Instant Pot Pad Thai in 20 Minutes (Or Less!)
Asian cuisine is one of the most popular in the world, and for good reason! Pad Thai is my favorite of all time. It’s full of flavor and spices that will keep you coming back for more. This is a recipe that has all the flavors we love about Asian food – from soy sauce to sriracha – but it can be made quickly with our Instant Pot without any fuss or mess!
This dish uses chicken breast, green onion, matchstick carrots, brown sugar, rice noodles, and other ingredients found in your local grocery store. You’ll need an Instant Pot (or similar device) to make this dish work its magic.
Ingredients for Instant Pot Chicken Pad Thai
Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make Instant Pot Pad Thai with chicken. Of course, you could substitute the chicken for shrimp, beef, tofu, or skip the meat altogether. Whatever you want! See our recipe card for full details.
What you need for the homemade Instant Pot pad Thai sauce:
- Soy sauce – or tamari if you follow a gluten-free diet (we use low sodium soy sauce)
- Brown sugar – for a sweeter flavor
- Chicken broth – water can be substituted for broth if need-be
- Rice vinegar – Some prefer to use cider vinegar, but soy sauce or tamari is also a great substitution.
- Fish sauce – I recommend fish sauce because of the umami flavor it adds, but you can replace this with soy sauce if you don’t have any.
- Peanut butter – Peanut butter is a must in this recipe, so try to use the natural variety.
- Garlic – Garlic is a staple in the kitchen and it will make everything better.
- Sesame oil – to add flavor
- Sriracha – for some heat, feel free to add more Sriracha or other hot sauce to the recipe as it is mild.
For the Instant Pot pad Thai:
- Chicken breast – You will need one pound of 1.5-inch (or smaller) diced chicken breast.
- Carrot – cut into matchstick-sized pieces
- Green onion – Serve as a garnish..
- Rice noodles – Flat rice noodles, common in pad Thai, not the thicker types used in Chinese take-out
- Zucchini – spiralized, but you could also cut it into matchsticks if you don’t have a spiralizer.
- Bean sprouts
- Red bell pepper – slice it thinly
Serving suggestions for Instant Pot pad Thai
- Lime wedges – for an extra punch of flavor
- Chopped peanuts – not necessary, but highly recommended
- Cilantro – unless you don’t care for the taste
- Sliced green onion
How To Make Instant Pot Pad Thai
To make the sauce, whisk all the sauce ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl.
Next, cook the chicken in the Instant Pot and cook the noodles.
Place diced chicken in the Instant Pot and pour sauce on top. Put carrots, green onion, and soy sauce/sriracha over the chicken. Pressure cook on Manual High pressure for 4 minutes. Allow natural pressure release (NPR) for 10 minutes at the end of cooking time.
Meanwhile, boil water on the stove to cook rice noodles. Cook as directed and drain when done.
Now steam your vegetables. After 10 minutes of NPR, quickly release the remaining pressure. Add zucchini beans sprouts and bell pepper to the pot and stir until well combined. Steam for 3 minutes on a low simmer with the lid in place.
Add the cooked rice noodles to achieve an even sauce coating and serve with garnishes of your choice.
Tips for Better Instant Pot Pad Thai
- Keep the pressure cooker on high and wait 10 minutes before releasing the pressure–the resulting chicken will be more tender than if you release the pressure right away.
- Test for Par-Cooking Noodles. I found the package timing was not always long enough to achieve my desired finished texture, so some manufacturers may assume you’ll continue cooking them while they simmer in sauce. Waiting a minute or two will ensure your noodles will be perfect once they rest in sauce.
Instant Pot Chicken Pad Thai Variations
- Try swapping different meats, shrimp, or tofu. Just follow cooking suggestions for any of these ingredients.
- You can also make it strictly vegetarian pad Thai – whatever you like.
- Add different vegetables. Use any vegetable that can be steamed in 3 minutes or less.
- Add some scrambled eggs. This recipe makes enough for two people so I usually make it and then add my eggs separately the next day or prepare a few for myself if I’m feeling lazy.
Frequently Asked Questions: Instant Pot Pad Thai
Can the noodles cook in the Instant Pot with the chicken?
I don’t recommend cooking the noodles and chicken in the same pot. I tested many combinations, but my favorite was to cook the pasta separately before adding it at a later point with vegetables and sauce.
- Rice noodles are starchy and, unless drained, sticky. Pad Thai made with them will have a doughy texture.
- I want you to be happy with a recipe which is why it’s better for you to cook them on your own stovetop and have more control over how they turn out.
- The natural release in the pressure cooker makes for a better meat texture. A quick-release will turn the noodles to moosh because they’re still in the pot, and cooking them separately allows you to give the chicken some time before cooking it into a juicier, more tender shape.
What if I still want to cook the pad Thai noodles in the Instant Pot?
Don’t say I didn’t warn you! If you still want to cook them together, add 1.5 cups of water into the sauce and place rice noodles just on top of the vegetables (spread out the carrots and green onions around first).
Add the vegetables at the pressurized cooking step of 3-4 minutes.
What type of noodles are used in pad Thai?
Pad Thai noodles are usually thin rice noodles, which is different from the type of pasta used in Italian dishes. They’re thinner than traditional noodles, and they come in both white and brown varieties.
Do you have to soak pad Thai noodles?
Soaking is not necessary, but the noodles do need to be rinsed.
Can I freeze pad Thai?
Yes, you can freeze pad Thai. When making it, add a little bit of cornstarch to the sauce and mix it in so that there are no clumps when freezing.
*A good rule of thumb is to use half as much water or broth for cooking as you would normally.*
Conclusion: The Quickest Way Making Instant Pot Pad Thai
Pad Thai sounds like a complicated dish to make, but in reality, it is so easy to make and takes just under a half an hour to make. Add those garnish ingredients and you have yourself a true pad Thai meal that’s crunchy, savory, and hearty.