Vegan Pad Thai is a fast weeknight dinner that tastes amazing! All you need is a handful of pantry ingredients to make it, plus your favorite veggies to add in.
What is Pad Thai Sauce Made From?
Traditional Pad Thai sauce is made with fish sauce, tamarind paste, vinegar, and sugar. Obviously, the fish sauce is out when you want to make a vegan version, and I don’t know about you, but tamarind paste isn’t something I keep in my pantry, either.
Pad Thai also usually contains eggs, but I’ve left that out here. If you want to add extra protein, try my crispy Air Fryer Tofu or Baked Tofu as an alternative!
How Do You Make it Vegan?
To make a Vegan Pad Thai sauce, all you need is 4 simple ingredients:
- Soy sauce (I use tamari, to keep it gluten-free)
- Lime juice
- Maple syrup
The combination of maple syrup and lime juice replace the need for tamarind paste, and I find the lime adds enough tartness that I don’t need to add vinegar, either. It’s so simple, yet so delicious!
How to Customize the Flavor
This Vegan Pad Thai is definitely a taste-as-you-go sort of dish, so here’s how you can modify it to your liking.
- Too salty? Add more maple syrup or veggies to balance it out. Sweetness balances out salty flavors.
- Too tangy? Add more maple syrup or veggies. Sweetness balances out tangy flavors, too.
- Needs more flavor? Add more salt! Most food that tastes bland is under-seasoned. Use a mineral-rich salt and season liberally.
- Not spicy enough? Add more sriracha, to taste. Spicy flavors are the hardest to “undo,” so be sure to add a small amount to start with if you are sensitive to spice. I consider myself sensitive to spice, and as-written I don’t think this dish is very spicy, but everyone is different!
What Kind of Noodles Do You Use?
Pad Thai is traditionally made with rice noodles, which are thin, flat, and naturally gluten-free. Rice noodles are available from white rice or brown rice, so you can take your pick!
I’ve also tested this recipe using chickpea linguine noodles, which is what I use in my popular Peanut Noodles recipe, and those work great here, too.
What Veggies are in Pad Thai?
This dish is made healthier by cutting back on the pasta and increasing the veggies. I like to use more veggies than noodles in this dish, so you’ll get more filling fiber, and extra nutrients in each bite. I actually prefer the texture this way, compared to using mostly noodles, too.
When you add in shredded green cabbage, you can hardly tell what’s a noodle and what’s cabbage. It seriously blends right in! Try it and see for yourself.
Here are the other veggies you’ll commonly find in Pad Thai:
- Green onions
- Shredded carrots
- Mung bean sprouts
You can add in any other veggies you like, too, such as sliced bell peppers, sugar snap peas, or edamame. This dish is a great way to clean out your fridge!
Vegan Pad Thai
- 4 ounces rice noodles (or noodles of choice)
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound green cabbage , shredded
- 3 tablespoons tamari (47 grams; gluten-free soy sauce)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (13 grams)
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup (39 grams)
- 1 tablespoon sriracha (19 grams)
- 1 carrot , shredded (84 grams)
- 3 green onions , chopped (30 grams)
- 1 cup fresh cilantro , chopped (16 grams)
- 1/4 cup chopped peanuts (36 grams)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and prepare the noodles according to the package directions.
- While the noodles are cooking, heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium high heat. Add the cabbage and season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Sauté until tender, about 8 minutes.
- While the cabbage and noodles are cooking, stir together the sauce in a small bowl. Combine the tamari, lime juice, maple syrup, and sriracha, and stir until smooth.
- When the noodles are done, drain well, then add them to the large skillet with the cabbage. Add in the sauce, carrots, and green onions, and stir often, so everything gets heated and evenly coated in the sauce. Taste and adjust any seasoning as needed. (See the post above for tips!)
- Stir in the cilantro right before serving, and sprinkle in the peanuts, so they'll stay crunchy. Serve warm. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat in a skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes to serve again.
- Nutrition information is for half the batch, and is just an estimate, not a guarantee.
- If you don’t like peanuts, feel free to leave them out or swap for another crunchy nut, like cashews or almonds.
- The veggies in this dish can be easily substituted, so use what you have on hand! Green cabbage will be the least-noticeable veggie visually, but red cabbage tastes good, too!
More Vegan Dinner Ideas
Need some more plant-based inspiration? Try these fan favorites! They’re a hit with vegetarians and meat-eaters alike!
- Vegan Pho
- Kale Pesto Pasta
- Pesto Pasta Salad
- Best Veggie Burgers
- Whole Roasted Cauliflower
- The Best Vegetable Stew
If you try this Vegan Pad Thai recipe, please leave a comment below letting me know how you like it! And if you make any modifications, I’d love to hear about those, too. We can all benefit from your experience!
Reader Feedback: What’s your favorite fast weeknight dinner? Let me know if you have any recipe requests that you’d like to see in the future.