Kid-friendly Pantry Pad Thai Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Pantry Pad Thai

Recipe: Pantry Pad Thai

Pantry Pad Thai

by Erin Fletter
Photo by Ammy mylove/
prep time
15 minutes
cook time
13 minutes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Pantry Pad Thai

When I was 14, my mom and I spent three weeks in Thailand. It was the first place I had ever been that seemed so different from the California beach town I grew up in. From the Thai language I could not understand or even attempt to read to the beautiful, chaotic hustle and bustle and noise of the big cities to meeting other 14-year-old girls from the Long Neck Karen villages in remote northern Thailand, I felt so different, looked so different, and spoke so differently from everyone around me. I had never experienced that feeling before. I could not have been more out of place for an already awkward teenager. Yet, I never felt more embraced. The Thai people are the most warm and welcoming culture I have ever met. I fell in love with the country, the ever-smiling people, and the food! I had never tasted food as fresh, alive, and as complex as the food in Thailand. I thank Thailand for starting me off on my lifetime love of food.

Thai cuisine is a favorite in our house. The combinations of tangy, salty, and sweet always seem to hit the spot for kids. Sometimes, I need to improvise when I don't have all day to find the exotic ingredients for "real" Pad Thai. So, I thought I would share my "pantry" Pad Thai recipe with you. Everything you need is already in your kitchen or a quick trip to your local grocery store. The kids will have so much fun mixing, pouring, chopping, squeezing, and grating. It is a great way to satisfy your Thai cravings in a mere 15 minutes while introducing your family to Thai flavors. Our Sparkling Ginger Limeade is a refreshing drink to have with your Pad Thai!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • adjust :

    to change seasonings or consistency to one's taste or to alter portion sizes.

  • chop :

    to cut something into small, rough pieces using a blade.

  • grate :

    to reduce food, like a carrot, to very small shreds or pieces of the same size by rubbing it on a tool with an outside surface that has holes with cutting edges (a grater).

  • knife skills :

    Bear Claw (growl), Pinch, Plank, and Bridge (look out for trolls)

  • slice :

    to cut into thin pieces using a sawing motion with your knife.

  • snip :

    to use scissors to cut something with quick, sharp strokes.

  • stir-fry :

    to cook meat, fish, or vegetables rapidly over high heat while stirring briskly—used in Asian cooking.

  • taste :

    to put a bit of food or drink in your mouth to determine whether more of an ingredient is needed to improve the flavor.

Equipment Checklist

  • Large mixing bowl or saucepan
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Strainer or colander
  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Grater
  • Citrus juicer (optional)
  • Measuring spoons
  • Small bowls (4)
  • Whisk
  • Nonstick skillet or wok
  • Wooden spoon
  • Plate
  • Clean kid-friendly scissors (optional)


Pantry Pad Thai

  • 8 to 10 oz dried, wide and flat Asian rice noodles (Thai Rice Noodle Sticks)
  • 6 C hot water, for soaking noodles
  • 3 T brown sugar
  • 4 limes (3 T fresh lime juice + wedges for serving)
  • 4 T soy sauce **(for GLUTEN/SOY ALLERGY sub coconut aminos)**
  • 1/2 T ketchup
  • 4 T vegetable oil **
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 large eggs **(for EGG ALLERGY sub 1/2 pkg silken tofu)**
  • 1/2 C fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 large carrot

Food Allergen Substitutions

Pantry Pad Thai

  • Gluten: Substitute coconut aminos for soy sauce.
  • Soy: Substitute coconut aminos for soy sauce. Substitute canola oil or other nut-free high-smoking point oil for vegetable oil.
  • Egg: For 2 large eggs, substitute 1/2 package silken tofu.


Pantry Pad Thai

soak + drain

Soak 8 to 10 ounces of dried rice noodles in 6 cups of very hot water for 5 to 10 minutes, just enough to soften them up. Drain the rice noodles and set to the side.

chop + grate + slice

Chop 2 green onions and 1 garlic clove into tiny, tiny bits. Grate 2 large carrots and slice 1 zucchini. Set all of the veggies to the side. While chopping, grating, and slicing, count to 10 in Thai: 1 nueng, 2 sawng, 3 saam, 4 see, 5 hah, 6 hoke, 7 jed, 8 pehd, 9 gaaoh, 10 seeb.

slice + juice

Slice and juice 3 limes and reserve 3 tablespoons of the lime juice.

measure + whisk

Next, you will make the sauce! In a small bowl, measure and whisk together 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 4 tablespoons soy sauce, 1/2 tablespoon ketchup, and the reserved lime juice. Set aside.

crack + whisk

Crack **2 eggs into another small bowl and whisk together, then set to the side.

heat + cook

Heat 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet or wok on your stovetop over medium-high heat. Add the chopped green onions and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the whisked eggs and cook, scraping the skillet with a spatula until they are almost set, about 30 seconds. Transfer the egg mixture to a plate. Add the soaked rice noodles, grated carrots, sliced zucchini, and the sauce to the skillet. Cook, tossing constantly, until the noodles are soft, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the egg mixture and toss to coat, breaking the eggs up gently.

snip + slice + garnish

Kids can snip or tear 1/2 cup of fresh cilantro leaves and put them in a small bowl. Slice 2 limes and add to another bowl. Serve the warm Pad Thai in bowls and garnish with lime slices and cilantro.

taste + adjust

Taste and adjust flavors if needed. Serve the warm Pad Thai in bowls and garnish with the lime slices and snipped cilantro. Have a taste and say "Aroy" (Ah-roy) in Thai ("Delicious" or "Yummy" in English) while giving everyone a thumbs-up!

Surprise Ingredient: Lime!

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Photo by Waridsara_HappyChildren/

Hi!  I’m Lime!

"Limes are citrus fruits just like lemons, but we're smaller, rounder, and green. And, while lemons are acidic and sour, limes are more acidic, less sweet, and have a more bitter flavor. We're often invited into the same places as lemons, but you'll probably find us in more savory than sweet dishes, although our Key lime sibling is famous for its pie!"  

History & Etymology

  • Limes are the fruit of tropical citrus trees closely related to lemons. They are native to Southeast Asia. Currently, India, Mexico, and China produce the most limes globally. 
  • In the 19th century, sailors drank their daily grog (beer or rum) with added lemon juice to prevent scurvy, a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C. Later, they changed to lime juice. British sailors were derogatorily called "limeys" because of their use of limes. Navies who prevented scurvy by their daily lemon or lime intake would have the advantage over a country's navy that did not use citrus in their diets. 
  • There are several species of lime plants, and many are hybrids. The type of lime generally sold in grocery stores is the Persian or Tahitian lime, a hybrid of a Key lime and a lemon. The Key lime, native to Southeast Asia, is also known as the West Indian lime; however, the Key lime name comes from the Florida Keys, where it flavors their famous Key lime pie. Spanish explorers brought the lime to Florida in the 16th century. The Kaffir or Makrut lime is native to Southeast Asia and southern China. These three limes are the most widely produced worldwide, with the Persian leading the other two.
  • The English word "lime" comes from mid-17th century French from the Spanish "lima," from the Arabic līma, and the Persian "limu."


  • Since the Persian lime is the most popular, we will focus on its anatomy. The fruit is about 2.4 inches in diameter. It has no seeds, is larger, less acidic, and has a thicker skin than a Key lime.  
  • A citrus fruit's "zest" is the green or yellow outermost layer of the peel (skin), which contains powerful flavor compounds. The "pith" is the spongy, white layer between the skin and the flesh and is quite bitter. Avoid the pith when zesting your fruit.

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • Select limes that are firm and heavy (more juice!) with shiny, blemish-free, green skins.
  • Limes are fully ripe and juicier when they are yellow, not dark green; however, they are usually sold when they are green and have better flavor.
  • If you refrigerate your limes, they will last about two weeks. You can freeze lime juice to use at a later time. 
  • The average lime contains one tablespoon of juice. Roll a room-temperature lime on the counter, adding light pressure, before cutting it open to get the maximum amount of liquid. 
  • Limes are highly acidic, and this acid will react with different foods in different ways. For example, the acid will denature the proteins in fish and seafood, causing the fish to become firm and opaque, almost as if you had cooked it. The acid in lime juice can also curdle milk, and while it can cause green vegetables to turn a drab olive color, it will help vegetables such as potatoes and turnips maintain their white color.
  • You can substitute lime for lemon in a dish, but you will want to decrease the amount due to a lime's stronger flavor and acidity. For example, if a recipe calls for one cup of lemon juice, substitute three-quarters of a cup of lime juice.
  • Here are some foods you can add lime to (besides Key lime pie): limeade, dressings and dips, guacamole, salsa, lime curd, lime bars, sherbet, fajitas, tacos, chicken, fish, beef, and pork.


  • One lime has 32 percent of the daily value of vitamin C, which boosts immunity and helps your body heal.
  • Citrus fruits, like lemons and limes, have citric acid, which can help prevent kidney stones from forming. 
  • Limes do not contain very much natural sugar. That's why they are so tart! Compared with an orange, another citrus fruit, a lime has one gram of sugar, and a small orange has nine grams.


History of Pad Thai!

Photo by Rungsuriya Chareesri/
  • "Phad" is a Thai word for "stir-fry," and "Pad Thai" is a stir-fried rice noodle dish. Stir-fried rice noodles arrived in Thailand from China centuries ago. Pad Thai was created in Thailand in the 1930s as a national dish to promote Thai identity and unite the people.   
  • Pad Thai is a popular market and street food in Thailand and a favorite menu choice in Thai and Asian restaurants in the United States. There are as many ways to cook it as geographical locations and chefs' creativity. 
  • Despite all these varieties, the basic pad Thai recipe is the ideal blend of hot, sweet, salty, and sour. In addition to rice noodles, the recipe may include bean sprouts, garlic, peanuts, scallions, scrambled eggs, and chicken, shrimp, or tofu. The sauce can be made with fish sauce, sugar, tamarind paste, and water. Then, the ingredients are stir-fried in oil in a wok.

Let's Learn About Thailand!

Photo by anek.soowannaphoom/ (traditional floating market)
  • Thailand is a country in Southeast Asia and is officially called the Kingdom of Thailand. 
  • The country's previous name was Siam. In 1949 it was changed to Thailand, which means "Land of the Free."  
  • Thailand is a constitutional monarchy with a king, prime minister, and national assembly, its legislative body.
  • Thailand's population is more than 69 million people.
  • Thailand has over 1400 islands and is at the center of the Indochinese Peninsula.
  • Bangkok is the capital and the largest city in Thailand. According to different websites, it's either the first most-visited or second most-visited city in the world, right up there with London and Paris. 
  • Thailand is home to the world's most enormous gold Buddha, the largest crocodile farm, the biggest restaurant, the tallest hotel, and the longest single-span suspension bridge!
  • Thailand is known for its fantastically delicious street food. You can eat pad thai (noodles, vegetables, and meat stir-fried together), green papaya salad, meat skewers, and even grilled scorpions at street carts everywhere in Thailand! 
  • A hundred years ago, there were more than 100,000 elephants in Thailand, and about 20,000 of them were wild. Today, there are about 5,000 elephants, less than half of them untamed. 
  • Thailand is known for its orchids. In fact, over 1,500 different orchid species grow in the wild in Thailand.
  • Kitti's hog-nosed bat—thought to be the world's smallest mammal—is found in Thailand. It weighs just two grams! This is the same weight as a small pebble or a pile of feathers.
  • One of the country's most unique festivals is the annual Monkey Buffet, held in front of the Phra Prang Sam Yot temple in Lopburi province. Thousands of local macaques dine on a buffet of over two tons of grilled sausage, fresh fruit, ice cream, and other treats. Local people view the festival as a thank you to the monkeys, which live in the village and bring in thousands of tourists each year.
  • The Mekong River, along part of the eastern border of Thailand, contains over 1,300 fish species. Giant freshwater fish, including a 10-foot-long, 660-pound catfish, can be found in the river.
  • The mudskipper is one of Thailand's strangest creatures. This fish-out-of-the-water walks on land using its fins, and it can even climb trees. It absorbs oxygen through its skin and mouth. It's a fish that likes to spend most of its time out of the water, eating the algae in tidal pools.
  • The world's longest snake, the reticulated python, makes its home in Thailand. The largest one ever found measured over 33 feet from end to end.
  • Siamese cats are native to Thailand. In Thai, their name is "wichien maat," meaning "moon diamond" or "diamond gold." A 14th-century book of Thai poems describes 23 types of Siamese cats; today, there are only six breeds. The Si Sawat or Korat cat is another breed of Thai cat, similar to the Siamese, and initially thought to be a blue Siamese cat. They are given to newlyweds to bring good luck to the marriage.

What's It Like to Be a Kid in Thailand?

  • The school year goes from May to March, and both public and private schools require students to wear uniforms.
  • Families and children are important in Thailand. Parents expect their kids to help with household chores and farm chores if they live in a rural area.
  • Soccer, tennis, swimming, and badminton are popular sports for kids. "Muay Thai," or Thai boxing, is the national sport of Thailand, and some kids may start learning it as early as five years old. It is a type of martial art accompanied by traditional music called "Sarama."
  • Rice, especially Jasmine rice, is a staple in Thailand, and it's usually served at every meal. For breakfast, Thai kids may eat "Jok" (rice porridge) or "Khao tom" (sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves), "Kai jiew" (an omelet served with rice), or grilled meat or fish, and fruit. For lunch, they may have soup and a rice or noodle dish with meat and vegetables. Family dinners may include "Khao pad" (Thai fried rice), "Pad Thai" (stir-fried rice noodle dish), and various soups. Typical sweets that kids like are mango sticky rice, coconut ice cream, Thai jelly, and "luk chup," which are candies made from mung beans, coconut milk, and sugar.

That's Berry Funny

What do you call a lime that opens doors? 

A Key Lime!

Lettuce Joke Around

What do citrus fruits like to eat? 


THYME for a Laugh

What is worse than finding a worm in the apple that you are eating? 

A half of a worm in your noodle soup!

The Yolk's On You

What do you get when you cross a brontosaurus with a lime? 

A dino-sour!

Lettuce Joke Around

What do you call a fake noodle? 

An impasta!

Lettuce Joke Around

What did one soup lover say to another?

"I'm crazy pho noodle soup!"

THYME for a Laugh

What did the teacher say to the student when he saw him using lightsaber chopsticks to eat his ramen?

"Use the forks (force)."


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