Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website.
Enjoy homemade Vegan Pad Thai any night of the week! It’s loaded with rich flavor, packed with plant-based protein, and can be made faster than you can order takeout. Gluten-free.
This Vegan Pad Thai is made with chewy rice noodles and fresh veggies tossed in a flavorful sauce until coated and saucy. It’s ready in 30 minutes or less and can be made a number of ways to suit your taste buds and pantry. You’ll be hooked after the first sweet and savory bite!
Table of Contents
What is Pad Thai?
Authentic Pad Thai is a stir-fried noodle dish that is a popular street food in Thailand. It is traditionally prepared with seafood, proteins such as chicken and or tofu, and eggs. For this vegan version, we’ve made a few simple plant-based ingredient swaps without compromising on flavor or the integrity of the dish.
All in all, if one of your favorite pastimes was ordering Pad Thai at your local Thai restaurant, I think you’re going to be pleased with this plant-based twist!
What You Need for Vegan Pad Thai
Although this Pad Thai is made with just 12 ingredients, there are 3 ingredients you’ll need to make a classic, restaurant-worthy Pad Thai:
- Palm sugar: Pad Thai is traditionally made with palm sugar. It’s a sweetener derived from palm trees and is slightly less sweet than white sugar. This can be hard to find in mainstream grocery stores, but I was able to find it at my local Asian grocery store. The next best alternative would be to use coconut sugar, followed by brown sugar. Brown sugar is slightly more sweet, so you can reduce it to 1-2 tablespoons, if desired.
- Tamarind: Tamarind is an essential component to Pad Thai and adds a delightfully tangy flavor! I like to buy tamarind concentrate as a little goes a long way and it keeps for a long time in the fridge. Tracking this ingredient down is worth it!
- Garlic chives: This herb has flat tender stalks and tastes like a mix between garlic and green onions. Again, I was able to find this at my local Asian grocery store, but green onions will work in a pinch!
How to Make Vegan Pad Thai
- Cook the noodles according to package instructions.
- Whisk the pad Thai sauce together. Set aside.
- Pan-fry the tofu until crispy. Set aside.
- Sauté the aromatics and veggies until fragrant and tender.
- Push the shallot and veggie mixture to one half of the pan, then add the sugar followed by the the sauce ingredients. Simmer until thickened.
- Add the cooked noodles and tofu to the wok and toss to combine. Cook until all of the extra liquid has evaporated and the noodles are soft and chewy.
- Add the garlic chives and bean sprouts and mix well, causing the bean sprouts to wilt slightly.
- Serve immediately as desired.
Caitlin’s Cooking Tips
- Use a work or large sauté pan and warm it properly. This helps brown the aromatics, allowing them to release their flavor into the oil and create a well-rounded dish. A wok can also help prevent the vegan Pad Thai sauce from thickening and evaporating too quickly, ensuring the dish remains as flavorful and saucy as possible.
- Don’t overcook the noodles! Keep in mind that the rice noodles will continue to cook once tossed in the wok. For best results, soak the noodles in water according to the package soaking instructions. If you decide to boil them, slightly undercook the noodles in the boiling water and finish them in the wok. This will prevent mushy Pad Thai!
This vegan Pad Thai makes a satisfying main dish, perfect for lunch or dinner when you’re craving something sweet, savory, and a little spicy thanks to red pepper flakes. Pair it with a side of bean sprouts to lighten up the dish, plus crushed peanuts and lime wedges.
If you’re looking for more vegan Thai-inspired recipes, you’ll also love this Thai Green Curry Recipe, this Vegan Tofu Pineapple Curry and this Thai Red Curry Vegetable Soup with Crispy Tofu!
How to Store Vegan Pad Thai
Vegan pad thai is best enjoyed while fresh, but can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Freezing is not recommended.
To reheat, transfer the pad Thai back to the stovetop or place in a microwave-safe bowl with a splash of water and heat until warmed through.
Substitutions and Variations
- Gluten-free option: Swap the regular soy sauce for tamari and ensure your vegan fish sauce and rice noodles are certified gluten-free.
- Tamarind concentrate substitute: If you cannot find tamarind paste at the grocery store or online, substitute this ingredient with lime juice and 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar.
- Tofu options: I prefer to use super firm tofu in this recipe as it requires no pressing, but you could also use extra-firm tofu and press it well beforehand.
- Skip pan-frying the tofu: If you prefer softer tofu in your Pad Thai, skip the pan-frying step and add the tofu cubes in at step 7.
- Omit the veggies. Traditional Pad Thai does not often include veggies. If you’d like to make this easy vegan version more authentic, omit the carrots and bell pepper.
- Add seafood flavor: Finish the dish with up to 1 tablespoon of dried nori flakes, or to taste.
- Make it eggy: Add 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of black salt or kala namak at the end right before serving. Note that black salt is very salty, so use a very light hand.
Pad Thai is meant to be enjoyed while hot. If you’re looking for a cold noodle dish, try my Cold Soba Noodles with Peanut Sauce.
Yes, pad thai noodles are rice noodles. Depending on the brand, the rice noodles may be thinner or flat rice noodles and this can affect the cook time. Pad Thai is typically made with white rice noodles, but you can use brown rice noodles, if desired.
Lo mein is a Chinese stir-fried noodle dish and Pad Thai is a traditional Thai recipe. Lo mein is also typically made with wheat based noodles whereas Pad Thai is typically made with gluten-free rice noodles. If you’re interested in a stir-fry style dish made with wheat noodles, you may love this Spicy Sesame Noodles Recipe.
Yes, tamarind paste (concentrate) is usually vegan. It is made from a tamarind fruit. The ingredients in most quality pastes should be simply tamarind pulp and water.
Enjoy! If you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl! I would also love it if you could leave a comment below with a recipe rating! Thank you for the support 😊
Vegan Pad Thai
- 4 ounces dry pad Thai rice noodles
For the Pad Thai Sauce:
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp vegan fish sauce or sub more soy
- 1 tbsp tamarind concentrate or 3-4 tbsp paste
- 3 tablespoons water
For the Pad Thai:
- 2-3 tbsp high-heat oil avocado, vegetable, or peanut
- 8 oz super firm tofu* cut into 1/2” cubes
- 1 shallot cut into thin slices
- 3 cloves of garlic finely minced
- 1-2 teaspoons chili flakes optional
- 1 carrot peeled and cut into matchsticks; optional
- 1 bell pepper thinly sliced; optional
- 3 packed tablespoons palm sugar or brown sugar
- 2 ½ cups bean sprouts loosely packed
- 7-10 stalks garlic chives OR 5 green onions cut into 2” pieces
- ¼ cup peanuts crushed
- Cook the Noodles: Soak the noodles in boiling water according to package instructions; my noodles only needed 10 minutes, but some may take longer so prep accordingly! Once tender, drain the noodles and set aside.
- Prep: Warm wok or large sauté pan over medium heat. Once warm, add 2 tablespoons of oil and swirl it around to coat the sides. Whisk the soy sauce, tamarind concentrate, water, and vegan fish sauce (optional), together in a small bowl; set aside.
- Pan-Fry the Tofu: Add the tofu to the pan and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring only occasionally, until crispy. Remove the tofu from the pan and set aside. Notes: If you do not want pan-fry your tofu, skip to step 3. If you are doubling the recipe, fry the tofu in batches).
- Aromatics: Add additional oil to the pan if necessary so the bottom of the pan is coated. Add the shallot, garlic, and chili flakes (optional) and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until the garlic begins to brown.
- Add Veggies (optional): Add the carrot and bell pepper and sauté for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until the veggies are tender. Skip this step if you are not adding extra veggies.
- Make the Sauce: Push the shallot mixture to one half of the pan. Add the sugar to the other half and pour the soy sauce mixture on top; mix well, until the sugar is dissolved. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, until thickened.
- Combine: Add the cooked and drained rice noodles and tofu to the wok and use tongs to toss with the sauce. Cook until all of the extra liquid has evaporated from the pan. Taste the noodles and if they are still too firm, add water in 2 tablespoon increments and cook for a few more minutes.
- Final Touches: Turn the heat off and add the garlic chives (or green onions) and bean sprouts. Use tongs to mix well and let sit until the bean sprouts have wilted slightly.
- Serve: Transfer the Pad Thai to serving plates, making sure to get a good mix of noodles, tofu, and veggies. Top with peanuts and serve warm with a lime wedges and extra bean sprouts, if desired. Pad Thai is best enjoyed immediately, but you can store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days and reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave with a splash of water.
- Tofu: I prefer to use super firm tofu in this recipe as it requires no pressing, but you could also use extra-firm tofu and press well beforehand
- Sugar: Pad Thai is traditionally made with palm sugar, but this can be hard to find in grocery stores. The next best alternative would be to use coconut sugar, followed by brown sugar. Brown sugar is slightly more sweet, so you can reduce it to 1-2 tbsp if desired.
- Tamarind: Tamarind is an essential component to Pad Thai and adds a delightfully tangy flavor! I like to buy tamarind concentrate as a little goes a long way and it keeps for a long time in the fridge. If you cannot find tamarind near you, replace it with the juice of 1 lime and 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar.
- Make It Eggy: Add ¼-½ tsp black salt at end
- To add seafood flavor: Add 1 tbsp nori flakes at end, or to taste
Caitlin recently updated this recipe from a previous Pad Thai recipe that my family greatly enjoyed. It is actually my 14 month old babies favorite food (minus the sriracha)! I have not had the opportunity to cook this new update but if it is anything like her original it will be absolutely delicious.
I would highly recommend any of her recipes as many others that I have tried are delicious. I would also state that upon reaching out to her to get the original recipe she replied and provided it to me immediately. Anyone with this level of commitment and care towards people that enjoy her work shows a high level of integrity and care beyond just the recipes she provides. I’ve recently purchased her cookbook as well and cannot wait to try even more of her delicious recipes. Thank you so much Caitlin!
Thank you so much, Aaron! We appreciate your review and happy that you and your babies love the recipe.
Thanks for the great recipe. I didnt bother with the scrambled tofu and just used chopped up tofu and also added extra veggies ( beoccoli and zucchini). The rice noodles were cooked to package directions but were a bit overcooked once mixed in and heated with the veggies and sauce so next time I will undercook the noodles a bit
Thank you, Wayward! I appreciate the review 🙂
I keep coming back to this recipe to make it. So good!
So glad you keep coming back!
Thanks for the recipe. It was very tasty. I did add more spices to the tofu (salt, pepper, chicken spice mix and agave syrup). And I was standing in the kitchen for 1 hour total, not 30 minutes. Perhaps making it a second time goes easier and if I make the sauce at the start I could do it in 40 minutes 😉
Thank you for giving it a try, Elise!
Very easy. Tastes great
Thank you, Contessa!