Instant Pot Chicken Pad Thai is a delicious combination of chicken, noodles, and sauce cooked together to taste just like a classic takeout Pad Thai.
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Pad Thai is a popular noodle dish hailing from Thailand that is cooked in a sauce made from tamarind puree, brown sugar, fish sauce and oyster sauce. It is tangy, savory, and has a hint of sweetness that is simply addictive.
Making Pad Thai at home can be complicated, and most recipes you find online are extremely inauthentic – adding things like ketchup and removing the tamarind. I think if you’re going to make it at home, instead of ordering it from your favorite Thai place, it should be as close to the original as possible.
That’s a much easier feat when making pad thai in a wok on the stovetop, but you can make it quite successfully in the Instant Pot too. It just won’t have that yummy charred crunchy quality.
» Read about the 10 Thai Dishes to Try When You Travel to Thailand. Pad Thai is absolutely one of them!
Ingredients You Need
- Tamarind Paste: this is a paste made from the tamarind fruit. It has a sour taste that is essential for Pad Thai, so it cannot be substituted in this recipe.
- Light Brown Sugar: The sweetness of the sugar balances out the acidity of the tamarind puree. Palm sugar is the more authentic choice, but I tend to use brown sugar more often because I can’t always find palm sugar.
- Fish Sauce: Fish sauce brings a ton of umami to the Pad Thai, but be careful not to add too much fish sauce into the dish as it can be very salty. This is also an ingredient that I really don’t think you should leave out. It’s an essential part of the flavor of Pad Thai.
- Oyster Sauce: A mix of sweet and salty flavors, but Hoisin sauce can be used as a substitute.
- Cooking Oil: Any neutral oil can be used for this recipe. I like to use peanut oil.
- Chicken Breast: Boneless, skinless chicken breast will work best in this recipe.
- Garlic: This will give the Pad Thai a much stronger aroma and flavor.
- Egg: Classic Pad Thai has bits of scrambled egg in it. Trust me, it’s delicious.
- Dry Rice Noodles: Flat noodles will work best for a more traditional Pad Thai.
- Bean Sprouts: make sure the bean sprouts are fresh, as they can go bad quickly.
- Finely Chopped Peanuts: feel free to skip adding peanuts if you have a peanut allergy.
- Garnish: classic Pad Thai is generally garnished with lime wedges and beansprouts, but they are optional additions.
I only buy pasture raised chicken and meats. I love Farm Foods Market online. They deliver hormone-free, non-GMO, antibiotic free chicken, plus all other types of meat, right to your door. You can order whatever you want, whenever you want – no membership or pre-selected box.
- Instant pot: This recipe uses a 6-quart Instant Pot. Be sure to scale the ingredients according to the size of your Instant Pot to prevent burning. An 8-quart Instant Pot will require more water, though the cooking time will stay the same.
How to Make Instant Pot Chicken Pad Thai
In a bowl, mix together the tamarind puree, brown sugar, fish sauce, and oyster sauce. Set the bowl aside. This is your Pad Thai sauce.
Turn on the Instant Pot to sauté mode. When hot, add the oil, then add the chicken and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally to brown on all sides. You don’t need to cook it all the way through, so just 2-3 minutes is enough.
Turn off sauté mode. Add in the garlic, Pad Thai sauce mixture, and the water. Set the rice noodles on top. Do not stir. It’s not necessary for the noodles to be submerged.
Close the lid and set the valve to sealing. Press the Manual or Pressure Cook button and set the cooking time to 2 minutes. It will take about 5-10 minutes to come up to pressure, then 2 minutes to cook.
When the cooking time is up, do a quick pressure release. Remove the lid. Add in the bean sprouts. Stir to incorporate everything. Be careful not to over stir it though, because the cooked rice noodles can become gummy and stick together. Allow it to sit and firm up for about 3-5 minutes.
If you’re adding an egg, follow these instructions. If you don’t want to add the egg, you can skip on to plating. I like to remove the Pad Thai from the Instant Pot before doing this, so the noodles don’t get overcooked.
Turn on sauté mode again. Add a little bit of cooking oil. When hot, crack the egg in the pot. Let it cook for a few minutes. Using a spatula, break up the egg. Once it’s almost fully cooked, add back in the Pad Thai and give it a stir. Turn off sauté mode.
Once plated, top the Pad Thai with chopped peanuts, additional fresh bean sprouts, and a lime wedge. I also like to drizzle sriracha on top for a little added heat, or add some red pepper flakes.
Substitutions & Variations
- Chicken: For those that don’t like chicken, you can use any protein you like in this recipe. Shrimp and tofu are two popular protein substitutes for chicken. Cooking times will vary depending on the protein of choice. The shrimp don’t need to pre-cook.
- Pad Thai sauce: If you don’t want to make your own sauce, you can use store-bought Pad Thai sauce instead.
Questions About the Recipe
What other toppings can I add?
There are plenty of other garnishes you can add to the Pad Thai. Some fantastic options are green onions, bell peppers, and sriracha.
How can I store leftover Pad Thai?
When the Pad Thai has cooled down, store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat the noodles in the microwave for about a minute with a splash of water, or in a pan over medium heat until it’s warmed through.
It’s best not to freeze these delicious Pad Thai noodles. They don’t reheat well once frozen.
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Instant Pot Chicken Pad Thai
Note: Made in a 6-qt Instant Pot
- 3 tablespoons tamarind puree
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar or palm sugar
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 1 1/3 cups water
- 5 ounces dry rice noodles
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 1/4 cup finely chopped peanuts
- Lime wedges
- More bean sprouts
- In a bowl, mix together the tamarind puree, brown sugar, fish sauce, and oyster sauce. Set aside.
- Turn the Instant Pot on saute mode. When hot, add the oil, then add the chicken and saute for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally to brown all sides.
- Turn off saute mode. Add in the garlic, pad thai sauce mixture, and water. Set the rice noodles on top. Do not stir.
- Close the lid and set the valve to sealing.
- Press the Manual or Pressure Cook button and set the cooking time to 2 minutes. It will take about 10 minutes to come up to pressure, then 2 minutes to cook.
- When cooking time is up, do a quick pressure release. Remove the lid. Add in the bean sprouts. Stir to incorporate everything. Allow it to sit and firm up for about 3-5 minutes.
- Once plated, top with chopped peanuts, additional fresh bean sprouts, and a lime wedge.
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Angela loves to cook and has been making Instant Pot recipes for nearly 12 years. Thanks to inspiration from her family, she has developed an adventurous palate and a lifelong love for all things food.