Gluten-Free Thai Peanut Noodles

Thai Peanut Noodles
D. Schmidt
  • 25 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: 2-4 servings
Ratings (8)

Authentic Thai Peanut Noodles are made with real peanuts instead of peanut butter, and you'll taste the difference.  This dish offers a flavorful, nutty sauce combined with the chewy-sticky texture of stir-fried rice noodles. Add your choice of chicken or tofu, or make them vegetarian or vegan just with the peanut sauce.

The key to this dish is not to over-soften the noodles at the beginning - they need to remain firm in order to reach their chewy perfection later in the frying pan or wok. This dish is naturally gluten-free (see below for a link to vegetarian/vegan version). 

What You'll Need

  • 8-12 oz. rice noodles (linguini-width, enough for 2-4 people)
  • Optional: 1 to 1.5 cups cubed firm tofu (or 2 chicken thighs, cut into small pieces)
  • 3 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 3 green onions (sliced)
  • 2-3 cups bean sprouts
  • 1 tbsp. sesame seeds
  • 1-3 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil (for stir-frying)
  • Peanut Stir-Fry Sauce:
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 1 tsp. tamarind paste
  • 1 cup dry-roasted peanuts (unsalted)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce (use wheat-free soy sauce for gluten-free diets)
  • 3-4 tbsp. brown sugar (to taste)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

How to Make It

For Vegetarian/Vegan Peanut Noodles, see my: Thai Peanut Noodles (Vegan/Gluten-free).

  1. Place cubed tofu or chicken (if using) in a bowl together with 3 tablespoons soy sauce. Stir to combine and set aside to marinate while you prepare other ingredients.
  2. Stir tamarind paste into the hot water until dissolved. Pour into your food processor or blender. Add all other sauce ingredients and pulse. Taste-test for sweetness and spice, adding more sugar or chili/cayenne if desired. Set aside.
  1. Boil rice noodles to soften. Note: you still want them firm and too 'crunchy' to eat (firmer than 'al dente). Drain and rinse well with cold water to stop the cooking process.
  2. Warm a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons oil and swirl around, then add the tofu or chicken. Stir fry until lightly browned and cooked. Remove from heat and transfer to a clean bowl. Set aside.
  3. Return wok/pan to heat and add 2 to 3 tablespoons more oil. Now add the noodles (you'll hear them sizzle as they hit the hot oil). Using two utensils and a lifting-turning motion, stir-fry 1 minute.
  4. Add 1/3 to 1/2 of the peanut stir-fry sauce, plus the fried tofu or chicken (if using). Stir-fry until sauce is distributed throughout the noodles.
  5. Add the bean sprouts plus a little more of the sauce. Stir-fry and taste-test as you go, adding more sauce until desired taste is achieved. Stir-fry until noodles are soft but still pleasantly chewy. Add more fish sauce if not salty or flavorful enough.
  6. Top with a drizzle of sesame oil followed by a generous sprinkling of sesame seeds. Sprinkle over green onion and fresh basil.  Enjoy!

If You Have Leftover Peanut Sauce: Refrigerate any leftover peanut sauce in a covered container up to 2 weeks; freeze thereafter. Note that peanut sauce will thicken as it sits, but you can easily thin it out again. If you wish to keep it as a stir-fry sauce, just add water to thin it. To make it into a delicious dip, add up to 1/4 cup coconut milk. Peanut dip is wonderful served with ​chicken satay, or ​fresh rolls, or even as a dressing with a raw vegetable salad.

It also makes a terrific marinade for grilled chicken or tofu.