If you’re like me, you’ve spent many a Saturday night with friends, beers in hand, surrounded by half a dozen take-out containers of red curry, green papaya salad, pad see ew, and my personal favorite, pad Thai. It’s always a must-order, which is why it’s especially disappointing to get a lackluster one. Not to worry—your days of too-sweet sauce, gummy noodles, or overcooked protein are over. With just a few special ingredients, you can make this subtly sweet, tangy, nutty, and salty Thai dish, right at home, exactly how you like it. Read on for our top tips to get this Thai stir-fry just right:

The best noodles for pad Thai:

Rice noodles are traditional for pad Thai, but not all are created equal. You’re looking for thin, flat rice noodles that aren’t too thick, preferably made in Thailand—dried is more readily available, but fresh works too. Whichever you find, don’t boil them! Fresh can go directly into the recipe, while dried rice noodles need to be soaked in boiling water first. Remove your water from the heat and soak the dried noodles for 20 to 30 minutes, until they’re bendable but still firm. They will continue to cook in the wok with the sauce to the perfect consistency.

How to make the best pad Thai sauce:

Pad Thai is all about the sauce, so when developing this recipe, I dove deep to find out what makes it so special, starting by spending an afternoon dissecting some take out to see what I could discover. Was that ketchup or paprika in that uninspired one? Why are some bright red, and others a darker color? What made that one so good? Here are the ingredients I learned you’ll need to make it the best–balancing acid, sugar, and salt is key in Thai cooking, so above all, taste as you go!

Tamarind: This sour, sweet, and tangy fruit is the most important ingredient for achieving that true pad Thai flavor. For this version, we opted for tamarind puree, but tamarind paste will work too (make sure it’s a product of Thailand rather than India). If you opt for the latter, you’ll need to separate the paste from the seeds by first soaking the block in warm water, then use your fingers to remove the seeds.

Palm sugar: Similar to coconut sugar and jaggery, palm sugar is an unrefined sugar with a slightly floral, rich caramel flavor that adds distinct flavor to pad Thai. It usually comes in a hard, solid block or disc that can seem intimidating. Simply use your box grater, microplane, or a mortar and pestle to get it to a more manageable, granulated consistency. Can’t find palm sugar? Try light brown sugar instead.

Thai fish sauce: Also called nam pla, Thai fish sauce is what provides the salty, rich umami flavor to pad Thai. Though fish sauce is fairly easy to find in the supermarket (technically even Worcestershire sauce counts!), for this recipe, you’ll want to source an option that says ““product of Thailand.” 

Pad Thai variations:

The best part of making pad Thai at home? You can make it exactly the way you like it. If you’re not a shrimp fan, feel free to swap it for chicken, tofu, or stir-fried veggies. Don’t love the eggs? Leave ’em out. 

This can be made 2 days ahead; just store it in an airtight container and refrigerate. The noodles will absorb the sauce as it cools, so reheat very slowly in a nonstick pan or in the microwave, then refresh the dish with a squeeze of lime juice and peanuts. 

Made this? Let us know in the comments below!


  • 8 oz. rice noodles, broken in half
  • 6 tbsp. peanut or vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tbsp. palm sugar
  • 3 tbsp. Thai fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp. tamarind puree
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped (about 3 tbsp.)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 scallions, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 c. bean sprouts
  • 1/4 c. coarsely chopped peanuts
  • 2 tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (optional) 


  • Step 1 If using dried noodles, in a large pot or heatproof bowl, soak noodles in boiling water until tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Step 2 Meanwhile, in a large wok over high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add shrimp and cook, turning halfway through, until just cooked through and pink, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl.
  • Step 3 In same wok, heat 1 tablespoon oil. In a small bowl, whisk eggs until blended. Cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up curds with a spoon, until just set, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to bowl with shrimp.
  • Step 4 In a small bowl, whisk palm sugar, fish sauce, tamarind concentrate, lime juice, cayenne, 2 tablespoons oil, and 1 tablespoon water until combined.
  • Step 5 In same wok over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Cook shallot and garlic, stirring frequently, until lightly golden, about 1 minute. Add scallions and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in sauce and bring to a simmer.
  • Step 6 Add eggs, shrimp, and noodles and cook, tossing constantly, until warmed through and noodles are softened, about 2 minutes more. Add bean sprouts and peanuts and toss again to combine. 
  • Step 7 Divide pad Thai among plates. Top with cilantro (if using).

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Source: Delish


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