Introducing my favorite Thai dish in the form of  these EASY, fast, and fiery Drunken Noodles. This delicious recipe is ready in 30 minutes!

Looking for more Thai food recipes?  Try my popular Fresh Spring Rolls, Panang Curry, and Easy Pad Thai.

A bowl full of Thai drunken noodles with chopsticks on the side.

Drunken Noodles, also known as Pad Kee Mao (ผัดขี้เมา), is a stir fry noodle dish that is very popular in Thailand and found in most Thai restaurants.  It’s my personal favorite and I’m adding this recipe to my list of “better than take-out” Thai food recipes, like this pad gra prow.

What I LOVE about this recipe:

  • Choose the spice level:  I love fiery hot pasta, sandwiches, etcetera, but my young kids don’t so I can easily customize this dish to add more or less red chili sauce depending on who I’m serving.
  • Adaptable:  This recipe allows for a lot of modifications and substitutions depending on what you have on hand. If you can’t find wide rice noodles, substitute thinner Pad Thai noodles, or even linguini. if you don’t have chicken, substitute another protein (tofu, shrimp or pork would all taste great), and add any vegetables that need to be used from your fridge.  (See more adaptation ideas below).

About the basil:

As explained previously in my Thai Basil Beef recipe, Thai cooking usually includes a variety of different types of basil. Here are the main three:

  1. Thai Holy basil (or hot basil): this is what’s used in this drunken noodles recipe!  It’s a basil leaf known for adding heat to dishes. It’s harder to find, even in Asian grocery stores, but you can have it shipped directly to you on Amazon, OR you can substitute regular (sweet basil) that you find at the grocery store.
  2. Thai Basil: this basil leaf can be recognized by it’s purple stems and spicy licorice-anise flavor.  It’s not typically found at your American grocery store but it can be found in most Asian grocery stores.
  3. Sweet Basil: this is the basil we are all probably most familiar with because it’s the most common type found in grocery stores.  It’s also used most commonly in all types of sauces, marinades, and other recipes.  This is a perfectly fine substitute for Thai basil in any recipe, you just loose a little of the unique flavor that Thai basil and Holy basil provide.

Tongs tossing Thai Drunken Noodles in a wok.

About the noodles:

Drunken noodles are traditionally made with rice noodles, and in particular, extra wide rice noodles. My grocery store only carries thinner Pad Thai rice noodles, which will work well for this recipe, but I buy extra wide rice noodles from Amazon or an Asian market.

If you can’t find or don’t want to use rice noodles, linguini noodles can also makes a decent substitute.

The directions for cooking rice noodles vary per package, so follow the directions found on your rice noodles and cook them while you prepare the rest of this dish.

How to Make Drunken Noodles (step-by-step)


    • Produce: shallots, carrots, garlic, fresh ginger, zucchini, bell pepper, green onions, roma tomatoes, basil
    • Rice noodles
    • Sesame oil (or canola)
    • Chicken (or other protein)
    • Sauce ingredients: oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar, water, red chili sauce

1. Cook the rice noodles according to package instructions. Drain, rinse with with water and set aside.

2. Prepare the sauce:  Mix sauce ingredients in a small bowl.

Drunken noodles sauce in a bowl, and cooked rice noodles in a collander.

3. Cook chicken and vegetables.  Heat oil in wok or large skillet over high heat. Add shallots and carrot and cook for 2 minutes. Add more oil and cook chicken. Add garlic and ginger, add bell pepper, zucchini, and the whites of the chopped green onion and sauté.

4. Add noodles and sauce. Toss and cook for a few minutes until warmed through. Remove from heat and stir in chopped basil.

A wok with sautéed vegetables, then rice noodles and sauce added to the pan.

5. Serve immediately, garnished with remaining green onion and extra chili sauce, sriracha, or crushed red pepper, for added spice.

Other Variations and Adaptations:

  • Add more vegetables: yellow squash, broccoli, baby corn, etc.
  • Swap out the protein: shrimp, tofu, beef, chicken thighs
  • Vegetarian drunken noodles: substitute tofu for chicken.  You may choose to sauté the tofu separately until browned on all sides before adding to the dish.
  • Vegan Drunken noodles: substitute tofu for chicken, soy sauce for the fish sauce, and hoisin sauce for oyster sauce.



A bowl full of Thai drunken noodles with chopsticks on the side.
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
Total 30 minutes
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  • 8 oz wide rice noodles
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil (or canola)
  • 2 shallots , chopped
  • 2 carrots , thinly sliced
  • 1 large chicken breast , chopped (or shrimp or tofu)
  • 3 large cloves of garlic , minced
  • ½ teaspoon fresh minced ginger
  • 1 zucchini , thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper , thinly sliced
  • 2 green onions , chopped
  • 1 roma tomatoes , sliced
  • 1 cup fresh Thai Holy Basil leaves (or substitute regular basil) , roughly chopped

For the sauce:


  • Cook noodles according to package instructions.
  • Mix sauce in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in wok or large skillet over high heat. Add shallots and carrot and cook for 2 minutes. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add chicken and season with pepper. Add garlic and ginger and cook for 10 seconds. Add bell pepper, zucchini, tomato and the whites of the chopped green onion and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add noodles to the pan and pour the sauce over the noodles. Toss and cook for a few minutes until warmed through. Remove from heat and stir in chopped basil.
  • Serve immediately, garnished with remaining green onion and extra chili sauce, sriracha, or crushed red pepper, for added spice.


Calories: 405kcalCarbohydrates: 62gProtein: 17gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 36mgSodium: 1529mgPotassium: 664mgFiber: 4gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 5826IUVitamin C: 41mgCalcium: 65mgIron: 2mg

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About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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Recipe Rating


  1. I love pad kee Mao and this recipe did not disappoint. In restaurants I always ask for more basil and spicy #4. This year I grew my own Thai basil specifically for this dish. I was so excited to make it.
    Watching levels of sodium I add the soy and fish sauce to taste. It was really good and like you stated its a great way to add any vegetable and protein of your choice or to just finish off those leftover items.
    I have access to several Asian markets so can find any noodle size and of course the wide rice is perfect!

  2. 1 star
    This was so salty that it wasn’t edible as written even using low sodium soy sauce. To salvage the dish I added 1 can coconut milk, 1/4 cup monk fruit sugar and 1 Tb lemon juice.

  3. 5 stars
    Just made this for the first time. Huge hit! I had to make a second serving (8 total) and there was only 3 of us!! I added edamame, water chestnuts and bamboo chutes. Had to substitute oyster sauce for hoisin sauce due to an allergy and brown sugar for honey just because. Delicious!!

  4. Excellent recipe. My dinner tonight. I made one other time. Directions easy to follow, and once all the slicing & dicing is complete, this dish comes together quickly. Thanks.

  5. 5 stars
    I had this dish at a thai restaurant and came home and made this the next day and then again 2 days later, the recipe is spot on and tasted the same as the restaurant, i added 2x thin red chillis, pak choi instead of courgette ( zuccini) and shallots instead of green onion, my new favourite dish.

  6. 5 stars
    Spot on with flavor, but would sub white or yellow onions for the zucchini. We also doubled the spice and it was perfect. Overall… yum!

  7. Not a fan of the recipe. There was too much Basil. Most Thai versions call for fewer veggies. I also felt like the ratio of veggies to noodles was wrong (too few noodles).

  8. 5 stars
    Took a little bit more time than recipe says, due to all the chopping of the veggies. The dish is a summer hit, everyone loved it.

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