Food

The Best Homemade Pad Thai

This delicious recipe would make a perfect weeknight meal, and Jess from Cook Smarts says it’s surprising easy to make at home. Here’s how…


The Best Pad Thai You’ll Ever Have
By Jess Dang of Cook Smarts

Shrimp Pad Thai was definitely the first Thai dish I ever experienced, and I fell absolutely in love with it. Whenever I ate at a Thai restaurant, I always told myself, order something different this time, but inevitably, I’d end up getting the Shrimp Pad Thai. I’m sure a lot of people can relate.

After spending many hundreds of dollars on this dish over the years, I finally decided I should try to make it at home—and I was happy to discover that it was relatively easy to replicate in my own kitchen. The recipe below has condensed Shrimp Pad Thai down to the essentials—tasty shrimp, al dente noodles, and a tasty sauce—which makes it perfect for the everyday home cook. Fish sauce and tamarind paste are classic Thai pantry staples. If they’re not available in your regular grocery store, see if you can find an Asian grocer nearby.

Recipe: Shrimp Pad Thai
Serves 4

You’ll need:
8 oz. Pad Thai noodles
3 tbsp. canola oil
1 lb. frozen peeled, tail-on shrimp
1 bunch green onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup peanuts, chopped
2-4 eggs, whisked
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp. brown sugar
3 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. tamarind paste (optional)
1 limes

What to do:

Place noodles in a large bowl and pour 6 cups of boiling water over the noodles. Give the noodles a stir and then let them sit in the hot water for about 5 to 8 minutes. This will be enough time to get them softened but not soggy. Drain and set aside. (I usually toss the noodles with about 1 tbsp. of oil to keep them from sticking.)

While waiting for the noodles, defrost shrimp in a bowl of lukewarm water. Drain them after 15 to 20 minutes and dry with some paper towels.

Meanwhile get your the other ingredients ready: chop green onions, keeping green and white parts separate; mince garlic; chop peanuts, and whisk eggs.

Next mix together the sauce. Combine stock, sugar, fish and soy sauces, tamarind paste and minced garlic. Marinate shrimp in about 2 to 3 tablespoons of the sauce.

Now it’s time to put all the ingredients together. Heat a wok over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp. oil and then shrimp to heated oil. Be careful to drop the shrimp in as close as you can to the wok to prevent spattering. Sear shrimp for about 2 to 3 minutes on both sides until you get a beautiful caramelization. Remove shrimp from pan and set aside.

Return wok back to medium-high heat and add remaining tbsp. of oil. Add in the chopped white parts of the green onion with a dash of salt. Pour in whisked eggs and scramble lightly for about 30 seconds. Push them to the side of the wok and then add noodles. Pour in remainder of the sauce and toss your noodles with tongs and get them completely coated in your sauce. Once the noodles have absorbed all the sauce, add the shrimp back along with the green parts of the green onions and juice from half a lime.

Toss everything together and then taste! If it needs more sweetness, add more brown sugar; if it needs more salt, add fish or soy sauce; if it needs more tanginess, add more tamarind paste. Once you get it exactly to your liking, serve piping hot with chopped peanuts and extra lime wedges. (For a how-to video taking you through the steps of this meal, click here.)

Thanks, Jess! If you’re looking for simple dinner ideas, check out Jess’s weekly meal plan service and health and cooking program for home cooks. She’s awesome!

P.S. More best recipes, including crispy fish tacos and Thai-inspired brussel sprouts.

(Photos and recipe by Jess Dang of Cook Smarts. Thanks to Shoko for helping with this series.)

  1. Rachel says...

    Made this last night- big hit!

  2. Sharon says...

    Made this tonight with tofu instead of shrimp. Better than other pad thai recipes. Only other change was adding broccoli slaw with the white part of the scallions. Gave it added crunch and an extra serving of vegetables. Will definitely make again.

  3. Hmmm this looks amazing and a delight! Thanks for sharing your recipe. I’d like to share this to my yummy recipes pinterest board.

    – Prasad

  4. I tried this recipe and was really pleased at how easy and delicious it was. I used pre-cooked shrimp but I think fresh ones would be better. Chicken thighs also would be great.

    Thanks! brokelynese.blogspot.com

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  6. I made this tonight, and it’s very good. My fridge is currently out of commission and I’m sick of take out. As a result, I had to skip the egg and instead substituted fresh vegetables purchased at the salad bar: green/red peppers, edamame, and shredded carrots. I love it even more with all of the vegetables!

  7. I made this tonight, my husband and I both LOVED it! Next time I’ll add some bean sprouts to the toppings.

    Seriously delish ;)

    xx -b.

  8. Thanks for the recipe! Ive always wanted to make pad thai at home.

  9. Bookmarking this now to try this weekend. I love thai food and got myself a thai cookbook and of course pad thai was the first thing I wanted to make… what a disaster! The noodles turned into a huge gluten-y mass of ick and it just got worse from there. My second attempt was even more pathetic. I had sort of given up, but seeing this, makes it look so easy and sort of gives me hope. Wish me luck!

    http://www.nomadicd.com/

  10. Dumb question… Are pad thai noodles and rice noodles the same thing?

    • Pad Thai noodles are a type of rice noodles. The pad Thai variety are more like linguine shape – a bit wider and flatter. That’s all!

  11. jm says...

    I love pad thai! Can’t wait to try this.

  12. I want to try to make it with no shrimp . (allergic) So I will do the noodles peanuts and scallions , right ? I love Pad Thai.. even my (probably) bad version will make me happy.

    • If you don’t eat shrimp, chicken and tofu are also traditional pad Thai options. I love the fried tofu in my pad Thai.

  13. I’m a huge Pad Thai fan along with Pad See Ew. I’ve never attempted to make it at home, but this recipe seems far less complicated than others I’ve come across. Maybe will give it a shot over the weekend!
    http://elantresses.blogspot.com/

  14. Great recipe…I think it will be just what we need around here to warm our bones, it feels like fall has arrived in Vancouver.

  15. Looks great. I love pad thai, I would probably add bean sprouts and some more vegetables though!

    petitepanini.blogspot.com

  16. CookSmarts and Cup of Jo together?!? Two of my faves! This is awesome. Hooray, Jess!

    • Hi Sidney! Yes, it’s always fun and an honor to be invited to be on Joanna’s blog.

  17. Oh yay! I’ve been looking for a good pad thai recipe. Thanks! I’ll be trying this one this week :)

  18. I will be making this dish this weekend. It sounds super yummy!

  19. how optional is the tamarind paste? :)

    • Phoebe, it definitely benefits from the tamarind paste and in restaurants, tamarind paste is what gives Pad Thai that orange-y color. It won’t taste quite like the restaurant version if you skip it.

  20. This looks like a great recipe! The only thing missing is maybe some spice, I’ll have to try this with some Thai chilies thrown in :)

  21. I just finally signed up for CookSmarts yesterday! I’ve been lurking ever since making the fish taco recipe at home. I’m so excited to start cooking! I’ve got my friends lurking now. Having fresh, easy enough food that’s filling and not a diet? We’re in!

    • Yay! Welcome to the Cook Smarts family and glad you’re not lurking anymore, :).

  22. I’ve always been curious about how to make Pad Thai, or rather how to get the amazing quality replicated. I’ll have to give this recipe a try! Thank you for sharing!

    Cheers!
    Akshara
    Simply Akshara

  23. Looks and sounds amazing- that is weekend dinner sorted!

  24. one of my family’s favorite dishes! really nice with a little squeeze of sri too!

  25. one of my favorite dish! this is my go-to dish to make for potlucks! :)