so much flavor and texture. Great suggestion.