Spicy Shrimp Pad Thai Recipe with Peanut Butter Sauce www.GarrisonStreetEats.com 11

Spicy Shrimp Pad Thai Recipe with Peanut Butter Sauce

I don’t know about you, but I love Thai food! Despite that, sometimes I am just not willing to leave the house for it, ya feel me? And during the year that shall not be named I craved pad Thai like nobody’s business. As a result, I learned how to make it at home so I could have this tasty Thai cuisine anytime I wanted. This traditional noodle dish is full of creamy peanut sauce and packed with aromatics from fresh herbs and veggies. Like many noodle dishes, this recipe uses flat rice noodles and a delicious homemade pad Thai sauce made with creamy peanut butter and no tamarind. This spicy shrimp pad Thai recipe is easy to make and will satisfy your craving every time. Full recipe card below!

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What is Pad Thai?

Pad Thai is a traditional stir fry style street food in Thailand frequently made with shrimp or chicken, rice noodles, vegetables, peanuts, and bean sprouts. It is mixed with a sweet, sour, and sometimes spicy Thai peanut sauce often made with tamarind paste and fish sauce. Most authentic pad Thai sauce is not actually made with peanut butter but I am breaking the rules here and simplifying the recipe a bit. And I think it tastes better with peanut butter 😉

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Why I Love This Recipe

Pad Thai is one of my favorite dishes. Nine times out of ten when I dine in or get takeout from my local Thai restaurant, I order shrimp pad Thai. To me it is a guilty pleasure and comfort food at the same time. It combines some of my favorite ingredients with a spicy and nutty flavor while still being full of veggies.

Shrimp Pad Thai Ingredients

This is an easy recipe for a weeknight dinner or a weekend splurge. Either way, it will awaken your taste buds with its umami flavor and keep you coming back for more. While this dish uses basic Asian ingredients, I will share what I used and why.

Spicy Shrimp Pad Thai Recipe with Peanut Butter Sauce www.GarrisonStreetEats.com

For the Noodle Dish 

Shrimp – While pad Thai can be made with chicken or as a vegetarian option, I prefer mine with shrimp. But if you are not a fan of seafood, feel free to make it with a different protein. I always have a bag of frozen shrimp on hand, Just make sure you are buying raw shrimp not pre-cooked. Shrimp cooks very fast and adding even just a little heat to pre-cooked shrimp often results in rubbery, over cooked shrimp. Pro Tip: Raw shrimp always includes the tails which you do not eat. Rather than cutting them off after cooking, you can pull them off quite easily when they are raw and then you do not lose any of the meat inside the tail.

Rice Noodles – Unlike Italian pasta dishes, pad Thai uses flat rice noodles or pad Thai noodles. They are made from rice instead of flour and they cook very quickly becoming almost see through. I usually use the white rice noodles but they also come in brown rice noodles. You can find them at your local grocery store in the Asian or international food section.

White Onion –  I chose to use a white onion here since it gets cooked down. White onions are best for cooked dishes and they become sweeter the longer they cook which is perfect for stir fries and sautéed vegetables.

Bell Peppers – I like to add red and yellow bell peppers for added sweetness, color, and veggies. The red and yellow bell peppers taste very similar and add a lot of flavor. I used mini peppers because I usually have them on hand but one of each in the regular size works just fine too. To speed up the chopping process I use this slicer.

Carrots – Filling a bowl of pad Thai with veggies is what makes this tasty dish more guilt free, haha! You can buy a whole carrot and shred it in the food processor or buy a bag of pre-shredded carrots.

Green Onions – Green onions pair really well with Asian cuisine, add a lot of flavor, and are best served raw. All that makes them the perfect topping for pad Thai.

Cilantro – I chopped a little bit of fresh cilantro for my pad Thai and I recommend you do the same. Real cilantro brings a fresh element to the dish that you will not have without it. In my opinion dried cilantro tastes nothing like real cilantro and should be avoided.

Peanuts – These will add a little crunch on top of the dish. I usually add a handful to a Ziplock bag and crush them with the back of a spoon.

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Pad Thai Sauce Ingredients 

Peanut Butter – As I mentioned above, original pad Thai doesn’t usually contain peanut butter, but it provides an added creaminess and nutty flavor. And bonus, most of us stock it in the pantry since it has a relatively long shelf life. I use good old fashioned Skippy in the creamy version because I think it is easier to make the sauce with than crunchy peanut butter.

Fish Sauce or Oyster Sauce. This essential ingredient adds a depth of flavor to this delicious pad Thai sauce and is used often in Thai dishes and other Asian cuisine. It definitely has a slight fishy taste but I would also describe it as salty and tangy with a slight sweet taste. Fish sauce is one of the key ingredients that give pad Thai its distinctive flavor.

Soy Sauce. Soy sauce is a staple in my pantry and I use it in almost all of my Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and Thai cooking. It is a thin sauce with a very salty taste and a fair amount of sodium. Because of this I always use the reduced sodium version to avoid an overly salted dish.

Rice Vinegar.  Another common ingredient in Asian dishes is rice vinegar. It has an acidic taste but unlike white vinegar, rice vinegar is made from fermented rice and white vinegar is made from fermented grain alcohol. Rice vinegar is not quite as offensive and has a slightly sweet taste. This can be found at your regular grocery store in the international food section or near the vinegars depending on your store setup.

Brown Sugar. Another staple in my pantry which I use frequently in baking cookies also makes an appearance in sweet and savory dishes as well. I usually use light brown sugar but dark brown works too it is just a little sweeter.

Honey. I think we all know what honey is. It will add an extra sweetness and thicken the sauce a little bit. I usually use raw honey because it has a sweeter taste. If you don’t have honey, you can also use maple syrup. Pro Tip:  When measuring honey, spray the spoon with cooking spray first and it will slide right off.

Garlic. This ingredient adds a ton of flavor and is found in many dishes across cooking styles. Garlic always adds some depth and flavor. I usually keep a jar of minced garlic in the fridge for convenience but you could also use fresh garlic.

Lime Juice. This will add a bit of freshness as well as some additional acid which helps cut some of the fat in the peanut butter.

Sriracha. This is definitely an optional ingredient but in my opinion should not be left out. This will elevate the dish and make spicy peanut butter noodles, rather than plain. If you have never had Sriracha it’s hot chili sauce. So if you are not into spicy food, maybe skip this ingredient or only use a little bit. But I love my pad Thai with a nice medium heat spice level.

Pad Thai Sauce – I always make my own pad Thai sauce with the simple ingredients listed above so I can control the amount of sodium. I use a great peanut sauce recipe that is very simple and only takes about ten minutes to make. You can also use pre-made sauce if you prefer. This can be found at your local grocery store in the international food section near the soy sauce.

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Mixing Options 

When making a sauce like this it is important to blend it all the way. I usually make mine in my Ninja Foodi blender with the bullet attachment. For a sauce like this, the bullet attachment is the perfect size! This ensures a smooth and creamy consistency. You can also use a food processor, a hand mixer, or a French whisk.

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Spicy Shrimp Pad Thai Recipe with Peanut Butter Sauce www.GarrisonStreetEats.com 11

Spicy Shrimp Pad Thai Recipe with Peanut Butter Sauce

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  • Author: Lisa
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 2-4 servings 1x


This classic shrimp pad Thai recipe with peanut butter sauce will have you thinking you are dining at your favorite Thai restaurant. Full of spicy umami flavor, this craveable dish is packed with creamy peanut butter noodles and fresh veggies. This recipe uses basic Asian ingredients and is perfect for a weeknight meal or a weekend evening in. The best part is no tamarind is required! From the first bite of spicy Thai peanut noodles, you will be hooked!


Units Scale

Pad Thai Sauce

4 tbsp Brown Sugar

4 tbsp Peanut Butter

4 tbsp Fish Sauce

2 tbsp Low Sodium Soy Sauce

2 tbsp Sriracha

2 tbsp Rice Vinegar

2 tsp Honey

4 tsp Garlic

4 tsp Lime Juice (or 4 lime wedges)

Pad Thai

1 Pkg (14 oz) Rice Noodles

1 Yellow Bell Pepper diced

1 Red Bell Pepper diced

1/2 White Onion diced

3 Green Onions chopped

1/2 cup Shredded Carrots

1 tbsp Olive Oil

1 tsp Garlic minced

Salt & Pepper to taste

1/4 cup Peanuts crushed

Cilantro chopped for garnish

Lime halved and quartered for garnished


20 pieces Large Shrimp raw

1 tbsp Oilve Oil

1/8 tsp Salt

1/8 tsp Pepper

1 tsp Garlic Minced


For the Sauce

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor, blender or bullet mixer in the order listed above.
  2. Blend on high for 2 minutes or until smooth. Set aside.

For the Pad Thai

  1. ​Bring a large pot of water to a boil on the stove top. Do NOT add noodles yet.
  2. Chop all the veggies and herbs.
  3. In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil, garlic, bell peppers, and carrots. Sautee for about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the white onion to the same pan and season with salt and pepper. Continue sautéing for another 4 minutes or until the veggies are soft. Do not add the onions with the peppers. They cook faster and will burn.
  5. Remove from heat and set veggies aside on a separate plate.
  6. Remove shrimp tails if desired. They will pull off easily when still raw. Using a paper towel, pat down the thawed raw shrimp removing all water and moisture. Make sure it is completely dry before cooking or it will not crisp up and the seasonings will not adhere.
  7. The water should be boiling in your pot by this point. Add the rice noodles and cook for 3-5 minutes. These cook very quickly and will become slimy and gummy if you cook them too long. Once they are cooked, remove from heat, drain immediately, and rinse with cold water.
  8. In the same pan you used to cook the veggies, (do not wash it) heat another tablespoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of garlic over medium heat.
  9. Add the thawed raw shrimp to the pan and season them with salt and pepper on one side and cook for about 2 minutes or until they start to turn from gray to pink.
  10. Flip the shrimp and cook for another 2 minutes or until they are pink. These cook very fast and should not be left unattended. Remove from heat and pan immediately.
  11. In the same pan (do not wash it) on very low heat, add the pad Thai sauce and heat for about 2 minutes.
  12. Add the cooked pad Thai noodles and toss them until fully coated.
  13. Fold in the veggies and shrimp and toss until combined.
  14. Serve and garnish with cilantro, green onion, peanuts, and a lime wedge.


Rice noodles cook very quickly and will become slimy and gummy if you cook them too long. Once they are cooked, remove from heat, drain immediately, and rinse with cold water. This removes any excess starch.

Shrimp cooks very quickly. As soon as it is all pink, remove from the heat and the pan. If you over cook it they will become rubbery and very tightly curled.

  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Thai, Asian

Spicy Shrimp Pad Thai Recipe with Peanut Butter Sauce www.GarrisonStreetEats.com 11

What to Serve With Pad Thai

One of the best parts about pad Thai, is the whole dish is contained in one bowl! The noodles, shrimp, veggies, herbs, and sauce are all combined to make a full flavor comfort food with no need for sides. When I make this for dinner I usually cannot finish mine and have to save half of it for the next day.

When to Make Spicy Shrimp Pad Thai

This is the perfect weeknight meal when you are craving a full flavor dish packed with fresh veggies.

Spicy Shrimp Pad Thai Recipe with Peanut Butter Sauce www.GarrisonStreetEats.com 9

Looking for additional ways to make this classic Thai dish the whole family will love?

Chicken Pad Thai – The exact same recipe as above, only with chicken! Chicken has such a mild flavor it is a great protein option for pad Thai!

Chicken Pad Thai Pizza – Yep, I love pad Thai so much I turned it into a flatbread style pizza. Because you know I believe almost everything has the potential to become a pizza.

Vegetarian Pad Thai – I know not everyone eats meat and the good news is pad Thai usually contains a lot of veggies and fresh ingredients like a bell peppers, green onions, and bean sprouts. It’s the perfect dish to make with some extra firm tofu.

Next time you are craving Asian flavors, you may also want to try my spicy tuna poke bowls!

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