Better than takeout, and on the table in 30 minutes! This vegan pad Thai is packed with flavor, easy enough for a weeknight, but also perfect for special dinners.
Time for some bad news. Pad Thai isn’t normally vegan. This is true for even veggie pad Thai! So be careful if you order it at a restaurant.
It’s usually made with fish sauce. So I set out to create a vegan pad Thai using absolutely no fish sauce. All I had to do was increase a few of the other ingredients you normally find in pad Thai to supply that salty, sour, umami flavor.
What You’ll Need
- Rice noodles. You preferably want to use pad Thai noodles, which are flat and about as wide as linguine, but other shapes of rice noodles work as well.
- Soy sauce. Substitute with gluten-free tamari if needed.
- Brown sugar. Use organic to keep the recipe vegan.
- Tamarind paste. This might also be labeled “tamarind concentrate,” but be careful: not all products labeled “tamarind concentrate” are the same. Look for a product sold in jars that’s deep brown and the consistency of ketchup. Don’t use anything that’s pulpy or sold in blocks. Check out the brand I’ve linked to in my recipe if you’re uncertain.
- Sambal oelek. This ingredient adds heat, so leave it out if you prefer a milder dish. Look for this in the international foods section of your supermarket. Sriracha can be substituted if needed.
- Canola oil. Another high heat oil can be substituted, such as peanut or vegetable.
- Snap peas. Substitute another firm green veggie such as broccoli or asparagus if these aren’t your thing.
- Red bell pepper. Or orange, or yellow.
- Shallot. Use red onion if this isn’t available.
- Bean sprouts. These add great texture but can sometimes be hard to find (for me at least). Leave them out if you must!
- Roasted peanuts.
How to Make Vegetable Pad Thai
The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll down if you’d prefer to skip right to the recipe!
- Do your prep work before starting on the stir-fry: mix your sauce, chop your veggies, and boil your noodles. You want everything to be ready to go when you need it!
- Now pan-fry your tofu. Lightly oil a skillet and add diced, pressed tofu.
- Cook the tofu pieces for about 5 minutes on each side, until they’re browned and crispy.
- Remove the tofu from the skillet.
- Turn up the heat and add some more oil to the skillet. Add the snap peas, sliced bell pepper, and sliced shallot. Stir-fry the veggies until they intensify in color and become tender-crisp, about 2 minutes.
- Turn the heat down a bit and push the veggies to the side of the skillet. Carefully pour the sauce into that space that you just created.
- The sauce should start to bubble up pretty quickly. If it’s taking a while, turn up the heat.
- Now add your noodles and chopped scallions. Stir everything up with a fork, distributing the ingredients and coating the noodles with sauce.
- Stir in the tofu, then take the skillet off of heat and top your pad Thai with crushed peanuts and bean sprouts. Serve it with lime wedges on the side.
Shelf-Life & Storage
Leftovers of this dish will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days. The noodles will start to stick together, but it’ll still taste delicious.
Frequently Asked Questions
Sure! Just use gluten-free tamari instead of soy sauce.
Try the international foods section of your supermarket. If they don’t carry it, try an Asian market or online.
It has a very slight kick. If you prefer a milder version, leave the sambal oelek out.
More Vegan Thai Recipes
- 15 Essential Vegan Thai Recipes
- Thai Basil Coconut Stir-Fry
- Yellow Curry with Potatoes & Tofu
- Thai Coconut Soup
- Vegan Pad Ped
Vegan Pad Thai
- 8 ounces pad Thai rice noodles
For the Sauce
For the Stir-Fry
- 3 tablespoons canola oil, or high-heat oil of choice, divided
- 1 (14 ounce or 400 gram) package extra firm tofu, drained, pressed and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 cups snap peas
- 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into strips
- 1 medium shallot, sliced into strips
- 3 medium scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- ¼ cup crushed roasted peanuts
- Lime wedges
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook them according to the package instructions*.
- Drain the noodles in a colander then rinse them well with cold water. Drain them well then return them to the pot.
- While the noodles cook, stir the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl. Taste-test the sauce and adjust any seasonings to your liking.
- Coat the bottom of a large skillet with 1 tablespoon of oil and place it over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the tofu in an even layer.
- Allow the tofu to cook for about 10 minutes, flipping once or twice to brown the pieces on multiple sides.
- Remove the tofu from the skillet and transfer it to a plate.
- Add another 2 tablespoons of oil to the skillet and raise the heat to high.
- Add the snap peas, bell pepper and shallot to the skillet. Stir-fry the veggies until they become tender-crisp and intensify in color, about 2 minutes.
- Lower the heat a bit. Push the veggies to the side of the skillet and pour the sauce onto the hot cooking surface. Be very careful — the skillet should be hot at this point, and the sauce could sputter.
- Let the sauce bubble up for a few seconds, then add the noodles and scallions. Stir-fry for about 1 minute, until the sauce thickens up just a bit, flipping the noodles quickly with a spatula or stirring them with a fork to coat them with the sauce.
- Add the tofu to the skillet, flip everything a few times to distribute the tofu, and remove the skillet from the heat.
- Top the pad Thai with bean sprouts and peanuts. Divide onto plates and serve with lime wedges.