Paleo Pad Thai

paleo pad thai

I hadn’t made this recipe since we originally published it back in September of 2010…but I still agree with my 2010 self when I said, “This has to be one of my all-time favorite recipes.”  Zucchinis are pretty tasteless on their own, so a strongly flavored sauce as the base, and a texture that isn’t quite noodle-like, but seemingly similar, makes this dish work really, really well. For kids (the picky ones that don’t like the color green in their food), you could peel the zucchini, then proceed with the rest of the recipe, and I betcha they wouldn’t even realize these aren’t real noodles.


  • 1/4 c fat (butter or coconut oil)
  • 2-3 zucchinis
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar
  • 2 T fresh ginger, minced
  • 3 T almond butter
  • 1 T chili garlic sauce
  • 1 T fish sauce
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • s&p


If you have a mandoline, get it out and start slicing the zuchinnis lengthwise. If you don’t have one, you can get one on the cheap at TJ Maxx or you can get it from Amazon or you can use a knife to slice the zukes as thinly as you can (lengthwise). Slice the slices into thin strips, just like the shape of a spaghetti noodle. Another option, for speed, lack of the proper tools or sheer laziness, you can just chop the zukes into chunks. Not quite the same effect, but same flavor.

Over medium heat, melt your fat of choice. Saute the onion, garlic and ginger, until soft. Add the fish sauce, chili sauce, vinegar, lime juice, almond butter and a bit of salt. Stir to combine.

Add the zuke noodles to the saute pan. Stir them around to get the sauce incoporated onto the “zoodles”. The point here is get the zoodles hot and very slightly cooked through (just like an al dente noodle!), about 10 minutes.

Serve hot. Any kind of grilled or pan seared meat or seafood would go really well with this.


118 responses to “Paleo Pad Thai”

  1. I just may have to go out and get some duck to try this. I know you say it also works well with chicken, but when I try new things I like to go all-out and go for the best. This one looks like a potential winner.

  2. I just made this and it was a-mazing! I couldn’t find a duck breast, so used a skin-on chicken breast instead. Tomorrow I plan to throw some shrimp in with the rest of the zoodles – can’t wait!

    1. thanks laura!

      matt–if your butcher counter doesn’t have duck, try checking the freezer cases–that’s usually where we find ours.

  3. I just wanted to thank you sooooooo very much for this recipe!! I have to say this was the tastiest meal ever!!! Made this for my sister tonight who apparently “hates zucchini” she didn’t even notice. Keep up the amazing work!!

    1. aw. you are so very welcome. i’m so glad you and your sister like it!

  4. I made this for dinner tonight with chicken thighs. It was sooo good. My fiance ate it without an argument. Thank you for all of the delicious recipes. I’ve been following Mark’s Daily Apple and was so glad when I stumbled upon your site. Keep up the awesome work…can’t wait to try some of your other recipes!

    1. so glad you liked it. thanks lora!

  5. Megan, you are awesome! Made this recipe tonight with chicken breasts and i couldn’t have been happier. I seriously want to make this every night! Can’t wait to make it for more people.

    Oh p.s.-i made up my very own muffin recipe and it turned out amazing! you’re so inspiring 🙂

    1. well let me just say that we stay inspired and motivated because of your feedback and comments. so, thank you!

  6. Stumbled onto your website through a CrossFit site…I’ve made several of your recipes in the past week, and all of have been very good. I think this is one is my favorite so far! I made it tonight with chicken breasts. The flavor of the sauce is perfect and the “zoodles” are brilliant. My husband and I loved it! I’m sure we will use this frequently!

    1. thanks so much emily!

  7. came upon your site from Mark’s Daily Apple, made this tonight with Mahi Mahi and used peanut butter instead of almond butter and it was DELISH. Thanks for such a great site. can’t wait to try more recipes!

  8. Just licked my bowl clean! I loved it and Lee went back for seconds. Since I didn’t want to try duck for the first time with me cooking it I decided to go with sirloin and it was awesome. Loved it loved it loved it!

    1. lee ate vegetables…insane! so glad it worked for you guys!

  9. Hi:I found your website through Food Renegade. I can’t wait to try your recipes.
    I’ve been using zucchini to make noodles for a couple of months. One thing that helps with the texture (if you have time to do this) is to cut them on a mandolin and then lay them out on kitchen towels for about 3 hours to dry out some of the excess moisture. I do this when I make Pasta Putanesca. It comes out great. 🙂
    PS – I love that you call them zoodles.

    1. we will definitely have to try that. thanks barb!

  10. Megan, this recipe ROCKS! The $30 bucks I spent on my OXO mandoline was well worth it. Even if I only used the mandoline for this recipe, it would be worthwhile. Amazing flavor…any protein works for this. I didn’t even miss not having rice noodles! AWESOME, AWESOME, AWESOME!

    1. aw, liz. thank you SO much!

  11. I can personally attest to Liz N’s sincerity in loving this recipe – I made it a couple of nights before she did and GUSHED via email and at our CF box, I couldn’t WAIT for her to try it, we were both stunned.

    Just wanted to let you know that a few days later, I had a head of cabbage I needed to use up and I thought, “hmmmm … I’ll bet … ” … and sure enough, it was FANTASTIC. I didn’t make any meat with it that time, just because I was only looking to make a side, but I cooked up the onions/garlic/ginger in some nice bacon fat, finished the sauce, added some chicken broth (however much you need – know what I mean?) and then added a whole shredded cabbage and tossed it all up. I did put a lid over it and turn the stove to low to let it kind of soften up for about 10 minutes.

    It. Was. Fantastic. My new favorite way to eat cabbage as well – and a lot faster prep than zucchini. And even better after two or three days. Try it and let me know what you think!

    1. what a fantastic idea. we will try it for sure. thanks andrea!

  12. What brand of fish sauce and chili sauce do you use??

    1. fish sauce is ‘squid brand’…but almost anything should work
      chili sauce–hands down favorite:
      and we always keep this on hand too:
      you should be able to find both of those hot sauces at most grocery stores..may be in the ethnic aisles though.

  13. […] Paleo Pad Thai Health-Bent […]

  14. […] 8, 2011 by The Foodee Paleo Pad Thai […]

  15. I’ve been making zoodles for a while now. If you don’t have a fancy slicer guy, a potato peeler works well. Just lay the zucchini flat and go to town 🙂

    1. ohhhhhhh….nice! i will definitely try. genius!

  16. […] Recipe of the Day: Paleo Pad Thai – Health Bent […]

  17. AustinGirl

    Hi, I found you guys through Mark’s Daily Apple and I LOVE your recipes!! I made this one last night and it was GREAT! I added some fresh cilantro, a scrambled egg and some ground almonds to this too, since those are some of my fave pad thai notes. Anyway, FANTASTIC recipe and thanks for sharing with us!

  18. AustinGirl

    Oh, and I have a julienne peeler from Pampered Chef that my mom gave me for Christmas. It was about $10 and works like a charm for these zoodles…and it’s as simple as using a potato peeler! It’s my new favorite kitchen gadget.

    1. thank you soooo much austingirlllllll!

  19. I made this with shrimp tonight. As always, it was great. I had a bell pepper and no immediate plans for it, so I julienned it and threw it in as well.

  20. This recipe rocks! On day 9 of the Whole 30 and am totally thrilled to have been able to make something this delicious and satisfying. Thanks!

  21. thank you both Stacy and Darah. not much point in making healthy food if you won’t eat it!

  22. Just tried this and it was great! One recommendation– duck has enough fat in it, that I don’t think you need the extra fat to cook it. Also, butter will likely burn at the temperature high enough to sear the duck breasts.

  23. This recipe was great! We tried it with sirloin and shrimp. We also added snow peas and chili pepppers. It was fabulous!!

    1. awesome! so glad you enjoyed it ro!

  24. I can’t believe I haven’t commented on this one yet! This is my absolutely favorite recipe (so far) of yours! I haven’t tried it with duck, but I’ve tried chicken, steak and shrimp with shrimp being my favorite. I actually just got a julienne peeler like AustinGirl mentioned just for this dish! I’m tired of julienning my hand with my mandoline 🙁 which was becoming a weekly event with as often as I make this!

  25. This was the first recipe I tried making from your site, and it was great! I made it with shrimp, and I added a bunch of extra bell peppers and mushrooms to stretch the sauce even further. Very successful!

    1. I’ve probably made this 6 or 8 times now, and I just linked to the recipe as my absolute favorite on today’s contest over at Mark’s Daily Apple:

      I’ve had great success making the “noodles” out of every kind of vegetable that can be cut into thin slices: spaghetti squash, carrots, summer squashes, cabbage, bell peppers, you name it! I love this dish!

  26. if i knew how to say thank you in thai i would.

    thanks virginia!

  27. These recipes have been amazing. We are challenged a bit because our eldest daughter is vegetarian, but we’ve substituted here and there and every single recipe has been a hit with the entire family, which is — let me tell you — an amazing thing. There is a two and a half y.o., an 8 y.o. who’s always had food issues, the vegetarian, and toughest of all, my German gourmet husband. Victory number one: husband asked for the URL to the site after about the third meal. Victory number two: after looking at the Pad Thai recipe with distain because he doesn’t care for zucchini, he not only ate about 3 servings but DRANK the remaining sauce in his bowl.

  28. WOW – thanks for this recipe! Husband asked if we could have it every weekend. I need to buy a mandoline.

    1. you’re very welcome anna! you can find the one/fixed blade kind at tj maxx and the likes…unless you’re looking for the mack daddy kind, those can get pricey.

  29. OMG!! best recipe ever!!
    I’m 2 months primal and when I find sites like yours I wonder why I didn’t do it earlier!!
    thank you for such inspiring meals and I’m about to go back and lick the plate clean now!!

  30. Hi, I landed on your page from a Foodee Project link. Made this last night and it was awesome!! My husband commented that it’s the first time I finished my dinner before he did (he’s a very fast eater). Thanks!!

    1. so glad you found us. thanks jill!

  31. Just finished this one up, loved it! Thanks for the great recipe

  32. Yummy! I did it with chicken and it was super good!!! Thank you for this amazing website!

    Nadine from Montreal

  33. Wow good. Just finished making and eating this for diner. I was a little hesitant about making zucchini noodles. I mean, how noodle-y could zucchini be? They’re zucchini, there’s nothing pasta-like about them. But, as it happens, they’re noodle-y enough. It absolutely works, with some yummy flavorful sauce with all those good pad thai flavors. I had some left over duck breast. I re-crispied the skin and put it on top of the “zoodles” (see, I’ve bought into the idea so much that I’m using your word!) and sauce, and it was really good. Excellent recipe. So glad you posted it. So glad I gave it a shot despite my skepticism. YUM! Thank you.

  34. Hi, Im new to the Paleo Diet and am still trying to find awesome recipes that my boyfriend and I can prepare and enjoy together! Im so glad I found your site. I have a quesion though. What is chili garlic sauce? Is it something i can buy or do I need to make it on my own? Also the fish sauce, can I get that at a store or do I need ot make my own? Thanks

  35. I made this last night with leftover pork chop and chicken thighs (chopped and warmed in the sauce before adding the zucchini). I used extra zucchini, too. IT WAS AMAZING!! You guys have blown me away AGAIN! I’d love to try it with duck one day, but it was so fast and easy with leftovers and a great way to totally change up these meats.

    It got positive reviews around our table (excellent from adults, including my visiting, non-paleo mom and good from our kids).

    Thank you so much for sharing your recipes,

  36. thank you so much whitney!

  37. This recipe is awesome. I used chicken thighs, which turned out great. I had to make considerably more “zoodles” since I have seven kids, but almost all of them loved it!

    I used a julienne peeler which worked much better, believe it or not, once I took the plastic off the blade. Three zucchinis into it… I swear I am turning into my mother.

  38. oh tasha, aren’t we all?!?! glad y’all enjoyed!

  39. I just have to say that not only are your recipes delish, they are so easy to make too!! I am serving this up with grassfed beef tonight and I am just thrilled at how quickly it came together, and in one pan!! Thanks a bunch!

    1. thank you sooooo much!

  40. this is an unbelievably good dish! I’m not a fan of healthy food pretending to be like other food (tofu chicken nuggets, etc) but damn! these are good noodles. Your site is fantastic and I am so happy I found it. Thank you for making honest food that is super delicious. I can’t wait to try more of your recipes.

  41. that is so flattering meg. i checked out your site…it’s beautiful and this means so much from someone with such a background in food.

    we’d like to think our health food isn’t pretending…it just feels like it deserves some excitement in its life.

  42. I am so excited to try this dish–I even bought a mandoline so I would be properly equipped, but (and this may be a dumb question; I am a cooking newbie) how do you prep the onion and garlic? It seems rather odd to put the garlic in whole and not fish it out and I am thinking you definitely don’t dumb a whole onion in to the pan? Thanks in advance for the help–being a fledgling cook and going paleo has meant that I need to get a fast education!

    1. hey tara. it’s just diced onion and garlic. whatever size pieces you like really.

      and BTW…use the finger guard on the mandoline. (cringe)

  43. Megan, this is the first time I have commented, but I have been making your recipes on and off for about a month now. I just have to say that you rock my socks off! Found your website through Crossfit PTC because we are doing a Paleo Challenge. Your website has changed my mind about the way my husband and I eat. I have made some of your dishes and have posted pictures of my creations on my blog. Don’t worry, I am directing people straight here to your beautiful website for the recipes!

    Made this dish WITH the duck (unlike most that have commented) and I must say it was outstanding. The duck pairs SO well with the sauce and “zoodles”! I don’t know how any other meat choice could measure up.
    I used a julienne for the zucchs and it turned out perfectly!

    Thanks for all you do! Keep on cookin’!

    1. yay! thank you so much julianne!!!

  44. You can do no wrong! Just made this and, DAMN, it was good. I used chicken breasts and grilled them up with a bit of Chinese Five Spice. No mandolin here (but it’s on my Christmas list) so I cut the zuccs by hand. It was time consuming with the ginger and garlic chopping but well worth it.

    The sauce was rich yet really fresh. Loved it. I can see myself using the sauce as a base for other stir frys.

    Yum and thanks again for another killer recipe. And how cool do I feel making peanut (almond) sauce from scratch?

    1. oh come on. i’m sure there are some recipes on here that aren’t 100%….but i’m so happy to hear you enjoyed. thanks rachel!

  45. megan your recipes are becoming such a hit in my house. honestly…no lie…my husband told me to “shut up” after he took the first bite. upon the second bite he said, “get out of here”. those are actually compliments in our house. 🙂 thanks!

  46. This looks amazing and I can’t wait to give it a try! Sadly, I am allergic to most nuts so the almond butter is out for me. I was thinking of trying Thaini. Do you think that would work or have any ideas for a non-almond/peanut/cashew butter alternative? Thanks!

    1. tahini sounds like a great idea to me. (that’s sesame seed paste for anyone curious)

    2. i would be careful with tahini, add a little and taste. it’s quite a bit stronger in flavor than almond butter. but otherwise, i think it would it make a fine substitute.

    3. Have you tried sunbutter? It’s made from sunflower seeds. If you can eat those. It makes a decent nut butter substitute.

  47. Mike Hogman

    Have been lurking on your site making recipes but after making this one I just HAD to say thanks! Easily the best paleo meal I’ve made, hands down!

    1. thank you so much mike. very much appreciated!

  48. We made this one a week or so ago and it is definitely one of my favorites. I used your “zoodle” idea and made a lasagne a few nights ago which is DELISH!

    1. i’m glad to hear that, for some reason i thought zukes in lasagna would get watery…i’m going to have to try that idea. thanks amanda!

  49. Fantastic recipe! I made this without the chili garlic sauce and without the salt or pepper and it was great. I tend to eat my vegetables all the same way, so this was a refreshing change.

  50. This recipe knocked my socks off. It was insanely delicious! I didn’t have a mandoline so I used a vegetable peeler to make the “noodles”, sooo worth it!

    1. awesome! thank you monika!

  51. Danielle Cailliau

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe!! I didn’t use your sauce recipe, but adapted the concept for what I had on hand. Using zucchini for noodles will forever change my life. I used my husbands potato slicer that he uses to make homemade fries and it worked out perfectly. The noodles were shorter and thicker but had the same feel as shanghai noodles. Yum. I made just enough for myself for supper and the kids were begging me to let me try it too so my supper ended up being split 4 ways 🙂 anyway, zoodles are a genius concept! Thank you for posting!

    1. it’s our pleasure danielle. so glad the whole fam enjoyed!

  52. Must add my voice to the happy chorus of folks who are thanking you for this! What a bright spot in a sometimes blah Paleo world! I messed with it, as one does with all good recipes, but am delighted to say that your recipe rises to the occasion wonderfully. Am sharing it with my readers, linking to you.

    1. oh my goodness, thank you for the kind words becky!

  53. Just made this tonight, exactly to recipe (adding small cubed chicken).. freaking STELLAR. I have always had a huge weakspot for chicken pad thai, and even before we switched to primal eating I always knew it was a bad bad weakspot. Always left the restaurants feeling like hell, basically just eating a plate full of gutbomb.

    This recipe is total perfection. I just had an enormous plate of the best chicken pad thai I’ve tasted, and feel great. I don’t think I’ll ever crave the restaurant noodle versions again. Thank you so much!

  54. Dania Welch

    I would like to try this recipe but will need to look for the garlic chili sauce and fish sauce to see what’s in them. There are not ones I typically buy so not sure what they consist of. I just found your site so I’m hoping to try a recipe this week. Thanks.

  55. This looks amazing!
    I’m going to make it this weekend.

    Q: How many servings does your recipe make?

    Do you have a calorie count on it, just curious..


    1. hi tina. it’s so hard for us to say how many servings something makes, as it all depends on how much of it you eat at one time. i try to make enough for 1 hungry man + 1 portion conscious female + leftovers.

      there are a few calorie/nutrition calculators out on the web. is one.

  56. This was so so good. It tasted like restaurant food and that rarely happens when I am the cook. I used two zucchinis and it was a little too much sauce. Can’t wait to make it again with three. Thank you!

  57. This was really good even though I didn’t have lime, garlic sauce or the vinegar. delicious.

  58. This. Is. Incredibly. Tasty!!! My zucchini hating boyfriend is asking for it at least once weekly, and has since changed his feelings about that misunderstood squash. We’re making it again tonight, this time with a little ground turkey added to the party. So damn good.

  59. I just made this with chicken and it is SOOO delicious! Thank you for posting. 🙂 I only used 1 Tbs of coconut oil and it was great. Also, I thinly sliced the chicken breast and threw it in when the onions were almost done cooking, which worked out well. I’ll definitely make it again when I’m craving pad thai!

  60. Another amazing dinner thanks to you!!!
    I’ve decided to have a “health-bent” day of the week.. trying a new recipe of yours at least once a week until we’ve tried them all.

    1. hahaha. nice! so glad you enjoyed amanda!

  61. We love this recipe!! Especially my carb-loving 5 & 6 year olds. I am a happy momma when I can get them to happily eat more veggies!

    1. awesome! thanks bena!

  62. […] Serves two / Inspired by this recipe for Paleo Pad Thai […]

  63. Hi there. I am eager to try this recipe- looking at cooking it later this week. Before I do though, can you tell me where to look for fish sauce and chili garlic sauce? In the spices section? or with ethnic foods?

    I live in a small town, so I’m crossing my fingers that they have it!

  64. Looks great, what brand of chili garlic sauce did you use?

  65. This is by far the best paleo pad thai (or any pad thai, for that matter) recipe I’ve ever made. This will definitely become one of my staples!

  66. This was excellent. I am usually really skeptical trying new recipes I come across online because 8 times out of 10 I am disappointed. However, I loved this. I doubled the sauce, added sliced turkey breast, and used about 10 medium organic zucchini’s. It was perfect. I could have easily added more zucchini to make it go further with plenty of sauce to spare. I loved the “al dente”-ness of the zucchini.

  67. […] is one recipe using zucchini in the long thin slice method as noodles: Health-Bent | Paleo Pad Thai good site btw, I like a lot of their recipes and find them inspiring. Just in the last month I […]

  68. GUYS! i made this today. Tasted like my step moms, and shes thai

  69. I used a spirooli to make noodles out of the zucchini. This was a great recipe!

  70. My husband and I just made this and it was SO delicious! This will be a staple in our household going forward. My husband liked the residual sauce so much he spooned it all over his pork. Thank you for all your fantastic recipes, it makes eating paleo so much easier (and tastier) for non-creative folks like myself:).

  71. Andrea Frey

    This was so delish! I added shredded cabbage, chopped some carrots, and then added an egg at the end and mixed it with everything…amazing!

  72. Wow!!! This was a mind blowing event….better than the “real” stuff IMHO! Made with some big yellw crookneck squash. And they slurped great too, as my kiddos happily discovered 😉

  73. Brett Deutscher

    My husband thought the the zucchini were noodles….this was fantastic. My only issue was the sauce wasn’t liquidy so I added some water. Any suggestions??
    I want to make this regularly…thanks!!

  74. […] like: butternut squash lasagna (with a new method), guacamole stuffed pepper poppers, pizza bites, pad thai, pumpkin chili, and a few more; but the other 110+ recipes are brand spankin’ […]

  75. Unimaginative

    I made this tonight and am eating it right now. Delicious! (I added thawed shrimp before adding the noodles).

  76. I had my doubts when I was making this because it just seemed too simple…but it was INCREDIBLE. i haven’t been able to eat pad thai in over a year and i am so thrilled to now have a recipe that’s better than any pad thai dish i’ve tried at a restaurant–i was practically licking my bowl clean! i used two fairly large zucchinis and about half the coconut oil recommended, but that’s it. LOVE this. thank you!

  77. Jennifer S

    Made this and it really was great. If you have one of those julienne peelers it will make the zucchini look like the rice noodles. Excellent flavor. Thanks for this recipe!!

  78. […] roasted broccoli, and green olives. Snack: citrus kombucha and a few coconut flakes 3rd meal: PALEO PAD THAI with chicken. This is one of my favorite recipes and it was a great way to use up almost all of the […]

  79. Looks awesome! I miss noodles so much…you’re giving me hope!

  80. Made this tonight, and it was freaking awesome!!! I forgot the ginger 🙁 and added 4-5 drops lime oil instead of juice, so then I had to add a little bit of water. I also added diced water chestnuts for some crunch! Thank you!!!!!

  81. I have been making this recipe since I first did a paleo lockdown with my CF box in 2011. It is the FIRST recipe I recommend to anyone giving paleo a try because it’s so good, easy and versatile! Making it again this week and thought I’d comment on what a staple it is.

  82. Very unusual dish, but still very tasty, I love paleo, met with this dish two years ago, when I was in China, there are a lot of them eat here and I then addicted to paleo 🙂

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