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Among all the Southeast Asian cuisines, Thai cuisine is a place that never fails to amuse us with its tasty dishes. This article is dedicated to unveiling a delicious episode about the Thai Drunken Noodles dish.

Thai Drunken Noodles, popularly known as Pad Kee Mao in Thailand, is a classic stir-fried noodle dish made easily with a few basic ingredients. This dish usually requires fresh broad Thai rice noodles, vegetables, a source of animal protein, and glazed in a special sauce. The spices and herbs used include garlic, fresh Thai red chiles, and Thai basil.

So, let’s dive right in and see what this noodle dish really is and how it is easily made at home!

What is Thai Drunken Noodles?

Thai Drunken Noodles is one of the most classic stir-fried noodle dishes that originates from northern Thai cuisine for many centuries. They call it Pad Kee Mao which translates to “Drunkard stir-fry”. 

Thai Drunken Noodles - SpiceRally

However, one shouldn’t misunderstand its name as it is quite misleading to think that this noodle dish has alcohol in it. But the name refers to the person who is eating this since it is believed that the amount of hotness and spiciness in this noodle dish is perfect to be enjoyed with alcohol or during a hangover.

Some also say that Pad Kee Mao is so spicy that it makes a person feel drunk or go dizzy. So, with all the interesting stories related to this noodle dish, it has become one of the most favorite dishes of Thai people and spicy food lovers globally.

What Ingredients Are Used in Thai Drunken Noodles?

Thai Drunken Noodle dish is famed for its spiciness. It has many flavor elements but the level of hotness and spiciness is always heightened due to the fresh ingredients used. It is Thai rice noodles glazed with a specially-made sauce, mixed with proteins, vegetables, and greens.

It is one-of-a-kind, aromatic to its peak, and versatile as you can go over and beyond to add your favorite proteins and veggies to adjust the dish according to your preference. You will find this in many street food stalls and top-tier restaurants in Thailand along with many homemade versions.


Authentic Thai Drunken Noodles typically use fresh broad Thai noodles in the recipe. This is a very common type of noodle used in many Thai dishes. The most important thing is that the dish only includes “rice” noodles. Some people even use the dried version of the noodles. However, this is among the main ingredients and one of the non-negotiables in the dish.

Pad Kee Mao Sauce

The sauce used in this dish is the key to bringing out all the flavors in it. The ratio of the amount of noodles used and the sauce used is critically important to build the flavor profile of this dish.

Three main sauces are used to make the Pad Kee Mao sauce which includes: fish sauce, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, and oyster sauce. Some add a dash of palm sugar to balance out the taste of the sauce while some tend to skip this step.


There’s no standard variety of protein that should be used in this noodle dish. It all depends on your personal preference while most Thai Drunken Noodle recipes come together with chicken, shrimp, pork, or beef. However, you can also use any type of white fish, meat, or seafood. And if you prefer a vegan version of this dish, you can also use fried tofu or soy chunks.


Like the source of protein, vegetables used in this recipe also vary depending on what you like to put in your dish. Generally, vegetables like carrots, bok choy, spring onions, cabbage, mushrooms, and Chinese broccoli florets or stalks go well with it. However, you can also use more greens and make a twist with vegetables depending on your palate.

Spices and Herbs

Red Chiles- Thai Drunken Noodle dish usually incorporates fresh Thai red chiles that are considerably hot to the bite. Some recipes also include Thai spur chiles and green chiles in combination. This is the main ingredient that lends fantastic heat to the dish and makes the base flavor. The amount of red chiles depends on one’s preference for the hotness of the dish.

Garlic- Fresh garlic is usually pounded with red chiles to be added to the noodle dish during the first stages of making its base. Garlic pairs well with the chiles while its pungency and intense flavor note seeps through the noodles to burst the dish out of flavor. This spice also gives so much aroma to this dish and the amount used depends on one’s preference for garlic.

Thai Basil- This is one of the most important ingredients in this noodle dish. While Thai basil is the traditional addition, some recipes also include holy basil or regular basil. Each type of basil varies slightly in flavor. Fresh Thai basil leaves are usually added at the end of the cooking process. This herb has a distinctive spicy licorice flavor with a fresh and spicy aroma.

Other Ingredients

Apart from the main ingredients used in Thai Drunken Noodles, onion is often added to the recipe and is usually seasoned with salt and palm sugar or brown sugar. Also, some recipes might include:

  • Black pepper powder
  • White pepper powder
  • Young green peppercorns
  • Sliced finger root (grachai)
  • Paprika powder
  • Red chile flakes
  • Seasoning sauce

While Thai Drunken Noodles can tantalize your senses with its flavor and aroma, Pad Thai is another noodle dish from Thai cuisine that has stolen the hearts of all noodle lovers. Click here and refer to this post for more information about Pad Thai!

How To Make Thai Drunken Noodles at Home?

Making Thai Drunken Noodles at home is not at all a tough job when you have the right ingredients. As mentioned earlier, getting the proportion of the rice noodles and the sauce correctly is very important. On that note, here’s a simple yet mouthwatering recipe you can easily make at home.

We have secured some of the authentic flavor notes in our version while adding our own twist to it to make a better recipe. Grab the necessary ingredients and enjoy this dish to your heart’s content!

Thai Drunken Noodles Recipe

5 from 2 votes
Recipe by SpiceRally


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  • Spices & Herbs
  • 5 cloves 5 Garlic (peeled)

  • 1-3 1-3 Thai Red Chiles

  • 1 1 Green Chile

  • 1/8 1/8 Red bell pepper (chopped)

  • 2 cups 2 Fresh Holy basil leaves

  • Other ingredients
  • 1 lb 1 Fresh Thai Rice Noodles (broad)

  • 10 10 Large Shrimp (cleaned and deveined)

  • 10 oz 10 Chicken breast (cut into bite-sized pieces)

  • 2 oz 2 Carrot (julienned)

  • 2 oz 2 Bok Choy (roughly chopped)

  • 1 1 Big Red onion (sliced)

  • 2 tbsp 2 Oyster sauce

  • 2 tbsp 2 Light Soy sauce

  • 1 tbsp 1 Dark Soy sauce

  • 1/2 tbsp 1/2 Fish sauce

  • 1-2 tbsp 1-2 Water

  • 3 1/2 tsp 3 1/2 Palm sugar or Brown sugar

  • Salt to taste

  • 6 tbsp 6 Vegetable oil



  • Preparation
  • Get the noodles from the refrigerator, take out the content, put them in a microwave-safe container, and defrost them for 3-5 minutes. Once the noodles are defrosted, separate them and cut them into thin stripes if you feel they are way too broad. Keep the prepared noodles in a separate bowl until you need them for the dish.
  • In the meantime, put your chicken pieces and shrimp in a bowl and marinate them with 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce, one teaspoon of sugar, with a tablespoon of water. Set them aside to season for at least 10 minutes.
  • Then, take another small bowl and make the Pad Kee Mao sauce by combining the remaining light soy sauce, dark sauce, oyster sauce, and fish sauce with the remaining amount of sugar and water. Mix them thoroughly and set the bowl aside.
  • Now, put your chiles and garlic cloves into the mortar and pestle along with a pinch of salt. Pound them until you get a coarse mixture. You don’t need to pound them until they become a paste.

  • Making the Noodles
  • Heat your wok or pan with three tablespoons of vegetable oil on high heat. Once the pan or the wok is heated through, add the marinated chicken and shrimp. Let them sizzle in the oil and cook until both sides turn brown and are well cooked. Remove them from the pan or wok and transfer to another bowl.
  • Next, add the remaining oil to the pan or wok and let the oil heat over medium flame. Once the oil is heated, carefully add the chile and garlic mixture to the oil. Stir them for a minute.
  • Now add the sliced onions, stir them for a minute, and follow up with carrots and bok choy. At this point, you can increase the heat back to high flame. Add in the chicken and shrimp and mix well to combine.
  • Into the vegetables and proteins, add the prepared noodles, followed by the Pad Kee Mao sauce you prepared. Combine everything well together so that every strand of noodles is glazed with the sauce.
  • Let your noodles sizzle in oil for another minute or two, switch off the flame and finally, add the fresh Thai basil leaves and mix well to combine.
  • Do the taste check and add more seasonings like salt and sugar if needed.
  • Let the basil leaves wilt and infuse their flavor and aroma while the noodles are hot.
  • Transfer your Thai Drunken Noodles to a plate and enjoy it warm!

Tasty Notes by SpiceRally

  • If you prefer a vegan version of this noodle dish, skip chicken and shrimp. You can either proceed with the vegetables we have used in our recipe or add more veggies depending on your preference. You can also add fried tofu if you like.
  • If you cannot find fresh Thai rice noodles, you can proceed with the dried ones. If so, you will have to cook the noodles according to the package directions, rinse them, and prepare them for the dish. But remember not to overcook your noodles.
  • Adjust the number of chiles you use. Although we have used a green chile in our recipe for extra flavor, you can skip it and use a lesser number of chiles. You can also use Thai spur chiles instead of bell pepper for more color and flavor.
  • Try to use all the sauces that we have used to make the Pad Kee Mao sauce. But if you need to go gluten-free, try to find a gluten-free oyster sauce from the store. If not, you can use more soy sauce but the taste will not stay the same.
  • If you use pork or beef, slice them thinly and marinate them the usual way we have explained in our recipe and use them in your dish.
  • If you can’t find Thai basil, just proceed with regular basil or holy basil.

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Is Thai Drunken Noodles Vegan-friendly?

Traditionally, the authentic Thai Drunken Noodle recipe is not suitable for vegans since its main sauce contains oyster sauce. But one can make a vegan or vegetarian version by leaving oyster sauce and animal protein out of the recipe.

Is Thai Drunken Noodles Gluten-free?

Most Thai Drunken Noodle dishes could not be favorable to the ones who follow a gluten-free diet since most types of oyster sauce contain gluten. Therefore, you can make a gluten-free noodle dish by using a gluten-free oyster sauce or skipping it from your recipe.

Is Thai Drunken Noodles Keto-friendly?

This recipe calls for a considerable amount of carbs as it is made with rice noodles. Thus, this noodle dish is not very suitable for people who follow a strict ketogenic diet.

Satisfy Your Senses With A Warm Plate of Thai Drunken Noodles For Dinner!

Spicy, hot, and bursting with salty, sweet, and umami flavors, Thai Drunken Noodles or Pad Kee Mao is such a heavenly dish that every noodle lover should savor at least once in life! This dish has the ideal balance of taste, aromatized with spices and herbs like Thai basil to bring perfection to your table with a wonderful Asian twist.

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