Shrimp Pad Thai is a stir fry noodle dish that rivals any take out. Perfect for those of you who love to eat, but don’t love to wait! It’s a fast, easy, and insanely delicious dish made with rice noodles and sauteed shrimp, coated in a sweet and salty sauce with just the right amount of heat. Topped with crunchy peanuts, slivered carrots, and a splash of lime, this customizable recipe has something for everyone!
Asian inspired cooking is one of my favorite types of cuisine. When I am in the mood for something easy, fast, and yummy Instant Pot Chicken Teriyaki and Chinese Chicken Salad are two of my staples. They’re awesome for dinner but also make great leftovers for lunch the next day!
What is Shrimp Pad Thai?
Pad thai, which originated in Thailand, is a combination of stir fried noodles, veggies, and a protein, usually chicken, shrimp, beef, or pork, which is then mixed with the BEST sauce. EVER.
Of course, as it happens with dishes, across time and place, different variations have evolved. But one thing remains constant, and that is the culmination of so many different flavors and ingredients always come together harmoniously.
This version, which includes shrimp, is sweet and salty, sour and spicy. A delicious sauce coats soft noodles which are then topped with sauteed shrimp and garnished with the right amount of peanut crunch, slivered carrots, and a drizzle of citrus. The entire dish is ready in under 30 minutes and is ridiculously easy!
The flavors of this shrimp pad thai recipe will reach into the depths of your soul and ask you what the heck took so long to make this! It’s perfect for those nights when you want something insanely delicious but you want it fast. This colorful dish is the healthy alternative to grabbing take out when the cravings hit. Because didn’t you know? Shrimp pad thai calories don’t count when it’s made from scratch 😉
Enjoying restaurant-quality homemade meals has never been more of a mission and with this budget-friendly dish, it’s absolutely possible. Now that you’ve got a food proof method of making amazing pad thai whenever the mood strikes, you can test out different variations using chicken, beef, pork, or tofu!
This simple dish requires very little effort and just one appliance! The saute pan. You can use a large skillet or whatever type of pan you have on hand. You may be tempted to use a wok if you have one, but woks tend to steam whatever is in them. Sometimes this causes things to get mushy. Whether you’re using a saute pan or a wok, just make sure you heat up your oil hot enough for an instant sizzle and a quick sear once you toss your shrimp in the pan.
- Thai Rice Noodles – Cooked and drained as per instructions on the package. The base of most pad thai dishes. Unlike spaghetti noodles, they are not made from semolina (or wheat).
- Mirin – This is a Japanese rice wine used in a lot of Asian inspired cooking. It’s got a subtle sweetness and is just one of many ingredients that adds a depth of flavor to pad thai.
- Peanut butter – Smooth, not crunchy! Adds richness to the sauce and adds a little body to it. The salty, nutty taste gives it the signature flavor.
- Fish sauce – It’s a salty condiment of epic proportions. You want a bottle of this just because. You’ll use it again, trust me.
- Sriracha – Here’s where most of your heat will come from. A delicious sauce that can be added to taste. More sauce means more heat.
- Soy sauce – Very common in Asian cuisine. Also, a salty sauce, made from fermented soybeans.
- Brown sugar – Light brown sugar, needed to balance out the salt and sweet.
- Sesame oil – Divided. Needed for sauce and for the saute.
- Prawns – Big juicy shrimp. You can use raw or cooked.
- Roasted garlic paste – You can also use minced garlic.
- Thai paste – This is optional. This paste includes its own list of ingredients including garlic, chili peppers, salt, and lemongrass among other things.
- Green onions – Sliced. Adds a nice pop of color.
- Slivered carrots – Adds a fresh crunch
- Chopped peanuts – Texture and garnish. And salt. And yum.
- Fresh cilantro – An optional garnish, but I, personally, can’t live without cilantro
- Red pepper flakes – The second ingredient that will provide this dish some heat!
- Limes – Finishing this dish with a burst of fresh citrus lime elevates and brightens this dish to epic proportions.
How to Make Shrimp Pad Thai:
Step 1: Start by cooking the noodles according to package instructions. You’ll notice that this recipe is super easy but it does have a lot of components to it. Having everything ready ahead of time, will make your life easier and the process that much quicker.
Step 2: In a small bowl, whisk together the mirin, peanu butter, fish sauce, Sriracha, soy sauce, brown sugar, and some of the sesame oil. The amount in this recipe will make it a medium spiced pad thai. Add more if you like more heat.
Step 3: Heat remaining sesame oil in a saute pan then add the garlic paste, thai paste and shrimp. Saute until the shrimp are cooked through and beginning to brown. If you are using precooked shrimp you just want to make sure they’re heated through. Remove the shrimp to a plate.
Step 4: Add the noodles and half of the prepared sauce to the pan, heat and stir to combine. Coat noodles evenly with the sauce and add any additional sauce as desired.
For drool worthy presentation, transfer noodles to a serving platter, top with the shrimp, slivered carrots, green onions, chopped peanuts, cilantro and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.
The next time you’re thinking about ordering take out, skip it! Make this dish in a pinch, serve it in some fun takeout boxes (you know the ones they’re always eating out of on tv) along with chopsticks and make a night of it!
You can definitely play around with the amount of sweet and spice. Add in more peanut butter if you like more nutty flavor. You can also add a scrambled egg and bean sprouts and loads of different veggie options.
Shrimp Pad Thai
- 8 oz. Thai Rice noodles cooked and drained
- 2 tablespoons mirin or rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon Sriracha
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil divided
- 1/2 pound raw or cooked prawns
- 1/2 teaspoon roasted garlic paste (or 1 teaspoon minced garlic)
- 1 tablespoon Thai paste optional
- 2-3 green onions sliced
- 1 cup slivered carrots
- 1 cup chopped peanuts
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro chopped
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 2-3 limes cut into wedges or slices
- Cook and drain rice noodles according to package instructions.
- In a small bowl, whisk together mirin, peanut butter, fish sauce, Sriracha, soy sauce, brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon sesame oil. (This will make a medium heat/spice pad Thai; adjust Sriracha to taste for spice level).
- Heat sesame oil over medium heat in a saute pan. Add garlic paste, Thai paste, and shrimp. Saute shrimp for 2-3 minutes or until they are cooked through (for raw shrimp) and beginning to brown. Do not overcook the shrimp.
- Remove shrimp to a plate.
- Add cooked noodles and half of the sauce to the saute pan. Heat and toss to stir until the noodles are evenly coated with sauce. Add additional sauce as desired.
- Place noodles on a serving platter. Top with shrimp, slivered carrots, green onions, chopped peanuts, cilantro, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.