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Easy Veggie Pad Thai

Veggie Pad Thai bought from street vendors, served on paper plates and showered, by me, with assorted spicy condiments, forms the basis of some of my best memories of my time in Bangkok. It’s such a popular dish that you can find it on practically every street corner. I probably ate my weight in Pad Thai noodles by the time I returned home.

Low angle shot of veggie pad thai in a bowl

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Rice noodles are quickly stir-fried with classic Thai seasonings, bean sprouts, fried tofu, sometimes shrimp or chicken. Once on the plate, the chewy noodles in tangy sauce are finished with a squeeze of lime and a sprinkling of crushed roasted peanuts. Every vendor offers an array of crushed chiles, pickled chile peppers, hot sauce, and other condiments to flavor it just the way you like.

This Veggie Pad Thai recipe is easy to make at home and the result is every bit as good as the authentic Pad thai your favorite Thai restaurant makes.

What is Pad Thai?

Pad Thai is a rice noodle dish and one of the most popular dishes in any Thai restaurant. One of the most famous national dishes of Thailand, Pad means “fried” and Thai refers to it being “Thai style.”

Pad Thai is made with rice noodles, so it literally means “Thai-style stir-fried noodles”. It’s a popular street food and one of the staple foods in the Thailand (it’s not called the “Land of Smiles” for nothing!)

Pad Thai can be made vegetarian or vegan using vegetarian fish sauce and tofu or other vegetarian proteins. Or it can be made with shrimp, pork, or chicken and use regular fish sauce.

This veggie Pad Thai includes fried tofu for protein, but you can substitute meat or seafood, or add them in addition to the tofu.

Overhead shot of the ingredients needed to make pad thai

What ingredients do you need to make this Pad Thai?

Many of the ingredients are kitchen staples, the rest can easily be found in the supermarket or an Asian grocery store. For those that might be a little harder to find in your regular supermarket, I’ve included a link where you can buy it online, but do also look in your local Asian market if you have one or regular grocery stores.

  • Palm sugar or brown sugar
  • Tamarind paste (also called tamarind concentrate) or use tamarind pulp that has been soaked, squeezing the liquid out to use in the sauce
  • Thai fish sauce or vegan fish sauce
  • Chile paste (aka sambal oelek)
  • Firm tofu
  • Vegetable oil (any neutral flavored cooking oil with a high smoke point—avocado oil, peanut oil, canola oil, corn oil, safflower oil, etc.)
  • Garlic
  • Broth (vegetable or chicken)
  • Peanut butter (preferably all-natural, without added sugar)
  • Black bean sauce
  • Hot red chile (Thai, serrano, etc.)
  • Wide Thai rice noodles
  • Bean sprouts
  • Beaten eggs (optional)
  • Cilantro
  • Salt and pepper
  • Roasted peanuts
  • Green onions
  • Lime juice (optional)

How do you make it?

  1. This dish may have kind of a lot of ingredients, but cooking this Pad Thai recipe is simple. Here’s how:
  2. Soak the noodles in hot water to soften them, and then drain.
  3. Stir together the sauce ingredients.
  4. Heat the oil in a wok or a large nonstick skillet and sauté the garlic quickly.
  5. Add the sauce mixture and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer.
  6. Toss in the rice noodles and stir to coat with the sauce thoroughly.
  7. Add fried tofu, bean sprouts, scrambled egg, fresh cilantro and mix until just combined.
  8. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Top with chopped peanuts and green onions before serving.
  10. Offer lime wedges, crushed chile peppers, Prik Nam Pla, pickled chiles in vinegar, fish sauce, chile paste, sriracha, and other condiments so that people can adjust the spice level to their liking.
overehead shot of two bowls of pad thai

Variations on Pad Thai

  • You can make Vegetarian Pad Thai simply by using vegan fish sauce in place of regular fish sauce in this recipe.
  • Vegan Pad Thai uses the same recipe, including the substitution of vegan fish sauce for regular fish sauce, and omits the egg.
  • You can use the regular fish sauce and add shrimp (quickly stir fry before adding the noodles to the wok) for Pad Thai with Shrimp.
  • Or make Pad Thai with Chicken by adding sliced chicken (again, quickly stir fry in the wok before adding the noodles and sauce).
  • Pad Thai with Pork has thin slices of pork added (stir fried in the wok).
low angle shot of a bowl of pad thai noodles with a bunch of noodles being lifted by chopsticks

Pad Thai frequently asked questions

Do you have to use specific Pad Thai noodles or is there a substitute?

You can use any rice noodles you like for this dish, but the thin, flat noodles are the most authentic.

Can I use a skillet to cook this or do I need a wok?

A wok is the best cooking vessel to use here because it distributes heat evenly and gets very hot. A large, heavy-bottomed skillet will work in a pinch, though.

Can I double the recipe?

You can double the recipe, but you will likely want to cook the noodles in 2 batches, otherwise, your wok or skillet will be too full and the noodles won’t fry properly.

Can I make this ahead of time?

You can store Pad Thai in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To serve, reheat it over high heat in a wok or skillet over medium heat.

What do you serve with it?

I like to serve this Pad Thai with an appetizer of Thai Fish Cakes plus Green Papaya Salad, Thai Larb, or vegetarian Thai Pumpkin Curry or Thai Chicken Curry.

Low angle shot of veggie pad thai in a bowl

More Thai recipes you’ll love

Yield: Serves 2

Pad Thai

Overhead shot of veggie pad thai in a bowl

Rice noodles are quickly stir-fried with classic Thai seasonings, bean sprouts, fried tofu, sometimes shrimp or chicken. Once on the plate, the chewy noodles in tangy sauce are finished with a squeeze
of lime and a sprinkling of crushed roasted peanuts. This Tofu Pad Thai recipe is easy to make at home and the result is every bit as good as the authentic Pad thai your favorite Thai restaurant makes.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces Thai wide rice noodles
  • ¼ cup palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup hot water
  • 3 tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 2 tablespoons vegan fish sauce (or regular fish sauce if not vegan or vegetarian)
  • 2 tablespoons chile paste
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon black bean sauce
  • 1 tablespoon red chili, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 ounces tofu, cubed and fried in oil until browned and crisp
  • 1 ½ cups bean sprouts
  • 1 large egg, scrambled
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • Lime wedges, for serving

Instructions

  1. Follow the directions on the package to soak the rice noodles. Drain the noodles once they are tender. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, water, tamarind paste, fish sauce or vegan fish sauce, chile paste, broth, peanut butter, black bean sauce, and red chile pepper.
  2. In a wok over medium-high heat, add the oil to a wok and sauté garlic for 1 minute.
  3. Add the sauce mixture and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 6 minutes, until the sauce thickens.
  4. Toss in the rice noodles and stir to coat with the sauce thoroughly.
  5. Add the fried tofu, bean sprouts, scrambled egg, and cilantro and mix until just combined.
  6. Top with chopped peanuts and green onions before serving. Serve with lime wedges and condiments as desired.

Nutrition Information

Yield

2

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 941Total Fat 53gSaturated Fat 8gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 40gCholesterol 95mgSodium 2119mgCarbohydrates 95gFiber 9gSugar 40gProtein 31g

Nutrient values are estimates only. Variations may occur due to product availability and manner of food preparation. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, freshness of ingredients, and other factors.

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By on October 22nd, 2021

About Robin Donovan


Hi, I’m Robin! I am a full-time food blogger, recipe developer, and cookbook author. I spend my days cooking, writing about, and photographing food.

I’m the author of more than 40 cookbooks, including Ramen for Beginners, 5 Ingredient Cooking for Two, Sushi at Home, The Baking Cookbook for Teens, and the bestselling Campfire Cuisine.

My food writing has also been featured in major print and online pubications including Cooking Light, Fitness, San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, and other popular publications.

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