Pad Kee Mao Recipe (Drunken Noodles) – An Asian “fusion food” favorite that combines multicultural attributes in a comforting and healthy way. This Thai-influenced Pad Kee Mao is the perfect balance of spicy and slightly sweet flavors, and the entire dish is easily made in just one wok. 

drunken noodles

Pad Kee Mao AKA Thai Drunken Noodles Recipe

When you sit down in a Thai restaurant here in the states, there are a few dishes you will nearly always find on the menu: Pad Thai, Thai Fried Rice, Red Curry, and Pad Kee Mao, also known as Drunken Noodles.

However, Drunken Noodles are a tasty example of Asian “fusion food” in its truest form. After Chinese immigrants crossed the borders in surrounding countries, this dish became popular in Thailand and started selling the common street-food dish, Phat Si Ew, made with wide noodles.

The biggest difference between Phat Si Ew and Pad Kee Mao is that the Thai people added spicy peppers and sweet Thai basil over time. A brilliantly fragrant addition, in my opinion.

So where did the “drunken” part of the Drunken Noodles name come from?

There are many different stories of how these noodles became known as Drunken Noodles because there is no alcohol in the recipe.

One theory is that they are so spicy, those partaking get drunk in the process of trying to quench their thirst.

Of course, you can adjust the heat to your liking; no need to worry about sending dinner guests home in a state of inebriation.

Another theory is that these Thai noodles should be eaten with a beer and make a great hangover cure!

pad kee mao

What Ingredients You Need to Make Pad Kee Mao (Mow)

For the Sauce:

  • Oyster saucea slightly sweet and salty sauce that is thickened with cornstarch
  • Fish saucea fermented, salty sauce that is an essential element in East Asian cuisine
  • Fresh lime juiceprovides the acid necessary to create a perfectly blended Drunken Noodles sauce
  • Maggi sauce – or Golden Mountain sauce, for a strong salty flavor
  • Brown sugarto add just a bit of sweetness for balance

The oyster sauce, fish sauce, and Maggi Sauce can all be found in most mainstream grocery stores and at all Asian markets. Maggi Sauce (or Golden Mountain) is a heavily seasoned soy-based sauce. All of these ingredients are salty, so you will not need to salt this dish at any point.

For the Drunken Noodles:

  • Wide rice noodlesPad Kee Mao is traditionally made with wide rice noodles, however, if you can’t find them, use wide egg noodles.
  • Chicken breastthinly sliced for quick cooking in the wok
  • Eggslightly beaten
  • Onionpeeled and chopped
  • Garlic clovesfinely minced
  • Thai chilisor jalapeños, seeded and sliced thin
  • Carrotsshredded
  • Red bell pepperor any color peppers you like, seeded and thinly sliced
  • Grape tomatoeshalved
  • Thai basil leavessweet and fragrant for balancing the spiciness of the peppers
  • Green onionuse just the tops, cut into approximately 1-inch pieces
  • Coconut oilfor cooking in the wok or large skillet
  • Lime wedgesto garnish
pad kee mow

How to Make Thai Drunken Noodles

  1. Start by mixing all of the listed sauce ingredients to create the Pad Kee Mao sauce. Set aside.
  2. Boil water and cook noodles according to package instructions.
  3. Next, heat a wok to high heat and add a touch of coconut oil along with the beaten eggs. Cook the eggs until set, then push up the side to slow the cooking. Then sauté the garlic, onions, and Thai chiles in the wok. If needed add another small amount of oil, and then the sliced chicken breasts.
  4. Once cooked, push the mixture up the side and quickly stir fry the veggies. I used bell peppers and carrots (and added tomatoes later) but you could also add snow peas, broccoli, or baby corn.
  5. Once the veggies are just barely cooked (but still firm) add in the drained noodles and the sauce. Toss and mix with fresh green onions, Thai basil leaves, and tomatoes.

It’s that easy!

Get the Complete (Printable) Pad Kee Mao Recipe Thai Drunken Noodles Below. Enjoy!

thai drunken noodles

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it Possible to Cook Pad Kee Mao Without a Wok?

While a wok really is the best cooking instrument for this recipe, you definitely can use a large skillet to make this Drunken Noodles recipe.

You can always set some of the cooked ingredients aside as you sauté different ingredients to save room and get an even cook. Then combine everything together when the noodles are ready to be added.

How Can I Make Vegetarian Drunken Noodles?

Substitute extra firm tofu or your favorite hearty veggies – like mushrooms or squash – in place of the chicken breasts to make this a healthy vegetarian Pad Kee Mao recipe.

Is Pad Kee Mao Gluten-Free?

It can be! Carefully read the ingredients listed on the sauces to ensure there are no wheat-based fillers: most use gluten-free corn starch but you definitely want to double-check.

The rice noodles traditionally used in this recipe are also gluten-free!

How Long Can This Dish Be Stored?

If kept in an airtight container in the fridge, Drunken Noodles will stay good for 3-4 days.

Rice noodles do not freeze well, so I don’t recommend keeping leftovers in the freezer.

Is There a Difference in Thai Basil and Regular Basil?

Thai basil and regular “sweet basil” so have a slightly different flavor. Thai basil has an added aniseed flavor on top of the basil flavor, which is perfect for this recipe. If you cannot find Thai basil, using sweet basil would be the perfect substitution. 

Are There Other Pad Kee Mao Variations?

Yes, there are! You can change up the protein that you add to the noodles with pork, beef, shrimp, or tofu. You can make it a spicier recipe with added chili sauce, or you can chop up some Thai Bird Chili’s and sprinkle them on the top. 

pad kee mao recipe

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Pad Kee Mao Recipe (Drunken Noodles)

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Pad Kee Mao Recipe (Drunken Noodles) – An Asian "fusion food" favorite that combines multicultural attributes in a comforting and healthy way.
Servings: 8


For the Sauce:

For the Drunken Noodles:

  • 1 pound wide rice noodles (or egg noodles)
  • 1 pound chicken breast sliced into thin bite-size pieces
  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 1 small onion peeled and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 – 3 Thai chiles or 1 – 2 jalapeños
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup red bell pepper seeded and sliced thin (I used multi-colored baby bells)
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes halved
  • 1 cup loose Thai basil leaves
  • 1 cup green onion tops cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Coconut oil for cooking
  • Lime wedges for garnish


  • Whisk the sauce together in a small bowl. Place the sliced chicken in another bowl and spoon 3 tablespoons of sauce over the top to marinade. Mix and set aside.
  • Chop the rest of the ingredients. Boil a large pot of water and cook the noodles according to the package instructions.
  • Meanwhile heat the wok (or a large skillet) to high heat. Add a teaspoon of oil to the skillet and quickly scramble the eggs. Push the eggs up the side of the wok and add the chopped onions, thai chiles, and garlic. Stir fry for 2 minutes, then add the chicken, and another teaspoon of oil if needed. Stir fry until just barely cooked through (3-5 minutes) and push the mixture up the side of the wok. *If using a skillet, transfer the cooked items to a separate dish and add back to the skillet after the noodles, or they will over-cook.
  • Now add the bell peppers and carrots. Stir fry for 2 minutes, then mix all the ingredients and pour the drained noodles over the top. Add the remaining sauce, thai basil, tomatoes, and green onions. Toss and stir fry another minute. Then remove from heat and serve warm with lime wedges.



Keep Pad Kee Mao leftovers stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. It is not recommended that you freeze rice noodle dishes.


Serving: 1serving, Calories: 357kcal, Carbohydrates: 52g, Protein: 24g, Fat: 6g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 145mg, Sodium: 927mg, Potassium: 635mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 3855IU, Vitamin C: 37.6mg, Calcium: 73mg, Iron: 2.4mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Asian, Thai
Author: Sommer Collier
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