Make Thai Noodle Bowls with Chicken and Get Dinner on the Table in 30 Minutes

Oh, hi there. Did you say you need a delicious dinner that you can get on the table in about 30 minutes?

Vertical image of two shallow white bowls filled with nice noodles and ground chicken, garnished with crushed peanuts and fresh cilantro on top, with a checkered gray-blue and white cloth, and half of a lime on a dark brown surface, printed with orange and white text at the midpoint and bottom of the frame.

Well, here it is.

You’re welcome!

In all seriousness, this week has been pure insanity. I just got back from vacation and I ended up with a three-day work week as a result.

Of course, this is something that many people would be grateful for. However, if you decided to postpone work before your trip because you “can totally get to it once you get back…”

It’s a whole different world to return to, and a three-day week slowly turns into one filled with stress and panic.

Vertical overhead image of two white ceramic bowls of gluten-free noodles and ground chicken, topped with cilantro and chopped peanuts, with sliced pieces of lime and two sets of chopsticks on two cloth napkins, on a dark brown wood surface.

I’ve been pulling long days, and I’m feeling a little insane. Dinner has been the last thing on my mind…

That is, until my stomach starts rumbling around 6:30 p.m. as I sit at my desk, desperately trying to finish up the day.

This is the point when I reach for the quick meals. That’s every single night right now, and honestly, that’s generally the mood around here, even when I’m not stressed.

I simply want to get to the part where I am eating something delicious! Especially when it’s something as tasty as a homemade Shrimp Pad Thai, or (perhaps even better) this Thai noodle bowl with chicken.

Oblique overhead vertical image of two white bowls filled with ground chicken and noodles, with a pair of chopsticks, a sliced lime, and one blue and one white cloth napkin.

The flavors in this noodle bowl dish are absolutely fabulous.

A long time ago, I used to think that Asian flavors simply came from a bottle of prepared sauce that I could pick up in the store.

I used to think that the sauces were all sweet and barely spicy, but boy was I wrong.

There’s a section of Denver that is heavily populated with all the Asian restaurants you could ever dream of. There’s Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Cambodian, Korean, and many more options to choose from.

When I started to explore those eateries, my taste buds were blown away. I realized that not only was I being sold a bill of goods via the store-bought sauces, there are so many flavorful ingredients that, when layered together in the right way, can make something incredible.

Vertical image of wooden chopsticks lifting rice noodles out of a shallow white bowl, on a brown surface with a lime, another identical bowl, and gray-blue and white checkered cloth napkins.

This noodle recipe has all of my favorites, including soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, cilantro, and my personal top pick: tamarind paste.

If you’ve never used tamarind paste in your cooking before, this is something that you need to go out and purchase immediately.

It’s tangy and acidic, giving a nice punch to the savory elements you find in typical Thai dishes. The flavor gives added depth that you can’t get with lime juice alone.

It’s an exciting new ingredient to try, especially if you want a new recipe outside of the milder flavors of Chinese noodle dishes, like lo mein or chow mein.

I also like to add a big pinch of red pepper flakes to bring the heat level up, but you can skip that step if you are not one for spicy foods.

If you really like the spice, you can also up the amount listed in the recipe. I recommend starting with just the teaspoon as listed, then adjusting up a quarter teaspoon at a time, as desired.

Just be sure to taste in between each addition so you don’t make it too spicy. No one likes to have their taste buds completely blown out by too much heat, after all.

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Chicken Thai noodle bowls garnished with cilantro, on a dark brown wood surface with chopsticks, sliced limes, and a folded checkered cloth napkin.

Thai Noodle Bowls with Chicken

  • Author: Fanny Slater
  • Total Time: 26 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


Getting dinner on the table in 30 minutes? It’s the ultimate goal. Thai noodle bowls with chicken make the goal a reality in a flavorful way.


  • 8 oz rice noodles
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari)
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes, or more to taste (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts


  1. Cook rice noodles according to package directions. Drain in a colander and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add onion and cook until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  3. Add chicken to the onion and garlic mixture, and cook until browned and cooked through. Be sure to break it up into small pieces as it cooks. This should take about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Stir in cooked noodles, soy sauce, fish sauce, tamarind paste, lime juice, and cilantro. Stir in red pepper flakes, to taste.
  5. Spoon into bowls and serve warm with chopped peanuts and additional chopped cilantro.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 16 minutes
  • Category: Noodle Bowls
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Thai

Keywords: noodle bowl, rice noodles, ground chicken, chicken, Thai

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Dice Onion, Mince Garlic, Chop Cilantro, Chop Peanuts, And Measure Remaining Ingredients

Peel and dice half of a yellow onion. You should end up with about 1/2 cup in total.

Peel and mince two cloves of garlic. You can do this with a sharp knife, or your garlic press.

Overhead horizontal image of a pile of rice noodles and two whole limes with small glass and stainless steel bowls of chopped cilantro, crushed peanuts, soy sauce, chopped onion, ground chicken, garlic, tamarind paste, fish sauce, and oil, on a striped light brown and beige wood surface.

Chop fresh cilantro leaves until you have about 1/2 cup in total. Chop a little extra to reserve for garnish when you serve the dish.

Chop peanuts until you have 1/4 cup in total.

Step 2 – Cook Rice Noodles

Cook the rice noodles according to the instructions on the packaging.

Drain and set aside until ready to use.

You can also use the electric pressure cooker to complete this step.

Step 3 – Cook Aromatics and Chicken

Heat olive oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion. Cook until the onion is translucent, about 3-4 minutes total.

Overhead horizontal image of onions and garlic sauteeing in a black metal wok, on a white surface with light blue speckles.

Stir in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minutes, until fragrant.

Vertical overhead image of a black wok with ground chicken cooking at the bottom.

Stir in the ground chicken and cook until browned. The chicken should be cooked through. Make sure you use a spatula or spoon to break up the chicken into small pieces as it cooks.

Step 4 – Finish Noodle Mixture

Stir the noodles, soy sauce or tamari, fish sauce, tamarind paste, lime juice, and cilantro into the chicken and onion mixture.

A nest of rice noodles with a small pile of chopped cilantro, red pepper flakes,and cooked ground chicken in a black metal wok, on a speckled light blue and white surface.

Stir in red pepper flakes if desired.

Overhead horizontal image of a wok filled with cooked noodles and ground chicken, a light brown sauce, and fresh herbs, on a white surface with light blue speckles.

Serve in bowls immediately, and garnish with chopped peanuts and cilantro as desired.

What Size Rice Noodles Should I Use?

If you’ve ever been in an Asian market, you know that rice noodles come in all shapes and sizes. From thick to stick thin, there are all sorts of choices to select from when making a dish like this one.

I personally like to use the medium-sized variety you see here. They are the most common size and they are easy to find in any market, not just specialty Asian markets.

Vertical image of a pair of metal and black plastic tongs lifting cooked rice noodles with ground chicken and herbs out of a metal wok, with two white bowls in soft focus in the background, on a brown wood surface.

However, you can easily use different varieties of rice noodles. Any size you select will work.

If you are more of a fan of angel hair texture, there are stick noodles that will accommodate that love. If you like fettuccine, you can find ones that are about that thick as well. You have options!

Chicken Thai noodle bowls garnished with cilantro, on a dark brown wood surface with chopsticks, sliced limes, and a folded checkered cloth napkin.

If you are crazy for noodles, check out some more inspiration for dinner this week below:

What are some of your favorite ways of getting dinner on the table in 30 minutes or less? Tell us in the comments below, and rate the recipe as soon as you try it to let other readers know how much you enjoyed it!

Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on May 12, 2013. Last updated: February 1, 2022 at 12:50 pm.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

1 thought on “Make Thai Noodle Bowls with Chicken and Get Dinner on the Table in 30 Minutes”

  1. This is a super easy recipe. I will have to say that some of the ingredients are slightly exotic but it’s the kind of stuff that will keep for a long time, so once you buy a bottle, you will have it on hand.


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