This gluten-free pad thai recipe has delicious flavors right from Thailand!
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I learned to cook pad thai at Mama Noi Thai Cookery School in Chiang Mai, Thailand in March of 2019. Once we returned home from our trip around the world, I was determined to recreate my own gluten-free version of the dish I loved eating in Thailand. With some inspiration from our days at the cooking school, and paying homage to Pink House (the now-closed gluten-free restaurant where I had my first bite of pad thai - ever), that's what you'll find here in this travel-inspired recipe.
Here's what you'll need to make gluten-free pad thai:
You can customize this dish however you like - feel free to add meat (or don't), stick to a vegetarian version with tofu, or just add eggs. I only add an egg or two to pad thai because it's exactly how I ordered it in Thailand. I'm a sucker for tradition, you could say!
Rice Noodles: Be sure to soak them first. I use Taste of Thai!
Eggs: The main protein in our dish. You can also use tofu, or add an additional protein like chicken or shrimp.
Water: This will help form the sauce.
Shallots: Shallots are in the onion family, but are smaller and a red/purple color.
Chives: Use fresh chives, not dried ones.
Bean Sprouts: One of the fillings for pad thai, and something we always had in Thailand.
Shredded Carrots: You can buy them pre-shredded, or use a vegetable peeler to make long strips yourself.
Vegetable Oil: To cook the pad thai, we'll use vegetable oil, but you can sub whatever oil you prefer.
Pad Thai Sauce: This recipe does NOT use a pre-made pad thai sauce, but one that is made from scratch using coconut sugar, gluten-free fish, soy, and oyster sauces, plus chili powder and tamarind paste.
A quick gluten-free reminder! Be sure to use gluten-free sauces for the pad thai sauce. You'll need gluten-free soy sauce, gluten-free oyster sauce, and gluten-free fish sauce. I recommend Taste of Thai rice noodles for this dish. You will also need tamarind paste or concentrate, which is a sweet & sour paste made from tamarind fruit. It's a popular ingredient in Asian cooking, and you can find it in the Asian foods section of your grocery store.
If you are unable to find tamarind paste/concentrate, you can substitute it with lime juice or a combination of sugar and vinegar. Check out this article which discusses the best substitutes.
Chopped Peanuts & Fresh limes: My go-to toppings for pad thai in Thailand were a big scoop of chopped peanuts and lots of fresh lime juice. You can also try red pepper flakes for an extra kick!
Steps For Making Pad Thai
Pad thai is not a complicated dish but does require a lot of stirring and quick attention. The dish moves fast so make sure you pay attention! After soaking the rice noodles to soften them and making the sauce, you'll fry the shallots in oil and add the eggs, followed by the noodles and sauce. The water will thicken the sauce and the noodles will absorb it. At the very end, the chives, carrots, and beans sprouts go in for a few seconds, and then it's done!
Watch the step-by-step video right here for how to make it!
Every time I take a bite of these gluten-free pad thai noodles, I'm transported back to Thailand - wandering the temples with Dylan and grabbing nighttime fruit smoothies to stay cool in the 100-degree heat. The flavors of the pad thai sauce (made from scratch, not a jar!), combined with the sauteed noodles, chopped peanuts, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice, are a guaranteed hit of nostalgia for Southeast Asia.
Here's how to make this travel-inspired dish: gluten-free, pad thai!
If you love this recipe, please leave a comment! Thank you so much!
Gluten-Free Pad Thai Recipe
- 8 ounces (roughly 200 grams) rice noodles, soak first
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup of water (this is for the sauce, not for soaking noodles.)
- 2-3 small shallots, sliced thin
- 7-8 fresh chives, cut into thirds
- ⅓ cup of bean sprouts
- ⅓ cup of carrots, shredded
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil, or cooking oil of choice
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
- 1 tablespoon gluten-free fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon gluten-free soy sauce
- 2 Tbsps gluten-free oyster sauce
- 2 Tbsps tamarind paste/sauce (see note)
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- sliced limes, chopped peanuts, for serving
- Optional: chicken or tofu, cubed
Prep everything beforehand so you are ready to go when you start cooking. Pad Thai moves fast! You want to have your meat/vegetables chopped, seasoning sauce mixed, and noodles soaked before you begin cooking.
Follow package instructions to soak or boil rice noodles. Drain and set aside when soft.
Combine the coconut sugar, gluten-free fish sauce, gluten-free soy sauce, gluten-free oyster sauce, tamarind paste, and chili powder in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
Bring all ingredients close to your stovetop so everything is easily accessible. Heat oil in wok/frying pan over medium heat.
Toss in the shallots and fry until fragrant, but be careful not to burn. Crack the egg directly into the pan, using your spatula or spoon to scramble it and mix in with other ingredients. Once it is completely scrambled, push everything in the pan to one side, allowing free space.
In the free space you have created, add the drained rice noodles, seasoning sauce, and ½ cup of the water. Stir and mix well, allowing the sauce to coat the noodles completely. Cook according to package directions for noodles to become tender (usually about 5 minutes). Add in the other ½ cup of water slowly when you notice noodles begin to stick to the pan and the liquid absorbed.
Almost there! Keep stirring! Lastly, add the bean sprouts, chives, and carrots, and stir everything for a few more seconds. Remove from heat, and it’s done!
Garnish your gluten-free pad thai with chopped peanuts and fresh lime juice. If you like, add some red pepper flakes for a little spice, and cilantro just for decoration.
This dish can be altered to suit your dietary preferences and needs. The most common way I had pad thai in Thailand was just with egg. You can also add chicken or tofu for extra protein. Cook it at the beginning along with the shallots and eggs.
Make sure to soak or pre-boil the rice noodles first. Follow the package directions. It normally takes about 20 minutes so this should be your first step (see step 1)! You will sauté them to finish cooking.
Tamarind is a sour fruit that is common in Thai cooking. It’s made into a paste that gives food a really sweet yet sour flavor. If you are unable to find Tamarind Sauce, you can substitute with lime juice or a combination of sugar and vinegar. Check out this article which discusses the best substitutes.
*PRO TIP: When reheating, add 1 tablespoon butter (dairy-free if needed) for extra flavor. Trust me.
Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 677Total Fat 20gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 15gCholesterol 114mgSodium 1055mgCarbohydrates 97gFiber 8gSugar 12gProtein 28g
The nutrition information on each recipe card is provided as a courtesy and for your convenience. The data is calculated by Nutritionix. You are encouraged to make your own calculations based on your ingredients and preferred nutritional facts calculator. While I try to make sure they are accurate, I cannot guarantee the accuracy of these calculations.
Have you ever been to Thailand?
Did you make this pad thai recipe?
Let me know in the comments below!