The most delicious vegan pad thai! Veggies, tofu and rice noodles come together with a fabulous authentically flavored sauce. Better than a restaurant!
So one of my favorite things to order at a Thai restaurant (other than a thai red curry) is vegan pad thai.
If you ask for a version with tofu instead of chicken and tell them to leave the egg and make it without fish sauce, they will usually do it for you without an issue.
So sometimes I would order a pad thai and Jaye would order a red curry and then I would put a few spoons of his red curry sauce over my pad thai. Just the best. It’s probably sacrilege to pad thai lovers the world over, but you know, needs must.
But THIS vegan pad thai is so good, there is no need to put any other sauce on it. It’s saucy and so flavorful.
And if you like Thai food then also check out our vegan tom yum soup!
How to make Vegan Pad Thai
Full instructions and measurements can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the post. This is just a summary of the process to go with the process photos.
- So first up, you soak the noodles. Add them to a big bowl of cold water and soak them for around 45 minutes.
- While the noodles are soaking, prepare your tofu. Preheat the oven to 390°F and then chop your tofu into small squares and place it onto a parchment lined baking tray and bake the tofu for 20 minutes.
- While the tofu is baking, you can prep all your other ingredients, chop up your onion and slice some red bell pepper and carrot into strips.
Pad Thai Sauce:
- Make a pad thai sauce by mixing up some tamarind paste, brown sugar, red curry paste, soy sauce, vegetable stock and crushed garlic.
- When the tofu is baked, the veggies are chopped, the noodles have soaked and your sauce is ready to go, then you’re ready to cook your pad thai.
- Add the chopped onion to a wok with some sesame oil and sauté until softened. Then add in the sliced red pepper and carrot and sauté until slightly softened.
- Add in the noodles and the sauce and stir fry until the noodles are cooked. Taste test to check the texture of the noodles.
- Lastly add in the baked tofu and some bean sprouts and mix in with the noodles and the sauce. And you’re done!
Tamarind Paste: Making this dish necessitated me buying an ingredient I had never bought before: tamarind paste. It’s a crucial flavor component of the sauce.
However, we have also discovered that there can be different concentrations of tamarind paste. The one we used came in a jar and it’s a paste not a concentrate. It’s not super thick, it’s a very easily spoonable/pourable consistency. Please see our video to see the consistency for yourself. If you are using a concentrate that comes in a very thick almost solid form, then you will need to dilute that with water to get to the consistency of the paste that we used. So our recipe uses three tablespoons of tamarind paste. If you are using a concentrated version then you would mix ONE tablespoon with 2 tablespoons of water and then use that.
Soak the rice noodles in cold water: The prep time on this dish is 45 minutes, and that is really because of soaking the rice noodles. You soak them in cold water for 45 minutes (and use this time to do all the other prep of the dish).
Some packaging will say you just soak them in hot water for a few minutes, but we found that if you do this, they will get to the perfect texture and then when you stir fry them they will turn to mushy porridge.
So you want them slightly softened but not all the way. Then you stir fry them with the sauce and the veggies and get to the perfect texture that way. Ideal.
How To Serve
Serve topped with some crushed peanuts, fresh cilantro and a few bean sprouts to decorate along with some fresh lime for a restaurant-worthy dish.
Leftovers keep very well in the fridge for 2-3 days and can be reheated in the pan or the microwave until heated through.
More Vegan Asian Recipes
- Kung Pao Tofu
- Marinated Tofu
- Vegan Thai Red Curry
- Vegan Thai Green Curry
- Vegan Massaman Curry
- Vegan Fried Rice
Vegan Pad Thai
- 7 ounces Rice Noodles (200g)
- 8 ounces Firm Tofu (226g)
- 1 Tbsp Sesame Oil
- 1/2 Medium Onion White, Yellow or Brown, Chopped
- 1 Medium Red Bell Pepper Sliced into strips
- 1 Medium Carrot Sliced into strips
- 1/2 cup Bean Sprouts
For the Sauce:
- 1/2 cup Peanuts (75g)
- Bean Sprouts
- Add the noodles to a big bowl of cold water to soak for around 45 minutes.*
- While the noodles are soaking, begin your preparations.
- Preheat the oven to 390°F (200°C).
- Chop the tofu into small squares and place it on a parchment lined baking tray. Bake in the oven at 390°F for 20 minutes.
- Chop the onion and slice the red bell pepper and carrot into strips.
- Add the sauce ingredients to a bowl and whisk to combine.
- When the tofu is baked, the vegetables are chopped and ready, the sauce is mixed and the noodles have soaked for 45 minutes, then you're ready to start.
- Add the chopped onion to a wok with 1 Tbsp Sesame oil. Sauté until slightly softened.
- Add in the red bell pepper and carrot. Alternatively stir fry (lid off) and steam (lid on) until the vegetables are slightly softened. If your wok doesn't have a lid, don't worry, just stir fry until slightly softened, it will just take a tiny bit longer.
- Add in the noodles and the sauce and stir fry until the noodles are cooked. Taste test regularly until the noodles have the right texture.
- Throw in the tofu and most of the bean sprouts (keep some behind for serving) and just mix in with the noodles and the sauce so everything is well coated.
- Serve topped with crushed peanuts, a sprig of cilantro, a few bean sprouts on top and some fresh lime.
- Some packaging for rice noodles will state that you should soak in hot water for just a few minutes. However we found that in this case the extra cooking in the wok resulted in the noodles becoming too mushy. We had best results with soaking them in cold water so that they're softened but not all the way so the extra cooking in the wok gets them to the perfect consistency. It takes more time, but we found it to be worth it.
- There can be different concentrations of tamarind paste. The one we used came in a jar and it's a paste not a concentrate. It's not super thick, it's a very easily spoonable/pourable consistency. Please see our video to see the consistency for yourself if you're in any doubt. If you are using a concentrate that comes in a very thick almost solid form, then you will need to dilute that with water to get to the consistency of the paste that we used. In this case mix 1 Tablespoon of the thick concentrate with 2 Tablespoons of water to get the 3 Tablespoons of paste that the recipe calls for.
- Check the red curry paste ingredients for vegan friendliness, some brands contain fish sauce.
- Use a gluten-free soy sauce or tamari if you wish to make this meal gluten-free.
- This recipe was first published in November 2017.