This Instant Pot Pad Thai is packed with tender rice noodles, chicken, scrambled eggs, and veggies all tossed in a sweet, spicy, tangy peanut sauce.
Trevor likes pad thai, Jennifer likes easy recipes. Enter: instant pot pad thai. You guys, Trevor’s a tough critic when it comes to pad thai and even he went nuts over this dish!
Obviously, this isn’t traditional pad thai, but this is absolutely perfect for when you’re craving those flavors and still want something quick and easy with accessible ingredients.
What is pad thai?
Pad Thai (or Phat Thai) is the national dish of Thailand and literally translates to “fried Thai.”
Traditionally, it is made with stir-fried wide rice noodles, eggs, a sweet, spicy, tangy sauce sauce, chopped peanuts, and lime juice. It can be customized with a wide variety of vegetables and proteins such as chicken, beef, or tofu.
The result is a simple recipe that produces complex textures along with many flavor profiles — salty, sweet, bitter, sour, spicy and umami.
What’s the difference between pad thai and lo mein?
Although both are stir-fried noodle dishes that originated in Asia, they are different.
Pad thai is a traditional Thai dish made with rice noodles and scrambled egg and usually garnished with peanuts. Lo mein, on the other hand comes from China and is typically made with udon noodles.
Overall, Lo mein is a rounder, oilier noodle dish with a sweet and savory taste while pad thai is a flat noodle dish with a complex sweet/salty/sour flavor in every bite.
If you’d prefer a lo mein recipe, check out my slow cooker lo mein or my easy beef lo mein!
Our Instant Pot Pad Thai is made up of a simple combination of vegetables, eggs, noodles, a protein, and a spectacular sauce:
- Olive Oil – used to sauté the red bell pepper.
- Red Bell Pepper – adds a sweet, earthy flavor and slightly crunchy texture.
- Salt, Pepper, and Red Pepper Flakes – enhances other flavors and gives the pad Thai some heat. Omit the red pepper flakes if you don’t like spice.
- Unsalted Butter – used to cook the eggs giving the entire dish a touch of that warm buttery flavor.
- Eggs – scrambled to perfection for added texture and protein.
- Chicken Broth, Soy Sauce, Red Curry Paste, Fish Sauce, Sesame Oil, Lime Juice, Dark Brown Sugar, Peanut Butter, and Garlic – our salty, spicy, tangy, sweet, nutty pad thai sauce. The curry paste adds heat and the fish sauce gives that classic thai funky flavor!
- Chicken Breast – cubed into 1-inch chunks. Feel free to use chicken thighs for even more tender meat.
- Coleslaw Mix – use a coleslaw mix made up of shredded cabbage and carrots for easy prep! Be sure to discard the dressing packet.
- Pad Thai Rice Noodles – use Annie Chun’s boxed rice noodles. I don’t recommend using another type of noodle.
- Cilantro, Green Onions, Salted Peanuts, and Lime Juice – optional for garnish, but highly recommended! Each of these ingredients add a fresh flavor and texture to really complete the dish!
How to make
For having such a complex flavor, this dish is actually very quick and easy to make!
- Hit sauté on your instant pot then add in olive oil and bell peppers. Cook until the peppers are tender then season with salt and pepper and remove.
- Add in butter, let it melt, then mix in whisked eggs and scramble until the eggs are cooked to your liking. Season again with salt and pepper then remove the egg mixture.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together broth, soy sauce, red curry paste, fish sauce, sesame oil, lime juice, brown sugar, peanut butter, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes.
- Pour the sauce into your cleaned instant pot then mix in cubed chicken breasts. Close and lock the lid then cook on manual, high pressure for 7 minutes.
- Release the pressure, remove the lid, and add in rice noodles and coleslaw mix. Set the lid back on and let the mixture soak for 10 minutes.
- Mix with tongs, stir in cooked red pepper and scrambled eggs, then serve and enjoy!
Can you use a different noodle?
In theory, yes, but the cook time and sauce amount is designed for rice noodles. I really recommend sticking with Pad thai rice noodles. If you want to play around with another noodle, I can’t guarantee the results, but here’s what I would do:
- Follow the recipe through Step 11.
- Stir in 8 oz spaghetti broken in half and tossed in 1/2 tablespoon olive oil with the cubed chicken. Make sure the noodles are fully submerged in the sauce.
- Proceed with the recipe as written, but skip the soaking part, Step 17, simply stir the remaining ingredients in and serve!
Is pad thai spicy?
Both the red curry paste and the red pepper flakes give this pad thai a kick of heat. Make it less spicy by using less curry paste and/or omitting the red pepper flakes. Make it more spicy by sprinkling extra red pepper flakes on top or drizzling with Sriracha.
Can you make instant pot pad thai on the stovetop?
I don’t recommend it, because this recipe was designed for the Instant Pot. If you want to try making this on the stovetop, I can’t guarantee the results, but here’s what I would do:
- Follow the recipe as listed, but instead of sautéing everything in the Instant Pot, do it in a large stockpot.
- Once you’ve stirred in the sauce and chicken, bring to a simmer, then simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked.
- Uncover and stir in the noodles and coleslaw and cook according to noodle box directions.
- Proceed with the recipe as written.
- Use a different protein. Try shrimp, beef, pork, or tofu.
- Add other veggies. Any stir fry veggies will be delicious! Try snow peas, broccoli, celery, water chestnuts, baby corn, you name it. Make sure all the veggies are cut uniformly so they cook fully.
- Make it vegetarian. Use veggie broth, omit the fish sauce, and swap the chicken for tofu.
- Make it vegan. Swap the chicken broth for veggie broth, omit the chicken or use tofu, and use Just Egg (or leave the egg out entirely.)
What to serve with pad thai
This pad thai is pretty darn packed with everything you could want in a dinner but if you’re looking for some recipes to serve alongside it, here are some ideas!
- Asian Roasted Broccoli
- Side Salad with Asian Dressing
How to store
Leftover pad thai will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 2-3 months.
To reheat, thaw in the fridge if frozen then microwave or heat on the stovetop or back in the instant pot until warmed through.
Instant Pot Pad Thai
Equipment for this recipe
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 red bell pepper(s) sliced into thin strips, then halved
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 large eggs whisked
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup chicken broth *
- 1/2 cup soy sauce or gluten free alternative*
- 2 tablespoons red curry paste *
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce *
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil *
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar packed
- 1/4 cup peanut butter the just nuts variety
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/2 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts cubed into 1 inch chunks
- 1 (11.4 oz) bag coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots), dressing discarded
- 1 (8 oz) box Annie Chun's Pad Thai Rice Noodles *
- Cilantro for garnish
- Green onions for garnish
- Salted peanuts for garnish
- Lime juice for garnish
- Hit sauté on Instant Pot.
- Once the Instant Pot reads hot, add in extra virgin olive oil and bell peppers.
- Sauté peppers until tender, about 3-5 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste, then remove and set aside.
- Add in butter and allow to melt.
- Pour in whisked eggs and scramble until the eggs are cooked to your liking.
- Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Hit cancel on the Instant Pot, remove the eggs, and set aside.
- Clean the instant pot to avoid a BURN reading.
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together broth, soy sauce, red curry paste, fish sauce, sesame oil, lime juice, brown sugar, peanut butter, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes.
- Pour the sauce into the Instant Pot.
- Stir in cubed chicken breasts.
- Close and lock the lid. Make sure the pressure valve is pointing to SEALING.
- Cook on manual, HIGH pressure, for 7 minutes, or until chicken is cooked.
- Flip the valve to quick release the pressure, then remove the lid.
- Submerge the rice noodles in the sauce, top with the coleslaw, and set the lid back on.
- Leave it to soak for 10 minutes, stirring (using tongs) after 5 minutes.
- Stir again with tongs and check the doneness of the noodles, put the lid back on if they need additional time to soften.
- Use tongs to stir in cooked red pepper and scrambled eggs.
- Taste and re-season, if necessary.
- Serve with fresh cilantro, green onion, salted peanuts, and lime juice!
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*Note: Nutrition information is estimated and varies based on products used.