Pad Thai is one of the most popular dishes in Thai cuisine, and for good reason: it’s delicious!
The combination of noodles, vegetables, spices and sauces makes this dish a favorite among many.
But what really gives Pad Thai its unique flavor is the sauce.
The right sauce can make or break your Pad Thai experience.
If you’re looking to try something new with your Pad Thai, here are 13 different sauces that will give it an extra kick of flavor.
What is Pad Thai?
Pad Thai is a popular stir-fried noodle dish from Thailand.
It typically consists of rice noodles, eggs, tofu, peanuts, and bean sprouts cooked in a sweet and savory sauce made with fish sauce, tamarind paste, garlic, chilies and palm sugar.
The dish is usually garnished with lime wedges and chopped roasted peanuts.
Pad Thai can be served as an appetizer or main course for lunch or dinner.
It’s also often eaten as street food in Thailand.
The flavors of Pad Thai are complex yet balanced; the combination of salty (fish sauce), sour (tamarind paste), sweet (palm sugar), and spicy (chilies) creates a unique flavor profile that makes it one of the most beloved dishes in Thailand.
The texture is also important: the noodles should be soft but still have some bite to them; the egg should be slightly crispy on the edges; and the vegetables should remain crunchy yet tender.
The 13 Best Sauces for Pad Thai
Pad Thai is a delicious dish, but it can be made even better with the right sauce.
Here are 13 delicious sauces that can be used in Pad Thai dishes – each offering a unique flavor profile:
1. Peanut Sauce
Peanut sauce is a condiment made from ground peanuts, oil, and other ingredients such as garlic, ginger, chili peppers, sugar, and lime juice.
It is commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine to add flavor to dishes like Pad Thai.
Taste: Peanut sauce has a rich nutty flavor with hints of sweetness and spiciness. The texture can range from smooth to chunky depending on how it’s prepared.
How To Make It: Making peanut sauce at home is easy!
- Start by heating some oil in a pan over medium heat. Add minced garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant.
- Then add the ground peanuts and stir for about 2 minutes until lightly browned.
- Next add the chili peppers (if using), sugar, fish sauce or soy sauce (for vegan version), lime juice, water or coconut milk (optional) and stir until everything is combined.
- Simmer for 5-10 minutes until the desired consistency is reached then remove from heat and serve with your favorite dish!
2. Tamarind Sauce
Tamarind sauce is a sweet and sour condiment made from tamarind, which is the fruit of the tamarind tree (Tamarindus indica).
It has a thick, syrupy consistency and a deep brown color.
Taste: Tamarind sauce has an intense flavor that can be described as sweet-sour-tangy. It’s slightly acidic, but not too overpowering. The taste also has hints of caramelized sugar and smoky undertones.
How to Make it:
- To make tamarind sauce, start by soaking dried tamarind in hot water for about 10 minutes until it softens up.
- Then strain out the seeds and fibers from the softened pulp using a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth.
- Place the strained pulp into a small pot over medium heat and add equal parts sugar and water to it.
- Simmer for 15 minutes until it reduces down to a thick syrup consistency, stirring occasionally to prevent burning on the bottom of the pan.
- Once done, let cool before using.
Uses: Tamarind sauce can be used as a dipping sauce for spring rolls, fried chicken, and other deep-fried dishes. It can also be used as a glaze for roasted meats and vegetables. Tamarind can also be used as an ingredient in sauces, marinades, and chutneys.
3. Fish Sauce
Fish sauce is a condiment made from fermented fish and salt.
It is used as a seasoning in many Southeast Asian cuisines, including Thai, Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Lao.
The fermentation process gives the sauce its distinct flavor and aroma.
- Varieties: There are two main types of fish sauce: nam pla (Thai) and nuoc mam (Vietnamese). Both sauces are made with anchovies that have been salted and left to ferment for several months before being strained to produce the final product. Nam pla has a more pungent smell than nuoc mam, which has a milder taste.
- Common Uses: Fish sauce is commonly used as an ingredient in Pad Thai dishes, soups, salads, stir-fries, marinades, dipping sauces, curries and other savory dishes. It can also be added to dressings or sauces for extra flavor or used as a substitute for salt when cooking.
4. Hot Sauce
Hot sauce is a condiment made from chili peppers, vinegar, and other ingredients.
It can range in flavor from mild to extremely spicy and is used to add heat and flavor to dishes.
- Varieties: There are many different types of hot sauces available on the market today, including Tabasco, Sriracha, Cholula, Tapatio, Valentina, Louisiana-style hot sauce (also known as cayenne pepper sauce), and habanero-based sauces.
- Common Uses: Hot sauce is commonly used as a condiment for tacos, burritos, sandwiches, eggs dishes like omelets or scrambles; it can also be added to soups or stews for extra heat. It’s also popularly used in Asian cuisine such as Pad Thai or stir fry dishes.
5. Chili Sauce
Chili sauce is a condiment made from chili peppers, vinegar, and other ingredients such as garlic, sugar, and salt.
It can range in flavor from sweet to spicy and is often used as a dipping sauce or added to dishes for extra flavor.
- Varieties: There are many different types of chili sauces available on the market today. Some popular varieties include Sriracha (a Thai-style hot sauce), Tabasco (an American-style hot sauce), Gochujang (a Korean-style fermented chili paste), Harissa (a North African-style chili paste), Sambal Oelek (an Indonesian-style chili paste) and more.
- Common Uses: Chili sauce is commonly used as a condiment or dip for foods like spring rolls, dumplings, noodles, fried rice dishes, grilled meats and vegetables. It can also be used to add flavor to soups and stews or as an ingredient in marinades or dressings.
6. Lime Juice
Lime juice is a tart, acidic liquid made from the juice of limes.
It is used in many dishes and drinks to add flavor and acidity.
- Varieties: There are two main varieties of lime juice available on the market: sweetened and unsweetened. Sweetened lime juice has added sugar or other sweeteners, while unsweetened lime juice does not contain any added sugars or sweeteners.
- Common Uses: Lime juice is commonly used in cooking to add a bright, citrusy flavor to dishes such as Pad Thai, ceviche, salsa, guacamole, marinades, dressings, sauces, soups and stews. It can also be used as an ingredient in cocktails such as margaritas and mojitos.
7. Soy Sauce
Soy sauce is a dark, salty liquid condiment made from fermented soybeans, wheat, salt, and water.
It is an essential ingredient in many Asian cuisines and has been used for centuries as a flavor enhancer.
- Varieties: There are two main types of soy sauce: light and dark. Light soy sauce is thinner in consistency than dark soy sauce and has a milder flavor. Dark soy sauce is thicker in consistency than light soy sauce and has a richer flavor with more umami notes.
- Common Uses: Soy sauce can be used to add depth of flavor to dishes such as stir-fries, marinades, soups, sauces, dressings, and dips. It can also be used as a dipping sauce or sprinkled over cooked dishes just before serving for added flavor.
8. Sweet Chili Sauce
Sweet chili sauce is a condiment made from chilies, garlic, sugar, and vinegar.
It has a sweet-and-spicy flavor profile that makes it an ideal accompaniment to many dishes.
The sauce can range in color from light orange to deep red depending on the type of chilies used and how much sugar is added.
- Varieties: There are several varieties of sweet chili sauce available on the market today. Some are made with fresh or dried chilies while others use a combination of both. Some sauces contain additional ingredients such as fish sauce, lime juice, ginger, or garlic for extra flavor.
- Common Uses: Sweet chili sauce is most commonly used as a dipping sauce for fried foods like spring rolls and egg rolls. It’s also often served alongside grilled meats such as chicken satay or pork skewers. In addition to being used as a condiment, it can be added to stir-fries and noodle dishes like Pad Thai for an extra kick of sweetness and heat.
9. Oyster Sauce
Oyster sauce is a thick, dark brown condiment made from oyster extract and other ingredients such as soy sauce, sugar, salt, and sometimes MSG.
It has a savory flavor with hints of sweetness and umami.
- Varieties: There are two main types of oyster sauce available on the market today: Chinese-style oyster sauce and Thai-style oyster sauce. The Chinese version is thicker in consistency and sweeter in taste than the Thai version which is thinner in consistency and more salty.
- Common Uses: Oyster sauce can be used to add flavor to stir-fries, noodles dishes like Pad Thai, soups, marinades for meats or vegetables, sauces for dipping dumplings or spring rolls into, or even as an ingredient in dressings or glazes.
10. Chinese Garlic Sauce
Chinese garlic sauce is a condiment made from garlic, oil, and various seasonings.
It is commonly used in Chinese cuisine as a dipping sauce or stir-fry ingredient.
The flavor of the sauce can vary depending on the ingredients used, but it typically has a garlicky taste with hints of sweetness and spiciness.
- Varieties: There are many different varieties of Chinese garlic sauce available on the market today. Some versions are milder than others, while some have more intense flavors due to additional spices or herbs added to the mix.
- Common Uses: Chinese garlic sauce is most commonly used as a dipping sauce for dumplings and other appetizers. It can also be used as an ingredient in stir-fries or marinades for meats and vegetables. Additionally, it can be added to soups or sauces to give them an extra kick of flavor.
11. General Tso Sauce
General Tso sauce is a sweet and spicy condiment made from soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sugar, rice vinegar, and chili peppers.
It is named after the 19th-century Chinese military leader Zuo Zongtang (also known as General Tso).
The sauce has become popular in North America due to its use in Chinese-American cuisine.
- Varieties: There are many variations of General Tso’s Sauce that can be found in different parts of the world. Some versions include sesame oil or hoisin sauce for added flavor.
- Common Uses: General Tso’s Sauce is commonly used as a dipping sauce for fried foods such as chicken wings or egg rolls. It can also be used as a marinade for meats or vegetables before cooking them on the grill or stir-frying them. Additionally, it can be used to add flavor to noodle dishes like Pad Thai or Lo Mein.
12. Gochujang Sauce
Gochujang is a Korean condiment made from red chili peppers, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, and salt.
It has a thick texture and is usually reddish-brown in color.
The flavor of gochujang is sweet and spicy with a hint of umami.
- Varieties: There are two main types of gochujang sauce: the milder version which contains less chili pepper powder, and the spicier version which contains more chili pepper powder. The milder version is often used as an ingredient in marinades or sauces while the spicier version can be used as a condiment or dip for dishes such as bibimbap or tteokbokki.
- Common Uses: Gochujang sauce can be used to add flavor to many different dishes such as soups, stews, stir-fries, noodles, grilled meats, fish cakes (odeng), kimchi pancakes (kimchi jeon), and even desserts like ice cream! It’s also commonly added to Pad Thai to give it an extra kick of flavor.
13. Tonkatsu Sauce
Tonkatsu sauce is a Japanese condiment made from fruits, vegetables, and spices.
It is thick and sweet-savory in flavor, with a hint of smokiness.
The main ingredients are tomatoes, apples, dates, onions, garlic, ginger root, soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce (depending on the recipe), sugar or honey for sweetness and vinegar for acidity.
- Varieties: There are two main varieties of tonkatsu sauce – the original version which is sweeter and thicker than its counterpart; and the spicy version which has more heat due to added chili peppers or other hot spices.
- Common Uses: Tonkatsu sauce can be used as a dipping sauce for fried foods such as tonkatsu (breaded pork cutlet) or karaage (Japanese fried chicken). It can also be used as an ingredient in dishes like okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancake) or takoyaki (octopus balls). Additionally it can be used as a topping for noodles such as ramen or udon.
In conclusion, if you’re looking to make a delicious pad thai dish, there are plenty of sauces that can be used to really take the flavor to the next level.
The best sauces for pad thai are peanut sauce, tamarind sauce, fish sauce, hot sauce, chili sauce, lime juice, soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, oyster sauce, Chinese garlic sauce, general tso sauce, gochujang sauce, and tonkatsu sauce.
All of these sauces offer a unique flavor and texture that can be used to create a variety of different dishes.
So, the next time you’re making a pad thai dish, don’t forget to experiment with different sauces to give your dish a unique flavor.
13 Best Sauce for Pad Thai Collection
- Peanut Sauce
- Tamarind Sauce
- Fish Sauce
- Hot Sauce
- Chili Sauce
- Lime Juice
- Soy Sauce
- Sweet Chili Sauce
- Oyster Sauce
- Chinese Garlic Sauce
- General Tso Sauce
- Gochujang Sauce
- Tonkatsu Sauce
- Pick your favorite sauce from this collection to use for your pad Thai recipe.
- Prepare the rest of your meal.
- Enjoy in 15 minutes or less!
Jenny has always been passionate about cooking, and she uses her platform to share her joy of food with others. Her recipes are easy to follow, and she loves giving tips and tricks to help others create their own unique culinary creations.