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If you’re looking for a simple vegetable pad thai recipe you can easily make at home, again and again, look no further. This vegan pad thai is versatile, flavorful, and not at all hard to prepare in just 30 minutes.
Vegetable pad thai is protein-packed and very filling. It’s easy enough for a great weeknight dinner while serving up plenty of lunch leftovers to use later in the week.
If you love the flavor of this vegan pad thai, you might also enjoy yellow tofu curry or sweet coconut Thai tofu. Or you can explore the full collection of Thai recipes to find more plant-based meals for an easy and flavorful meal.
What is Pad Thai?
This noodle dish is one of the most well-known and popular Thai recipes. It’s typically made with rice noodles, tofu, shrimp, crushed peanuts, fish sauce, bean sprouts, chilies, and eggs.
While not an exact replica of this more traditional dish, this vegan pad thai recipe makes a few substitutions creating a plant-based Thai dish that delivers great flavor for a hearty meal.
Why This Recipe Works
- Healthy and satisfying. This vegetable pad thai is packed with loads of fresh veggies!
- Family-favorite. The delicious flavors of this vegan pad thai is a hit with the whole family!
- Easy to make. This pad thai recipe cooks up quickly for a meal that’s perfect for busy weeknights and is perfect for meal prep too!
What Goes Into Vegetable Pad Thai
Don’t be intimidated by the list of ingredients needed to make vegetable pad thai! Many of these are pantry staples you might already have on hand.
- Rice noodles: We prefer using ¼-inch noodles but it can be made with any rice noodle.
- Soy sauce: Swap with tamari or coconut aminos for gluten-free options.
- Brown sugar: Brown sugar adds a richer flavor than white sugar. You can also use agave as a substitute.
- Lime juice: There’s no substitute for the flavor of freshly squeezed lime!
- Ketchup: Adds tomato flavor to the pad thai sauce.
- Oil: I recommend sesame, peanut, or grape seed oil for the best flavor.
- Aromatics: Shallots and fresh garlic are the first layer of flavor in this pad thai recipe. You can also use yellow onion.
- Hot chili pepper: Choose a Thai or red chili for a spicier flavor. Make sure to deseed the chili so it’s not too spicy.
- Mung bean sprouts: Available in the produce section of most grocery stores. Buy as close to cooking this dish as possible as they are delicate.
- Herbs: Cilantro, basil, and green onions. Read more about how to store herbs here!
- Peanuts: Chopped and added as a garnish right before serving. Use roasted and unsalted for the best flavor.
- Avocado: A healthy source of fat added for color and flavor.
Variations and Substitutions
- Change the spiciness. Use more or less chili pepper depending on how spicy you like your vegan pad thai!
- Add some tofu. Marinated tofu or fried tofu works great to add on at the end!
- Add some veggies. Change them up depending on what you have on hand or what’s in season. Broccoli, kale, bok choy, cabbage, carrots, and mushrooms all make excellent additions. Simply slice thinly and saute them when you add the bean sprouts.
- Swap the peanuts. Toasted sesame seeds or toasted cashews are some alternatives.
- Oil-free. Simply leave it out or saute the veggies in vegetable broth instead.
How To Make Vegan Pad Thai
- 1) Heat a medium pot of water until boiling for rice noodles. Check the package for cooking time instructions. Cook them until just al dente.
- 2) When they’re ready drain, rinse, and set aside. Drizzle with a teaspoon of oil if desired and toss to prevent noodles from sticking together. You can work on preparing other parts of the recipe while the noodles are cooking.
- 3) Whisk together the soy sauce, sugar, lime juice, and ketchup in a small bowl. Set aside.
- 4) Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the shallot, garlic, and chili pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes until slightly browned. Add mung bean sprouts, green onions, and half of the sauce mixture. Toss well and let cook one minute more. Transfer veggies to a large bowl and set aside.
- 5) Add the cooked rice noodles to the same skillet and toss with remaining sauce, salt, cilantro, and basil. Mix together well.
- 6) Combine the rice noodles and veggies, tossing them together like making a salad.
- 7) Add peanuts to skillet to gently toast and warm. Cook them on medium heat until turning golden, about 2-3 minutes.
- 8) Serve up a bowl of noodles topped with chopped peanuts and sliced avocado. Add more chopped basil, cilantro and extra lime juice if you want. You can also garnish each plate with a wedge of lime.
- Don’t overcook the noodles. Rice noodles are more delicate than other types of noodles. Be sure to check the package and cook only until al dente. They will cook a bit more when added to the skillet.
- Don’t like spicy? Or if you have kids at the table, reduce the number of chilies in the vegan pad thai and serve them up on the side at the table for those who want it spicy to add more.
- Adding veggies? Make sure to cut them into similar-sized pieces so they cook in about the same amount of time.
- Store leftovers. In the refrigerator for up to three days. Vegetable pad thai shouldn’t be frozen.
Transfer the leftovers to a skillet or wok and heat over medium-low heat until everything is heated through. If it seems a bit thick and is sticking to the pan you can add a touch of oil to the skillet or a bit of water to loosen the sauce up.
No, typically it isn’t. While the rice noodles traditionally used to make pad thai are gluten-free, the dish is typically made with soy sauce which contains gluten. You can swap it out with a gluten-free tamari or use coconut aminos instead.
More Stir Fry Recipes
- Udon Edamame Stir Fry
- Brown Rice Veggie Stir Fry
- Shitake Asparagus Tofu Stir Fry
- Spicy Sesame Tofu Stir Fry
Photos by Alfonso Revilla
Vegan Vegetable Pad Thai
- 1 (1-pound) package of ¼-inch wide rice noodles
- 4 Tablespoons of soy sauce tamari, or coconut aminos (soy sauce substitute)
- 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar (or agave)
- 2 Tablespoons of fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)
- 2 Tablespoons of ketchup or tamarind paste
- 1 Tablespoon of sesame, peanut, or grape seed oil
- 1 cup of shallot or yellow onion sliced
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 hot chili pepper, Thai or red chili de-seeded and finely chopped
- 1 cup of mung bean sprouts (or cabbage, thinly sliced)
- 1 bunch of green onions chopped
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ½ cup of fresh cilantro chopped
- ½ cup of fresh basil chopped
- ½ cup of peanuts roasted and unsalted, chopped
- 1 ripe avocado sliced
- Set a medium pot of water to boil for rice noodles. Cook them until just al dente, drain, rinse, and set aside. Drizzle with a teaspoon of oil if desired and toss to prevent noodles from sticking together. You can proceed with the following steps while the noodles are cooking.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sugar, lime juice, and ketchup. Set aside.
- In a skillet, heat oil on medium heat (or omit if you prefer) and saute shallot or onion, garlic, and chili pepper for 3-4 minutes until lightly browning. Add mung bean sprouts, green onions, and half of the sauce mixture. Toss well and let cook one minute more. Transfer veggies to a large bowl and set aside.
- Add cooked rice noodles to the same skillet and toss with remaining sauce, salt, cilantro, and basil and mix together well. Add rice noodles to the veggie bowl and toss them together like making a salad.
- Add peanuts to skillet to gently toast and warm. Cook them on medium heat until turning golden, about 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle atop noodle bowl along with sliced avocado, and additional chopped basil and cilantro if desired. Drizzle with extra lime juice, or serve with a wedge of lime.
- This is a base recipe to work from, but we often include more veggies; broccoli, kale, bok choy, cabbage, carrots, and mushrooms all make excellent additions. Simply slice thinly and saute them when you add the bean sprouts.
- You can even substitute toasted sesame seeds or toasted cashews for the peanuts if you prefer.
- If you’d like this to be oil-free, simply leave it out, or saute veggies in vegetable broth instead.
- Protein-packed and very filling this dish makes a great weeknight dinner and makes plenty for lunch leftovers.
Disclaimer: Although plantbasedonabudget.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Plantbasedonabudget.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.