thai beef noodles

Thai beef noodles. Garlicky, sweet, salty, spicy. A little bit smoky. Lots of big flavours going on. Street food. At home. Seriously tasty stuff.

And it comes together fast. Weeknight fast. No reason to eat anything less than awesome every day.

Thai beef noodles from the front.

Thai beef noodles are street food

Imagine you were in Thailand and you ordered this on the street. The guy making it  would have his prep done. You should too. This goes fast.

Heat up a wok and go. Cook the beef.  After that, you’ll have Thai beef noodles on the table in a couple minutes. Yes, that fast.

You should probably only make two servings at a time. Too much stuff in the wok makes steam. Steam is bad. Steam makes soggy noodles. And you don’t want that.

You want to fry the noodles. Nicely coated with oil is what you are after. Repeat after me. Fried is not steamed. Fried is not boiled.

The trick is to cook all your beef up front. Have it ready to go and the rest comes together in a couple minutes. Literally. Two minutes an order. Street food.

Thai beef noodles with sambal oelek from above

Big heat is the key

Restaurants have high output burners. Seriously high output burners. That street vendor? He does too.

That’s how they get that smoky stir fried taste. Regular stoves don’t have that kind of juice.

So you need to adapt. Turn your heat up to max. Don’t be scared. Even at max heat you aren’t close to what they are using.

Fry your beef in batches. If the heat isn’t high enough the beef with throw some liquid when it cooks. You’ll get grey beef. Boiled. You don’t want that. Remember. Boiled is not fried.

If you see it happen you have too much beef in the pan. Or not enough heat. Or both.

Don’t panic. Spoon out the liquid. Add a bit more oil. Turn up the heat. Get that beef to brown.

Same goes for the rest of the dish. You want that smoky flavour. It’s magic.

Keep the heat high. Work fast. If you can taste a bit of smoke in the final dish you’ll know you nailed it. You’ll be spoiled for life. It’s so good.

Thai beef noodles - bite held in chopsticks.

Noodles matter for Thai beef noodles

As with any Thai noodle dish, the noodles are key. Do not boil your rice noodles. Just don’t do it. Instead, soak them for about 45 minutes in warm water. They will soften just enough.

Then toss them in hot oil until they are well coated. Fry them. Do this before you add the sauce. It works.

Thai beef noodles. Restaurant flavour. Street food fast. Easy. Delicious. Try it. You’ll be glad you did. It’s perfect weeknight food.

Thai beef noodles with chopsticks from above
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4.92 from 12 votes

thai beef noodles

Thai beef noodles make a great dinner any night of the week.
Course Main
Cuisine Asian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 1005kcal
Author glebe kitchen


The stir fry

  • 7 oz rice noodles – also known as ban pho
  • 8 oz beef top sirloin or flank steak, sliced across the grain
  • 2 large cloves garlic minced
  • 1 red finger hot chili cut into fine rings
  • 1 cup green onions cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 cup bean sprouts rinsed
  • 1 Tbsp roasted peanuts pretty finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro leaves chopped
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil in all


  • 1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce – or Thai thin soy sauce if you have it
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 Tbsp sake
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar


  • 1 Tbsp Thai thin soy sauce – if you can't find Thai thin soy go with what you have
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce – don't fear the fish sauce. Never fear the fish sauce.
  • 2 Tbsp sake
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp sambal oelek – I like 2 tsp but I like a little spicy


  • Soak the noodles in warm water for 30-45 minutes.
  • Combine the marinade ingredients. Add the beef and set aside while you prep the other ingredients.
  • Mix together the sauce ingredients and stir well.
  • Heat a wok over high heat. Add 1 Tbsp oil. 
  • When the oil is shimmering, add the beef and marinade and cook until the beef loses its red colour, about 2 minutes. If the beef throws some liquid spoon it out. Add a bit more oil. Turn up the heat. Brown your beef. Grey is bad. Brown is good. Go a little longer if you have to. You really want some brown.
  • Remove beef and wipe out the wok with paper towel. Return the wok to high heat.
  • Add 2 Tbsp oil. When the oil is shimmering, add the green onion, garlic and red chili and cook about 15-30 seconds. You are going to get some of the smoky flavour from the onions so don’t lay off the heat.
  • Add the noodles and stir until well coated with oil – about 30-45 seconds.
  • Return the beef to the wok along with the bean sprouts. Stir briefly and add the sauce. Add half the peanuts. Stir to combine and cook, stirring constantly, for one minute.
  • Add cilantro and stir.
  • Serve topped with the rest of the peanuts and additional cilantro.


2 servings will fit reasonably in a wok. If you want to cook for more you will need a big wok or repeat the recipe as needed.
Don’t boil the noodles – you will get mushy noodles. Take the time to soak them. It’s important.
All soy sauces are not created equal. Thai thin soy is the everyday soy used in Thailand. It is different from Chinese or Japanese soy. If you can get your hands on some, do it. It makes a difference. 


Serving: 2servings | Calories: 1005kcal | Carbohydrates: 107g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 47g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 80mg | Sodium: 2305mg | Potassium: 714mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 740IU | Vitamin C: 52.2mg | Calcium: 107mg | Iron: 4.9mg
Thai beef noodles are a big bowl of tasty Asian rice noodles.

25 thoughts on “thai beef noodles”

  1. 5 stars
    Great recipe. Quick and easy with intense flavour. The 1 tsp of Sambal Oelek provides sophisticated flavour without overbearing heat…or any heat really. My teenage daughter said it wasn’t too spicy and she is sensitive to “spicy”….but I still enjoyed it and I like the “spicy”.

  2. Thank you for these details to make better Asian food at home. Your tips are transferrable to the Sichuan dishes I love. Thanks for all this recipe!

  3. Everybody said ‘Dads’ recipes are the best but had to admit to them that 90% are Glebe Kitchen! Always brilliant and so well guided. Try every one that comes on line and always 5 star

    Big fan

  4. Yes! Finally someone who doesn’t think I’m crazy! 🙂 I totally agree that soaking dried noodles is the only way to go. Boiling it turns it to mush, then frying it up just makes it goop? This looks fantastic! The noodles look perfectly made and I am loving the spicy garlicky, sweet and salty mix…yay to sake to drinking and cooking! Cheers! 🙂

  5. 5 stars
    I love Thai food, but am not so good at recreating it at home. You’ve definitely inspired me to broaden my grocery store horizons! Super excited to try the sambal oelek!

    • This recipe is pretty bullet proof. I expect you’ll have no problem recreating it at home. Enjoy the sambal oelek in any case:-)

      There are a few uniquely Thai ingredients you should look into if you want to get into Thai cooking. Kaffir lime leaf and galangal seem to be in all the curries for starters…

    • I’m so glad you liked it Maryam. Good substitution tip with the rice vinegar. I will keep that in mind next time I’m out of sake myself.

    • 5 stars
      Such an excellent and easy recipe! Reluctantly cranked my wok up to full high for the beef per your suggestion and it really made a difference. So good. I subbed matchstick Persian cucumbers for beans sprouts and it was great. Thanks for another big winner Romain.

    • Never fear the power. It’s there for a reason! Glad you enjoyed it. I like the idea of cucumbers. Will give that a go. Thanks for the idea.

  6. This looks great! I love the wide noodles, too. Do you think sambal oelek is trendy enough to find in a small town grocery store? I’ll look for it next time I’m shopping! Otherwise, I will definitely have to get some the next time I’m in Portland!

    • Sambal oelek is big in Indonesia so the Dutch brought it back with them. I don’t think it’s that hard to find. Any asian market and big grocery stores have it where I am. I like it a lot more than Sriracha. It is a more subtle flavour profile (not so heavy on vinegar) so it slides in beautifully in many dishes without overpowering. Hope you find some.

  7. Alyssa – that’s a very interesting observation. I suppose you could tweak the recipe in one direction or the other depending on what dish you were leaning towards without too much trouble at all.

  8. 5 stars
    This is my kind of recipe!! I absolutely love all Thai noodle dishes! This one looks like a cross between two of my favorites: pad see ew and drunken noodles! I will definitely try this recipe soon!

  9. It’s amazing to me. Some packages actually have instructions on them telling you to boil the noodles. There must be a reason but for any of the fried noodle dishes it just doesn’t work. Hope you like it.

  10. I was so sad when I realized there was no good thai take-out in my new town. But, this looks easy enough and probably quicker than waiting for delivery anyway! Also, I’ve made the mistake of boiling rice noodles, so your note is really important!

    • Thank you. I’m a big fan of the wider ones. I find they are just a bit more satisfying than the narrower ones for dishes like this or pad thai.

4.92 from 12 votes (5 ratings without comment)

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