Pad Thai Sauce
Published Feb 17, 2016•Updated Aug 07, 2023
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Want to easily make authentic Pad Thai at home? The key thing you need is a jar of this homemade Pad Thai Sauce in your fridge and you can have fresh, amazing, Authentic Pad Thai any night for dinner at a fraction of the cost of takeout.
It’s been quite saucy around here. First it was this sweet and sour goodness, then Thai peanut sauce (yum), and then tamarind paste which….well….isn’t technically a sauce. But it IS the foundation of the sauce we’re making today.
We can’t resist going heavy on the sauces when it comes to Thai home cooking. All of these sauces are building blocks for so many other delicious meals. We’ve currently got a refrigerator stocked with sauces and I’m giddy about all the possibilities. Even just opening the door reminds me of the five years we lived in Thailand and all of the incredible food we ate while there.
If you really want to start making your favorite Thai food at home, Pad Thai Sauce is a great place to start. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this: if you are short on time but craving delicious homemade Pad Thai, check out my Easy Pad Thai recipe, which includes this Pad Thai Sauce without Tamarind.
Now, on to how to make your own Pad Thai Sauce!
Ingredients for Pad Thai Sauce
- Tamarind Paste – The key ingredient in Classic Pad Thai is tamarind paste. It is sweet, tart, and nothing else tastes quite like it. Read everything you need to know about how to make tamarind paste here.
- Fish Sauce and Soy Sauce – The savory, rich flavors of fish sauce and soy sauce balance the sweetness in the sauce.
- Palm Sugar – This is the original sweetener used in Thailand. It has a sweet, caramel flavor that is more nuanced than white sugar. If you don’t have palm sugar, you can use alternative sweeteners like light brown sugar or honey, but you may need to adjust the sauce a bit as these may taste more sweet than palm. See below for more details.
What is Palm Sugar?
Palm sugar is sugar extracted from any type of palm tree. This includes coconut palm trees as well as many other palm trees. It is a rich golden color and can be purchased in firm hard disks or softened into a paste.
Most Asian grocery stores carry a variety of palm sugars. For the best Pad Thai Sauce look for palm sugar with no added ingredients. It should say 100% palm sugar.
How to Measure Palm Sugar
If your palm sugar is in firm disks, you’ll want to soften it in order to measure it. Use a sharp knife to slice off slivers of the disk. Add 1 Tablespoon water and microwave until the sugar melts or heat in a small saucepan until softened. Light brown sugar or honey have a more one-dimensional sweet flavor but can be used as a substitute.
How to Store Pad Thai Sauce
Pad Thai Sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 weeks or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before using.
Ways to Use Pad Thai Sauce
Of course, the go-to way to use Pad Thai Sauce is in homemade Pad Thai! But if you have leftover sauce or want to use these great flavors in other ways, try one of these:
- Add it to a stir-fry with chicken and vegetables
- Toss it with seared tofu
- Whisk it into olive oil for a great salad dressing (try it on this Thai chopped salad)
- Make lettuce wraps with it
Endless possibilities, I tell ya!
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Pad Thai Sauce Recipe
- Mixing Bowl
- 1 cup tamarind paste (see note)
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/4 cup grated palm sugar or light brown sugar (see note)
- Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. As soon as the sauce starts to simmer and the palm sugar is completely dissolved, move the pan off the heat.
- Taste the sauce and adjust it to fit your taste. Some people like their sauce a bit more sweet, so if that's you, add a bit more sugar and simmer for another minute. If you prefer a bit more salty/umami flavor, add a bit more soy or fish sauce. You can also add a bit of lime zest if you like a more pronounced citrus flavor.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 weeks or freeze for 6 months.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.