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Perfect Pad Thai Recipe with Ketchup

I love this Pad Thai recipe with ketchup and without. Made with tamarind or lime juice, this sweet and tangy, little bit spicy Pad Thai is better than take-out. Honestly, it just doesn’t compare!

I love this Pad Thai recipe with ketchup. Or without.

I know it isn’t the proper way to make Pad Thai, but it does work.

Just like lime juice is not a tamarind, it works also.

Finding tamarind is getting much easier, but I have yet to excel at finding the right kind.

Myexperimentation began when I wanted to make a tamarind margarita.

That was over 5 years ago and I still haven’t perfected the tamarind margarita, the way I want it to be.

And yes, tamarind is one of those items that if you are cooking ethnic cuisine you should buy the tamarind product from that country to make the flavors true.

When it comes to tamarind you can make your own tamarind paste, but I have yet to boil out those seeds.

And I’ve tried tamarind syrup and it is a no-go in this recipe.

So lime juice is what I use instead of tamarind, and ketchup makes this a bit sweeter and saucier.

However, I just want to say that ketchup is not necessary in this pad thai recipe; it is totally up to you!

When I figure it out the tamarind stuff, I’ll let you in on what I found and if anyone is out there that wants to share, please do, because I think I read somewhere that tamarind is the ingredient of the year.

Well, maybe for somebody!

pad thai recipe with ketchup

But forget about it and let’s move on to the other ingredient I find crucial in pad thai.

Bean sprouts. To me, Pad Thai just can’t be made without fresh bean sprouts.

I do not say this in jest.

Since I can’t get fresh bean sprouts at King Soopers or Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, I do not often make pad thai.

However I am now in luck.

My dog groomer has moved stores and though I hate driving to her new location, Geordie would miss her if we didn’t.

Actually I would miss her, too.

But this new location is next to Safeway, where I have happily discovered fresh bean sprouts.

And assorted wild mushrooms.

I must say their produce was quite good and now each week I shall be able to buy bean sprouts.

Though this may seem trivial to you, I am very happy!

pad thai recipe

One of Thailand’s national dishes is Pad Thai. 

However I have found there is a lot of BAD Pad Thai out there, floating in the universe.

Have you ever had Pad Thai in a Chinese restaurant? Generally, it is not good.

The chief reason being that Thai food is not Chinese and most Chinese chefs are only good at- you guessed it-cooking Chinese food.

The other thing that makes for a bad Pad Thai is bad noodles.

Have you ever had noodles where they are soft and gooey and starchy and stuck together?

Yeah. Bad noodles.

Or you could go the other route where they didn’t soak the noodles enough and then you have hard to chew noodles.

Yeah. Bad noodles.

Of course, this can also happen when the restaurant makes the dish ahead of time and lets it sit around so when it is served it tastes soft and bland and just generally lifeless.

Pad Thai is never good when ordered for take out in my humble opinion.

It has too much time to steam and take on those lifeless, limp noodle, characteristics.

pad thai recipe

So if I can’t get out to my favorite Pad Thai restaurant, which is Wild Ginger on Littleton Blvd, then I resort to making my own.

This Pad Thai recipe is my invention, using a combo of all the Pad Thai recipes that are out there.

In my case, I had no one to share it with, so I have leftovers.

In most cases I love having leftovers, but Pad Thai is just not good reheated.

Trust me, I will power through them, but Pad Thai is best eaten fresh.

Key tips to making this Good Pad Thai recipe with Ketchup:

  1. Soak your noodles as the package directs. Make sure though that they are soaked enough. There is a fine balance between soft and hard. Just don’t forget that. Avoid BAD noodles!
  2. The sauce is also important. You can make it more sour, more spicy, or more sweet. It is your choice. I figure about 1 T of sauce to 1 oz of noodles. To much and you get a gloppy, yes gloppy, (it’s a combo of sloppy and gooey in a negative sense) dish.
  3. Always use fresh bean sprouts!
  4. Have all ingredients ready to go! Sauce made, veggies chopped and table set!

If you’re a fan of Thai cuisine, you may know this delicious noodle dish is a popular street food in Thailand and a staple in many Thai restaurants around the world.

But what exactly is Pad Thai, and how can you make it at home?

The History of Pad Thai

The origins of Pad Thai are somewhat murky, but it is believed to have been invented in the early 20th century, during a period of nationalism in Thailand.

The government promoted Pad Thai as a way to encourage the consumption of rice noodles, which were seen as a symbol of national pride and when rice was very hard to find.

A rice noodle bowl could feed 2 people but the same amount of rice in those noodles could only feed one.

Over time, Pad Thai became a popular street food and eventually spread throughout the world.

If you want to read in more detail, this article is quite interesting.

pad thai recipe

Ingredients for Pad Thai

The basic ingredients for Pad Thai are flat rice noodles, eggs, bean sprouts, and a protein or proteins such as chicken, shrimp, beef, or tofu.

Pad Thai is then seasoned with a tangy sauce made from tamarind paste, fish sauce, and brown sugar.

In this case I used lime juice instead of tamarind, and if you want to add ketchup you can.

Totally up to you!

Other traditional ingredients include green onions, salty peanuts and lime wedges to squeeze over the finished dish.

Making Pad Thai at Home

To make Pad Thai at home, start by cooking the noodles according to the package directions until they are al dente.

I placed 8 oz of wide, flat rice noodles in a bowl and added boiling water to cover, while stirring them every so often.

After about 8 minutes of soaking-which depends on the brand of the noodles, I drain them and and set them aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the pad thai sauce ingredients, including tamarind concentrate or just sub in an equal amount of lime juice, brown sugar, fish sauce, hot water, garlic-chili sauce and ketchup. Ketchup is optional.

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat.

Add chicken pieces or other protein such as shrimp and stir fry until golden brown. Remove and set aside.

Add beaten egg and stir until scrambled. Add the cooked noodles and sauce mixture to the pan and toss until everything is evenly coated.

Add bean sprouts and sliced green onions and continue to cook for another minute.

Remove from heat and top with fresh cilantro, chopped crunchy peanuts, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

Or just add a wedge of lime for those who feel they need it.

pad thai recipe

Pad Thai is a relatively healthy noodle dish, though high in carbs.

However with the protein from the eggs and shrimp and chicken, along with the added peanuts, I can think of things that would be a lot worse for you!

Pad Thai is a delicious dish that is easy to make at home.

With a few basic ingredients and a large nonstick pan, you can enjoy the somewhat authentic flavors of Thailand right in your own kitchen.

Whether you prefer chicken Pad Thai, shrimp pad thai or a combination pad Thai or even a vegetarian version with tofu, this Pad Thai recipe with ketchup noodle stir-fry is sure to become one of your favorite things to cook on a Tuesday night.

And if you’re ever in Thailand, be sure to try the real thing on the streets of Bangkok or Chiang Mai!

My kids tell me it is awesome!

(This is an updated post from 2012.)

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pad thai recipe

Pad Thai Recipe with Ketchup

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  • Author: Abbe Odenwalder
  • Prep Time: 20 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 Minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2 - 4 Servings 1x
  • Category: Main Course
  • Cuisine: Asian


If you only order Pad Thai for take-out, it’s time to make it yourself! This easy Pad Thai recipe is amazing! With or without the ketchup.


Units Scale

1 chicken breast sliced thin OR leftover rotisserie chicken breast

8 large raw shrimp

2 large garlic cloves, minced

3 T canola oil

3 large eggs, slightly beaten

8 oz flat, wide rice noodles, soaked or cooked for Pad Thai

1 bunch scallions chopped finely, whites and greens separated

1/3 c chopped salted peanuts

2 c fresh bean sprouts


1/4 c fresh squeezed lime juice

3 T dark brown sugar

2 T fish sauce

2 t chili garlic sauce

4 T ketchup – optional

Cilantro and lime wedges for garnish


Assemble ingredients. Slice the chicken breast if using. I like to use a partially thawed boneless, skinless chicken breast and slice it thin. Or use a rotisserie or poached chicken breast and slice it.

If your shrimp are large slice them from top to bottom through the center.

Whisk the sauce ingredients together.

Pour 3 T of oil into a large skillet and place over medium high heat. Add the chicken, cook slightly underdone and set aside.

Now add the shrimp and cook those slightly underdone and set aside.

Now add the whisked eggs and cook until dry curds form.

Add scallion whites, sauce mixture and reserved, drained noodles. Cook, tossing with tongs until the sauce is mostly absorbed. Add back shrimp and chicken and toss. Toss in the rest of the scallion greens, the bean sprouts, and half of the chopped peanuts, tossing until everything is heated through.

Divide noodles into 2 -4 servings and top with cilantro, peanuts and lime wedges.


Figure about 1 T of sauce per 1 oz of noodles.

Add some sriracha and sweet chili sauce on the side.





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Thursday 7th of September 2023

I wanted pad thai last night but realized I had no tamarind! I found your recipe and gave it a spin. I doubled your sauce recipe for the noodle amount I was making (14oz) and found that adding a few tbsp of soy sauce worked well. The only reason I did that is because I was using vegetarian fish sauce - it's not as funky or potent as the real stuff. Thanks for sharing this recipe with the internet!


Friday 8th of September 2023

So glad you enjoyed Stephanie and thanks for writing. Good idea!


Monday 30th of April 2012

You are so welcome. Sometimes cooking other ethnic foods requires new foods in our pantry. It is not always easy to remember ahead if you need things like fish sauce. Though it does last forever! But try it!

Kitchen Riffs

Monday 30th of April 2012

It's funny, but I rarely cook Thai food - or even eat it! Which is so weird, because I love it. But I love so many others things, too, and I'm spoiled by having way too many choices. Anyway, your Pad Thai looks great - simple, clean flavors, just the way I like it. But your sauce has a little kick - also just the way I like it! Thanks for this.


Saturday 28th of April 2012

Pad Thai is one of those dishes that when it's bad it is usually very bad! Try this and see what you think. Thanks for the nice words, Johanna!


Saturday 28th of April 2012

I love Thai too! I usually make the green curries but I must try this one. I know Pad Thai is very popular. I to had it at a Thai restaurant a long time ago (and it wasn't very good) must be why I haven't chosen it again. Thankyou for the lovely post Abbe! Cheers, Johanna.