Pad Kee Mao (Thai Drunken Noodles) Recipe

If you have ever imbibed a little too much on a night out, then you know just how crucial some after-party grub is — and what's better suited for such an occasion than a big ol' bowl of noodles? Even better yet if the dish's name mirrors your state of existence, which is exactly what pad kee mao, AKA drunken noodles, does. "Drunken noodles is, as the name implies, enjoyed late at night as street food after a tipsy night out," recipe developer Michelle McGlinn describes, but assures us that there are other interpretations: "If you don't love that explanation, you could also think of it as the noodles being drunk from soaking up the Shaoxing wine used in the dish!"

Whichever way you enjoy pad kee mao — and whatever state of mind you may be in — there's no doubt that you'll find the hearty noodles, ground pork, and umami-rich sauce to be a winning combination. Because of the flavor complexity packed into this dish, you may be surprised to learn that it comes together in just 30 minutes, so after a long day (or night), you can enjoy this classic Thai dish without any hassle or fuss.

Gather the ingredients for pad kee mao (Thai drunken noodles)

Just by glancing at a bowl of pad kee mao, it's easy to notice the distinctive, extra-wide noodles, which "are important authentically, but not vital," according to McGlinn. "Those wide noodles are just delicious in this dish and absorb all that flavor so well," she continues, adding that you should be able to find them in the refrigerated section at Asian grocery stores. "If you can't find wide noodles or don't have an Asian grocery, you can try pappardelle, lo mein, or regular spaghetti," McGlinn suggests. And, whichever noodles you end up using, you'll want them cooked al dente before beginning the recipe.

Of course, there's much more to drunken noodles than just the noodles themselves, so you'll also need ground pork (also interchangeable for more common proteins like chicken, but McGlinn is partial to "the greasy nature and crumbly texture of ground meat"), soy sauce, brown sugar, scallions, white pepper, oyster sauce, fish sauce, oil, garlic, fresh ginger, half a shallot, Thai chiles, Shaoxing wine, baby corn, spinach, and Thai basil. "You can skip both the spinach and Thai basil, or you can add other veggies in their place," says McGlinn, though she does note that this dish is a great way to sneak in some extra vegetables. 

Marinate the pork and make the sauce

You'll want to start by marinating the pork. In a bowl, combine the pork with 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of Shaoxing wine, ¼ teaspoon of white pepper, and the chopped whites of the scallions. Set the pork aside to marinate for just a bit, or place it in the fridge for up to 8 hours. 

Meanwhile, you can make the sauce, which will go into the dish a few steps down the line. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 ½ tablespoons of soy sauce, brown sugar, oyster sauce, fish sauce, and ¼ teaspoon of white pepper. "If you love super-saucy noodles, double the amount of sauce," McGlinn suggests. "It goes a long way but can easily be doubled (And you could always pour in half, then decide to pour the rest in at the end)."

Build the dish in a wok

Place a wok on the stovetop over medium heat and add the neutral oil. Once that's hot, add in the marinated pork, breaking it down into a crumble as it cooks. Once the pork is browned and cooked through, remove it from the wok and set aside. 

Next up, add in the minced garlic, ginger, and chopped shallot, sautéing for 2 minutes or until softened. Add in the sliced Thai chile peppers and baby corn, and stir to soften those up as well. Finally, deglaze the wok with the remaining 4 tablespoons of Shaoxing wine, allowing the liquid to come to a simmer. Let the wine cook down for about 5 minutes, during which time it should almost entirely reduce. 

Add in the noodles, sauce, and pork

Once the wine has reduced, add the al dente noodles and spinach to the wok, tossing to allow the spinach to wilt. Drizzle in that sauce you'd previously set aside, then add in the Thai basil. Finally, return the pork to the wok, tossing everything to incorporate all of the elements. 

Warm up with a bowl of drunken noodles

Scoop out a hearty portion of these drunken noodles into a bowl and sprinkle on the green part of the chopped scallions — and just like that, you're ready to dive right in. This dish is a fulfilling meal all on its own, but if you're the type who enjoys pairing options, McGlinn provides a few suggestions: "I like eating noodles with dumplings, shumai, and of course, sake!"

As for leftovers, McGlinn does note that they keep well, but the noodles will have absorbed all of that sauce in the fridge. They'll still taste good, but leftovers won't have that "slippery-saucy" nature, as McGlinn describes it. If you do enjoy leftovers, simply reheat them in the microwave until warm.

Pad Kee Mao (Thai Drunken Noodles) Recipe
5 from 35 ratings
Learn how to make pad kee mao, otherwise known as Thai drunken noodles. The dish is filled with marinated ground pork, spinach,Thai basil, and wide noodles.
Prep Time
Cook Time
chopsticks holding noodle over bowl
Total time: 30 minutes
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 ½ tablespoons soy sauce, divided
  • 5 tablespoons Shaoxing wine, divided
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper, divided
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-inch knob fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
  • ½ large shallot, finely chopped
  • 4 Thai chile peppers, sliced and deseeded
  • 1 (14 ½-ounce) can baby corn
  • 1 pound extra-wide rice noodles, cooked to al dente
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 4 Thai basil leaves
  1. In a bowl, combine the pork, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of Shaoxing wine, ¼ teaspoon of white pepper, and the white parts of the scallions. Set aside to marinate or keep for up to 8 hours in the refrigerator.
  2. Make the sauce by whisking together 1 ½ tablespoons of soy sauce, brown sugar, oyster sauce, fish sauce, and ¼ teaspoon of white pepper. Set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat. Once hot, add the marinated pork and crumble until browned. Once cooked through, remove the pork from the wok.
  4. Add the garlic, ginger, and shallot and stir until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the sliced chiles and corn and stir to soften.
  5. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of Shaoxing wine and bring to a simmer. Reduce the wine until almost no liquid is left in the skillet, about 5 minutes.
  6. Add the softened noodles and spinach and toss to combine with the vegetables. Toss until spinach is wilted and bright green.
  7. Toss the sauce into the noodles, then toss the basil into the mixture. Add the reserved pork back into the noodles and toss to combine.
  8. To serve, top with the chopped green parts of the scallions.
Calories per Serving 919
Total Fat 33.5 g
Saturated Fat 9.8 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 81.6 mg
Total Carbohydrates 118.9 g
Dietary Fiber 6.1 g
Total Sugars 8.8 g
Sodium 1,601.6 mg
Protein 31.5 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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