Make these quick, easy Thai Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao) in under 30 minutes for a delicious Asian dinner. These can be made vegetarian or with the meat of your choice.
I make noodles very often as they are loved by everyone at home. Here are some of my other noodle favorites: Pad Thai Noodles, Hakka Noodles, Chilli Garlic Noodles, Peanut Sesame Noodles, and Schezwan Noodles.
About This Recipe
A perfect combination of savory and spicy, Thai Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao) are my all-time favorite noodle dish to make for a comforting meal. These are very popular in Thailand and in Thai restaurants all over the world.
This stir-fry Thai noodle dish is fast and easy to make and comes together in under 30 minutes.
Pad Kee Mao literally translates to “Eaten with Cold Beer.” These noodles are sold on the streets of Thailand, and if you have ever tried them, you know how spicy they are. These street-style noodles are so spicy that I’m sure you’ll be chugging down chilled beer after every bite. That explains the name, “Eaten with Cold Beer,” right? 🙂
On the other hand, some people say these are called drunken noodles because they are a cure for hangovers. Others say they are named so because they are the perfect noodles to enjoy after a night of drinking.
Whatever is in the name, I can vouch that Pad Kee Mao taste incredibly delicious and are a breeze to make.
One perk of making these at home is you can control the heat. My recipe will yield mildly spiced noodles, but if you want them even milder, feel free to reduce the amount of chilies you use.
When preparing these noodles at home, you can also make a lot of modifications depending on what you have at hand and your taste preferences. Use ingredients that are easily available, add veggies of your choice and make a non-vegetarian version by adding meat of your liking.
Noodles – If you have had Drunken Noodles in Thailand, you know they are prepared with fresh wide rice noodles. In Thailand, you will find fresh rice noodles easily in the refrigerated section of grocery stores.
But if you do not have access to fresh noodles, use dried extra-wide rice noodles. Opt for flat noodles, but if you cannot find them, either, use any rice noodles available. I used pad Thai noodles here, as these were the closest available. Linguine pasta also works wonderfully in this recipe.
Thai Basil – There are two types of Thai basil: regular Thai basil and Thai holy basil. Use whichever is available. If you can’t find either, then use Italian basil. Italian basil lacks the aniseed flavor of Thai basil, but it is better than no basil!
Vegetables – I have used onions, baby corn, bell peppers, and green onions, but feel free to use other veggies such as broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms, carrots, etc.
Oil – You can use any vegetable oil of your choice to make these delicious noodles.
Other Ingredients – Other basic ingredients required to make this yummy dish are garlic and Thai bird’s-eye chilies.
Thai bird’s-eye chilies add the right amount of heat and spiciness to the dish. If you can’t find them, use any spicy fresh red chilies.
Tip – Bird’s-eye chilies are very hot. While chopping them, wear gloves and wash your hands well with soap after chopping. You can also reduce their amount used in the recipe if you cannot handle the heat.
Sauce – The sauces used in this dish are dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, fish sauce, and oyster sauce. The combination of these creates a full flavor that makes this dish even more delicious. You can replace dark and light soy sauce with an all-purpose soy sauce.
Others – You can also top these spicy noodles with crushed roasted peanuts or fried garlic.
I made this dish vegetarian, but you can add protein like chicken, shrimp, pork, etc. Tofu also goes great in this dish.
How to Make Drunken Noodles
Before beginning to cook this dish, have all the ingredients ready. For once you begin stir-frying, cooking must be done quickly, on high heat.
In a bowl or measuring cup, mix the sauce ingredients: 2 tsp dark soy sauce, 2 tsp light soy sauce, 2 tsp fish sauce, 2 tsp oyster sauce, 2 tsp brown sugar, ¼ tsp ground pepper, and 1 tbsp water.
Notes: You can use 4 tsp of all-purpose soy sauce in place of the dark and light soy sauce. Skip the fish sauce and oyster sauce for a vegan version.
Cook the rice noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil in a wok over high heat.
Once the oil is hot, add 1 tsp finely chopped garlic, 2-3 chopped bird’s-eye chilies, and ¼ cup thinly sliced onion. Sauté for 30 seconds on high heat. Stir continuously to avoid burning.
Add 4-5 baby corn (sliced into quarters), ½ cup sliced mixed bell peppers, ½ cup chopped green onion, and 1 cup of torn Thai holy basil. Sauté for a minute on high heat.
Add the sauce mixture and cooked noodles to the wok and toss everything well.
You might see a little liquid at the bottom, but it will be absorbed by the noodles in a few minutes. The noodles will also get darker in color. Transfer the noodles to a serving bowl and top with crushed peanuts, sliced chilies, and Thai basil. Serve hot.
Vegan – If you’re looking for a vegan alternative, just skip the fish sauce and oyster sauce.
With Chicken – To make these noodles with chicken, fry cubed chicken pieces in heated oil and take them out once they are cooked nicely. Then follow the same process as the vegetarian version and add the cooked chicken later and mix it in. Alternatively, you can add shrimp, beef, or any other protein to this recipe.
These noodles are so flavorful that they are served on their own with some chili oil.
If you are making them for brunch, you can serve Asian curries like Sweet and Sour Vegetables on the side.
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For the sauce
- 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon water
For the noodles
- 8 ounces dried rice noodles (225 g, flat and wide noodles are preferred)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
- 2-3 Thai bird's eye chilies (chopped)
- ¼ cup finely chopped onion
- 4-5 baby corn (sliced into quarters)
- ½ cup sliced mixed bell peppers
- ½ cup chopped green onions
- 1 cup Thai holy basil
- 1 tablespoon crushed roasted peanuts
- 1 bird's eye chili (sliced)
- 2-3 Thai basil leaves
- Stir together the dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, brown sugar, ground pepper, and water in a bowl or a measuring cup and set aside.
- Notes: You can use 4 tsp of all-purpose soy sauce in place of dark and light soy sauce. Skip the fish sauce and oyster sauce for a vegan version.
- Cook the rice noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Heat vegetable oil in a wok.
- Once the oil is hot, add finely chopped garlic, chopped bird’s-eye chilies, and thinly sliced onion. Sauté for 30 seconds on high heat. Stir continuously to avoid burning.
- Now add baby corn, mixed bell peppers, green onion, and Thai holy basil. Sauté for a minute on high heat.
- Add the sauce mixture and the cooked noodles to the wok and toss everything well.
- You might see a little liquid at the bottom, but it will get absorbed by the noodles in a few minutes. Transfer the noodles to a serving bowl and top with crushed peanuts, sliced chilies, and Thai basil. Serve hot.