Easy Drunken Noodle Recipe

This Easy Drunken Noodle Recipe tastes just like your favorite take-out and takes less than 30 minutes to put together! You can make this dish with pork, chicken, beef or make it vegetarian. This quick noodle dish will quickly become a weeknight favorite!

drunken noodles with fresh vegetables in a white bowl with a thai basil garnish
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I am so excited to share this Easy Drunken Noodle Recipe with you! This dish is also called Pad Kee Mao at Thai restaurants. This recipe isn’t purely authentic Thai, but it tastes amazing and is fast and easy to make. I first had Drunken Noodles at this take out Hawaiian Thai Restaurant in Portland that was out of a house! Sadly, it has closed, but I often dream of their Drunken Noodles with Kalua Pork. And guess what? This Easy Drunken Noodle Recipe is pretty darn close! ??

Why is it called “Drunken Noodles”?

I read a few different reasons why these are called drunken noodles. A few sources said because the dish is so spicy people get drunk consuming so much alcohol to quench their thirst after all the spice. I thought that was funny, but if you know me, I don’t do spice. So my version is not very spicy at all. The great thing about cooking at home is that you can do whatever you want! I also always say “you can put spice in, but you can’t take it out!”

What ingredients are in Drunken Noodles?

Drunken Noodles or Pad Kee Mao is traditionally made with vegetables like broccoli, carrots, bell peppers and bean sprouts. You can choose pork, chicken, beef, or even seafood to add or you can make it vegetarian. This dish is also made with a wide noodle, rather than a thinner noodle in pad thai. Use what you have! We have an amazing local Thai Grocery Store that has everything you would need for this dish and I love supporting them. However, most grocery stores will have the ingredients you need as well.

Make sure you prepare the rice noodles first.

The first step you want to take is to soak the rice noodles before you preparing everything else. This will ensure they are soft and have already soaked up moisture before adding them to your sauce and your sauce won’t be sucked up by the noodles.

Make this meal your own with vegetables and spice.

Next, you are going to mix up the sauce and cook the veggies. The best thing about making meals from scratch is that you get to choose what you put in and you can leave out anything you don’t like. I use broccoli, bell pepper and carrots for this recipe because I always have these vegetables on hand and I like them. You can use whatever vegetables you want or have like onions, tomatoes, or even squash. When you make the sauce, you can control the spice by adding more or less chili paste. I don’t like a lot of spice, but I do like the flavor the chili paste added as well as just a hint of spice.

drunken noodles in a pan with the sauce being stirred in with a wooden spoon

What protein should you use?

I use my Instant Pot Kalua Pork for this recipe. Whenever I make Kalua Pork we plan a few meals for the week and this is one of them. This Easy Drunken Noodle Recipe is a perfect way to use your leftovers. And, as I mentioned, you can use any protein you want. Try chicken, beef, or even tofu.

What’s the difference between Thai basil and Italian basil?

Thai basil is a different color and smells different than the more common Italian basil. Thai basil has purple stems and smells more like licorice than pesto. It is also sweeter than regular basil. If you can’t find Thai basil you can use Italian basil and perhaps add a little mint to get the more unique taste.

homemade drunken noodles in a white bowl with fresh vegetables and thai basil

Tips for making the best Drunken Noodles:

  • Soak the rice noodles in hot water to ensure they soak up as much water before adding them to the vegetables and sauce.
  • Quick fry the vegetables for a few minutes so they are lightly charred but not soggy.
  • The sauce will thicken and become very sticky. Don’t panic, this is what you want.
  • Add the Thai basil after you remove the noodles from the heat so they don’t wilt before you get to enjoy the dish.
drunken noodles

Easy Drunken Noodle Recipe

This Easy Drunken Noodle Recipe tastes just like your favorite take-out and takes less than 30 minutes to put together! Make it with pork, chicken, beef, seafood or just vegetables!
5 from 9 votes
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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Author: EmilyFabulous


  • large saucepan or wok


  • 8 oz wide rice noodles
  • ½ cup soy sauce (I use low sodium)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • ½ cup chicken stock (you can also use beef or vegetable)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tbsp fresh ginger, grated or minced *see tip below
  • 2-3 stalks green onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground chili paste* (I use Sambal Oelek found in the grocery store)
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1-2 cups shredded pork (or protien of choice)
  • 1 cup broccoli floretts
  • 1 large bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced into 2-3" sticks (I cut up baby carrots into sticks)
  • 1 cup Thai basil, chopped


  • Soak your noodles in very hot water while you are prepping and cooking. You will add them close to the end.
    rice noodles in warm water in a bowl
  • Add the soy sauce, honey, chicken stock, garlic, ginger, green onions and chili paste to a bowl. Whisk together and set aside.
    drunken noodle sauce
  • The pork I use in this recipe is already cooked. If you are making this with a protein that is raw, add the sesame oil to your deep fry pan or wok at med-high heat and cook through. Remove the meat after it has cooked and set aside. If you are using already cooked meat, wait to add it. Instead, heat up the oil in your deep fry pan or wok at med-high heat and add your vegetables. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    vegetables and kalua pork cooking in pan
  • Add your meat back to the pan along with the prepared sauce. Cook for 1-2 minutes to combine everything. Drain the noodles that are soaking and add to the pan.
    rice noodles mixed with vegetables, pork and sauce for drunken noodles
  • Cover the pan and cook for another 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce will thicken quite a bit and stick to everything. That's what you want!
    drunken noodles after cooking under lid for 5 minutes
  • Remove from the heat and add your chopped basil. Stir everything really well. Serve and enjoy!


  • I always have ginger root in my freezer. Whenever a recipe calls for ginger, I pull it out and use my handheld grater to grate the ginger. It’s so easy, there is less mess and I don’t even remove the skin (optional). It still maintains it’s amazing aroma and taste but you don’t end up throwing away any unused ginger and you always have it on hand. 
  • For the chili paste, I start with a tablespoon and take it from there. If you don’t have chili paste, you could also add a chopped jalapeno pepper or pepper of your choice. The chili flavor adds to the overall dish.

Any nutrition calculations are only estimates using online calculators. Please verify using your own data.

More Quick and Easy Dinner Recipes:

close up of drunken noodles with fresh vegetables
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