Are all pad thai noodles gluten-free?

Quick Answer

No, not all pad thai noodles are gluten-free. Many pad thai noodles contain wheat flour, which has gluten. However, there are gluten-free pad thai noodle options made from rice flour, tapioca starch, or mung bean starch instead of wheat. Gluten-free pad thai noodles are available at some grocery stores and online. When buying pad thai noodles, check the ingredients list and look for a “gluten-free” label to ensure the noodles do not contain gluten.

What is Pad Thai?

Pad thai is a popular Thai stir-fried noodle dish made with rice noodles, protein, eggs, peanuts, bean sprouts, garlic, tamarind, and other ingredients. The dish gets its signature sweet, sour and savory taste from the combination of seasonings like fish sauce, palm sugar, and lime juice. Pad thai noodles are the main component that the other ingredients are tossed with.

Common Ingredients in Pad Thai Noodles

There are a few main ingredients commonly found in pad thai noodles:

Rice Flour

Many pad thai noodles are made from rice flour. Rice flour is naturally gluten-free, so pad thai noodles made solely from rice flour can be consumed by people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

Tapioca Starch

Tapioca starch (also called tapioca flour) comes from the root of the cassava plant. It is another gluten-free ingredient sometimes used to make pad thai noodles.

Mung Bean Starch

Also called green bean starch, mung bean starch is extracted from mung beans. It can also be used to create gluten-free pad thai noodles.

Wheat Flour

Some pad thai noodles contain wheat flour, which gives the noodles more chewiness and elasticity. However, wheat contains the protein gluten, so pad thai noodles with wheat flour are not safe for people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.


Eggs may be used in fresh pad thai noodles to add protein and binding. Eggs are naturally gluten-free.

Food Coloring

Yellow food coloring is sometimes added to pad thai noodles to give them a bright golden color. Food colorings are generally gluten-free.


Salt is added to pad thai noodles for flavor. Table salt is gluten-free.

Are Rice Noodles Gluten-Free?

Rice noodles are made from rice flour and water. Sometimes tapioca starch or potato starch are added as well. Rice does not contain gluten, so pad thai noodles made solely from rice or rice flour can be considered gluten-free.

There are a few exceptions to note:

– Some “rice noodles” are actually made from wheat flour, not rice. Check the ingredients before purchasing.

– Rice noodles are sometimes processed on equipment shared with wheat noodles. Some celiac organizations say this may introduce trace amounts of gluten. Those highly sensitive should exercise caution.

– Rice noodles seasoned with soy sauce before packaging may contain gluten if the soy sauce has wheat. Buy plain unseasoned rice noodles.

So in summary, pure rice noodles made with just rice flour and water are gluten-free. But some products labeled “rice noodles” may have traces of gluten from processing or ingredients.

What to Look for When Buying Gluten-Free Pad Thai Noodles

When purchasing pad thai noodles, read the ingredient lists carefully and look for these indicators of gluten-free noodles:

Made with Rice Flour, Tapioca Starch, and/or Mung Bean Starch

Noodles made from these gluten-free flours and starches, without any wheat flour, are gluten-free. Some blends may combine rice flour and tapioca or mung bean starch.

“Gluten-Free” Label

Packages labeled “gluten-free” have been tested to verify they meet regulations for gluten-free labeling. This gives extra assurance the noodles are gluten-free.

Manufactured in a Dedicated Gluten-Free Facility

Look for mention that the noodles are manufactured in a gluten-free facility. This reduces the likelihood of cross-contact with gluten.

No Mention of Wheat or Barley

Avoid any noodles listing wheat, barley, rye or malt ingredients, which contain gluten.

Where to Buy Gluten-Free Pad Thai Noodles

Here are some places to find gluten-free pad thai noodles:

Asian Grocery Stores

Many Asian markets sell rice noodles in various widths that work well for pad thai. Check for rice flour only. Brands like Maifa, Three Ladies, and Golden Elephant make gluten-free options.

Online Stores

Sites like Amazon, Walmart, and AsianFoodGrocer have gluten-free pad thai noodles available to order online. Brands to look for include Rice King, Annie Chun’s and Lotus Foods.

Natural Foods Stores

Health food stores often carry gluten-free pasta options, including rice noodles. Explore the Asian section or gluten-free aisle.

Mainstream Grocery Stores

Larger grocery store chains are expanding their selections of specialty gluten-free products. Check the pasta aisle for gluten-free rice noodle choices.

Popular Brands of Gluten-Free Pad Thai Noodles

Here are some recommended brands of gluten-free pad thai noodles:

Lotus Foods Rice Noodles

Lotus Foods makes brown rice pad thai noodles in 5 mm width. They are certified gluten-free.

Annie Chun’s Brown Rice Pad Thai Noodles

These gluten-free brown rice noodles are pre-cooked and sold in shelf-stable pouches. They are certified gluten-free.

Explore Asian Organic Rice Noodles

Explore Asian’s rice noodles are certified organic, non-GMO and gluten-free. They come in 7″ width strips.

Thai Kitchen Pad Thai Rice Noodles

Thai Kitchen’s pad thai rice noodles are gluten-free to less than 5 ppm. They are made from rice flour without wheat.

Rice King Mung Bean Noodles

Rice King makes 7″ wide mung bean noodles containing no wheat or gluten. They work well for pad thai dishes.

Brand Made from Gluten-free Certification
Lotus Foods Brown rice flour Certified gluten-free
Annie Chun’s Brown rice flour Certified gluten-free
Explore Asian Rice flour Certified gluten-free
Thai Kitchen Rice flour Tested <5 ppm gluten
Rice King Mung bean starch No wheat/gluten

How to Make Gluten-Free Pad Thai at Home

Making your own gluten-free pad thai at home is simple and delicious:


  • 8 ounces gluten-free pad thai noodles
  • 3 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts
  • Lime wedges for serving

Pad Thai Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon gluten-free soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce


  1. Gather all ingredients and prepare before starting to cook.
  2. Boil pad thai noodles according to package directions until tender but still firm. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  3. Mix together all ingredients for pad thai sauce in a small bowl.
  4. Heat oil in large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Push garlic to the side. Crack egg into pan and scramble until just set, then break into pieces.
  6. Add noodles and sauce mixture to pan. Tosseverything together using tongs.
  7. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.
  8. Remove from heat. Add bean sprouts, green onion and peanuts on top.
  9. Squeeze fresh lime juice over the pad thai before serving.

Be sure to use gluten-free soy sauce and chili-garlic sauce to keep this recipe 100% gluten-free. Enjoy your homemade pad thai!

Eating Out Gluten-Free: Ordering Pad Thai

Craving takeout pad thai but need to avoid gluten? Here are some tips for ordering gluten-free pad thai from restaurants:

  • Ask if they have gluten-free pad thai noodles, or rice noodles available
  • Specify no wheat or soy sauce with the dish
  • Request pad thai sauce on the side to avoid sauce thickened with wheat flour
  • Ask for fresh squeezed lime instead of vinegar, which may have malt
  • Avoid added garnishes like fried wonton strips (may contain wheat)
  • Mention gluten allergy and ask about risk of cross-contact just to be safe

With some modifications, you can often enjoy takeout pad thai. But it’s always smart to discuss ingredients with the restaurant first when ordering gluten-free.

Pad Thai Noodle Alternatives

If you can’t find gluten-free pad thai noodles, these alternatives can work:

Rice Vermicelli

These very thin rice noodles are a common substitute. They are thinner than traditional pad thai noodles but still taste great.

Gluten-Free Spaghetti

Break gluten-free spaghetti noodles into shorter lengths. They won’t have the same chewy texture but absorb the pad thai flavors.

Zucchini Noodles

For a low-carb option, use veggie spiralizer to cut zucchini into noodle shapes. They won’t mimic traditional noodles but add crunch.

Cellophane Noodles

Also called glass noodles, these mung bean starch noodles become translucent when soaked. They work well in pad thai.

Shirataki Noodles

These konjac noodles are rubbery but low carb/low calorie. Rinse well and dry-fry before using to reduce odor.

With some improvisation, you can craft a great gluten-free pad thai using alternative noodles. Focus on nailing that sweet-tangy-savory sauce profile.


Pad thai is a versatile noodle dish that can easily be made gluten-free. With so many rice, mung bean and tapioca based noodles available, avoiding wheat flour pad thai noodles is simple. Just read ingredients, look for “gluten-free” labels, and purchase plain unseasoned noodle varieties to stay safe. Making your own pad thai at home using naturally gluten-free ingredients gives you total control. And with some modifications, you can even enjoy takeout pad thai despite gluten restrictions. This classic Thai dish can be enjoyed gluten-free by all.

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