how to make pad thai sauce without tamarind paste | Family Cuisine

Thai food is one of my favorite cuisines, and I love pad thai. It's one of the most popular dishes in Thai cuisine, and it's easy to make at home. However, tamarind paste is a

Close up photo of bowl of chicken pad thai

One night last week I had tacos on the menu but the boys were craving take out from a local Thai spot so we compromised and got take out. ? Twist my arm!

Despite my better judgment I ordered Chicken Pad Thai. Now, I know from experience that Pad Thai doesn’t travel well. It’s a dish that’s best served when the distance between A and B – with A being a sizzling wok and B being my bowl – is about 10 feet apart. Not 7 miles in a flimsy take out container. Yet I continue to order it as take out hoping this time will be different. That’s how much I love Pad Thai! That said, last week I dug in, unsurprisingly, to a container of dry, bland, colorless noodles, wishing for the real thing served up hot and saucy at a restaurant.

Guys, we’re doing the dang thing and turning our homes into restaurants by making homemade, gluten free Chicken Pad Thai that’s silky, saucy, and PACKED with flavor. This 30 minute meal will be served up hot and peanut topped in less time than it takes to order take out!

overhead photo of chicken pad thai made without tamarind

Homemade Chicken Pad Thai

My homemade Chicken Pad Thai is a stir fry of flat rice noodles, vegetables, eggs, boneless skinless chicken breast, and an easy sauce recipe that’s equal parts savory, sour, and sweet. The hot noodles are topped with finely minced peanuts (my favorite part) plus lots of fresh cilantro, green onions, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

It is INSANELY delicious.

Pad Thai Noodles

The flat rice noodles used in this dish can be found at your regular grocery store. Rice noodles differ from wheat and rice/corn-based pastas in that they don’t need to be boiled. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil then take it off the heat, add the noodles, and let them soak, stirring occasionally, until al dente, 10-20 minutes depending on the brand.

Pad Thai Sauce Ingredients

  • Brown sugar: brown sugar lends sweetness to the sauce and balances the savory, tart, and spicy flavors.
  • Rice vinegar: rice vinegar provides the sour element to the sauce. It’s definitely not a mouth-puckering sourness, but again it balances out the other ingredients.
  • Tamari: gluten free Tamari (or soy sauce if you don’t need to eat GF) adds saltiness and savoriness to the sauce.
  • Fish sauce: Pad Thai will not taste like Pad Thai unless it contains fish sauce. It’s a defining ingredient. That said, I’m personally a little light handed with fish sauce as too much can overpower the dish, imo.
  • Siracha hot sauce: siracha hot sauce brings the heat! ? Add as much or as little as you like, or none at all. If you like spicy Chicken Pad Thai I’d start with 1 Tablespoon in this recipe.

What This Sauce Doesn’t Include

  • Tamarind: Tamarind pulp/paste is a sticky, sour product that’s called for in authentic Pad Thai recipes. For our family though, it’d be a single use ingredient and we wouldn’t have a need for it outside of this recipe. Furthermore it seems the product can vary taste-wise depending on the brand/source. I use rice vinegar in its place.
  • Ketchup: I can see why some use ketchup in place of Tamarind – it’s sour and slightly sweet – but, nuh-uh. Not needed!
  • Peanut butter: I blame peanut butter for the reason why my Pad Thai noodles have been thick and gloppy in the past. JUST SAY NO. The finely minced peanuts on top take care of imparting that wonderful, roasted umami flavor without ruining the texture of the whole dish.

close up photo of pad thai in a bowl

Step 1: Prepare the Rice Noodles

First, prepare rice noodles according to package directions. For this brand I dropped the noodles into a pot of boiling water I’d just taken off the heat then let them sit, stirring occasionally, until al dente, 10-12 minutes.

Tip: If cooking two things simultaneously stresses you out, feel free to soak the rice noodles first then drain and run under cold water until cool. Place the colander inside a bowl of cool water so the noodles are submerged until ready to use.

Step 2: Stir Fry the Chicken

Heat vegetable oil in a large wok or skillet over high heat then add thinly sliced boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I like to slice the chicken breasts in half width-wise to create cutlets, then thinly slice the cutlets. Season with salt and white pepper.

Step 3: Add the Vegetables

Once the chicken is golden brown on the bottom, add grated carrot, chopped green onions, and minced garlic then stir fry until the chicken is just cooked through.

Step 4: Add and Scramble the Eggs

Push the chicken mixture to the sides of the skillet then, to the center, add a mixture of eggs whisked with sesame oil and scramble.

Step 5: Add the Noodles, Peanuts, and Sauce

Add the drained noodles plus finely minced peanuts (I send them through my food processor to get them super fine!) and the sauce then stir fry until the noodles are hot and tender.

Pad Thai Sauce Recipe:

  1. Brown sugar
  2. Rice vinegar
  3. Gluten free Tamari (or soy sauce if you don’t need to eat GF)
  4. Fish sauce
  5. Siracha hot sauce

Pile the noodles into bowls then top with more finely minced peanuts (the more the merrier!) plus lots of chopped fresh cilantro, green onions, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. This exact combination – noodles, cilantro, peanuts, green onions, and like, 5 drops of lime juice – makes for the BEST Chicken Pad Thai! I hope you love this recipe as much as we do – enjoy!

Bowl of Chicken Pad Thai with condiments

Similar Recipes

  • Sesame Peanut Sauce Noodles
  • Potsticker Noodle Bowls
  • Mongolian Beef Noodle Bowls
  • Gluten Free Chicken Lo Mein

Bowl of Chicken Pad Thai with condiments

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