This 30-minute vegan Pad Thai recipe is fresh, vibrant, and drenched in an out-of-this-world tamarind sauce. You’ll learn how to make Pad Thai from scratch using just a handful of crisp vegetables, tofu, and rice noodles! Naturally gluten free.
30-minute tofu Pad Thai recipe
My Easy Vegan Pad Thai is a fun and flavor-forward dish you can have on the table in 30 minutes or less. Featuring pan-fried tofu, peanuts, carrots, and rice noodles, it’s a filling and healthy meal you can turn to again and again. Bonus: it’s also naturally gluten free!
What really makes this vegan Pad Thai recipe special is the sauce. The homemade sauce is made with the traditional ingredient, tamarind paste, as well as miso, brown sugar, chili garlic sauce, and liquid aminos. Pour it all over the Pad Thai and keep some extras on the side; you’ll love the pop of tang and burst of umami in every bite.
Can vegans eat Pad Thai?
Pad Thai is a stir fry dish that’s easy to make vegetarian and vegan. Traditionally, it features fish sauce, scrambled eggs, vegetables, nuts, and the protein of your choice (like shrimp, chicken, or tofu). Vegans can eat Pad Thai when the fish sauce, eggs, and meat are left out.
My vegan Pad Thai recipe is made with a tangy, umami-flavored tamarind sauce, and substitutes the meat and eggs for tofu and vegetables. It’s just as refreshing and filling as the traditional recipe!
What is it made of?
These are the basics you need for a Pad Thai recipe. There are plenty of substitution options and room for more add-ins:
- Noodles - You can use any type of long noodles for Pad Thai. The traditional choice are long and wide noodles, like white rice noodles, to help scoop up the sauce. Spaghetti, fettucini, and brown rice noodles are also great choices.
- Oil - any neutral oil or toasted sesame oil for added flavour!
- Tofu - Pressed and cubed tofu is the main protein in this vegan Pad Thai recipe. It’s crispy, filling, and flavorful! I included even more vegan protein ideas in the Variations section below.
- Green onions
- Carrots - Grate the carrots into small, thin pieces for easy eating and quick cooking.
Ingredients for Pad Thai sauce
Traditional Pad Thai sauce is made with fish sauce, tamarind paste, palm sugar, and seasonings. My version is just as flavorful, but uses simple substitutions to ensure it’s vegan-friendly:
Tamarind paste - I used tamarind paste already mixed with water and no sugar added (56% tamarind). If you’re using pure paste, use 3 tablespoons instead of 4, plus 2 extra tablespoons of water. You should be able to find tamarind paste at some well-stocked grocery stores, Asian markets, or online. If you can’t find it, replace it with an extra 2 to 3 tablespoons of rice vinegar or a combo of vinegar and lime juice.
- Tamarind paste - I used tamarind paste already mixed with water and no sugar added (56% tamarind). If you’re using pure paste, use 3 tablespoons instead of 4, plus 2 extra tablespoons of water. You should be able to find tamarind paste at some well-stocked grocery stores, Asian markets, or online. If you can’t find it, replace it with an extra 2 to 3 tablespoons of rice vinegar.
- Brown sugar - The sweetness will help balance the strong pop of tang here. Coconut sugar would also work well.
- Chili garlic sauce - Sriracha will work as a substitute.
- White miso paste - Or use red or brown miso for a stronger umami flavor.
- Rice wine vinegar - White wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar will work as substitutes.
- Braggs liquid aminos - This is a naturally gluten free alternative for soy sauce and tamari (use either of these if you don’t need the Pad Thai sauce to be gluten free).
How to make vegan Pad Thai
Step 1: Cook the noodles. Cook the rice noodles according to the package instructions. Drain, then set aside.
Step 2: Make the sauce. Whisk all of the sauce ingredients together in a saucepan on the stove. Heat over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves, then set it aside.
Step 3: Cook the tofu. Heat the oil in a skillet and add the cubed tofu once it’s hot. Cook until it’s crisp on all sides.
Tip: Multitasking will save you time! Instead of pan-frying the tofu, make my Air Fryer Tofu while you cook the noodles, vegetables, and sauce on the stove.
Step 4: Assemble. Turn the heat down and add the carrots, peanuts, cilantro, mung bean sprouts, noodles, and sauce to the pan. Toss to coat.
Step 5: Add the toppings and serve. Scoop the Pad Thai into bowls and add the toppings of your choice (there are plenty of ideas below). Enjoy! For full ingredients and instructions see printable recipe card below.
Loading the Pad Thai with an abundance of toppings is the best way to finish off this vibrant meal:
- Chopped peanuts
- Fresh cilantro
- Lime wedges
- Lime juice
- Mung bean sprouts
- Green onions
- Chili garlic sauce
- Extra Pad Thai sauce
- drizzle of peanut sauce
- Red chili flakes
- Add your favorite vegetables - Substitute the tofu for more vegetables or add as many extras as you like! Edamame, mushrooms, bell peppers, and broccoli are all delicious additions.
- Change up the protein - Vegan tofu Pad Thai is flavorful and filling, but not the only option. You can replace the tofu with tempeh, rehydrated soy curls, or even cubed vegan chicken instead. For a more wholesome option, use chickpeas or simply add more vegetables.
- Instead of Pad Thai sauce - Replace it with your favorite peanut sauce or my simple Stir Fry Sauce instead or add a tablespoon or two of peanut butter right into the sauce!
- Nut free - Just leave the peanuts out!
More Asian-inspired vegan recipes
These Asian-inspired recipes are not only full of flavor but are also easy to make in just 30 minutes:
Enjoy everyone! Happy Day! Please feel free to comment below and give this recipe a rating. Your feedback is greatly appreciated!Print