These Thai Drunken Noodles (also known as Pad Kee Mao) are delicious, easy to make and come together in less than 30 minutes! These noodles are vegetarian and perfect when you need a quick and easy dinner.

A bowl of Thai drunken noodles with chopsticks

Easy Homemade Thai Drunken Noodles

Take-out Thai is one of my favourite guilty pleasures, and in my opinion, their flavour combinations are some of the best! From Thai Peanut Cauliflower Wings to Thai Green Curry Tofu, there’s no shortage of delicious spices in Thai food.

However, Thai take-out meals can be pricey, greasy and sometimes not so healthy. The good news is that Thai noodles are actually quite easy to make at home, and trust me, once you make this recipe it will be on repeat in your kitchen!

These noodles are loaded with flavour, simple to make and come together in less than 30 minutes for a quick and easy meal everyone will love! (cuz who doesn’t love a good 30-minute meal?)

This recipe for Thai Drunken noodles is my personal take on the traditional dish made with vegetarian-friendly ingredients.

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Ready in 30 minutes. One thing I love about Thai noodle recipes is how quick they are to make. This recipe will be ready to go in less than 30 minutes
  • Better than take out. Why get takeout noodles when you can make them right at home? Once you try this recipe you’ll see how easy it is to make Thai Drunken Noodles right at home!
  • Customizable. Add in any protein you like or any veggies you like. This recipe is completely customizable.

What are Drunken Noodles?

There are a few different theories as to why this dish is called drunken noodles, but no one knows for sure.

One common theory is that the original dish was so spicy, that it would leave you feeling dizzy and kind of “drunk.” Another theory suggests that this dish is a favourite amongst people in Thailand to eat after an evening of drinking.

Drunken Noodle Recipe Ingredients & Substitutions

A flat lay of ingredients to make Thai drunken noodles
  • Wide rice noodles-Pad Kee Mao is traditionally made with fresh wide rice noodles. You can often find fresh rice noodles at your local asian market, or you can buy them dried at most large grocery stores or online. If you ever have trouble finidng the wider variety you can always use the the thinner Pad Thai noodles.
  • Green onion-I like to use a mix of regular onion and green onion for a more traditional dish, but you can use any type of onion you have
  • Garlic-make sure to use fresh garlic!
  • Ginger-make sure this is fresh too 🙂
  • Red pepper-This gives a nice pop of colour to the Drunken noodles. You can also feel free to add in any other veggies you like such as broccoli, baby corn or bok choy.
  • *Thai chilis-Not pictured above, but Thai chilies are a classic ingredient in this dish. If you can’t get your hands on them you can substitute some chili flakes or sambal oelek.
  • Thai basil-You can find this at most Asian grocery stores. This is not the same as regular basil and gives a really unique taste to the dish.
  • Vegetarian oyster sauce-Or if you’re not making this dish strictly vegetarian you can use regular oyster sauce
  • Dark soy sauce-Another classic ingredient in this dish! Besdies giving the noodles a deep rich colour, dark soy sauce is less salty and sweeter than regular soy sauce. You can learn more about the differences here.
  • Soy sauce-you can also use tamari
  • Coconut sugar-Also known as palm sugar and used in Thailand in many dishes. You can substite agave, maple syrup, honey or brown sugar if needed.

Best type(s) of noodles to use for Drunken Noodles

Wide rice noodles and fresh rice noodles are the best noodles to use for this recipe. You can find fresh rice noodles at your local Asian grocery store, and wide rice noodles at most large chain grocery stores.

How to make Thai drunken noodles (Pad Kee Mao)

Step 1

Cook the rice noodles in boiling water until they are al-dente. Don’t cook them fully through!

Step 2

Add some oil to a pan then add the garlic, chilli, onion and red pepper and let cook until it begins to slightly caramelize.

Step 3

Add the noodles and let them cook for a couple of minutes to brown, then add the sauce and the Thai basil and mix everything together.

Step 4

Fold in extra green onions and serve right away. Rice noodles are always best enjoyed right away otherwise the noodles tend to get a bit sticky.

A pan with Thai drunken noodles in it

Best Ingredients to Make Drunken Noodles

You can find most of the ingredients to make this recipe at your local Asian grocery store.

Two of the key ingredients to making drunken noodles are Thai basil and fresh chilli peppers. Don’t skip out on these ingredients, they truly make the difference in true Thai flavour!

Thai drunken noodles are also traditionally made with wide rice noodles. You can buy these fresh at the Asian grocery store, or dried at most large grocery stores. Either will work well.

What is the difference between Basil and Holy Basil and Thai Basil?

You’re probably familiar with regular basil that you can find at most grocery stores, but in Thai cuisine, you’ll often see holy basil and Thai basil used in recipes.

Many people think holy basil and Thai basil are the same herb, but they’re not!

Holy basil has a more spicy and peppery flavour, whereas Thai basil s sweeter and has a hint of star anise flavour. Both of these herbs are very unique and have a different taste than traditional basil we use in Noth-America.

If you substitute Thai basil in this recipe for regular basil, you will end up with a different tasting dish. You can find Thai basil and holy basil at your local Asian grocery store.

What to Serve with a Drunken Noodle Recipe

There are so many different tasty Thai dishes you can serve up with your Thai Drunken Noodles! While this dish is great on its own, it also works as a side or part of a spread of many Thai dishes. Here are some of my favourite recipes to serve with this dish:

Thai drunken noodles in a bowl on a grey napkin with chopsticks

Recipe tips and variations

  • This recipe is vegetarian, but if you want to make this recipe with more “traditional” ingredients, you can use fish sauce instead of soy sauce and regular oyster sauce instead of vegetarian oyster sauce.
  • Use wide rice noodles instead of thin rice noodles for this recipe. The texture of the wide rice noodles is delicious!
  • Use Thai basil in this recipe, which you can find at your local Asian grocery store.
  • Use a large pan to make this recipe! You will need space to let all the ingredients caramelize.
  • Serve immediately after making. The noodles will start to stick together after the dish sits in the pan for a few minutes.

How to Store Thai Drunken Noodles

Store any leftovers in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 2 days. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave. If the noodles clump together from refrigerating, add a splash of water to the pan with the noodles when reheating. This will help the noodles come apart.

Drunken Noodle Recipe FAQs

What’s the Difference between Pad Thai & Drunken Noodles?

Pad Thai is probably one of the most popular types of Thai Noodles. Both Pad Thai and Drunken noodles are made with rice noodles and sauce, so what’s the difference between them?

Pad Thai is made with thinner rice noodles and a sweeter sauce traditionally made from fish sauce and palm sugar. The dish usually contains a scrambled egg and is topped with some protein like chicken, shrimp or tofu and is served with crushed peanuts and lime.

Drunken noodles are made with wide rice noodles and a more salty and savoury sauce traditionally made from oysters sauce, fish sauce and soy sauce. Drunken noodles are often stir-fried with vegetables like, peppers, snow peas and Thai basil.

Are drunken noodles very spicy?

Traditionally, drunken noodles are spicy and made with Thai chillies. This recipe for drunken noodles is customizable so you can add as much or as little spice as you like for your palate.

A bowl of Thai drunken noodles topped with crushed peanuts and a lime wedge

More Thai noodle recipes to try

If you tried these Thai Drunken Noodles or any other recipe on the blog let me know how you liked it by leaving a comment/rating below! Be sure to follow along on PinterestInstagram and Facebook for even more deliciousness!

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A bowl of Thai drunken noodles with chopsticks

Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao)

  • Author: Jessica Hoffman
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Yield: 23 servings 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Cook
  • Cuisine: Thai
  • Diet: Vegetarian


Make a better-than-takeout version of Thai Drunken Noodles right at home with a few simple ingredients!




  • 8 oz wide rice noodles (about 1/2 a standard package)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-inch cube of ginger, minced
  • 1 Thai chili, finely chopped (or more if you like it really spicy)
  • 3 green onions, chopped (can sub 1/2 regular onion)
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 large handfuls of Thai basil leaves
  • Crushed peanuts and a lime wedge to top (optional)



  1. Cook the rice noodles in a pot of hot water for 2-3 minutes until al dente. They should be a bit hard in the center, and not cooked fully through.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan on medium-high heat. Add the garlic and chilli pepper and cook for 1 minute, then add the ginger, onion and pepper and let cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the noodles to the pan tossing together and letting cook for 2 minutes, until the noodles start to brown on the bottom slightly.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and add the sauce and Thai basil leaves mixing everything together.
  5. Serve immediately.


This recipe is made vegetarian/vegan-friendly. If you want to use all traditional ingredients, you can use fish sauce in place of light soy sauce, and regular oyster sauce.

Add in an egg if you like! Crack an egg in the pan after adding in the veggies and mix to scramble before adding in the noodles.

Make sure to use Thai Basil (also known as holy basil) in this recipe! It’s not the same as regular basil and can be found at your local Asian grocery store.

Use a large pan to make this recipe to give the ingredients enough space to caramelize.

To make this recipe gluten-free use gluten-free soy sauce.

Store lefotvers in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 2 days. Reheat on the stove or in the microwave.


  • Serving Size: 1/3 of recipe
  • Calories: 300
  • Sugar: 5g
  • Sodium: 600mg
  • Fat: 9g
  • Saturated Fat: 2g
  • Carbohydrates: 48g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Protein: 6g

Keywords: drunken noodles recipe, pad kee mao recipe, vegetarian drunken noodles