15-Minute Vegan Pad Thai

By Alexandra Caspero on May 21, 2021
Did someone call for pad thai noodles? Here's a vegan version!
Serves 2-4

Did someone call for pad thai noodles? Here’s a vegan version! It’s ready in less time than it takes to call up take-out or rummage around in the pantry trying to decide what to make!

 

For a Danish/Italian gal with a soft spot for pasta and pastries, I have pretty strong feelings about Thai food. Especially when I can make it in fifteen minutes or less without any special trips to the Asian market down the street!

This is a hangry, exhausted from a long day of work, don’t-feel-like-cooking kind of meal. That’s why I came up with this recipe for vegan pad thai in the first place! At almost 9 PM one night, BL was working late and I had almost thrown in the towel on dinner. I tend to do that as it gets later into the evening. Once the clock hit 8 o’clock, I started looking for excuses to eat avocado toast or grab take out for dinner.

Anyway, BL called to let me know that he was on his way home and starving. Extra emphasis on starving. After I tried persuading him that cereal was an acceptable dinner selection, I went into the kitchen to see what I could make for dinner.

I had:

  • Tofu
  • Spinach
  • Brown rice noodles

Let’s try making some pad thai noodles! And, it worked. In fifteen minutes. And I’ve never looked back!

Note: For a complete list of ingredients and instructions on how to make this vegan pad thai, keep scrolling down until you see the recipe card!

15 Minute Vegan Pad Thai

Can you really make this recipe in 15 minutes? 

This is a working 15 minute meal. You’ll need to take advantage of every second to get it on the table in 15 minutes, but it can be done. 

  • While the water is boiling, make the sauce and prep the tofu. 
  • As you crumble the tofu and cook it in the cast-iron pan, chop the vegetables, cook the noodles and assemble the garnishes. 
  • That’s it! Toss everything together and dinner is ready in 15 minutes. 

cooking crumbled tofu in a cast iron skillet

Tips For Making The Best Vegan Pad Thai Recipe

Now, this vegan pad thai recipe isn’t truly authentic, but it’s so incredibly delicious. It’s my go-to meal for my husband and I– especially on nights where we feed the kids early and want to have some alone time after they go to bed. I get downright giddy over these spicy Asian flavors. Here are a few cooking tips I wanted to share with you to make this pad thai recipe at home:

  • I’ve been working on this dry-fry method for tofu lately and it’s really, really good. The secret is using a cast-iron pan to fry out most of the moisture in the tofu. This creates a chewy, dense crumble that’s similar to finely scrambled eggs or ground meat. If you don’t have a cast-iron skillet, I highly recommend one for all vegan cooks as it really is the perfect way to cook tofu.
  • Want to know my secret ingredient to make the perfect homemade vegan pad thai sauce? It’s peanut butter. Yep. Peanut butter. It helps create a creamy, smooth, and nutty sauce to coat the noodles. It’s an easy sauce, but don’t worry – it’s also oh-so-delicious!
  • If you are gluten-free, make sure to swap out the soy sauce for tamari sauce or coconut aminos. 
  • To make it spicy, add a bit more of the chili paste or serve it with a few squeezes of sriracha. 
  • I personally like to liberally garnish with chopped peanuts and cilantro but you can leave it out if you want.

15 Minute Vegan Pad Thai

What To Serve With Vegan Pad Thai

Most of the time, I think our vegan pad thai recipe is a meal in and of itself. This really serves 2 huge portions, but can also be divided into fourths if you want to add in a side of other flavors. If I’ve got more time, then I love serving these with my tofu spring rolls or an extra side of stir-fried vegetables. 

  • Vegan Vietnamese Tofu Spring Rolls  The crunchy goodness of vegetable spring rolls is the perfect complement to vegan pad thai.
  • Sheet Pan Veggie Stir Fry I love to get in as many veggies as I can. So, this veggie stir-fry recipe pairs nicely with the noodles and peanut sauce.
  • Cucumber Salad Add a refreshing touch to your meal with a crunchy cucumber salad!
  • Papaya Salad- A tangy fresh salad with Asian flavors is a nice touch. You could also make a mango salad. Both mango and papaya are used in traditional Thai cooking.

15 Minute Vegan Pad Thai

 

 

How To Properly Store Vegan Pad Thai Leftovers

You can keep any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. I like to put it in individual serving containers so it’s ready to heat up in the microwave at work, school, or home. Makes lunch so easy the next day!

If you know you won’t use it up in time, you can also freeze leftovers in individual servings for reheating in a skillet or microwave later. In freezer-safe containers, it will last for up to three months frozen.

15 Minute Vegan Pad Thai

I hope you enjoy this vegan pad thai as much as we do. If you try it, make sure to come back, leave a comment and rate it. Your feedback helps others and seeing you make my recipes makes my day! 

More Noodle Dishes To Try:

15 Minute Vegan Thai Noodles

Print
15 Vegan Pad Thai Noodles

15 Minute Vegan Pad Thai

  • Author: Alex
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 13 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 2-4* servings 1x
  • Category: dinner, main, pasta, easy, healthy
  • Cuisine: Thai
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

15 minute vegan pad thai! Save this one when you need a quick, healthy meal. Crispy tofu, brown rice noodles, spinach, peanuts and a simple pad thai sauce.


  • Author: Alex
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 13 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 2-4* servings 1x
  • Category: dinner, main, pasta, easy, healthy
  • Cuisine: Thai
  • Diet: Vegan
  • Author: Alex
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 13 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 2-4* servings 1x
  • Category: dinner, main, pasta, easy, healthy
  • Cuisine: Thai
  • Diet: Vegan
Scale

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chili paste
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 8 ounces brown rice noodles
  • 6 ounces spinach leaves
  • 8 ounces tofu, pressed and drained
  • 1/4 cup peanuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 scallion, chopped

Instructions

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook until just al dente according to package directions.
  2. While the water is boiling, whisk together the lime juice, brown sugar, vegetable broth, vinegar, soy sauce, chili paste and peanut butter until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Drain and press the tofu, removing as much water as possible. Heat the tablespoon of oil in a cast iron skillet (or other skillet) over medium heat. Crumble in the tofu directly into the pan and stir, breaking up the tofu as much as possible. Cook until very dry and most moisture is gone, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. While the tofu is cooking, prep the vegetables.
  5. Add the cooked noodles, spinach and sauce to the skillet. Toss for 3-4 minutes until warmed through and spinach is wilted. The sauce should have reduced and thickened with the noodles and spinach.
  6. Stir in the peanuts, cilantro and scallions. Divide onto plates and serve immediately.

Notes

*This makes two large servings or 4 smaller portions.

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Plant-Based Chef and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

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    1. Louise
      July 19, 2022 AT 6:35 am

      Don’t typically love the texture of tofu but this was fantastic!

    2. Cris
      January 22, 2022 AT 2:02 pm

      You couldn’t ask for a simpler, more delicious noodle recipe. My family of three, including a 19 month old, loved it. My little guy prefers his tofu soft and bouncy, so I opted for cubes instead of crumbles as the recipe instructs. 10/10.

    3. Paige
      November 10, 2018 AT 4:14 pm

      Absolutely loved this and so did my kids and husband! Says a lot to please 3 year olds and a meat-lover husband! Can’t wait to make it again

      1. Alex
        November 11, 2018 AT 8:49 am

        So glad you liked this one!

    4. Ian
      September 6, 2018 AT 7:16 pm

      Delicious! One of my favorite weeknight meals.

    5. saresyn
      November 24, 2017 AT 11:08 am

      What kind of tofu does it require? Firm? Extra-firm? Not Silken I’m guessing.. ?

      1. Alex
        November 25, 2017 AT 3:12 pm

        Yes, firm or extra firm will work, with extra-firm preferred. Not silken. Thanks!

    6. Meghann
      March 2, 2017 AT 9:41 am

      Made this for the fam for dinner last night and it was WONDERFUL!!!! Great way to get the hubby and kids to eat tofu 😉 I doubled the recipe and the only problem was my pan wasn’t quite big enough!!!

    7. Shanasy
      February 21, 2017 AT 10:28 pm

      Thanks for this quick recipe! I’ve share it (the link) with my FB group “Super Quick Plant-Based Recipes” https://www.facebook.com/SuperQuickPBRecipes/ I think they will love it! (I like to feature websites that offer plant-based recipes that take 20 minutes or less!)

      1. Alex
        February 23, 2017 AT 11:49 am

        Awesome- thanks Shanasy!

    8. Lauren Harris-Pincus
      February 17, 2017 AT 6:08 pm

      I want some!!! So yummy 🙂

    9. Maria
      February 17, 2017 AT 1:30 pm

      This looks so good! Definitely makes me want to change my dinner plans and make this tonight!

    10. Lauren Grant | Zestful Kitchen
      February 17, 2017 AT 10:02 am

      Yum, this looks so great. I’ve been looking for a good vegetarian pad thai recipe and can’t to try this one!