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Pad Cha Gai

Make delicious and easy Thai pad cha gai in just 30 minutes! The chicken stir fry combines fresh green beans, krachai, and aromatic spices tossed in a sweet and spicy homemade sauce for a fuss-free dinner.

Pad cha in a serving bowl with rice.

What is Pad Cha?

Pad cha is a stir-fried dish made with your choice of protein (usually squid, prawns, shrimp, chicken, or beef), vegetables, and spices. The ingredients stir fry in a wok to make a popular Thai dish known for its bold flavor. I combine chicken thighs and vegetables for a quick weeknight meal with the perfect bit of heat!

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Garlic: I suggest using four garlic cloves, but measure with your heart!
  • Chiles: Birds Eye chiles, also called Thai chiles, provide the most authentic flavor, but use rehydrated dried Arbol chiles or fresh serrano peppers.
  • Chicken Thighs: Thinly sliced boneless chicken thighs are the perfect protein for this easy pad cha recipe.
  • Peppercorns: Young green peppercorns are hard to find where I live, so I use dried green Sichuan peppercorns. You can also find pickled peppercorns in some Asian grocery stores.
  • Vegetables: Fresh green beans are an excellent addition to the chicken and make an easy one-pot meal.
  • Krachai Roots: Krachai or grachai are called finger root in English is a key ingredient. Julienne the fresh krachai roots for the best results. Otherwise, you can buy brined krachai at a local Asian market. Loosely pack store-bought krachai in a measuring cup if you decide to go that route. You can also julienne fresh Chinese ginger for a similar flavor. 
  • Kaffir Lime Leaves: The leaves add a unique flavor, and you can scrunch the leaves in your palm before using them to release more of their natural oils. And don’t worry about waste, you can freeze kaffir lime leaves after use. They may change color, but they retain their flavor.
  • Stir Fry Sauce: Prepare a hot and spicy homemade sauce using oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, and a bit of sugar for a slight sweetness to balance the spicy flavor. 

Additions and Substitutions

  • While I use juicy chicken thighs, pad cha commonly features a stir fry of seafood called pad cha talay with ingredients like squid, prawns, white fish, shrimp, crab, and clam. You can also try thinly sliced beef.
  • Include a combination of vegetables like bell peppers, bamboo shoots, snap peas, or baby corn.

How to Make Pad Cha Gai

The full recipe with measurements is in the recipe card below.

Step 1: Add the garlic cloves and chiles to a mortar and pestle or food processor to create a rough paste. Set it aside.

Chiles and garlic in a mortar and pestle.

Step 2: ​Warm the vegetable oil in a large wok over high heat until smoking. Cook the chicken to the hot oil in batches for about 2-3 minutes, moving it around in the pan as it cooks. Remove the chicken and set it aside.

Chicken searing in a wok.

Step 3: Stir in the reserved paste, ground peppercorns, and more oil as needed.

Garlic and chiles searing in a pan.

Step 4: Saute for one minute, then add green beans, krachai, and kaffir lime leaves. Cook for 1-2 minutes.

Vegetables cooking in a wok.

Step 5: Return the chicken to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes. 

Chicken cooking in a wok with vegetables.

Step 6: Meanwhile, combine the oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, and sugar in a small bowl and add it to the pan. Lower the heat and cook for 4-6 minutes until combined.

Pad cha searing in a wok.
Pad cha in a serving bowl with rice.

Expert Tips

  • Use medium heat to high heat, depending on your cooking range to finish the meal.
  • Stir-frying requires a hot wok, so prepare the pan by warming it over high heat before adding any ingredients. 
  • Cook the ingredients for the stir fry in stages. Begin with the chicken, which takes longer to cook, and move on to the vegetables before finishing with the sauce. 

If you enjoy this dish, try one of these Thai recipes!  

Pad cha in a serving bowl with rice.

Serving Suggestions

  • Garnish: Thai Holy Basil, Sweet Basil Leaves
  • Rice: Jasmine Rice, Brown Rice
  • Salad: Som Tam
  • Soup: Tom Yum
  • Appetizers: Spring Rolls
  • Entree: Tom Yum, Pad Thai Noodles

What to do with the Leftovers

  • Refrigerate: Store the leftovers in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
  • Freeze: Let the dish cool and transfer it to a freezer-safe container or bag. Pad cha freezes for 4-6 months.
  • Thaw: Defrost the stir fry in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Reheat: Warm the leftovers in a wok on the stovetop for the best results, or you can reheat individual servings in the microwave.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does pad cha mean in English?

Pad, in Thai, refers to any stir-fried dish, which is why the word is attached to the names of many famous Thai dishes. Similarly, pad cha gets its name from the sound of sizzling ingredients when they hit the wok.

More Quick Dinner Ideas:

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Pad cha in a serving bowl with rice.

Pad Cha

Tressa Jamil
Prepare easy Thai pad cha gai in just 30 minutes! Tender chicken stir fries in a sweet and spicy sauce for a fuss-free dinner.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Thai
Servings 4 Servings
Calories 375 kcal
Ingredients
  
  • 2 bird's eye chiles, crushed
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound chicken thighs, thinly sliced at an angle
  • 1 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorn
  • 1 cup green beans, cut at a bias
  • ¼ cup krachai roots
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
Instructions
 
  • Add the garlic cloves and chiles to a mortar and pestle or food processor to create a rough paste. Set it aside.
  • ​Warm the vegetable oil in a large wok over high heat until smoking. Cook the chicken to the hot oil in batches for about 2-3 minutes, moving it around in the pan as it cooks. Remove the chicken and set it aside.
  • Stir in the reserved paste, ground peppercorns, and more oil as needed. Saute for one minute, then add green beans, krachai, and kaffir lime leaves. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Return the chicken to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, and sugar in a small bowl and add it to the pan. Lower the heat and cook for 4-6 minutes until combined.
Notes
Expert Tips: 
  • Use medium heat to high heat, depending on your cooking range to finish the meal. 
  • Stir-frying requires a hot wok, so prepare the pan by warming it over high heat before adding any ingredients. 
  • Cook the ingredients for the stir fry in stages. Begin with the chicken, which takes longer to cook, and move on to the vegetables before finishing with the sauce. 
Nutrition Disclosure:
  • The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for professional advice.
Nutrition
Serving: 1 Serving | Calories: 375 kcal | Carbohydrates: 23 g | Protein: 25 g | Fat: 20 g | Saturated Fat: 4 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9 g | Cholesterol: 195 mg | Sodium: 891 mg | Potassium: 462 mg | Fiber: 1 g | Sugar: 4 g | Vitamin A: 7 IU | Vitamin C: 22 mg | Calcium: 9 mg | Iron: 15 mg
Did you make this recipe? Let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and follow @thejamilghar or tag #thejamilghar on Instagram!
5 from 4 votes (2 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating




Benjamin Lee

Friday 26th of May 2023

This Pad Cha recipe is a game-changer! It was quick and easy, I loved the flavor combination.

Tressa Jamil

Friday 26th of May 2023

I make this recipe for my husband and I after the kids go to sleep since it's a bit too spicy for them, but I seriously crave it all the time.

Ethan Thompson

Friday 26th of May 2023

Pad Cha is a perfect balance of spicy and sweet. Loved every bite!

Tressa Jamil

Friday 26th of May 2023

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment; you've got to love a good sweet and spicy meal!