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Drunken Mama Noodles Recipe (Pad Kee Mao Mama)

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Drunken mama noodles recipe or pad kee mao mama is a simple weeknight dinner that comes together in just 20 minutes! Think instant noodles stir-fried to perfection with crisp vegetables and juicy pork or your choice of protein. This quick and easy dish is perfect for when you need to get something out on the table asap.

Close-up of drunken mama noodles with pork, vegetables, and spicy chilies, served in a black dish.

Can’t get enough of Thai noodles? Make sure to check out my popular beef pad see ew, the easy pad mama, and the best authentic chicken pad Thai ever.

Drunken mama noodles

Thai food is so diverse, and this instant drunken noodles recipe or ผัดขี้เมา is the perfect example. Slippery noodles are stir-fried to perfection with a heap of spicy chilies and Thai seasonings.

This easy instant noodles recipe is loaded with healthy vegetables and fresh herbs, from crisp carrots to holy basil. You can swap out the pork for healthier choices like lean chicken or tender shrimp as a lean protein.

Close-up of stir-fried drunken instant noodles with carrots, chilies, holy basil, and pork.

If you’re looking for an authentic Thai restaurant version, go for fresh rice noodles. Use the widest rice noodles you can find.

If it’s that local street food stall experience you’re after, stick with the instant noodles used in this Thai mama noodles recipe.

Close-up of stir-fried instant noodles with vegetables and pork.

Why is it called drunken noodles

The term drunken noodles stems from Thai folklore, which suggests the dish’s spiciness might need a cold beer to cool down. Another theory is it’s a remedy after a night out, made easily with common pantry staples.

Why try this recipe

  • Authentic Thai flavor. A local street food stall in my rural village dishes out stir-fried mama noodles that are identical to this recipe.
  • Easy to customize. Whether you prefer vegan noodles, chicken, or beef, this pad kee mao mama recipe is easily adaptable.
  • Pantry-friendly. This stir-fried Thai noodle dish calls for simple ingredients. You can clean out your fridge and use up those leftover vegetables too.
  • Quick and easy. These instant drunken noodles are doable for every home cook. Stir-fried instant noodles come together quickly and are so diverse.
Chopsticks lifting a heap of pad kee mao instant noodles stir-fried with chunks of bacon, crisp vegetables, and Thai chilies.

Ingredients

Ingredients can be sourced at Asian grocery stores and Asian markets.
The exact measurements are in the recipe card at the end of this post.


Top-view of drunken noodles ingredients: mama noodles, bacon, vegetables, chilies, herbs and spices, soy sauce, and other seasonings.
  • Instant ramen noodles – The mama noodles bring a classic chewy texture. Ditch the flavor packets.
  • Pork belly – Slices of pork belly add a hearty, savory taste to the noodles. You can sub it for other protein if you want to.
  • Black soy sauce – Dark soy sauce adds a rich sweetness, and it also darkens the color of our meal.
  • Oyster sauce – This thick, savory sauce is often used in Thai cuisine to add flavor to our stir-fries and marinades.
  • Fish sauce – Adds umami and a salty flavor to any Thai dish.
  • White sugar – A sprinkle of sugar is needed to balance out the spicy and salty flavors.
  • Fresh black peppercorns – These add an aromatic, earthy heat.
  • Large green Thai chilies – I used prik noom, which are mild chilies. The chili flavor is a key flavor in drunken noodles, this is why you have to use a combination of mild chilies and spicy peppers.
  • Kaffir lime leaves – Tear out the stem and use the leaves. They add a delicious citrus flavor. You can get them at any Asian grocery store.
  • Thai holy basil – Thai holy basil are a key ingredient and add a peppery flavor.
  • Red chilies – I used bird’s eye chilies, these are really spicy. If you can’t handle spicy food, you can use a mild type of chili.
  • Carrot – You can use more vegetables like baby corn, Chinese broccoli, onions, or even clean out your fridge and use up your leftover veggies.
  • Garlic – The heart of many Thai stir-fries. Garlic adds aroma and a pungent kick.

Short recipe video

Cooking instructions

Use a large non-stick skillet or wok. Avoid overcrowding your wok and make 2 or 3 portions at a time, this allows you to cook smoothly.

  1. Cook instant noodles

    Boil the instant noodles just until they start to loosen, don’t overcook. Drain in a sieve and rinse with cold water to halt the cooking process.Holding cooked instant noodles with 2 black chopsticks.

  2. Prep your ingredients

    Slice your pork belly into thin slices, prepare the vegetables and chilies, and de-stem the kaffir lime leaves.Cut vegetables, kaffir lime leaves and peppercorns.

  3. Pound the spices

    Crush garlic and chilies with a mortar and pestle.Close-up of pounded garlic and red chilies in a stone mortar and pestle.

  4. Stir-fry drunken mama noodles

    Step-by-step cooking process of drunken mama noodles showing sliced pork belly frying, adding chilies and vegetables, and tossing with stir-fried noodles and Thai basil in a wok.

    1. Place a non-stick pan over medium heat and warm a tablespoon of oil.

    2. Sauté the pork belly until it’s partially done.

    3. Add garlic and red chilies, continuing to cook until the pork is done, and the garlic is fragrant and golden.

    4. Stir in the oyster sauce, fish sauce, black soy sauce, and sugar. Add your vegetables, fresh peppercorns, green chilies, and kaffir lime leaves, stir-frying for 1–2 minutes until vegetables are crisp to your liking.

    5. Add cooked instant noodles, tossing until they’re well coated and heated through without sticking.

    6. Sprinkle in Thai holy basil and cook for 20 seconds or until wilted. Serve immediately.

Variations and substitutes

  • Vegetarian pad kee mao: Swap out the fish sauce with half a tablespoon of light soy sauce, and trade the oyster sauce for vegetarian mushroom sauce. Ditch the meat and introduce tofu for a protein-packed vegetarian noodle dish.
  • Spicy drunken noodles: If spicy drunken mama noodles are not your vibe, replace red chilies with thinly sliced red bell peppers, or just remove the seeds. Alternatively, you can use a mild type of chili pepper like jalapeños.
  • Switch up the protein: This recipe for drunken noodles can be made with chicken, beef, shrimp, pork, or seafood. My tip is to try it with pork belly. If you use a different protein, add an extra tablespoon of oil.
  • Holy basil substitute: Just like in the classic pad kra pao, Thai holy basil is the key ingredient of this dish. If you can’t find it, you can give it a twist by opting for regular basil or Italian basil, which is easily available in Western supermarkets.

How to store and reheat

Let your stir-fried instant drunken noodles cool down to room temperature. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Reheating instructions: Reheat in a pan on the stove top over medium heat. Add a splash of oil or water if needed.

Fun facts about pad kee mao

  • The name ‘pad kee mao’ directly translates to ‘drunkard’s noodles’ in Thai.
  • Legend goes that this noodle dish was a creation of a drunk person. It’s made with ingredients that are easily accesable, or leftovers in your fridge. This is why many people use instant noodles for drunken noodles.
  • In Thai culture, we say that eating spicy while being drunk will make you feel less intoxicated.

Frequently asked questions

Are drunken noodles gluten-free?

Not typically. Most drunken noodle recipes include soy sauce, which contains gluten. You can switch to a gluten-free soy sauce to enjoy gluten-free noodles.

Are drunken noodles healthy?

This depends on the recipe. Most recipes include healthy vegetables and a protein. Watch out for oil, sugar, and high in sodium sauces like fish sauce.

Is this recipe spicy?

These drunken noodles are quite spicy, since they’re made with bird’s eye chilies. You can use a mild type of chili or remove the seeds to enjoy a mild dish.

Can I make this in advance?

You can prepare the vegetables and protein ahead of time. Save the stir-frying for when you’re about to serve. You can also make it in advance and reheat later.

More Thai noodle stir-fries you’ll love

If you loved reading this drunken mama noodles recipe, please make my day by dropping a star rating and/or a comment below!

Drunken Mama Noodles Recipe (Pad Kee Mao Mama)

Close-up of drunken mama noodles with pork, vegetables, and spicy chilies, served in a black dish.
This drunken mama noodles recipe comes together quickly with your choice of protein and vegetables.
Praew
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Cuisine Thai
Course Main Course
Serving Size 2 people

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 cup pork belly thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic
  • 3 chilies bird's eye chilies
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1/2 cup carrot
  • 2 stems of fresh black peppercorns
  • 2 large chilies prik noom
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves stems removed
  • 2 packages instant mama noodles
  • 1/2 cup Thai holy basil

Instructions

  • Boil the instant noodles just until they start to loosen, don't overcook. Drain in a sieve and rinse with cold water to halt the cooking process.
  • Slice the bacon into thin strips, prepare the vegetables and chilies, and de-stem the kaffir lime leaves.
  • Crush garlic and chilies with a mortar and pestle.
  • Place a non-stick pan over medium heat and warm a tablespoon of oil.
  • Sauté the bacon until it's partially done.
  • Add garlic and red chilies, continuing to cook until the bacon is done, and the garlic is fragrant and golden.
  • Stir in the oyster sauce, fish sauce, black soy sauce, and sugar. Add your vegetables, fresh peppercorns, green chilies, and kaffir lime leaves, stir-frying for 1–2 minutes until vegetables are crisp to your liking.
  • Add cooked instant noodles, tossing until they're well coated and heated through without sticking.
  • Sprinkle in Thai holy basil and cook for 20 seconds or until wilted. Serve immediately.

Video

Notes

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • Use 1 extra tablespoon of oil when using a different protein.
  • The instant noodles can be substituted for dry (or fresh) rice noodles or fresh wide rice noodles.

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2 Comments

  1. 4 stars
    I like this recipe, but are we sure we mean bacon? That is, American streaky bacon (cured and smoked from the pork belly)? Because I look at these pictures and it appears to be uncured and unsmoked pork belly.

4.50 from 2 votes (1 rating without comment)

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