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Learn how to make THE BEST Drunken Noodles with chicken! This homemade recipe for the spicy Thai restaurant favorite Pad Kee Mao, is easy to make in just 20 minutes!
I was originally inspired to make this dish after my favorite Thai restaurant in San Diego closed. I was a loyal customer and totally addicted to their Drunken Noodles, Yellow Curry and Pan Fried Roti Bread!
Since they closed their doors a few years ago, I’ve been perfecting my own versions of their classic Thai recipes. After dozens of recreations of their Drunken Noodles, I’ve finally made the perfect homemade recipe, that tastes just like their classic noodle dish!
While the recipe is quite simple, getting the perfect Drunken Noodles sauce is really the key to this noodle dish. The sauce is so flavorful and slightly spicy. In this recipe, I’ll share how to adjust the spice to your preference!
And bonus, it’s made in less time than it will take you to order Thai food on an app!
Table of contents
Step by step instructions
- Make the sauce. In a small bowl, combine oyster sauce, fish sauce, red chili paste, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and Thai basil. Set the sauce aside.
- Boil the noodles. Bring a large pot of water to boil on the stove. Add the rice noodles to the hot water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Stir fry the Drunken Noodles. Add canola oil, or vegetable oil, to a large skillet or wok on the stove over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add minced garlic cloves, Thai chilies and sliced onions. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add a whisked egg and scramble for 1 minute. Add small pieces of diced chicken breast and cook for 3-4 minutes. Toss in chopped Chinese broccoli, tomato wedges and the cooked rice noodles. Pour the sauce into the skillet and toss everything together. Sauté for 2 minutes.
- Finish the dish. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in more fresh Thai basil leaves. Serve immediately.
Frequently asked questions
- Are drunken noodles spicy? This dish is on the spicier side. I would say, made as is, the dish would be a spice level 5 on a 1-10 scale at a Thai restaurant. For more spice, add more Thai chilies and additional chili paste to the sauce. For less spice, reduce the Thai chilies and chili paste by half.
- Are drunken noodles gluten free? This dish is easy to make gluten free with a couple of simple swaps. Use gluten free oyster sauce, gluten free fish sauce and gluten free soy sauce, also known as tamari. Combining gluten free versions of each of these sauces, will make the entire dish gluten free.
- Can I use a different protein? Sure! Instead of chicken, you can substitute beef, shrimp or pork.
- To make this recipe with shrimp, simply add peeled & deveined shrimp at the same time you would add the chicken. Continue to cook the recipe as directed.
- To make this recipe with beef, I highly recommend checking out my Kung Pao Beef recipe. In this recipe I share the secret that Chinese restaurants use to make the most tender beef. That same method can be used for beef in this recipe. Simply follow the recipe above to tenderize sliced flank steak, then add the steak at the same time you would add the chicken or shrimp.
- To make the recipe with pork, you can add 1/2 pound of small diced pork tenderloin or ground pork, at the same time you would the chicken. Continue to prepare the rest of the recipe as instructed.
- Can you add other vegetables to the dish? Sure thing! Feel free to replace any of the vegetables, or the chicken in this dish, with other vegetables like thinly sliced red bell pepper, baby corn, diced zucchini or shredded carrots.
What is the difference between Drunken Noodles, Pad Thai and Pad See Ew?
The main difference between drunken noodles, Pad Thai, and Pad See Ew is the sauce used in each of these Thai dishes.
Pad See Ew looks similar to drunken noodles because of the wide rice noodles found in both dishes. But it’s sauce is mostly made up of a combination of dark and light soy sauce and is not spicy. Pad Thai is made with a thinner rice noodle and it’s sauce is sweeter and nuttier, with a little bit of spice.
Substitutions for Asian Ingredients
Most of the ingredients for this drunken noodles recipe can be found in the Asian section at major grocery stores. For the harder to find ingredients, I always make a trip to the Asian market before preparing this dish. I pick up the Chinese broccoli, Thai chilies, Thai basil and wide rice noodles.
I’m fortunate enough to live just 3 miles from an Asian grocery store. I love to shop there for interesting finds, inexpensive produce and the best Boba Milk Tea ever!
If you’re not so lucky to live that close to an Asian market or don’t have the time to visit one before making this recipe, you can make some simple swaps to still create this delicious dish.
- Thai Chilies: Although some major grocery stores have began to carry Thai chilies, if you can’t find them, simply substitute 1 serrano chili pepper for the 2 Thai chilies.
- Thai Basil: Thai basil has more of an anise flavor and is slightly spicier than sweet basil. The leaves are smaller and more narrow and the stems are purple. Regular basil can be substituted if Thai basil cannot be found. Thai holy basil is another type of basil that’s even more spicy than Thai basil and more peppery. It can also be used in place of Thai basil, if that’s all you can find.
- Wide Rice Noodles: Rice noodles can be found at major grocery stores in the Asian section, but the width may vary. If wide rice noodles are not available, simply substitute the widest rice noodle they offer. This might be pad thai noodles, which is totally fine.
- Chinese Broccoli: Chinese broccoli is a leaf vegetable with thick stems. Unlike the broccoli you might be used to, it does not have florets. The flavor though is very similar to that of broccoli, just slightly more bitter. Broccolini is a hybrid of Chinese broccoli and broccoli. If Chinese broccoli can’t be found, simply substitute 1/2 lb or broccolini or traditional broccoli.
More Thai recipes to try
Looking for more delicious Thai recipes to make at home? Try these quick and easy favorites!
- Spicy Vegetable Pad Thai – one of my favorite recipes of all time that I make almost every week!
- Thai Coconut Potsticker Soup – in the top 5 most popular recipes on the blog! People always rave about this 29 minute soup recipe, that’s super easy to prep!
- Vegan Pad Thai with Zoodles – a seriously veggie-licious dish, that’s easy to make in just 20 minutes.
- Slow Cooker Thai Peanut Chicken Noodles – I could put that Thai peanut sauce on anything and everything, it’s SO delicious!
- Chicken Satay – ridiculously tender and flavorful chicken made on the grill, and you guessed it, served with that drool-worthy Thai Peanut Sauce.
- 2 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp ground fresh red chili paste
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tsp sugar
- ½ cup thai basil, divided
- 8 oz wide rice noodles
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 6 cloves garlic , minced
- 2 red thai chilies , minced
- ½ cup onion , sliced
- 1 egg, whisked
- ½ lb chicken, small dice
- ½ lb Chinese broccoli , chopped
- 1 tomato , sliced into wedges
- Bring a large pot of water to boil.
- In a small bowl, combine the oyster sauce, fish sauce, red chili paste, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and ¼ cup chopped Thai basil. Set aside.
- Add the rice noodles to the boiling water. Cook for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Add the canola oil to a large skillet over medium high heat.
- Once the oil is hot, add the garlic, thai chilies and onion, saute for 2 minutes.
- Add the egg and scramble for 1 minute.
- Add the chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the cooked rice noodles, chinese broccoli, tomato and the sacue.
- Toss to combine and saute for 2 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining fresh Thai basil leaves.
- Most ingredients for this recipe can be found in the Asian section of major grocery stores. For some of the harder to find ingredients, use these substitutions.
- Substitute broccoli or broccolini for the Chinese broccoli
- Substitute sweet basil for the Thai Basil
- Substitute 1 minced serrano chili for the 2 Thai chilies
- Substitute Pad Thai noodles for the wide rice noodles
- This dish can easily be made gluten free depending on the sauces used. Luckily gluten free soy sauce, fish sauce and oyster sauce are easy to find online or at most major grocery stores.
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