Hello, comfort food! Pad Thai is a classic noodle dish that is infinitely customizable. And now that we have a vegan recipe for you, learning how to make vegan Pad Thai has never been easier.
What is Vegan Pad Thai?
Pad Thai is a Thai restaurant classic and a famous street food in Thailand. It’s a wok-tossed or stir-fried noodle dish made with rice noodles, a great saucy mix of sweet, sour, salty and bitter with fresh veggies and more, and it’s a great comfort food. But most restaurant versions are made with fish sauce (the traditional ingredient), and are probably cooked with MSG and other unsavory ingredients.
This homemade Pad Thai recipe is easy to use if you have the right ingredients, and makes for a flavorful, easy dinner for any night of the week. This recipe is best the moment after you cook it– unlike all my other favorite foods, it just doesn’t keep as leftovers. The only tricky ingredients here are rice noodles, which you can find at most natural food stores or online (see below for suggestions) and tamarind. Tamarind is one of my favorite ingredients, and adds a perfect flavor complement to this dish. Learn more about how to choose and use tamarind here.
What are Rice Noodles?
Do you have to use rice noodles? Nope, but they are the classic, gluten-free option. But you can choose whichever noodle you love: spaghetti, ramen, soba, whatevers. Rice noodles are traditionally used and create the perfect texture (they also absorb sauce well), but they are not my favorite noodles because the ingredients are just white rice flour and they are not very nutrient dense. I like the Thai Kitchen brand for regular rice noodles, but Happy Pho makes brown rice noodles for a bit of a nutrition boost.
How to Make Vegan Pad Thai Noodles
The recipe below is pretty simple, but after years of making it I have a few tricks to help it be the best. Firstly, don’t skip any of the ingredients. They are all essential for that something-something that Pad Thai offers eaters. Some exceptions are possible though: the vegan fish sauce was created by a former coworker of mine and works great, but regular soy sauce or tamari is just fine for salty awesomeness. The sugar of choice is palm sugar, since it’s more traditional, but agave works too. It’s important to use the sugar so that the noodles get that special slightly burned look like they have in the good Thai restaurants. Finally, don’t forget the garnishes. Fresh herbs like cilantro and Thai basil, ground, roasted peanuts and more let diners choose their own noodle adventure and help boost the flavor profile of the dish. Ready?
Vegan Pad Thai Noodles
2 Tablespoons Vegan Fish Sauce (or soy sauce or Bragg’s)
2 Tablespoons lime juice
2 Tablespoons tamarind paste
2 Tablespoons palm sugar or agave
2 Tablespoons palm oil or coconut oil
½ cup thinly sliced red onion
2-4 cloves garlic, sliced
1-inch piece ginger, grated
1 cup shredded carrots
7 ounces rice noodles, cooked according to package directions
Ground, roasted peanuts for garnish
Fresh chopped cilantro and/or Thai basil for garnish
Fresh mung bean sprouts
Limes for garnish
- Whisk together Vegan Fish Sauce/soy sauce, lime juice, tamarind paste and palm sugar/agave. Set aside.
- In a large heavy skillet or wok, heat oil until hot. Add onion and cook for five minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook five minutes more. Stir in carrots.
- Drain and rinse rice noodles. Add cooked noodles to skillet and toss to combine. Add sauce mixture, stir to coat, and let cook until sauce is absorbed and noodles burn slightly.
- Remove from heat and divide between serving bowls. Garnish with peanuts, cilantro, sprouts and serve with slices of lime.
Yield: 4 servings