Pad Kee Mao (Drunken Noodles)

By: takestwoeggsPosted: 21/10/2023 Updated: 28/11/2023
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
Total 25 minutes
Pad kee mao or drunken noodles is a spicy Thai noodle stir fry dish made with fresh rice noodles, chicken, vegetables, basil, and a spicy umami sauce that can be ready to eat in under 30 minutes!
Pad Kee Mao (Drunken Noodles)

Pad kee mao or drunken noodles is a spicy Thai noodle stir fry dish made with fresh rice noodles, chicken, vegetables, basil, and a spicy umami sauce that can be ready to eat in under 30 minutes!

Looking down at a plate of pad kee mao drunken noodles.

If you love spicy savory flavors, this pad kee mao or drunken noodles recipe was made for you. This popular Thai stir-fried noodle dish is made with fresh rice noodles, chicken, Chinese broccoli, carrots, garlic, Thai chilis, holy basil, and a flavorful, savory sauce. The best part about this chicken pad kee mao recipe is that it can be ready to eat in under 30 minutes!

You can serve these spicy drunken noodles for lunch or dinner. Also, you can control the spice level by making these Thai drunken noodles at home. If you love these chicken drunken noodles, check out our pad thai, pad see ew, and Thai fried rice.

What are drunken noodles?

Pad kee mao (ผัดขี้เมา) or drunken noodles is a popular Thai street food dish that is made with stir-fried rice noodles, a protein of choice, and vegetables such as Chinese broccoli, carrots, baby corn, and holy basil that is tossed with a thick savory sauce made with oyster sauce, fish sauce, and soy sauce.

The history of the term “drunken noodles” is unclear. One explanation for the name is that the meal is often consumed after a night of drinking. Another explanation is since the dish is so spicy you can only eat it when you are drunk.

Up close with a plate of Thai pad kee mao.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

There are dozens of reasons why you will love this chicken drunken noodles recipe but here are the top 3 reasons:

  1. Quick and easy: this pad kee mao recipe is so easy to make and can be cooked in less than 30 minutes! It’s perfect for those busy weeknights.
  2. Control the spice: the best part about making homemade Thai drunken noodles is that you can control the spice level to your preference.
  3. Versatile and customizable: this chicken pad kee mao can be served for lunch or dinner and can be easily customized with different protein and vegetable options.
A pair of chopsticks lifting up drunken noodles from a plate.

Kitchen Equipment

You will only need a few items of kitchen equipment to make this pad kee mao recipe. I’ve linked everything I used below.

  • Mixing Bowls: the mixing bowls are necessary to marinate the chicken and to make that drunken noodle sauce.
  • Mortar and Pestle: you will need a mortar and pestle to crush the garlic and Thai chili peppers.
  • Wok: a wok is the best skillet to use for these spicy Thai noodles. The high walls ensure that you will have an even cook and it makes it easy to toss all the ingredients with ease.

Ingredients

You can find all of the ingredients to make this drunken noodles recipe at your local Asian grocery store. I’ve linked all the ingredients you can find online below.

Chicken Marinade

  • Chicken Thighs: I used boneless skinless chicken thighs but you can use any cut of chicken you’d like.
  • Golden Mountain Seasoning Sauce: Golden mountain seasoning sauce or soy sauce adds a hint of salty umami flavor to the chicken.
  • Sugar: granulated sugar adds a touch of sweetness to balance the salty flavors in the soy sauce.

Stir Fry

  • Fresh Rice Noodles: fresh rice noodles are the best way to get the most authentic pad kee mao flavor and texture.
  • Garlic: crushed garlic adds a rich aromatic flavor profile to the chicken drunken noodles.
  • Thai Chilis: Thai chilis are what make these Thai drunken noodles spicy. The best way to reduce the spice level is to de-seed the Thai chilis before crushing them with the mortar and pestle.
  • Shallot: a sliced shallot also adds more aromatic flavor.
  • Chinese Broccoli and Carrots: I used Chinese broccoli and carrots for the stir fry. Make sure to thinly slice the stems of the Chinese broccoli and carrots so they cook quicker.
  • Holy Basil or Thai Basil: traditionally, Thai drunken noodles are made with Thai holy basil. However, it may be difficult
All the stir fry ingredients for pad kee mao organized and labeled.

Drunken Noodle Sauce

  • Oyster Sauce: oyster sauce is made from oyster juices that add a salty, caramel, smoky flavor to the drunken noodle sauce.
  • Golden Mountain Sauce: Golden Mountain sauce is a staple in Thai recipes. It is very similar to soy sauce is slightly sweeter than other soy-based sauces and has a deeper more complex flavor than regular soy sauce.
  • Dark Soy Sauce: dark soy sauce is a rich, thick, and slightly sweet soy sauce. It adds a deep brown color and a touch of sweetness to the drunken noodle sauce.
  • Fish Sauce: fish sauce is made from salted anchovies and adds a deep salty, umami, and earthy flavor.
  • Granulated Sugar: sugar gently sweetens the bold umami salty flavors from the other ingredients.
All the pad kee mao sauce ingredients organized and labeled.

Substitutions and Additions

This is your spicy drunken noodles recipe that you can customize based on your preferences. Here are some ideas for substitutions and additions.

Substitutions

  • Protein: instead of chicken, you can alternatively use beef, shrimp, pork, or tofu.
  • Sugar: instead of white sugar you can alternatively use brown sugar, palm sugar, or cane sugar.
  • Regular soy sauce: if you do not have Golden Mountain Sauce, you can also use regular soy sauce or tamari.
  • Dried noodles: instead of fresh rice noodles, you can alternatively use dried wide rice noodles.

Additions

  • Thai chili: if you like spicier chicken drunken noodles, go ahead and add more Thai chilis.
  • Vegetables: you can always add more vegetables such as baby corn, bell peppers, mushrooms, etc. for a more balanced dish.

How to Make Pad Kee Mao

Here are the step-by-step instructions on how to make this chicken pad kee mao recipe in under 30 minutes.

  1. Marinate the chicken. Add the chicken, soy sauce, sugar, and water to a bowl and toss to combine. Set aside to marinate for 15 minutes.
Chicken marinading in a bowl for thai pad kee mao.
  1. Prepare the noodles. If using fresh noodles, gently unravel the noodles. If they are difficult to separate or slightly dry, soak the noodles in warm water to loosen them. If using dried noodles, cook the noodles according to the package instructions.
  2. Make the sauce. In a small mixing bowl, add the oyster sauce, Golden Mountain sauce, dark soy sauce, fish sauce, granulated sugar, and water. Mix to combine. Set aside.
Mixing together pad kee mao sauce in a small glass bowl.
  1. Grind the garlic and Thai chili. In a mortar and pestle, add the roughly chopped garlic and Thai chilis and pound until it turns into a paste.
Thai chilies and garlic crushed with a pestle and mortar.
  1. Cook the chicken. In a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil. Once the wok is hot, add the marinated chicken and spread it into a single layer. Sear 1 minute on each side until done. Remove and set aside.
Marinaded chicken thighs being cooked in a large wok.
  1. Saute the aromatics. In the same wok over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil. Once the wok is hot, add the chili garlic paste and saute until fragrant about 10 seconds. Then add the sliced shallot and cook for 1 minute.
Aromatics being sautéed in a large wok.
  1. Add the vegetables. Next, add the Chinese broccoli and carrots. Saute for 1 minute. Remove and set aside.
Vegetables being cooked in a large wok.
  1. Add sauce and noodles. Add the noodles and sauce. Gently toss until covered. Let the noodles sit at the bottom of the pan for 30 seconds to char.
Fresh egg noodles and pad kee mao sauce being seared in a large wok.
  1. Combine. Turn the heat to low. Then add back the chicken, vegetables, and basil and toss until combined. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
Looking down at a plate of pad kee mao drunken noodles.

Tips for the Best Chicken Pad Kee Mao

  • Loosen the fresh noodles before cooking. The best noodles are the freshest ones. I recommend buying the noodles the same day you are planning to make this recipe and gently loosening the noodles before cooking.
  • Pound the garlic and chili. By pounding the garlic and Thai chili with a mortar and pestle you will release more of the aromatic oils and flavors from them and that will permeate throughout the entire dish.
  • Cook the chicken separately. By cooking the chicken separately, you can control the cook of the chicken and prevent it from overcooking.
  • Allow the noodles to char. Once you add the noodles into the wok and mix it with the drunken noodle sauce spread the noodles across the wok and allow it to char. This will give the noodles a nice caramelized smokey flavor.
  • Gently toss all the ingredients together. When you add all the vegetables back into the wok, gently toss to combine to prevent too much breakage of the fresh rice noodles.

Storage Instructions

You can store these drunken noodles with chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The fresh noodles may harden and dry up over time. To reheat, simply drizzle a few drops of water over the noodles and cook on the stovetop until warm. Alternatively, you can drizzle a few drops of water and microwave until warm.

Frequently Asked Q’s & A’s

What noodles do I use for Thai drunken noodles?

The best noodles to use for these spicy Thai noodles are fresh rice noodles that you can find in the refrigerated section at your local Asian grocery. You can also use wide-dried rice noodles that are slightly chewy but will hold better for leftovers in the future.

What makes “drunken noodles” drunken?

One explanation is that since the dish is so spicy, you will need to drink a lot of alcohol to handle the spice. Another explanation is that it is a popular street food available for late-night drunk munchies.

What’s the difference between pad kee mao vs. pad see ew?

Pad kee mao and pad see ew are both made with fresh wide rice noodles. Pad kee mao is spicy and savory and made with a savory brown sauce and a variety of vegetables. On the other hand, pad see ew is made with a similar savory brown sauce but is not spicy and made with Chinese broccoli and scrambled eggs.

What’s the difference between pad kee mao vs. pad thai?

Pad Thai is made with thinner rice noodles and has a nutty and sweet flavor profile. The sauce is made with a tamarind paste for a more nutty and sweet flavor. It is also tossed with fresh bean sprouts and topped with crushed peanuts. Pad kee mao is spicy and savory.

More Thai Recipes to Try

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Pad Kee Mao (Drunken Noodles)

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Pad kee mao or drunken noodles is a spicy Thai noodle stir fry dish made with fresh rice noodles, chicken, vegetables, basil, and a spicy umami sauce that can be ready to eat in under 30 minutes!
Servings: 4 servings
Print Recipe

Equipment

Ingredients

Chicken Marinade

  • ½ lb boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 teaspoon Golden Mountain Sauce or soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water

Stir Fry

  • 1 lb fresh rice noodles
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 5 cloves garlic roughly chopped
  • 2 Thai chilis deseeded and chopped
  • 1 shallot sliced
  • 3 stalks Chinese broccoli cut into bite sized pieces stems and leaves separated
  • 1 carrot peeled and thinly sliced
  • ½ cup Holy basil or Thai basil

Sauce

Instructions

  • Marinate the chicken. Add the chicken, soy sauce, sugar, and water to a bowl and toss to combine. Set aside to marinate for 15 minutes.
  • Prepare the noodles. If using fresh noodles, gently unravel the noodles. If they are difficult to separate or slightly dry, soak the noodles in warm water to loosen. If using dried noodles, cook the noodles according to the package instructions.
  • Make the sauce. In a small mixing bowl, add the oyster sauce, Golden Mountain sauce, dark soy sauce, fish sauce, granulated sugar and water. Mix to combine until all the sugar has dissolved. Set aside.
  • Grind the garlic and Thai chilis. In a mortar and pestle, add the roughly chopped garlic and Thai chilis and pound until it turns into a paste. Alternatively you can use a food processor.
  • Cook the chicken. In a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil. Once the wok is hot, add the marinated chicken and spread into a single layer. Sear 1 minute on each side until done. Remove and set aside.
  • Saute the aromatics. In the same wok over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil. Once the wok is hot, add the chili garlic paste and saute until fragrant about 10 seconds. Then add the sliced shallot and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the vegetables. Next add the Chinese broccoli and carrots. Saute until lightly softened about 1 minute. Remove and set aside.
  • Add sauce and noodles. Add the noodles and sauce. Gently toss until covered. Let the noodles sit at the bottom of the pan for 30 seconds to char.
  • Combine. Turn the heat to low. Then add back the chicken, vegetables, and basil and toss until combined. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Loosen the fresh noodles before cooking. The best noodles are the freshest ones. I recommend buying the noodles the same day you are planning to make this recipe and gently loosening the noodles before cooking.
  • Pound the garlic and chili. By pounding the garlic and Thai chili with a mortar and pestle you will release more of the aromatic oils and flavors from them and that will permeate throughout the entire dish.
  • Cook the chicken separately. By cooking the chicken separately, you can control the cook of the chicken and prevent it from overcooking.
  • Allow the noodles to char. Once you add the noodles into the wok and mix it with the drunken noodle sauce spread the noodles across the wok and allow it to char. This will give the noodles a nice caramelized smokey flavor.
  • Gently toss all the ingredients together. When you add all the vegetables back into the wok, gently toss to combine to prevent too much breakage of the fresh rice noodles.
  • Storage Instructions: You can store these drunken noodles with chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The fresh noodles may harden and dry up over time. To reheat, simply drizzle a few drops of water over the noodles and cook on the stovetop until warm. Alternatively, you can drizzle a few drops of water and microwave until warm.

Nutrition:

Calories: 628kcal | Carbohydrates: 111g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 2162mg | Potassium: 673mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 2317IU | Vitamin C: 107mg | Calcium: 107mg | Iron: 3mg

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