Hey parents! Welcome to the Courageous Kitchen, we’ve got a fun recipe to share with you today. If you haven’t been on our site before, we’re a charity helping marginalized youth in Bangkok, and funded by guests taking our cooking classes and tours. Today we’re taking Thailand’s iconic pad thai recipe from our classes, keeping the dish’s Thainess intact, while making it fun for kids (and easy for parents).

When you book our cooking class, it funds fun, educational learning and food supplies for those in need.

One of the classes we offer is a cooking class for kids and families, and pad thai is often a favorite of our visitors. However if we want everyone to enjoy their own plate of pad thai, we’ll usually have the parents making a traditional pad thai recipe, but do a simplified version for the kids using instant noodles. So today’s recipe has been battle tested both with the refugee kids we serve as a charity, and with many of you who stop by during your travels in Bangkok to support us.

Why is Cooking Pad Thai so Difficult?

We make a lot of pad thai with our guests, so you can be sure we’ve tested and retested this recipe!

For those unfamiliar, pad thai is the iconic Thai dish most famous as the ambassador of Thai food to countries in the west. For example in the US, newcomers to the cuisine often make this steamy hot plate of noodles their first stop. The sticky noodles are delicious when hot, eye pleasing, especially when decorated with shrimp, and unlike some Thai dishes, not going to burn you with spice.

Pad Thai recently made our list of Thailand’s best noodle dishes, but we must admit recreating a delicious version at home is a challenge. This is largely because of ingredients that are hard to find, or misunderstood. When you search the internet you also have a barrage of recipes, many of which look and taste nothing like the delicious plates you may have tried in Thailand.

pad thai cooking class bangkok
For newcomers to Thai food, pad thai can be a friendly landing spot, because the dish combines well with seafood, and isn’t too spicy.

Today we want to offer you an easy pad thai recipe, that’s appropriate for kids and really tasty. To make it we’ve omitted much of the long list of ingredients, including components like the toasted peanut garnish, which many children may have an allergy to anyway.

Your focus, instead of giant shopping list of exotic ingredients, is instead on making a delicious sauce. If you can master the sauce below, that’s half the victory already claimed! Later we’ll stir fry it with instant noodles, but if you keep some of your soon-to-be-famous pad thai sauce stocked, it can be an easy dish to whip up in a pinch.

Kid’s Pad Thai Sauce Recipe

Enjoy this easy pad thai recipe, suitable for kids and adults alike. We recommend cooking it as a family!


This sauce recipe is enough for 4-5 portions of noodles. If you’re happy with the first round, make it in a larger batch and keep refrigerated for whenever pad thai cravings may strike.

  • 1 cup tomato ketchup
    • Tip: Unlike sour tamarind juice, this is likely already available in your fridge!
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
    • Tip: If you’re using another type of sugar such as palm, agave, or natural sugar, simply add to taste.
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
    • Tip: Go meatless and substitute in high quality salt or soy sauce to taste.
  • 1/3 cup vinegar
  • 1 tsp paprika


  1. Grab a non-stick pan and put it on low heat.
  2. Add all of your ingredients, mix, and reduce on low for 30 minutes.
  3. Remember to stir as it reduces, and when ready, it should be thick enough to easily coat any type of noodles you use.
  4. Allow to cool and store in the fridge. If refrigerated, this easy pad thai sauce should last a few weeks.

Tip: Use the sauce for other things! If you’re happy with the sauce and the kids like it, use it for whatever suits you. Dip chicken nuggets, use to flavor your kid’s fried rice, or instead of plain ketchup on french fries.

Kid’s Pad Thai Recipe

This kid’s pad thai recipe was built for a tested with kids. Typical pad thai can be heavy on seafood, peanuts, and other ingredients children may have allergies to eating.


  • 1 pack of instant noodles
    • Tip: The size of the noodle packs may vary by brand, but typically they are 60-80g per pack. That’s filling portion for kids 9 and up, so adjust as necessary.
  • 100g chicken
  • 50g tofu, chopped into small squares
  • 1 egg
  • 1 handful of blanched Chinese kale, broccoli, or the veg of your choice
  • Small handful of bean sprouts
  • 2 tbsp of pad thai sauce
  • 1 tbsp of oil for stir frying
  • 1 lime
    • Tip: Our kids don’t like lime. Do yours? If so, make this an optional garnish, along with a few more bean sprouts on your child’s plate!
Using instant noodles instead of rice noodles isn’t a mistake! The instant noodles cook fast, are less sticky, and are easier for children to gather on their forks. Remember to cut or chop them even smaller for young kids.


  1. Blanch any vegetables you want to add by dipping into boiling water for a few minutes (for Chinese kale this usually takes about one minute in boiling water).
  2. Remove from the boiling water and add to ice water to stop the vegetables from cooking, and preserve the fresh color.
  3. Use the same boiling water now to quickly boil your noodles. Most instant noodles will only take 1-2 minutes to become soft. Set aside.
  4. Add oil to your wok or non stick pan. Follow with your chicken and cook until the color changes.
  5. Add your vegetables to your cooked chicken, along with tofu. Stir quickly to heat the vegetables up.
  6. Now add your cooked instant noodles and mix well.
  7. Add bean sprouts and your pad thai sauce.
  8. Mix everything and push to the side of the pan, away from the heat. In the hot portion of the pan crack and scramble your egg, stirring vigorously until cooked.
  9. Once the egg is cooked, mix with all of the other ingredients and turn off the heat.
The same way we simplified the recipe for kids, you can easily upgrade with a squeeze of lime, sauteed shrimp, chili flakes, or another protein of your choice.

Now that you’ve mastered the sauce, you’re ready to get to the stir frying. Once your ingredients are prepared, this should go rather quickly. Follow the instructions below, and remember not to feel as though you can’t improvise the recipe to slip in more veggies, or even to omit meat in the dish entirely.

Thanks for trying out the Courageous Kitchen recipe for kid’s pad thai. We hope you have an opportunity to cook it together as a family, and enjoy a taste of Thailand wherever you are around the world. Please take a moment to get to know us better, by following our food and charitable adventures on facebook and instagram. As always, happy cooking!


Dwight is director of Courageous Kitchen and a long term expat living in Bangkok, Thailand. A Thai speaker and astute lover of food, he enjoys teaching cooking, and using his passion for food to transform communities.