This 30-minute vegan pad thai recipe is made with rice noodles, fried tofu, vegetables, and the most incredible, simple sauce. Easy to make using everyday materials!
This is the easiest vegan pad thai recipe ever! Rice noodles, pan-fried tofu, vegetables and a really simple sauce are thrown together and ready to enjoy in just 30 minutes. This is a must-try, Thai-inspired recipe that’s perfect for lunch and dinner!
Why you’ll love this recipe
- best sauce: Sauce can make or break any pad thai recipe. Getting my version right was a bit of a challenge as traditional pad thai recipes call for fish sauce and tamarind paste. After much trial and error, I came up with a delicious, tart, and subtly sweet sauce made entirely from everyday ingredients.
- So simple and easy! This is, plain and simple, an easy vegan pad thai recipe. That means we’re replacing complicated and hard-to-find ingredients, like vegan fish sauce and tamarind paste, with flavorful options you probably already have in your pantry.
- Preparing ahead is easy: Everything from vegan pad thai sauce to tofu cubes, can be prepared ahead of time! The best way to turn this 30 minute recipe into a 15 minute recipe.
Required components (including substitutions)
- Stir fried noodles – Rice noodles of any size work well here! Plus, they’re naturally gluten free and vegetarian.
- vegetable oil
- Fried Tofu – Extra firm tofu is pressed, then fried until golden and crisp. If you don’t want to fry the tofu, you can bake it or air fry it ahead of time. Check out the Variations section for more vegan protein options or how to skip tofu altogether.
- I am Willow – I recommend using low sodium soy sauce. Or, if you’re gluten free, use tamari.
- Rice vinegar – It adds the required tartness to the sauce. A more traditional recipe is made with tamarind paste, which can sometimes be hard to find, but rice vinegar works well as a substitute.
- Maple syrup – The real thing! This is important for sweetness, warmth and balance in the sauce.
- Lemon juice
- Sriracha hot sauce – Just for a touch of heat in the sauce. You can add more or less depending on how much spice you want.
- the carrot – Julienne into thin strips. You can save time by buying pre-cut carrots from the grocery store.
- green onion
- toppings – Top your plate with fresh and colorful toppings, such as lime zest, mung bean sprouts, chopped peanuts and coriander leaves.
How to Make Vegan Pad Thai
Find the full recipe with measurements on the recipe card below.
Make sure all your vegetables are chopped and your tofu is pressed before you start. Tofu Pad Thai goes fast, so it’s important to be prepared!
Start by cooking the rice noodles in a pot of boiling water. When they’re done, set the noodles aside to soak for a few minutes, then rinse with cold water to prevent them from sticking.
Next, stir together all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the pressed tofu cubes and fry until golden brown on all sides.
Tip: Speed up the recipe by making my Air Fryer Tofu while you wait for the noodles to cook. When it’s done, add the tofu to the pan with the noodles, sauce and vegetables.
Next, add the cooked noodles, sauce, carrot, green onion and half the cilantro to the pan. Keep stirring to heat everything up and make sure each bite is well coated in the pad thai sauce.
Serve the pad thai immediately and finish each plate with your choice of toppings. Don’t forget the lime juice drizzle – it tops every bite!
- gluten free – All you need to do is use gluten free tamari in place of soy sauce to make gluten free and vegan pad thai.
- Add more vegetables – You have a lot of options when it comes to vegetables in Pad Thai. I only used carrots and green onions, but you can add more, like red pepper strips, broccoli florets, mushrooms, snap peas or edamame.
- Protein substitutes – You can make vegan pad thai with any type of plant-based protein you like! Pan-fried tofu is filling, crispy, and tender, but you can easily use tempeh, leftover vegan chicken strips, or edamame. Or, for vegetable-only pad thai, omit the tofu and replace it with any of the vegetables I suggest above.
- Add vegan eggs – Did you like Pad Thai with scrambled eggs? Then I recommend just pouring the liquid egg into the pan before you add the sauce and noodles. It’s scrambled just like real eggs!
Pad Thai doesn’t make great leftovers because the noodles dry out and the flavors lose their vibrancy. However, you can still make pad thai in a hurry by preparing all the ingredients ahead of time:
- Noodles: Cooked rice noodles can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Rinse them in cold water, then toss them in a little vegetable oil to keep them from sticking.
- the sauce: Make the sauce as usual and store in a jar in the fridge for up to 1 week.
- vegetable: Store chopped vegetables and toppings in separate containers in the fridge. They will stay crisp and fresh for 1 or 2 days.
- tofu: Press cubed tofu, then store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
When it’s time to eat, take all the ingredients you’ve prepared out of the fridge and cook as usual!
Want more 30 minute vegan recipes?
Prepare all your ingredients before you begin. Slice the carrot, chop the green onion, cilantro and peanuts. Press your tofu if necessary (I like to get extra firm vacuum packed tofu so it doesn’t have to be pressed), and then cut into 1/2 inch cubes.
Cook the noodles: Bring a large pot to boil water. Add the noodles and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat, and let them soak for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
Make the sauce: Stir together all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
Fry the tofu: In a large pan (you can even use the same pot you cooked the noodles in), heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the tofu, and fry until golden brown on all sides.
To the pan with the tofu, add the noodles, sauce, carrots, green onions and half the cilantro. Stir as it heats up.
Serve immediately, sprinkling peanuts and more cilantro on top of each serving, with lime wedges and mung bean sprouts on the side. Squeeze lime juice to taste before eating. Yum!
- For gluten free, use gluten free tamari instead of soy sauce.
- If you want a vegetable-only pad thai, replace the tofu with different vegetables, such as red pepper strips and broccoli florets. Before adding the noodles and sauce, stir-fry them in place of the tofu until tender.
- For carrots, I buy bags of pre-cut carrots, julienne style so it cuts down on cutting time.
- Consider cooking some Just Eggs to add some “scrambled eggs” to Pad Thai.
Worship: 1bhajana | Calories: 500kcal | Sugars: 68g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Sodium: 754mg | Potassium: 585mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 5571IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 111mg | Iron: 3mg