Pad Thai is one of our FAVORITE takeout dishes. It’s on weekly repeat around here!
We’ve shared an incredible Noodle-Free Pad Thai in the past, but sometimes it’s nice to have the filling, noodle-y goodness that comes with a more classic version of the dish.
This simple plant-based version of Pad Thai takes just 30-minutes to prepare and delivers a hefty helping of flavor. Let’s do this!
Origin of Pad Thai
Pad Thai is believed to have originated in Thailand during World War II. It was born out of a combination of a rice shortage and Thailand’s prime minister wanting to create a national dish.
It’s traditionally made with rice noodles (which were borrowed from Chinese cuisine), egg, tofu, dried shrimp, and a salty-sweet-sour sauce. The sauce is usually made simply with palm sugar, tamarind, and fish sauce or soy sauce. You can find an authentic preparation here from Hot Thai Kitchen!
Our inspired version borrows the concept of rice noodles and tofu, but skips the egg, dried shrimp, and fish sauce. Our sauce is soy-free and plant-based and brings in more flavor elements like ginger and garlic.
How to Make Pad Thai
This recipe starts with tamarind, which gives the sauce bold color and a classic Pad Thai flavor. The tamarind is mixed with coconut aminos, coconut sugar, chili garlic sauce, lime juice, and Vegetarian Fish Sauce (optional), creating the perfect balance of sweet, salty, spicy, and umami.
Once the sauce is prepared, it’s time for the protein. We went with tofu, but shrimp and chicken are also options if not vegan.
Bites of tofu are gently sautéed in oil to add a delicious dose of protein (16.6 grams per serving!) to the meal. Garlic and chili flake add heat and pops of flavor!
Rice noodles are soaked briefly in hot water, then tossed together with the sauce, green onions, bean sprouts, and peanuts. Serious swoon.
And that’s it! In less time than it takes to get a takeout order delivered, dinner is on the table. To make this dish even more special, we like to garnish it with carrot ribbons, cilantro, chili garlic sauce, and peanut sauce.
We hope you’ll love this dish! It’s:
This makes an excellent, satisfying meal on its own, but if you’re looking for extra veggies, it would pair nicely with Papaya Salad, Thai Spring Rolls, or Thai Carrot Salad. While we love this noodle version, if you are looking for a lighter option be sure to try our Noodle-Free Pad Thai!
More Thai-Inspired Recipes
- Lazy 1-Pot Vegan Tom Yum Soup
- Blissed-Out Thai Salad with Peanut Tempeh
- Thai Yellow Coconut Curry with Mango
- Vegan Thai Iced Tea
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!
Easy Tofu Pad Thai
- 1 ½ tsp tamarind paste / concentrate* (or sub additional 1 Tbsp / 15 ml lime juice as recipe is written)
- 1/3 cup coconut aminos (or sub half the amount with tamari or soy sauce and work your way up as it’s saltier)
- 3 ½ Tbsp coconut sugar
- 1 ½ tsp chili garlic sauce
- 1 ½ Tbsp lime juice
- 1-2 tsp Vegetarian Fish Sauce ( or store-bought // optional)
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil (if avoiding oil, omit and use a nonstick pan)
- 1 cup cubed extra firm tofu
- 2 Thai red chilies (fresh or dried), chopped OR 1/2 tsp chili flakes (optional)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 cloves yield ~1 Tbsp or 6 g)
- 1 Tbsp coconut aminos (or tamari)
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 1 cup chopped green onions
- 1/3 cup chopped roasted salted peanuts
- 8 ounces Pad Thai rice noodles (We like Annie Chun’s brand)
- To a small saucepan, add tamarind, coconut aminos, coconut sugar, chili garlic sauce, lime juice, and vegetarian fish sauce (optional) and heat over medium heat until just simmering. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring occasionally, then turn off heat. Set aside.
- Add Pad Thai noodles to a large bowl and cover with just boiling water. Stir and cover and cook according to package instructions (usually about 5-6 minutes or until al dente).
- Drain noodles and toss with a little sesame oil to prevent sticking. Set aside.
- Heat a large-rimmed skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add oil and tofu and sauté for about 4 minutes, turning occasionally so it browns on all sides. Add red pepper flakes or Thai chilies, garlic, and coconut aminos (be careful, as the coconut aminos can splatter). Toss gently to combine until garlic is just slightly browned.
- Add noodles, Pad Thai sauce, bean sprouts, green onions, and peanuts and cook over medium-high heat, tossing occasionally (tongs are most useful) for about 2-3 minutes or until the sauce has coated everything and the dish is hot.
- To serve, plate with additional garnishes such as lime wedges, bean sprouts, peanut sauce, shredded carrot, cilantro, and sriracha or chili garlic sauce (all optional).
- Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for approximately 3-4 days.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with brown rice Pad Thai noodles and without optional ingredients or garnishes.