This Healthy Chicken Pad Thai recipe is loaded with vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and a lightened up silky sauce. It utilizes simple ingredients that can be purchased at your local grocery store. All the spicy, tart, umami flavor that you love in traditional Pad Thai recipes, but re-worked with less sugar, salt, calories and additives.
My entire family devoured this dish! I love that it has lots of fresh vegetables and that it is a healthier version of Pad Thai than what we get at our local Thai restaurant. It was easy to make (faster than grabbing take-out) and is our family's new go-to recipe.Savannah
So here's what happened ...
My family fell into a bit of a Chicken Pad Thai take-out habit. Because here's the bottom line: IT IS SCRUMPTIOUS.
Authentic Pad Thai is quite healthy and largely made up of colorful vegetables, lean proteins and fresh herbs. However, Western Thai (what is typically served in America) tends to use recipes that are higher in salt, sugar and contain ingredients that aren't always the highest quality. For this reason, I decided to recreate a healthier version in my kitchen. And honestly, who even knew how easy it is to make a Healthy Chicken Pad Thai at home? I am so happy with how it turned out + the teeny tiny amount of effort it takes to get it on the table.
This recipe was inspired by a Chicken Pad Thai recipe on this site from 2015. The original recipe contained 22 ingredients, LOTS of chopping, and included items that needed to be purchased at specialty grocery store.
The new version is healthier, swapping out chicken thighs for chicken breasts, utilizing reduced sodium soy sauce, amping up the amount of vegetables and opting for brown rice noodles in place of traditional rice noodles. It's an easy Chicken Pad Thai recipe and one of my go-to easy dinners!
If you want to try another healthy + easy meal that tastes like take-out, try my Chicken (Cauliflower) Fried Rice.
Pad Thai Sauce Ingredients:
- rice vinegar - has a distinct flavor and provides acidity to the dish.
- brown sugar - sweet savory flavor present in classic Pad Thai
- fish sauce - a staple in traditional Pad Thai, don't skip this ingredient
- chili sauce - gives the dish a little heat - adjust according to your preferences
- fresh lime juice - a quick squeeze livens up the flavors
Healthy Pad Thai Ingredients:
- brown rice noodles - flat noodles recommended, but any width will work
- chicken - boneless skinless chicken breast is the perfect lean protein, chicken thighs can also be used
- soy sauce - can't have Thai food without that umami flavor - a low sodium variety is recommended
- cornstarch - helps to thicken things up
- olive oil - used in place of of traditional vegetable oil
- vegetables - red bell, pepper, carrots, mung bean sprouts, and snow peas are used in this recipe, but swap for what you have on hand
- garlic - the OG flavor enhancer
- garnishes - crushed peanuts, chopped green onion, lime juice and fresh cilantro
*** See recipe card for quantities.
Instructions For Healthy Chicken Pad Thai
Step 1: Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Step 2: In a small bowl, combine rice vinegar and brown sugar. Whisk until smooth. Next, add ⅓ cup warm water, fish sauce, chili paste and a squeeze of lime juice. Stir well.
Step 3: In a medium mixing bowl, combine cornstarch and soy sauce. Mix until smooth. Add chicken to the bowl and toss to coat. Sauté coated chicken and a little olive oil in a skillet over medium heat until the chicken is cooked through. Set aside.
Step 4: While the chicken is cooking, start on stir frying your vegetables. Set stove to medium-high heat. Add olive oil to a large skillet and toss in minced garlic. Cook garlic for 1 minute and then toss in all the vegetables. Cook until tender crisp.
Step 5: Add the cooked noodles and Pad Thai sauce into the skillet with the vegetables. Cook for an additional 5 minutes while stirring frequently.
Step 6: Add the cooked chicken to the skillet with the noodles and vegetables. Stir. Continue cooking an additional 1-2 minutes. Garnish with green onions, chopped peanuts, cilantro, lime wedges and serve immediately.
Bean sprouts - not all grocery stores carry these year round, sub for sliced Napa cabbage if needed
Chicken - instead of chicken breasts you can sub chicken thighs, beef or even shrimp.
Vegetarian - eliminate the chicken and add tofu and/or extra veggies (about 2 cups) to make the recipe vegetarian
Vegan - follow modifications for vegetarian + sub soy sauce for fish sauce
Gluten free - brown rice noodles do not contain gluten. Swap soy sauce for liquid coconut aminos for a gluten-free dish
Spicy - add extra chili sauce or finish the dish off with a hit of sriracha
Kid-friendly - half the amount of chili sauce used
Healthy Chicken Pad Thai undeniably tastes best fresh. That said, nobody will be complaining about eating leftovers from the refrigerator.
I like to use extras as "meal prep" for lunches throughout the week. Just store leftovers in individual small bowls with lids.
Chicken Pad Thai can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3-4 days. When reheating, add a bit of water to thin out the sauce and then heat in the microwave until warmed through.
Do not freeze Healthy Chicken Pad Thai, it does not reheat well.
The trick to not becoming overwhelmed when making recipes like Healthy Chicken Pad Thai is to prep the ingredients prior to starting to cook. You can slice the chicken, prepare the veggies, and/or make the sauce the day before or the morning that you plan to cook.Print
This Healthy Chicken Pad Thai recipe is loaded with vegetables, lean protein and a lightened up silky sauce. It utilizes simple ingredients that can be purchased at your local grocery store.
For the Pad Thai Sauce:
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- ⅓ cup warm water
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 ½ teaspoons chili sauce
- 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
For the Pad Thai:
- 8 oz. brown rice noodles
- 2 pounds chicken boneless chicken breast, sliced thinly on a diagonal
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup snow peas, snipped and de-stringed
- 1 cup red peppers, thinly sliced
- 1 cup mung bean sprouts
- 1 cup carrots, julienned (store-bought shredded carrots can be subbed)
- OPTIONAL: chopped peanuts, cilantro, green onions and lime wedges for garnish.
Cook The Noodles:
- Cook rice noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine rice vinegar and brown sugar. Mix until fully incorporated.
- To the same bowl, add ⅓ cup warm water, fish sauce, chili paste and a squeeze of lime juice. Whisk to until smooth.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine cornstarch and soy sauce. Mix until smooth. Add sliced chicken to the bowl. Toss to coat.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add marinated chicken. Sauté until no longer pink, about 4-7 minutes depending on thickness. Remove from pan onto a plate.
Sauté Vegetables + Stir Fry:
- While the chicken is cooking, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to a second skillet. Add garlic, stir for 1 minute. Add the snow peas, red peppers, bean sprouts and carrots. Cook until tender crisp, 5-10 minutes.
- To the skillet with the veggies, add the noodles and Pad Thai sauce. Use a wooden spoon to gently "loosen" the noodles as they will be sticky/gummy until covered in warm sauce.
- Add the cooked chicken into the skillet with the vegetables and noodles. Mix gently over medium heat.
- Garnish with sliced green onions, chopped peanuts, a lime wedge, cilantro and serve immediately.
Liquid Aminos can be substituted for soy sauce to make this recipe gluten-free
Sub frozen crushed garlic cubes for fresh to save on time and chopping.
Julienned carrots can be replaced by store-bought shredded carrots in a pinch.
Keywords: Pad Thai, Asian, Noodles, Healthy
Pad Thai contains lots of nutritious ingredients, but it can be very high in sodium. By making this homemade version, you control the amount of each ingredient used. You also have control of the quality of your proteins and vegetables, making this recipe a healthier alternative to traditional take-out.
I intentionally left out this ingredient as it not accessible at all local grocery stores and I wanted to keep the recipe as simple as possible. The brown sugar + rice vinegar takes the place of tamarind paste in this recipe. Even with the swap, the result is a delicious tangy sauce.