That Spicy Chick

Pad Kee Mao Gai (Thai Drunken Noodles with Chicken)

Pad Kee Mao Gai is a spicy rice noodles stir-fry with peppery Thai holy basil, chicken, veggies, and a salty-sweet umami packed sauce. It’s easy to make in under 30 minutes, and full of the BEST garlicky and chili flavors!

Close up top view of plate with stir-fried fresh flat wide rice noodles dish with chicken and holy basil.

PAD KEE MAO BABY!!

You guys, this is one of my ALL-TIME favorite Thai dishes! It’s on the same level of tasty awesomeness as my Spicy Thai Basil Chicken Fried Rice, and just as EPIC because it’s made with fresh flat wide rice NOODLES! ❤️ 😍

What is Pad Kee Mao?

Pad Kee Mao is a stir-fried fresh flat wide rice noodles dish that’s made with garlic, chilies, Thai holy basil, a few veggies, and a salty-sweet sauce. It’s often made with chicken (gai), pork, beef, and seafood, but it can also be made with tofu.

Pad Kee Mao translates loosely to “drunken noodles” in English. The story behind the name is that a very drunk (or hungover) man whipped up this easy spicy noodles dish to sober him up or cure his hangover. Others say that the name came about from the fact that Thai people love to eat this dish after a night out drinking.

Whatever the story behind or reason for the name of this dish is, one thing’s for sure: it is DAMN delicious – when you’re sober or not 🙃 . Moreover, it is guaranteed to please you with all of its mouthwatering flavors!!

Front view of plate with stir-fried flat wide rice noodles dish with chicken and holy basil.

Why This Recipe Works

  • It’s a one wok wonder, and super quick and easy to make in under 30 minutes.
  • Smashing the garlic and chilies in a mortar and pestle helps to release their oils and makes this dish more flavorful.
  • Cooking the garlic chili paste after cooking the chicken prevents it from burning and creates less smoky and pungent fumes.
  • Fresh flat wide rice noodles have a wonderful and pleasing chewy texture. They taste phenomenal with the sauce and other elements in this dish.
  • It’s customizable with your favorite protein (pork, beef, tofu, or seafood), and is veg/vegan adaptable.

Ingredients

Labeled ingredients to make Pad Kee Mao Gai on wooden background.
Pad Kee Mao Gai Ingredients for Stir-fry
Labeled ingredients on a wooden background for Pad Kee Mao Sauce, and sauce in a measuring cup with a spoon.
Pad Kee Mao Sauce Ingredients

A couple of quick notes on some of the ingredients first.

  • Chicken: I’ve used boneless and skinless chicken thighs because I love how juicy and flavorful they are. But you’re welcome to use boneless and skinless chicken breasts.
  • Chilies: I’ve used plenty of red and green Bird’s eye chilies, and a very hot type of Thai chili called ‘Prik Kee Nu‘. When translated from Thai, prik kee nu means “rat droppings chilies” in English. They are fiery HOT, so use sparingly unless you are sure you can handle the heat! Use as many or as few hot chilies as you like.
  • Large Red Chili: This is mild and similar to bell pepper in flavor. I use it mainly for color, not the heat.
  • Young Green Peppercorn: This tastes similar to black peppercorns, and it adds a peppery pop of flavor to the dish. They’re optional, as I know they can be difficult to find outside of Asia. But you can try finding them at a Thai grocery store if there’s one near you.
  • Veggies: I kept it simple and used onion, Chinese broccoli, (also known as Chinese kale or kailan) and baby corn. But you can use any other Asian greens such as choy sum, bok choy, etc. Feel free to add any alternative or additional veggies you like. Some good options are thinly sliced carrots, bell pepper, snap peas, etc.
  • Fresh Flat Wide Rice Noodles: Try to find these at an Asian grocery store or fresh noodles shop if there is one where you’re located. You can purchase them pre-cut, or as noodle sheets from which you can cut your own noodle strands from.
  • Thai Holy Basil Leaves: Also called spicy basil or hot basil sometimes. Thai holy basil has a unique peppery flavor and it is what makes this dish so special! It has furry stems, and the leaves have ridges on the sides. Look for it at your local Asian or Thai grocery store if you’re based in the U.S. In Asia, it should be available at the Thai stall in your local wet market. If you can’t find it, you can substitute with Thai sweet basil or regular Italian basil. Italian basil is closer in flavor to holy basil than Thai sweet basil. But either will work.
  • Oil: I use canola oil, but any oil with a neutral flavor and high smoke point (i.e.: vegetable oil, rice bran oil, etc.) is great.
  • Sweet Dark Soy Sauce: This is the thick and viscous type of soy sauce. I use a Thai one, but an Indonesian one like kecap manis is absolutely fine to use.

Full ingredient list and amounts are in the recipe card below.

How to Make Pad Kee Mao Gai

Prep:

  1. Marinate the chicken: Combine the chicken, light soy sauce, fish sauce, and ground white pepper in a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Prepare all the fresh ingredients: Roughly chop the garlic and red and green chilies. Add to a mortar and pestle and smash into a coarse paste. Slice the large red chili, yellow onion, Chinese broccoli, and baby corn. Wash and pat-dry the young green peppercorn sprigs. Pick the holy basil leaves off the stems, then wash and dry them with paper towels. If using noodle sheets and not pre-cut noodles, cut 1 to 1 & 1/4-inch wide noodle strands from the sheets. Set everything aside.
  3. Make the sauce: Whisk together the oyster sauce, light soy sauce, sweet dark soy sauce, white sugar, and water in a measuring cup or bowl.
Process steps collage to make Pad Kee Mao Gai.

For the Pad Kee Mao Gai:

  1. Cook the chicken: In a bit of oil and over high heat, until the pieces are no longer pink and start to brown.
  2. Add onion, garlic chili paste, and large red chili: Add the onion and cook for 30 seconds. Then add the smashed garlic chili paste and large red chili slices, and stir-fry for another 30 seconds.
  3. Add the veggies and green peppercorn: Toss through the Chinese broccoli, baby corn, and young green peppercorn sprigs.
  4. Add noodles and sauce: Stir-fry until everything is evenly combined and coated well in the sauce.
  5. Toss through holy basil: Stir-fry for 20 seconds until just wilted, then switch off the heat.
  6. Serve! Divide the Pad Kee Mao Gai evenly onto plates. Serve with Thai chili powder and fish sauce with chopped chilies on the side if desired.
Close up front side view of plate with stir-fried fresh flat wide rice noodles dish with chicken and holy basil.

Full detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.

Top view of plate with stir-fried fresh flat wide rice noodles dish with chicken and holy basil. Spoon, fork, and condiments behind.

Cook’s Tips

  • Warm the fresh flat wide rice noodles or noodle sheets in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. It’ll make them more pliable and easier to separate (and cut if not already pre-cut) if they’ve clumped up together from being in the fridge.
Fork holding up chicken piece and noodle strands above plate with stir-fried rice noodles dish.

FAQs

Can I use dried wide rice noodles or other types of noodles?

Fresh flat wide rice noodles have a unique chewy texture and really make this dish special. Try to seek them out at an Asian grocery store if you can. Having said that, you can use 150 grams (approximately 5.3 ounces) of dried wide rice noodle sticks or even egg noodles in a pinch. Prepare them according to package instructions, then toss with a bit of oil to prevent them from sticking to each other after draining (if your package instructions required cooking in hot or boiling water). If your package instructions required soaking the noodles in room temperature or warm water, you don’t need to toss the noodles with oil. Alternatively, you can use cooked spaghetti like I do in my Thai Basil Chicken Spaghetti.

Can I make this gluten-free?

Use a gluten-free oyster sauce, gluten-free light soy sauce, and a gluten-free sweet dark soy sauce such as this gluten-free kecap manis. Also, make sure that the fish sauce you’re using is GF certified.

Can I make this vegetarian/vegan?

Use a vegetarian mushroom flavored oyster sauce and with crispy pan-fried tofu cubes instead of chicken. Omit the chicken marinade ingredients and season the tofu with salt and pepper instead. Pan-fry in a bit of oil for about 10-12 minutes, or until crisp and browned on all sides. Transfer to a plate, then follow steps 2-6 to make the Pad Kee Mao. Add the tofu cubes back into the wok after adding and tossing the veggies and green peppercorn sprigs in step 3. You can also add additional veggies like thinly sliced bell peppers or carrots to this dish if desired.

Can I make this with another protein?

Thinly sliced pork scotch fillet, tenderloin, skinless pork belly, beef sirloin, or flank steak will all work well. You could also use shrimp or other seafood. Skip marinating the pork, beef, or seafood though, and add 1/2 tablespoon of fish sauce to the Pad Kee Mao Sauce. You’ll need 250 grams (8-9 ounces) of whichever protein you choose.

Can I make this ahead?

These noodles taste best when eaten immediately after cooking. I don’t recommend making it ahead as the noodles will continue to absorb the sauce after cooking, and they may become too dry.

Fork holding up chicken piece and noodle, and plate with stir-fried rice noodles dish. Text overlay "Pad Kee Mao Gai Thai Drunken Noodles with Chicken".

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Print
Close up top view of plate with stir-fried fresh flat wide rice noodles dish with chicken and holy basil.

Pad Kee Mao Gai (Thai Drunken Noodles with Chicken)

Pad Kee Mao Gai is a spicy rice noodles stir-fry with peppery Thai holy basil and chicken. It’s easy to make in less than 30 minutes, and full of the BEST garlicky and chili flavors!

  • Author: Lavina
  • Prep Time: 18
  • Cook Time: 12
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stir-fry
  • Cuisine: Thai
Scale

Ingredients

For the Chicken Marinade:

  • 250 grams (about 89 ounces) Chicken Thighs, boneless, skinless – cleaned and pat-dried, excess fat trimmed, and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 TSP Light Soy Sauce
  • 1 TSP Fish Sauce
  • ¼ TSP ground White Pepper

For the Sauce:

  • 3 TBLS Oyster Sauce
  • 1 TBLS Light Soy Sauce
  • ½ TBLS Sweet Dark Soy Sauce
  • 1 TSP White Sugar
  • 1 TBLS Water (or chicken broth)

For the Pad Kee Mao Gai:

  • 67 Garlic cloves – roughly chopped
  • 510 Red Chilies (Bird’s eye preferred, but Holland or any other small hot chilies will work), to taste – cut into halves or thirds depending on length
  • 48 Green Chilies (Bird’s eye and Prik Kee Nu chilies preferred, but Holland or any other small hot chilies will work), to taste – cut into halves or thirds depending on length
  • 1 Large Red Chili – deseeded if desired and thinly sliced at an angle
  • ½ Yellow Onion – sliced into ¼-inch thick pieces
  • 34 pieces Chinese Broccoli (or any other Asian greens such as bok choy, choy sum) – stems thinly sliced at an angle, leafy parts cut into rough chunks
  • 3 pieces Baby Corn – cut in half lengthwise, and then again widthwise
  • 3 sprigs Young Green Peppercorn (optional) – washed and pat-dried
  • 1.5 cups Thai Holy Basil Leaves (substitute with Italian basil or Thai sweet basil if unavailable) – washed and dried
  • 300 grams Fresh Flat Wide Rice Noodles (pre-cut, or cut noodle sheets into 1 to 1 & 1/4-inch wide strands)
  • 2 TBLS Canola Oil (or any other neutral flavored cooking oil with a high smoke point)
  • To Serve (optional): Thai chili powder, fish sauce with chopped chilies

Instructions

Prep:

  1. Marinate the chicken: Clean and trim off any excess fat from the chicken thighs, then cut into a bite-sized pieces. Combine the chicken, light soy sauce, fish sauce, and ground white pepper in a medium-sized bowl. Mix with a spoon until combined well, then set aside.
  2. Prepare all the fresh ingredients: Roughly chop the garlic and red and green chilies. Add to a mortar and pestle and smash into a coarse paste. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Slice the large red chili, yellow onion, Chinese broccoli, and baby corn as indicated in the “Ingredients’ section. Wash and pat-dry the young green peppercorn sprigs. Pick the holy basil leaves off the stems, then wash and dry them with paper towels. If using noodle sheets and not pre-cut noodles, cut 1 to 1 & 1/4-inch wide noodle strands from the sheets. Set everything aside.
  3. Make the sauce: Combine the oyster sauce, light soy sauce, sweet dark soy sauce, white sugar, and water in a measuring cup or bowl. Mix until evenly combined, then set aside.

For the Pad Kee Mao Gai:

  1. Cook the chicken: Heat the canola oil in a large wok over high heat. Once hot, add the chicken and cook for 1-2 minutes, until no longer pink and the pieces start to brown.
  2. Cook onion, garlic chili paste, and large red chili: Add the onion and cook for 30 seconds. Then add the smashed garlic chili paste and large red chili slices. Stir-fry for 30 seconds to combine. (Note: Open a window or turn on the exhaust fan if needed. Frying garlic and chilies in hot oil can be smoky and pungent business.)
  3. Add the veggies and green peppercorn: Add the Chinese broccoli, baby corn, and young green peppercorn sprigs. Toss to combine.
  4. Add noodles and sauce: Add the noodles and pour the sauce on top. Stir-fry until everything is evenly combined and coated well in the sauce.
  5. Toss through holy basil: Add the holy basil leaves and toss for 20 seconds until just wilted, then switch off the heat.
  6. To Serve: Divide evenly onto plates. Serve immediately with Thai chili powder and fish sauce with chopped chilies on the side if desired.

Notes

Ingredient Notes, Cook’s Tips, and FAQs

  1. Chicken: Boneless and skinless chicken breasts can be used instead.
  2. Chilies: Use as many or as few hot Bird’s eye and Prik Kee Nu chilies as you like depending on your heat level preference. The large red chili is mild and mainly for color, not heat.
  3. Young Green Peppercorn: This tastes similar to black peppercorns and add a peppery pop of flavor to the dish. They’re optional, but you can find them at a Thai grocery store if there’s one near you.
  4. Fresh Flat Wide Rice Noodles: Try to find these at an Asian grocery store or fresh noodles shop if there is one where you’re located. You can purchase them pre-cut, or as noodle sheets from which you can cut your own noodle strands from.
  5. Warm the fresh flat wide rice noodles or noodle sheets in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. It’ll make them more pliable and easier to separate (and cut if not already pre-cut) if they’ve clumped up together from being in the fridge.
  6. Can I use dried wide rice noodles or other types of noodles? You can use 150 grams (approximately 5.3 ounces) of dried wide rice noodle sticks or even egg noodles in a pinch. Prepare them according to package instructions, then toss with a bit of oil to prevent them from sticking to each other after draining (if your package instructions required cooking in hot or boiling water). If your package instructions required soaking the noodles in room temperature or warm water, you don’t need to toss the noodles with oil. Alternatively, you can use cooked spaghetti like I do in my Thai Basil Chicken Spaghetti
  7. Can I make this vegetarian/vegan? Use a vegetarian mushroom flavored oyster sauce, and make it with crispy pan-fried tofu cubes instead of chicken. Omit the chicken marinade ingredients and season the tofu with salt and pepper instead. Pan-fry in a bit of oil for about 10-12 minutes, or until crisp and browned on all sides. Transfer to a plate, then follow steps 2-6 to make the Pad Kee Mao. Add the tofu cubes back into the wok after adding and tossing the veggies and green peppercorn sprigs in step 3. You can also add additional veggies like thinly sliced bell peppers or carrots to this dish if desired.
  8. Can I make this with pork, beef, or seafood? Thinly sliced pork scotch fillet, tenderloin, skinless pork belly, beef sirloin, or flank steak will all work well. You could also use shrimp or other seafood. Skip marinating the pork, beef, or seafood though, and add 1/2 tablespoon of fish sauce to the Pad Kee Mao Sauce. You’ll need 250 grams (8-9 ounces) of whichever protein you choose.
  9. Can I make this gluten-free? Use a gluten-free oyster sauce, gluten-free light soy sauce, and a gluten-free sweet dark soy sauce such as this gluten-free kecap manis. Also, make sure that the fish sauce you’re using is GF certified.
  10. Can I make this ahead? These noodles taste best when eaten immediately after cooking. I don’t recommend making it ahead as the noodles will continue to absorb the sauce after cooking, and they may become too dry.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 plate
  • Calories: 716
  • Sugar: 26.2g
  • Sodium: 1605mg
  • Fat: 23.2g
  • Saturated Fat: 6.4g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 17.1g
  • Trans Fat: 0.1g
  • Carbohydrates: 94.8g
  • Fiber: 9.3g
  • Protein: 40.3g
  • Cholesterol: 121.3mg

The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.

This post may contain affiliate links. We are a part of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.

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