Easy and simple vegan Pad Thai recipe with sweet and tangy sauce, scrambled tofu, and crunchy veggies! A clean and healthy dish that's better than takeout!
What is your favorite thing to order when you go to Thai restaurant?
Some will order drunken noodles, some will order Pad See Ew, and some will order curry but I'm almost 100% sure someone at the table will order Pad Thai. I typically judge a Thai restaurant based on the taste of their Pad Thai. If their Pad Thai is good, chances are the rest of the food will be good as well.
My go-to Pad Thai was shrimp but since I've become a vegetarian, it has become a little tricky because the traditional Pad Thai sauce contains fish sauce and/or dried shrimps. So I stopped eating one of my favorite dishes (sad face) until...I came up with a vegan version! Yay!!! I'm not going to lie, it took me a while to come up with a vegan version.
Why was it hard to come up with vegan version?
Yes, I LOVE shrimp Pad Thai but even when I wasn't vegetarian, I sometimes ordered tofu Pad Thai if I didn't want something too heavy. So switching the main "protein" wasn't the issue. The problem was the sauce. The traditional Pad Thai sauce has tamarind paste (which is vegan - no problem there), soy sauce (no problem), palm sugar (still no problem), and fish sauce (ding ding ding! Problem detected!). Some restaurants not only uses fish sauce but also use dried shrimps. So now you know! Even if you are ordering tofu Pad Thai, it is still may not be vegetarian. Essentially, what makes the vegan Pad Thai vegan is the sauce!
What's in my vegan Pad Thai sauce?
So...what is in my vegan Pad Thai, you ask?
- Ketchup - Ketchup? Yes, Ketchup! It gives you that tang with sweetness. It also helps little with the color as well.
- Brown Sugar - Traditionally, they use palm sugar. I don't know about you but I don't usually have palm sugar in my pantry but I always have brown sugar! So I use brown sugar. When I make any type of Asian sauce using soy sauce, I tend to use brown sugar. The subtle molasses flavor goes well with soy sauce, in my opinion.
- Soy sauce - This gives the color as well as the salt content of the sauce.
- Lime juice or apple cider vinegar - The signature and main tanginess come from either lime juice or apple cider vinegar. I used both and they were equally delicious!
- Sriracha or Sambal oelek (chili garlic paste) - This is optional. If you are not a fan of spicy food, you can totally omit this. But you know, I absolutely love spicy food so I don't shy away from this ingredient!
So there you have my secret to creating a delicious vegan Pad Thai! You can make this with fried or baked tofu but in my case, I used my Quick and Easy Scrambled Tofu to replace the traditional scrambled egg for the dish. Doesn't it look just like the real scrambled egg?!
Tips on making this dish
- Prepare your noodle first thing. It will take the longest time. If you are lucky enough to find fresh noodles from your local Asian grocery store, you can skip this step but most of you will use dried noodles. Soak the noodle in hot water according to the package. I like to rinse my noodle under cold water after soaking and drain before using them in the dish.
- Prepare your sauce in the bowl. Mix all the ingredients for the sauce in the bowl and set it next to the skillet or wok. Pouring the sauce over noodle takes 1 second so make sure you have the sauce ready!
- Prepare your veggies ready. Mince the garlic, thinly slice your onion, carrot, and green onion. Rinse and drain the bean sprouts. Everything will come together very quickly once you start cooking so prepare everything ahead.
So this is how I make my favorite vegan version of Pad Thai. To me, it doesn't taste exactly like the shrimp Pad Thai but if you are looking for something light and refreshing, this is it. You can easily make the sauce with all the pantry items, it's simple, and most importantly, it's absolutely delicious. Hope you enjoy my vegan version!
Happy eating, my friends!Print
Vegan Pad Thai with Scrambled Tofu
Easy and simple vegan Pad Thai recipe with sweet and tangy sauce, scrambled tofu, and crunchy veggies! Clean and healthy dish that's better than takeout!
- Prep Time: 15 min
- Cook Time: 15 min
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Main course
- Method: Stir fried
- Cuisine: Thai
- Diet: Vegan
For the sauce:
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons lime juice (or apple cider vinegar)
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1-3 teaspoons Sriracha (or garlic chili sauce), optional
- ⅓ cup water
For the Pad Thai:
- 5 - 6 oz of Pad Thai noodle, soak according to the package
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or vegetable oil)
- 1- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ large onion, sliced
- 2-3 green onion, thinly sliced
- ⅓ carrot, thinly sliced
- ½ cup Quick and Easy Scrambled Tofu
- ½ to 1 cup bean sprouts
- Lime wedges and crushed peanuts (for garnish)
- Make the Quick and Easy Scrambled Tofu and set aside about ½ cup.
- Prepare the noodle according to the package. Do not soak or cook the noodle until it's completely cooked. The center of the noodle still should be hard so that it has the chance to soak up the sauce when stir-fried.
- Prepare the sauce. Mix all the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl and set aside.
- Prepare all the vegetables. Mince the garlic. Slice the onion, carrot, and green onion. Rinse and dry the bean sprouts.
- Make sure you have all the other ingredients next to the stove. Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet and cook the minced garlic until it's light brown. The garlic should be light brown in color before you add the onion. Stir fry onion with constant stirring until the onion turns translucent.
- Add the carrot and stir fry.
- Add the noodle and the sauce. Use the tongs to mix until everything is well incorporated. It may seem like lots of sauce at first but the noodle will soon absorb the sauce so stir constantly for about 3-5 minutes.
- Lower the heat to low and add the green onion and bean sprouts. Stir frequently. The heat of the noodle should take the rawness of the green onion and bean sprouts. The bean sprouts should still be crunchy but not raw.
- Add the prepared scrambled tofu.
- Once the green onion is wilted, bean sprouts not raw, and noodles are mixed with tofu and absorb all the sauce, turn off the heat and serve with lime wedges and crush peanuts.
- This recipe does not account for the cooking time of the Quick and Easy Scrambled Tofu. If you forgot to prepare scrambled tofu, the dish will still taste great. If you were to use other protein sources for the dish, make sure to season the protein before adding it to the dish.
- When soaking the noodle, drain the noodle when the noodle is slightly under-done/al dente.
- If you don't have fresh lime juice, don't use the green plastic bottle stuff. Just use apple cider vinegar. It is equally delicious!
- Sriracha (or Sambal Oelek) is optional. If you are not a fan of spicy food, omit this ingredient.
- As soon as the garlic turns brown, add the onion so you can avoid burning the garlic.
Keywords: vegan pad thai, pad thai, tofu pad thai, vegan, noodles, easy pad thai