Pad Kee Mao or Drunken Noodles is a popular Thai noodle dish famously named for its effectiveness as a hangover cure. This quick one skillet dish won my family over to Thai food. Wide rice noodles are tossed with a beautiful savory sauce and the veggies and protein of your choice.
The best tip I’ve learned over the years is that having supplies on hand for dinners that be can thrown together faster than getting take out will save your life. You can save money, time, and most importantly for our nut allergy household you fully control the ingredients!
But for this to work, it is key that you pick meals that excite you. Enter these Drunken Noodles! Toss thick rice noodles in a delicious sauce with flavors that are savory, a bit sweet, and as spicy as you like.
Pair your Drunken Noodles with a pack of Trader Joes frozen spring rolls and you won’t miss the take out at all!
Wide Rice Noodles: you want the widest rice noodles you can find prepared according to the package instructions.
Chicken: In this recipe I included instructions for chicken breast but chicken thighs work as well or even skip the chicken entirely and use mushrooms or tofu instead.
Green Onion: instead of the traditional basil I like to use the tops of green onions in my pad kee Mao because I love them and always have them on hand!
Veggies: you can use whatever stir fry veggies you like for this recipe! We like carrots, thinly sliced zucchini, bell peppers, broccolini, and mushrooms.
Oyster Sauce or Hoisin Sauce: this is where the delicious umami flavor in Pad Kee Mao comes from. Oyster sauce is what you see in most authentic recipes and will give you a more savory tangy sauce but I really love the added chili and garlic flavors present in the hoisin sauce.
Light Soy Sauce: low sodium Tamari style soy sauce is my favorite especially when combined with the oyster sauce which is already quite salty.
Dark Soy Sauce: dark or sweet soy sauce balances out the salty savory flavor of the oyster sauce. Balsamic glaze is the best substitute I have found if you cannot find dark soy sauce.
Chili Garlic Sauce: In place of fresh chilis I prefer to use chili garlic sauce. We always have it in our fridge and it makes it so easy to customize the level of spice.
How to make Pad Kee Mao
Start by preparing your rice noodles per the package instructions. Some noodles will required you to boil them while others have you soak them.
Prep your veggies and chicken. This recipe moved fast once you start cooking so we want everything ready to go!
In a small bowl (or leftover jam jar) combine oyster or hoisin sauce, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and chili garlic sauce. Set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet, wok, or dutch oven over medium high heat. Sauté the sliced chicken by spreading it out in the hot pan and waiting to flip it until it is 90% cooked. This is the trick to tender stir fry chicken! Remove the cooked chicken from the pan and set aside.
Add the rest of the oil to the pan and sauté your veggies for about two minutes or until tender.
Add your sauce, chicken, and noodles to the pan and toss until well combined.
Serve immediately with basil or green onion.
Tips for making Thai Drunken Noodles
Prep all of your ingredients ahead of time because things move fast once you start cooking so you want everything ready to go ahead of time.
If you prefer your drunken noodles saucier I recommend doubling the sauce. We like ours moderately sauced the way it comes at our favorite Thai restaurant. But the best part about cooking at home is you can make it to your liking!
Storing Pad Kee Mao
Pad Kee Mao makes great leftovers! My husband loves having them for lunch! Simply store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Gluten Free: Pad Kee Mao is easy to make gluten free! Just make sure you use gluten free soy sauce or Tamari instead of traditional soy sauce!
Vegetarian: to make it vegetarian simply skip the chicken and add sautéed tofu instead!
Make it spicy: if you want a traditional level of spice in your Pad Kee Mao double the chili garlic sauce or add fresh Thai chiles.
What is Pad Kee Mao?
The literal translation of Pad Kee Mao is Drunk Noodles named for its fame as a hangover cure. Pad Kee Mao is famous spicy Thai noodle dish featuring stir fried rice noodles, chicken, vegetables, chiles, oyster sauce, and Thai Basil.