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Vegan Thai Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao)

4.92 from 12 votes
Thick, chewy rice noodles cooked in a spicy and savoury sauce with garlic, onions, chili, tofu, and lots of fresh basil! Pad Kee Mao or Drunken Noodles are a famous dish in Thailand and you’d usually find them in simple road-side restaurants for take-out! This dish is so easy, vegan, and packed full of flavour!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Asian, Thai
Servings 2 people
Calories 352 kcal




  • 200 g tofu or other protein of choice sliced


For Stir-frying

  • 3 tbsp neutral oil divided
  • 1/2 medium onion sliced
  • 2 green onions sliced in to 2” long pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 small red bell pepper sliced
  • 2 tbsp vegan fish sauce to season the tofu or protein (see homemade recipe here)
  • Pinch white pepper to season the tofu or other protein
  • 2-3 bird’s eye chili deseeded and sliced (see notes)
  • 1 cup fresh Thai or holy basil leaves, packed (40g)



  • Simply mix everything together in a bowl until the sugar has dissolved and then set it aside. Feel free to adjust the measurements depending on your desired taste.


  • If using tofu, press the tofu for 8 to 10 minutes to drain out excess water. I like to do this by wrapping the tofu in a towel and placing a heavy board or surface on top.
  • Afterwards, slice into 1”x2” (2.5 by 5 cm) strips or other shape of choice.


  • Place the dry rice noodles in a heatproof bowl. Pour in boiling hot water until the noodles are completely submerged.
  • Leave the noodles to soak in the water for 8 to 10 minutes or until they’re not longer translucent and still very chewy. The noodles will turn chewy, white, and pliable. Drain from the water and set aside. I usually like to soak them in the water right before I start cooking so I can directly transfer the freshly soaked noodles in the pan.
  • If using fresh rice noodles, simply carefully separate these. You may need to run them through some water to separate them easier. If purchasing fresh rice noodles, check with the package instructions for any preparation methods, if any.


  • Heat a large pan or wok over high heat. Once hot, add in 2 tbsp oil. Sauté the onion, green onions, and garlic for 2 minutes or until tender and translucent.
  • Add in the bell pepper and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until tender.
  • Move the veggies to the side of the pan. Add in the remaining 1 tbsp oil.
  • Over high heat, add in the strips of tofu.
  • Pour in the vegan fish sauce and white pepper, to season the tofu. Flip over the tofu once golden brown to cook the remaining side.
  • When the tofu is golden brown, mix it in with the bell peppers and onions.
  • Move that aside and then quickly add in the chopped chili and fresh basil. Lower the heat to medium high and then mix everything together. Cook for 2 minutes or until the basil is slightly wilted.
  • Add in the rice noodles noodles to the pan. Then over medium heat, pour in the sauce mixture.
  • Mix well to completely coat the noodles.
  • Leave the noodles to simmer over medium high heat or until the sauce starts to boil. Mix every 30 seconds or so to prevent the noodles from sticking to the bottom of the pan. The chewy noodles will continue to cook and absorb the flavours from the sauce!
  • Turn off the heat and feel free to mix in more fresh basil leaves and chopped chili if you’d like!
  • Serve hot and enjoy!


  • Noodles
    • Find the thickest rice noodles in your local stores. I have access to 10mm thick rice noodles, which are great for Pad Kee Mao. 3 to 5mm ones are usually for Pad Thai but if that’s the only ones you can find, then that’s not problem too!
    • I also have a recipe here for homemade fresh rice noodles if you want to try that out for this recipe.
    • IF USING FRESH RICE NOODLES, carefully separate these. You may need to run them through some water to separate them easier. If purchasing fresh rice noodles, check with the package instructions for any preparation methods, if any.
    • Fresh rice noodles are already cooked so you'll just need to separate these and cook them down with the sauce later on. So unlike dry noodles, they're also a lot more fragile and can easily break apart.
  • Chili
    • Bird’s eye chilies are very hot so I prefer to remove the seeds. Be careful not to use your hands directly when handling chili because it can burn your face (or even eyes) when you touch the chili and then parts of your face. I usually only touch the stems of the chili and carefully slice them open with a sharp knife before using a small teaspoon to scoop out the seeds.
    • You may also use other chilies and adjust accordingly depending on your desired spice level.


Calories: 352kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1326mg | Potassium: 124mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 120IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 1mg
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