Find out if your favorite Pad Thai dish is safe for a gluten-free diet, plus what ingredients might contain gluten.
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Do you love ordering Pad Thai from your favorite Thai restaurant? It’s a popular dish that many folks flock to as their first taste of Thai cuisine, and for good reason. A big dish of rice noodles and vegetables all slathered in a delicious sweet, sour, and savory sauce is the perfect comfort food.
If you’re like me and follow a gluten-free diet, you know that all food from restaurants needs to be looked at with a careful eye. It’s important to know what ingredients might be hiding in a restaurant meal and if there’s any gluten in the dish or added from cross contamination.
In this post, we’re going to talk about how Pad Thai can fit into a gluten-free diet, how to find out if the restaurant you order from has an option for gluten-free Pad Thai, and what the ingredients are in Pad Thai.
We’re going to get you all the information you need to make an informed choice next time you find yourself craving Pad Thai.
We’ll talk about what Pad Thai is, what it’s made of, the main ingredients in Pad Thai sauce, and if this dish is safe for a gluten-free diet. We’ll wrap up this post with a few recipes for you to try your hand at making gluten-free Pad Thai at home if you’re up for it!
What is Pad Thai?
Pad Thai is a traditional Thai stir-fried rice noodle dish. It’s a popular noodle option at many Thai restaurants. It is considered a full meal with a protein, carbohydrate, and vegetables all cooked together with a delicious sauce.
What is Pad Thai made of?
Pad Thai recipes are usually made with rice noodles, a protein (usually chicken, shrimp, or tofu), and vegetables. All of this is made like a stir-fry that is then mixed with a traditional Pad Thai sauce.
What is Pad Thai sauce made of?
Though the recipes may differ one from another, these are the primary ingredients you’ll find in most Pad Thai sauces: fish sauce, oyster sauce, brown sugar, tamarind. Some recipes may contain soy sauce, vinegar, lime juice, peanut butter, and chili peppers.
Read on: Is tamari gluten-free?
Is there flour in Pad Thai?
In most Pad Thai recipes, there won’t be any flour in the dish. With the texture of the noodles and sauce, you might think that flour has been added to thicken the sauce (and it might be so!), but for many recipes, the starch from the rice noodles mixed with the sauce is what thickens up the sauce in this dish.
It’s never a bad idea to review ingredients lists for wheat, flour, or other gluten ingredients or ask your server at your local restaurant before ordering.
Is Thai food gluten-free?
While it’s important to know that cross contamination can happen at any restaurant, many Thai dishes are made without gluten ingredients.
Assuming you can find out what ingredients are used in some of these dishes and can confirm that they don’t contain gluten ingredients, these are some options to consider ordering from a Thai restaurant.
If you love Thai curries, be sure to specifically ask about ingredients in curry pastes to help you make sure there’s no potential for gluten in curry dishes at a Thai restaurant.
- Tom Kha Soup
- Tom Yum Soup
- Miso Soup
- Pad Thai / Phad Thai
- Grilled Meat, Tofu, or Seafood Skewers (Satay)
- Curry Dishes
- Plain white jasmine rice or brown rice
- Rice noodles
Read on: Gluten-free Thai food
Is Pad Thai gluten-free?
Pad Thai can be made to be gluten-free, but it isn’t always. Though rice noodles are gluten-free, some Pad Thai sauces may be made with gluten ingredients in their fish sauce, oyster sauce, or soy sauce. If you’re making your own Pad Thai at home, be sure to use gluten-free versions of these sauces.
There’s also a possibility of cross contamination at restaurants while using the same wok as dishes that contain gluten ingredients. Ask the server at the restaurant you’re visiting if there is gluten in their Pad Thai sauce and if they use dedicated woks and cooking tools for gluten-free orders.
Is Pad Thai dairy-free?
Pad Thai contains no dairy in the sauce or rest of the dish. If you’re following a dairy-free diet, this dish is safe for you to eat.
Are rice noodles gluten-free?
Yes, most rice noodles are gluten-free. There are some types of noodles that are not gluten-free, so if you’re cooking at home, you’ll want to be sure to check ingredients lists before purchasing.
Pad thai noodles are made with rice sticks which have only rice as an ingredient. They are considered gluten-free.
Read on: Are rice noodles gluten-free?
Read on: Gluten-free noodles: options & brands
Can I eat Pad Thai on a gluten-free diet?
Although the noodles are gluten-free, pad thai noodle dishes aren’t always gluten-free. Most restaurants use soy sauce, which generally contains wheat unless it is tamari soy sauce. This dish also calls for fish sauce, which can sometimes have gluten as well.
Your best bet for gluten-free pad thai is to make it at home using entirely gluten-free ingredients.
Gluten-free Pad Thai recipes
If you’re interested in trying your hand at making your own gluten-free Pad Thai at home, you might consider trying one of these easy recipes.
- Gluten-free Pad Thai
- Easy Pad Thai from Del’s Cooking Twist
- The Best Gluten-free Pad Thai from The Nomadic Fitzpatricks
- Gluten-free Shrimp Pad Thai from The Spruce Eats
- Easy Vegan Pad Thai from Strength & Sunshine
If you love Pad Thai and have been wondering how this dish fits into your gluten-free diet, I hope this post has given you all the information you’ve been looking for. Pad Thai can be made both safe for a gluten-free diet and not safe for a gluten-free diet.
Ask at restaurants what the ingredients are in their specific Pad Thai recipe and ask about how it’s cooked and the level of cross contamination that’s likely to occur.
Know how your body handles trace amounts of gluten. And if all else fails, use one of the recipes in the post to learn how to make your own gluten-free Pad Thai at home.