Love Pad Thai? This easy beef Pad Thai without tamarind is the recipe for you! It's perfect as a light lunch or quick weeknight dinner that can be whipped up in less than 30 minutes using ingredients found at your local grocery store. So convenient!
I created this beef Pad Thai recipe for those wanting a tasty Pad Thai taste but aren't able to get to the Asian market to get all the ingredients you'll need for the more traditional recipe. It's an easy recipe using simple ingredients that will give you a delicious taste of Pad Thai. If you can find those hard-find ingredients, I highly recommend using them for a more authentic taste!
Check the ingredient list below for notes on how to make it more authentic. These ingredients are a general guideline to help make an easy beef Pad Thai recipe. Jazz it up with your flair, and let me know in the comment below! (:
What is Pad Thai?
Pad Thai is an extremely popular Thai stir fry dish using rice noodles, tamarind, fish sauce, palm sugar, pickled daikon, dried shrimp, and your favorite protein. Shrimp is usually the go-to protein in Pad Thai dishes in Thailand. But here in the United States, you can choose protein at most local Thai restaurants.
Why This Recipe Works
- You’ll be able to find all the ingredients at your local market without going to the Asian market.
- It's not spicy! (: But you can easily adjust by adding hot chili peppers.
- It's quick! This less-than-30-minute recipe is perfect for a busy weeknight dinner.
- You can substitute any of your favorite proteins!
- There’s a secret method for making beef extra tender for this Beef Pad Thai noodles! (Keep on reading! (;
- You can make the sauce ahead of time!
- The sauce is excellent as a dipping sauce for parties, dinners, and gatherings for veggies or meat. So delicious!
- You can add more vegetables to the recipe for an even healthier version! Sweet bell peppers, green beans, stringless snap peas, or broccoli are great vegetable options.
- Choose your favorite protein for this recipe! Add favorite proteins like chicken, pork, duck, shrimp, or tofu. I don't recommend lean ground beef for this recipe as the pieces are too small for taste and texture.
The ingredient list for making Beef pad Thai
Velveting the meat:
- Beef. Use any of your favorite stir-frying beef. Flank steak, tri-tip, top sirloin steak, tenderloin, ribeye. Play around with your favorite cuts. Cut them into smaller pieces for faster cooking.
- Baking soda. For tenderizing the beef to enhance the taste and flavor.
- Water. Mixing with baking soda for velveting the meat.
- Oyster sauce. Not typically used in authentic Pad Thai recipes, but it adds an extra depth of flavor and umami needed in a Pad Thai recipe.
The Noodles and vegetables:
- Oil. Canola, avocado, coconut, or peanut oil. Do not use olive oil. It will alter the taste and smell of the recipe in a not-so-pleasant way. (:
- Garlic. Use fresh garlic cloves, not garlic paste.
- Shallots. Red onion can be used as a substitute.
- Thai rice noodles. Find fresh noodles sold in the refrigerator section labeled "Pad Thai," or find dry flat rice noodles in a packet. Find the smallest rice noodles if possible. It's the same noodles used in Pho soup. Cook according to package directions for the dry noodles.
- Eggs. Chichen or duck eggs are great for this. Skip the eggs if you have egg allergies.
- Fresh bean sprouts. Or find Mung bean sprouts if those are available to you. They add a crunchy fresh texture to the soft, sweet, chewy rice noodles.
- Green onions or spring onions. Use garlic chives like they do in Thailand and some restaurants.
- Carrots. Use shredded or match-stick carrots. Smaller is better.
The Sauce: (The most important thing about Pad Thai recipes!)
- Sugar. White sugar is the best for this beef pad Thai recipe since it holds flavor better than the other sweeteners. Palm sugar is best for its authentic flavor. Add 1 tablespoon extra if using palm or brown sugar as for substitute.
- Fish sauce. Fish sauce is one of the main sauce ingredients for this stir-fry dish.
- Lime juice. Use lemon juice or rice wine, or apple cider vinegar as a substitute. If you can find the tamarind paste, use it.
- Crushed peanuts. Do not use peanut butter. It's not for this recipe. (; Save it for satay instead!
- Chili pepper flakes
- Granulated sugar.
- Freshly squeezed lime juice from lime wedges
- Bean sprouts for extra crunch!
- Red bell pepper, thinly sliced for a pretty presentation and extra veggie crunch, especially if you have guests over! (:
How To Make Beef Pad Thai
Tenderizing the beef. Combine beef, baking soda, and water in a bowl and massage lightly to get an even mix of the beef. Let sit for 15 minutes. Then rinse well with water before cooking. (The oyster sauce and oil are for cooking the beef afterwards).
Prepare the noodles. Heat a large pot of water until boiling, then pour the hot water over the noodles in a large bowl until soft but on the al dente side. Use a wooden spoon to stir the noodles so they won't clump together. Once done, drain and rinse with cold water, and separate the stuck pieces. Pat the noodles dry with paper towel sheets to absorb any excess water. Please check your package for more specific instructions. Leave at room temperature until ready.
Make the Pad Thai sauce. In a small bowl, mix the sauces and whisk until well blended. Microwave for 20-30 seconds to help the sugar dissolve more quickly. Let cool and set aside for later.
Cook the beef. Heat oil in a large skillet or wok on medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan, add the beef and stir fry for 2 minutes. Add the oyster sauce, stir and cook for 1-2 more minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. Taste a bite from the beautiful bowl of tender beef! It's a dish just by itself!
Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the wok, add garlic and shallots to the wok cook until fragrant. 30-45 seconds. No need to wash the pan before this step. Use a paper towel if there's too much food stuck in the pan.
Add the noodles and stir for 1-2 minutes until the noodles softened. If the noodles are sticking to the pan, quickly add 2-3 tablespoons of water or chicken stock to loosen up the pan. Or turn the heat down to medium heat.
Season the noodles. Add sauce to the noodles and stir well. Cook for another couple of minutes.
Scramble the eggs. Push noodles to the outer side of the wok and add the rest of the oil to the side or middle part of the wok. Add the eggs and scrambled until soft, about 1 minute. Once done, add the egg mixture to the noodles and gently stir them together.
Add the cooked beef, carrots, green onions, bean sprouts, and any vegetables of choice, stir well and cook for 2 more minutes. Add crushed peanuts, then stir in very lightly. Turn the heat off and adjust with a dash of Thai fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice or a few small drops of extra rice wine vinegar as needed. Stir one last time and serve. Enjoy!
Helpful Kitchen Notes
- Use any size of dry rice sticks available at your grocery store. The larger the noodles, the longer you'll need to soak them in water to soften them.
- If using dried noodles, prepared according to the package instructions for the best result.
- For the tamarind sauce, you can make tamarind pulp or buy a pre-made jar at your local Asian market. This sour sauce is a common ingredient used in Thai cooking.
- If you don't have a large wok or skillet, use a large saute pan, the biggest one you have to make the recipe. A small pan will not work for this unless you reduce the recipe by half.
- If you venture out to the Asian market, grab fresh rice noodles in the refrigerator section, tamarind, and palm sugar. Mix these sauces for the most authentic Pad thai recipe! These ingredients will be handy for other recipes if you love to cook Thai food!
- To help speed up the scrambled eggs, add lightly beaten eggs to the pan rather than adding cracked eggs directly to the wok.
- My favorite thing to add to the noodles is a tangy sauce with rice wine vinegar and chopped fresh Thai chilis. It's a perfect balance of chili sauce with sweetness to add to the savory silky rice noodles.
Helpful Kitchen Tools for this Recipe
- Carbon steel wok
- Spatula set
- Large nonstick skillet
- Caraway non-stick skillet. A splurged item! One of my favorites lately!
Does authentic Pad Thai have cilantro?
No. There are many versions and adaptations of Pad Thai, but authentic Pad Thai should not have cilantro in it.
What is Pad Thai sauce made of?
Authentic Pad Thai sauce is made with palm sugar, fish sauce, and tamarind concentrate. Never soy sauce, chili-garlic sauce, or any other sauces.
What makes Pad Thai taste sweet?
Sugar is used in Pad Thai sauce. Typically, palm sugar is used, but other types of sugar like brown, white, or monk fruit sugar for the sweet taste in Pad Thai.
What meat is in traditional Pad Thai?
Shrimp is a common protein used in Pad Thai recipes because it cooks faster, and the meat doesn't take away from the unique flavors. However, the recipe is adaptable, and other meat and vegetables can also be used.
Can I use ketchup or Worcestershire sauce for making Pad Thai?
Not really. I would recommend these two ingredients for making Pad Thai. They will change the flavors so much that it's not even Pad Thai anymore. If in a pinch, I would pick soy sauce, dark soy, or sweet soy sauce before ketchup or Worcestershire sauce.
More stir-fries Thai dishes you’ll Love!
- Pad mee, a quick and simple yet so delicious!
- Pad Thai, a famous Thai rice noodles stir fry
- Pad See Ew, another popular Thai noodle dish.
- Drunken noodles, a noodles stir fry with basil.
- Pad Woonsen noodles stir fry recipe, a delicious glass noodles salad.
- Thai stir fry with gravy Rad Na recipe
- Thai basil chicken Pad Krapow, ground meat stir fry dish with holy basil.
** Love a recipe you've tried? Please leave a 5-star ?rating in the recipe card below and/or a review in the comments section further down the page. Or follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram! **Print