Rice noodles, broccoli, red cabbage, and carrot are tossed in a sweet and spicy vegan Pad Thai sauce and garnished with crushed peanuts, cilantro, and a lime wedge. Pad Thai is known for it’s sweet and spicy flavors. 

vegan pad thai in a white bowl with basil garnish

Pad Thai is one of my absolute favorite Thai dishes. I used to work at an Asian restaurant all through college and this was my favorite thing to order off the menu– until I learned that it had 1600mg of sodium. This version definitely has way less and is packed full of fresh veggies. If you’re looking for more healthy Asian-inspired dishes, check out my Sweet Walnut Shrimp or my Peanut Noodles for One

Here’s what you’ll need to make Vegan Pad Thai

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vegan pad thai with basil garnish in a white bowl

How to make Vegan Pad Thai

Make your sauce

First, you’ll want to whisk together all of the ingredients for the pad thai sauce. Traditionally, Pad Thai has fish sauce, but since this dish is vegan, we’re making a few substitutions. The deep red color of the sauce comes from the tomato paste and paprika, which adds a nice umami flavor. Add as little or as much Sriracha as you like — the more you add, the spicier it’ll be. 

vegan pad thai with basil

Cook your tofu nice and crispy

The trick to the crispy tofu is to make sure it’s sliced into thin strips. I used half a block of extra-firm tofu for this recipe. I sliced it into 1/4 inch pieces and then cut those in half to form these squares. When the tofu is thinner, it’s easier to make it crispy and chewy. By seasoning with salt, pepper, and a splash of soy sauce, you can really give tofu great flavor. 

Saute the veggies

While the rice noodles are cooking (according to package instructions), you’ll cook the veggies. Heat up the olive oil in a large skillet and add the garlic, shallot, red cabbage, carrots, and broccoli. You’ll stir-fry the veggies until they begin to soften– but not too much, as you want them to have a little bit of a bite. Once the veggies are done you’ll add the sauce, noodles, and tofu to the skillet and toss well to combine. 

overhead angle of vegan pad thai with thai basil in a white bowl with chop sticks

Quick tips for making Vegan Pad Thai

  • Be sure to use Asian rice noodles for this recipe, the texture is very important! You can find them at your local Asian grocery store. 
  • Sub in any veggie that you like! I love crunchy broccoli and carrots in this dish. 
  • Thai basil is hard to find. I grow it in my backyard herb garden, but you can also sometimes find it at your local Asian grocery store. Don’t worry if you can’t find any, just use cilantro instead. 

Here’s the recipe: 


Vegan Pad Thai with Crispy Fried Tofu

  • Author: Emily @ Zen & Spice
  • Yield: 2 1x


For the sauce

  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Sriracha, to taste

For the tofu

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 block extra firm tofu, cut into 1/4” thick squares
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp soy sauce

For the pasta

  • 8oz (half box) Stir-fry rice noodles
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup broccoli, chopped


  • chopped peanuts
  • lime wedges
  • cilantro or Thai basil


  1. Mix all the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the tofu and season with salt, pepper, and soy sauce. Cook for 4 minutes on each side, until the tofu is crispy and brown. Set aside on paper towels to drain.
  3. Cook the noodles according to package directions.
  4. In a large pan, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil. Add the shallot, garlic, red cabbage, carrots and broccoli. Cook for 5-6 minutes, until the veggies start to soften. Add the noodles, sauce and tofu and toss well.
  5. Remove from heat and divide into two large bowls. Add chopped peanuts, lime and cilantro for garnish.


  1. i tried to read the book but within first couple chapters, i knew it was not my thing..gin and tonic is my choice of drink too..damn it :(

    i am always trying to make tofu based dishes and over the years, surprisingly my boyfriend has also started to like it. you should try this next time -https://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Plenty-Ottolenghi-Black-Pepper-Tofu i have tried to just stir fry it rather than deep frying and its amazing.

    1. Haha its’ definitely not for everyone ;) The language they use is pretty hilarious, at least in my opinion lol! That tofu looks amazing!! I will add that to my list to try!

  2. i just bought so much tofu! I need to make this! pinned :)

    1. let me know if you try it! :)

  3. This looks so delicious! My husband will also eat tofu when I make it crispy and pair it with my peanut soba noodles!!

    1. Oooo I bet Nick would love peanut soba noodles. I’ll have to try the two together next time :)

  4. Our men sound the same! My husband has definitely warmed up to some plant-based meals I’ve made but it’s been a long journey :) I will have to make this one, soon!

    1. Haha yes it’s been a 6 year journey for us. When I first met him he didn’t know what an asparagus was. :)

  5. I am a big tofu fan! Love how simple this dish is!

  6. Gorgeous recipe Emily! This is totally my kind of meal, especially with the crispy fried tofu on top. Yum, yum, yum. So nice meeting you last week! See you in a bit in Vermont! :)

    1. Thanks Alex! :) It was so nice to meet you “in real life” too!!

  7. Amongst all you have going on and feeling under the weather, I am so appreciative and thankful for this post!! You are the best.

  8. Sony vega says:

    This looks so delicious! My husband will also eat tofu when I make it crispy and pair it with my peanut soba noodles!!
    Sony vegas pro

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