This 30 Minute Vegan Pad Thai recipe is made with rice noodles, fried tofu, veggies, and the most incredible, simple sauce. Easy to make using everyday ingredients!
This is the easiest Vegan Pad Thai recipe! Rice noodles, pan-fried tofu, veggies, and a really simple sauce are tossed together and ready to enjoy in just 30 minutes. It’s a must-try, Thai-inspired recipe that’s perfect for lunch and dinner!
Why you’ll love this recipe
- The best sauce: The sauce can make or break any Pad Thai recipe. It was a bit of a challenge to get my version just right since traditional Pad Thai recipes call for fish sauce and tamarind paste. After a lot of trial and error, I came up with a savory, 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 substituting complicated and hard-to-find ingredients, like vegan fish sauce and tamarind paste, with flavorful alternatives that are probably already in your pantry.
- Easy to prep ahead: Everything, from the vegan Pad Thai sauce to the tofu cubes, can be prepared ahead of time! It’s the best way to turn this 30 minute recipe into a 15 minute recipe.
Ingredients needed (with substitutions)
- Stir fry rice noodles – Rice noodles of any size work well here! Plus, they’re naturally gluten free and vegan.
- 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 instead. Check out the Variations section for more vegan protein options or how to omit the tofu altogether.
- Soy sauce – I recommend using low sodium soy sauce. Or, if you’re gluten free, use tamari.
- Rice vinegar – This adds a necessary tartness to the sauce. More traditional recipes are made with tamarind paste, which can be hard to find sometimes, but rice vinegar works well as a substitute.
- Maple syrup – The real stuff! It’s important for sweetness, warmth, and balance in the sauce.
- Lime juice
- Sriracha hot sauce – For just a touch of heat in the sauce. You can add more or less depending on how much spice you like.
- Carrots – Julienned into thin strips. You can save time by buying pre-sliced carrots from the grocery store.
- Green onions
- Toppings – Top your plate with refreshing and colorful toppings, like lime wedges, mung bean sprouts, chopped peanuts, and cilantro.
How to make vegan Pad Thai
Find the complete recipe with measurements in the recipe card below.
Make sure all of your veggies are chopped and your tofu is being pressed before you start. Tofu Pad Thai moves fast, so it’s important to be prepared!
Begin 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 drain and rinse with cold water to prevent them from sticking.
Next, stir all of the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.
Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the pressed tofu cubes once the oil is hot and fry until all sides are golden brown.
Tip: Speed up the recipe by making my Air Fryer Tofu while you wait for the noodles to cook. Once it’s done, add the tofu to the pan with the noodles, sauce, and veggies.
Next, add the cooked noodles, sauce, carrots, green onions, and half of the cilantro to the pan. Keep stirring to warm everything up and ensure every bite is well-coated in the Pad Thai sauce.
Serve the Pad Thai immediately and finish each plate with the toppings you love. Don’t forget the drizzle of lime juice – it takes every bite over the top!
- 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 plenty of options when it comes to vegetables in Pad Thai. I only used carrots and green onions, but you can add even more, such as red pepper strips, broccoli florets, mushrooms, snap peas, or edamame.
- Protein options – You can make vegan Pad Thai with any type of plant-based protein you love! Pan-fried tofu is filling, crispy, and tender, but you could easily use tempeh, leftover strips of vegan chicken, or edamame instead. Or, for a vegetable-only Pad Thai, omit the tofu and replace it with any of the vegetables I suggested above.
- Add vegan eggs – Did you used to love Pad Thai with scrambled eggs? Then I recommend pouring liquid JUST Egg into the pan right before you add the sauce and noodles. It scrambles just like real eggs!
Make ahead tips
Pad Thai doesn’t make for great leftovers because the noodles dry out and the flavors lose their vibrancy. However, you can still have Pad Thai in a hurry by preparing all of the elements ahead of time:
- Noodles: Cooked rice noodles can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. Rinse them in cold water, then toss in a little vegetable oil to prevent them from sticking.
- Sauce: Make the sauce as normal and keep it in a jar in the fridge for up to 1 week.
- Veggies: Store the chopped vegetables and toppings in separate containers in the fridge. They’ll stay crisp and fresh for 1 or 2 days.
- Tofu: Press the cubed tofu, then store it in a covered container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
When it’s time to eat, just take all of your prepped ingredients out of the fridge and cook as normal!
Want more 30 minute vegan recipes?
Vegan Pad Thai
- 7 ounces stir fry rice noodles
- 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 14.5 ounce block extra-firm tofu, pressed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 cup julienne sliced carrots, about 3 carrots
- 3 green onions, chopped
- 2 limes, cut into wedges
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 cup crushed or chopped peanuts
- 1 cup mung bean sprouts, optional
- Prepare all of your ingredients before you begin. Slice the carrots, chop the green onions, cilantro and the peanuts. Press your tofu if needed (I like to get the vacuum packed extra-firm tofu so no need to press it), and then chop into 1/2 inch cubes.
- Cook the noodles: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. 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 all the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Fry the tofu: In a large pan (you can even use the same pot you boiled the noodles in), heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the tofu, and fry it until all sides are golden brown.
- To the pan with the tofu, add the noodles, sauce, carrots, green onions and half of the cilantro. Stir as it warms up.
- Serve immediately, sprinkling peanuts and more cilantro on the 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 vegetable only pad thai, replace the tofu with various veggies, such as red pepper strips and broccoli florets. Stir fry these in place of the tofu until tender, before adding the noodles and sauce.
- For the carrots, I buy the bag of pre-cut carrots, julienne style so it reduces my chopping time.
- Consider cooking up some JUST Egg to add some “scrambled eggs” to the Pad Thai.