This better-than-takeout homemade gluten-free chicken pad Thai is insanely flavorful, healthy, and easy to make. It’s high in protein, sugar-free, and made without loads of oil — the perfect under-30-minute, one-pan weeknight dinner, and meal prep.
Our favorite healthy chicken pad Thai recipe
If you love Thai takeout food, make this quick and easy homemade chicken pad Thai. It’s packed with flavor, outrageously addictive, and it’s impossible to tell that it is gluten-free and made with healthy ingredients. Plus, it goes super well with this Thai mango salad and this spicy cucumber salad.
This chicken pad Thai recipe calls for simple, healthy ingredients you can buy at your local grocery store: brown rice noodles, red bell pepper, green onion, tamari (gluten-free soy sauce), chicken breasts, garlic, and a few others. The best part is that you don’t need to go to a special Asian food store.
My boyfriend is celiac (which means you can’t eat gluten), so since I cook for him all the time, I am really good at making traditional recipes gluten-free. I actually made this chicken pad Thai for him and his friends a few weeks ago, and they couldn’t believe how flavorful the noodles were. They were shocked when I told them it was 100% gluten-free and made healthy.
If that doesn’t convince you to try this recipe, I don’t know what will. Trust me, everyone will love this chicken pad Thai. It’s not only gluten-free, but it tastes better than the super oily American Thai takeout restaurants.
Why you’ll love this gluten-free recipe:
- You cannot tell this flavorful chicken pad Thai is gluten-free.
- It’s flavorful, and the noodles are coated in a zesty, tangy sauce.
- Chicken pad Thai is high in protein, with 38 grams per serving.
- It’s healthier than takeout and isn’t oily.
- You can make this recipe with shrimp or tofu.
- Easily make this chicken pad Thai vegan.
- The sauce is tangy, sweet, and savory.
- No added sugar!
- This chicken pad Thai is healthy.
- Great for meal prep.
- 5+ recipe variations are listed below.
- Try this homemade teriyaki chicken or this thai mango salad next!
Is pad Thai gluten-free?
Not all pad Thai is gluten-free. Although rice noodles are gluten-free, soy sauce is not. Soy sauce contains trace amounts of gluten and is the base of all pad Thai noodle sauces. Therefore, takeout pad Thai takeout is likely not gluten-free unless expressly noted. However, you can make homemade pad Thai gluten-free by using tamari (a gluten-free soy sauce) or coconut aminos. Make this recipe if you are gluten-free.
Ingredients needed & substitutions
This gluten-free chicken pad Thai recipe calls for a handful of simple and healthy ingredients. You’ll need brown rice noodles, eggs, chicken, garlic, and a few other ingredients. Here is a list of all the ingredients and substitutions so you are prepared:
- Rice Noodles: I used brown rice noodles to make this recipe healthier, but you can also use regular rice noodles. Both are great gluten-free options. If needed, you can substitute with chickpea, edamame, or regular fettuccini pasta.
- Olive oil: To sear the chicken and vegetables. You can also use avocado oil.
- Chicken Breasts: You need 2 large skinless and boneless chicken breasts. This is an excellent source of lean protein. However, you can substitute it with cooked, leftover chicken or chicken thighs.
- Vegetables: This pad Thai recipe calls for one large red bell pepper and freshly grated carrots. If you don’t have these, you can use any color of bell pepper and matchstick carrots or baby carrots cut into small pieces. You can even use frozen peas in place of the carrots.
- Garlic: For the best, most authentic flavor. Use freshly minced garlic for the best taste!
- Eggs: For protein.
- Bean Sprouts: This authentic ingredient adds the best crunch to the Thai pad. If you don’t have bean sprouts, there is no need to substitute them with anything. Just leave them off.
- Green Onion & Cilantro: For that authentic Thai flavor.
- Limes: You need the juice and zest to make the sauce tangy.
- Tamari: This is gluten-free soy sauce. Feel free to use coconut aminos too. If you are not gluten-free, you can use regular soy sauce.
- Rice Vinegar: To add some acidity to the pad Thai sauce. You can also use white wine vinegar if needed.
- Fish Sauce: One of the most important ingredients! This is what makes this recipe taste like authentic pad Thai. There are no good substitutions for fish sauce.
Kitchen tools required
You only need a few kitchen utensils to make this homemade gluten-free pad Thai recipe. Here is a list:
- Two Mixing Bowls
- Sharp Kitchen Knife & Cutting Board
- Whisk & Thongs
- Large, Deep Saute Pan
- Measuring Tools: 1/4 teaspoon, 1/2 teaspoon, 1 tablespoon, 1/4 cup, 1/2 cup, and 1 cup.
How to make homemade gluten-free chicken pad Thai
Homemade pad Thai is so easy to make in under 30 minutes. It’s made in one pan with simple ingredients. Here are detailed step-by-step instructions with pictures for visual reference so any level cook can make them. The full recipe and ingredient measurements are at the bottom of this page in the recipe card.
First, boil a large pot of water and cook the brown rice noodles according to the package directions. Then drain and quickly rinse under cold water so the noodles do not stick together.
Whisk together all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set it to the side.
Then, prepare your chicken by patting it dry with paper towels and cutting it into small (thin) strips.
Now, heat a large saute pan with the olive oil to medium-high. Then add in the chicken and cook for 3 – 4 minutes. Then transfer to a plate when done, but leave the oil in the pan.
After that, add the bell peppers and cook for 3 – 5 minutes until softened. Add the minced garlic, grated carrots, and chicken back to the pan in the last minute.
Then, push the bell peppers to the side and crack the eggs into the pan. Use your spatula to scramble the eggs. Break up the scrambled eggs into smaller pieces as they cook. Then mix in the peppers, carrots, and chicken.
Finally, add the cooked noodles, bean sprouts, green onion, fresh cilantro, and sauce. Then, gently toss to combine so the noodle absorbs the sauce, and everything is warm. Serve immediately and garnish with extra crushed peanuts, cilantro, and lime wedges. Enjoy your better-than-takeout chicken pad Thai!
Expert recipe tips
- Use flat rice noodles. You can use brown rice or regular rice noodles; both soak up the sauce and are easy to toss with the other ingredients. If you don’t have rice noodles on hand, you can use fettuccine pasta.
- Cook the noodles to al dente. Overcooked rice noodles are chewy, gummy, and clumpy – that’s gross and no one wants to eat that!
- Run the noodles under cold water after cooking. This ensures they don’t stick together while you prepare the rest of the pad Thai.
- Use leftover chicken. You can cook raw chicken as directed in the recipe, or you can use leftover rotisserie, grilled, or baked chicken. Simply cut it into thin strips of bite-size pieces and add it to the pad Thai during step #6.
- Make it vegan or vegetarian. I left instructions below, but you can easily make this pad Thai vegan and vegetarian by using tofu.
- Serve with extra lime juice on top. I always squeeze half a lime on top of my chicken pad Thai before serving because it brings out all the tangy and savory flavors.
- Meal prep it. Chicken pad Thai is great for meal prep. Simply store leftovers in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave!
Pad Thai vs lo mein:
The main differences between pad Thai and lo mein are the type of noodles used and the sauce’s flavor. Pad Thai is a Thai dish that uses gluten-free rice noodles covered in a sweet and tangy sauce made with fish sauce, limes, and soy sauce. On the other hand, lo mein is a Chinese dish that uses wheat flour noodles covered in a sweet and savory sauce made with garlic, ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce, and oyster sauce.
Pad Thai variations:
The options are endless when customizing this healthy pad Thai recipe. Here are some easy and delicious ingredient variations you can try out:
- Vegetarian Pad Thai: To make vegetarian pad Thai, substitute the chicken with three additional eggs or with tofu and swap the fish sauce with the juice from an extra line and 2 tablespoons of tamari (soy sauce).
- Shrimp Pad Thai: Swap out the chicken with shrimp. I recommend using uncooked, cleaned, and detailed shrimp for the best-tasting shrimp pad Thai. Avoid overcooking the shrimp since it cooks for 90 seconds on each side.
- Vegan Pad Thai: Make vegan pad Thai using tofu instead of chicken and substitute the fish sauce with the juice from an extra line and 2 tablespoons of tamari (soy sauce). Remember to also remove the eggs!
- Beef Pad Thai: Swap out the chicken with skirt steak cut into thin 2-inch strips (against the grain). Sear the strips on high heat for about 1 minute per side. Don’t overcook the beef; it will be tough.
What to serve with pad Thai:
You can serve pad Thai with so many things. It goes well with Spicy Cucumber Salad and a fresh Thai Mango Salad. You can also serve it with a side of steamed vegetables or these crispy sesame Air Fryer Green Beans. If you want something sweet on the side, try these caramelized Air Fryer Pineapples.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are brown rice noodles gluten-free?
Yes, brown rice noodles are generally gluten-free. There will always be a little label on the package that says if they are gluten-free certified.
Is soy sauce gluten-free?
No, soy sauce is not gluten-free. You’ll need to use tamari which is gluten-free soy sauce. Don’t worry, it tastes the exact same. You can even use coconut aminos; however, it is sweeter than soy sauce.
Can I use regular rice noodles?
Feel free to use brown rice or regular rice noodles for this recipe.
Can I use regular pasta?
If you cannot find rice noodles at your grocery store, use chickpea or edamame noodles. You can even use fettuccini pasta.
Can I use chicken thighs?
Yes! For this pad Thai recipe, you can use chicken thighs instead of chicken breast. Cut the chicken n thighs into the same thin strips.
Can I use coconut aminos?
You can use coconut aminos in place of tamari for chicken pad Thai. The flavor will be sweeter since coconut aminos is a dark, rich sauce made from the sap of a coconut flower.
What is the best substitute for coconut aminos?
Tamari is the best gluten-free substitute for coconut aminos. You can also use regular soy sauce if you are not following a gluten-free diet.
Is pad Thai healthy?
Not all chicken pad Thai, especially restaurant takeout, is healthy since they call for lots of oil and sugar. However, this pad Thai recipe is healthy for many reasons; here are a few: (1) made with simple, good-for-you ingredients, (2) it’s full of extra vegetables, lean protein, and healthy carbs, (3) there is NO ADDED SUGAR (which you find in most traditional pad thai recipes), (4) it’s not oily and only calls for a tablespoon of olive oil to sear the chicken and veggies, and (5) it’s gluten-free and dairy-free, (5) it’s high in protein.
How to store, freeze, and reheat pad Thai:
Storing: Store leftover chicken pad thai in the refrigerator in airtight containers for up to 5 days.
Freezing: I don’t recommend freezing pad Thai since the texture of the noodles will change.
Reheating: For best results, reheat them in the microwave for 1 to 3 minutes until warm.
If you loved this recipe, try these next!
- Thai Mango Salad
- Furikake Salmon Bowls
- Spicy Cucumber Salad
- Healthy Orange Chicken
- Gluten-free Teriyaki Chicken
Did you make this recipe?
If you make this recipe, be sure to comment and rate it down below. Also, don’t forget to tag me @healthfulblondie on Instagram and use the hashtag #healthfulblondie so I can see your delicious creation and share it with my followers!
Gluten-Free Chicken Pad Thai
- 6 ounces brown rice noodles
- 1 – 2 tbsp olive oil, or avocado oil
- 2 medium chicken breasts, cut skinless and boneless
- 1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 cup freshly grated carrots
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 3 – 4 large eggs
- 1 cup fresh bean sprouts
- 3 green onions (scallions), finely chopped
- ⅓ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- ¼ cup peanuts, chopped
- Limes, for serving
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the brown rice noodles according to the package directions. Then drain and quickly rinse under cold water so the noodles do not stick together.
- In a small bowl, whisk together all the sauce ingredients and set it to the side.
- Heat a large saute pan with the olive oil to medium-high. Then add in the chicken and cook for 3 – 4 minutes. Then transfer to a plate when done, but leave the oil in the pan.
- Add the bell peppers and cook for 3 – 5 minutes until softened. In the last minute, add the minced garlic, grated carrots, and chicken back to the pan.
- Push the bell peppers to the side and crack the eggs into the pan. Use your spatula to scramble the eggs. Break up the scrambled eggs into smaller pieces as they cook. Then mix in the peppers, carrots, and chicken.
- Add in the cooked noodles, bean sprouts, green onion, fresh cilantro, and sauce. Gently toss to combine so that the noodle absorb the sauce and everything is warm.
- Serve immediately and garnish with extra crushed peanuts, cilantro, and lime wedges. Enjoy!
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