Drunken Noodles is the literal translation of Pad Kee Mao because the theory is that these spicy Thai noodles should be eaten with an ice cold beer and that they are a great cure for hangover. I can confirm both cases to be true!
This Thai noodle dish is a very popular both in Thailand and in Thai restaurants outside of Thailand. You will be surprised how fast and easy this recipe is to make!
Get Drunken Noodles from the streets of Thailand, and unless you have an exceptional spice-o-meter, you’ll be chugging down the beer in an attempt to cool the burn in your mouth.
Make this at home and you can control the heat!
The amount of chilli I’ve included in the recipe is mild enough for most people (I think), but enough so you can taste the heat. By all means, feel free to turn up the spice dial!
What you need
There are all sorts of variations of Drunken Noodles in Thailand and even more in the western world. In Thailand the two constants are chicken and Thai Basil, and quite often it came with baby corn as well, though from my research I couldn’t confirm that this was a “must have” in this dish.
Get the widest dried rice noodles you can find at your grocery store. Here in Australian supermarkets, the widest I can find is labelled “Pad Thai”, though ironically, it’s actually too wide for Pad Thai!
There are actually two types of Thai Basil – regular Thai Basil and Thai Holy Basil. Drunken Noodles can be made with either.
Outside of Thailand, restaurants typically use regular Thai Basil because it is easier to find than Holy Basil. I even have difficulty finding Holy Basil in Thai grocery stores!
Is Thai Basil the same as regular basil?
Thai Basil is not the same as regular basil. It tastes like regular basil with a slight aniseed flavour. A very distinct flavour that you know and love about your favourite dishes at your local Thai restaurant like Drunken Noodles and Thai Chilli Basil Chicken!
Best substitute for Thai Basil
Regular basil! In fact, Drunken Noodles is traditionally made with Holy Basil which tastes more similar to regular basil than Thai Basil!
How to make it
As with all stir fries and stir fried noodles, this moves fast once you start cooking – around 6 minutes start to finish – so have everything ready to go before you start cooking!
Comparison to other popular Thai noodles
Whereas Pad Thai is nutty and sweet, Pad Kee Mao is spicy and savoury. Compared to Pad See Ew, the sauce of Drunken Noodles is lighter in colour and not as sweet.
Also, neither Pad Thai nor Pad See Ew does not have Thai Basil in it, and it is not as spicy.
Actually, Pad Kee Mao is essentially like Thai Chilli Basil Chicken stir fry with noodles added!
Better made at home
In Western Thai restaurants, Drunken Noodles are usually very saucy, oily and salty – too much so in my opinion, and very different from the streets of Thailand. So it’s really nice to be able to make a healthier yet just as tasty version at home!
And remember to crack open an ice cold beer to enjoy these Drunken Noodles with! – Nagi x
More Thai Food favourites
(Yes, I ❤️ Thai Food, in case you hadn’t figured it out!)
Watch how to make it
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Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao)
- 7 oz /200g dried rice noodles , wide (Note 1)
- 2 tbsp oil (peanut, vegetable or canola)
- 3 large cloves of garlic , minced
- 2 birds eye chilli or Thai chillies , deseeded, very finely chopped (Note 2)
- 1/2 onion , sliced
- 200 g /7oz chicken thighs , cut into bite size pieces (breast ok too)
- 2 tsp fish sauce (or soy sauce)
- 2 green onions , cut into 3cm/2" pieces
- 1 cup Thai or Thai Holy Basil leaves (sub regular basil, Note 3)
- 3 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce (Note 4)
- 1 1/2 tbsp dark soy sauce (Note 4)
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp water
- Prepare noodles per packet directions.
- Mix Sauce in a small bowl.
- Heat oil in wok or large heavy based skillet over high heat.
- Add garlic and chilli and cook for 10 seconds. Don't inhale - the chilli will make you cough!
- Add onion, cook for 1 minute.
- Add chicken and fish sauce, and fry until cooked, around 2 minutes.
- Add green onion, noodles and sauce and cook for 1 minute until the sauce reduces and coats the noodles.
- Remove from heat and immediately add basil, toss until just wilted, then serve immediately.
Drunken Noodles recipe originally published July 2014. Updated June 2019 with new photos, new writing, new video and most importantly, Life of Dozer section added!
Life of Dozer
Like my video shooting area isn’t a tripping hazard as it is, let’s add a giant fur ball into the mix. 🙄
(PS the wine is a PROP! I wasn’t having a cheeky glass at lunch!! 😂)
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