This Vegan Pad Thai has a combination of sweet, tangy & spicy flavors that will send your taste buds into overdrive. It’s gluten-free & much healthier than the take-out version.
One of my favorite Thai recipes to make is Vegan Pad Thai, along with my Pineapple Fried Rice. They are both bursting with different flavors and are completely drool-worthy. The gremlins in the home request these meals often.
The first Thai dish I tried, was the legendary Pad Thai about 15 years ago. I wish I had an interesting story to tell, and say I was on the streets of Thailand eating their famous street Pad Thai, but it was actually at a restaurant on Sunset Blvd in Los Angeles. The next best thing, right?
Well, I instantly fell in love with this sweet, tangy and sometimes spicy dish. I was very fond of the different textures of soft, yet chewy noodles, firm tofu, tender & crisp vegetables and crunchy peanuts. This was my pre-vegan days, so I didn’t realize all of the cruelty in this innocent looking meal. Traditional Pad Thai, has stir-fried eggs, fish sauce and sometimes shrimp. Oddly enough, it wasn’t even what stood out for me in the dish.
When I first became vegan, I was able to freely enjoy this dish in the veganized version, because there are SO many vegan Thai places in Los Angeles. Also, the non-vegan Thai places are usually very accommodating to vegans. Since moving to Arizona, all of that has changed… there isn’t an abundant amount of Thai places, and not even one vegan place. That was truly disappointing for me.
However, I’ve since been making it at home and I’m extremely happy with this recipe. Actually, I prefer making it myself now, rather than eating it at a restaurant, because I get to adjust everything to my liking, monitor the salt, and use mostly organic ingredients. Also, I can make sure my ingredients are gluten-free. It’s so darn easy to make, I don’t know why I haven’t tried it before.
It’s mostly just prepping and then it’s pretty fast after that, so make sure to have everything ready before you get the pan or wok going. The prepping is pretty easy, too. Just start by pressing & baking the tofu, then cook the noodles. Cook noodles according to package directions and when they are done, immediately strain and rinse them in cold water. Then place the noodles back in the pot and fill with cold water and set aside. This will keep them from sticking together.
Now you can wash and cut your veggies and prepare the sweet & tangy sauce. I use tamarind paste, coconut sugar, vegetable broth and low-sodium soy sauce to create that bursting flavor. If you don’t have coconut sugar, brown sugar will work nicely. Also, if you can’t find tamarind paste, don’t worry, I added an alternative sauce recipe in the note section. So, you can have your Pad Thai and eat it, too!
When the tofu, noodles, veggies and sauce are ready, heat the oil in a large pan or wok, over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, red bell pepper and carrots, sauté until tender, about 5-6 minutes. Clear a small space in the pan and add your tomato paste. Let it cook for 3o seconds before mixing it into the veggies. If you are using the optional red pepper flakes, mix them in the tomato paste, before you add it to the pan. I think the red pepper flakes add a nice heat to the whole dish. If not everyone likes spicy foods in your home, you can always add the flakes on top of the individual plate.
Now add strained noodles, tofu, green onions, and mung bean sprouts, sauté until green onions start to soften, about 4-5 minutes. Add Pad Thai sauce to the pan and stir. Give a little taste, a slight adjustment may be needed. If it’s too tangy, stir in a little extra coconut sugar and cook for another minute. Remove from heat, garnish and serve. So easy!
- 14 oz extra firm tofu , pressed & cut into 1-inch cubes (*See Note)
- 1 teaspoon tamari or soy sauce
- 8 oz pad thai noodles , cooked according to package instructions (*See Note)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil + more for tossing tofu cubes
- 1/2 cup red onion , diced
- 3 garlic cloves , minced
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper , sliced
- 4 carrots , peeled and cut julienne style. 2 - 3 inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 1/2 cups green onion , cut into 1-2 inch pieces
- 1 1/2 cups mung bean sprouts
- Crushed peanuts
- Mung bean sprouts
- Green onion cut 1-2 inch pieces
- Lime wedges
- Crushed red pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit
Place cubed tofu in a medium bowl. Toss cubes with 1 teaspoon oil, 1 teaspoon tamari, & sprinkle lightly with salt. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 25-35 minutes, flipping half way through, until golden brown. Set aside.
In a small bowl combine all sauce ingredients, stir until completely mixed together & set aside.
In a large pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, red bell pepper & carrots, sauté until tender, about 5-6 minutes. Make small space in pan, add the tomato paste & cook for 30 seconds before mixing it into the cooked veggies (if using red pepper flakes, mix them into the tomato paste before adding to the pan).
Add sauce and stir. Now add strained noodles, tofu, green onions, & mung bean sprouts, toss to coat. Cook until green onions slightly soften, about 3-4 minutes. Give a little taste & adjust seasoning if needed. If it's too tangy, add a little extra coconut sugar. Remove from heat. Garnish and serve.
*Pressing Tofu: place a block of tofu on a paper towel lined plate, and cover w/ more paper towels and another plate on top. Add a few cans of food on top, or a book. Let it drain for 20- 30 minutes. Alternatively, you can press gently on the plate with your hands to expel liquid quicker (don't press to hard or tofu will crumble).
**To prevent noodles from sticking together, when they are done cooking, immediately strain and rinse them in cold water. Then place the noodles back in the pot and fill with cold water and set aside. Strain again before use.
*Soy Sauce Alternative: These coconut aminos are a great alternative to soy sauce and has a great depth of flavor.
Prep time doesn't include tofu pressing time.
**Alternative Pad Thai Sauce Recipe**
3 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons molasses
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce (low sodium & gluten-free)
3-4 tablespoons coconut sugar (sub brown sugar)
1/4 cup vegetable broth (low sodium)
If you make this Vegan Pad Thai, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below and let me know what you think. It would really make my day. You can also follow me on Instagram and share your creation with me, Just tag me @veganhuggs and hashtag #veganhuggs.
*Pin for later 🙂
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