pad thai in a bowl

Peanut Butter Pad Thai (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

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This peanut butter pad thai is a creamy plant-based twist on traditional pad thai. Loaded with tofu and veggies for a hearty and nutritious meal.

a bowl of vegan pad thai

Pad thai has become a very popular dish in the West, which is no wonder because it’s absolutely delicious! How can you go wrong with noodles, veg, protein, and a sweet tangy sauce?

Before we get into the recipe, let me admit: this is not an authentic pad thai recipe. I’m not familiar with Thai cooking, I just enjoy Thai cuisine and this is a riff on pad thai. (Authentic pad thai is also not vegan – it uses fish sauce.) So don’t expect this to taste exactly like pad thai. But I’ve been making this peanut butter “pad thai” for well over a year now and my boyfriend and I love it! Packed with fiber and nutrients from the veggies, protein from the tofu and peanuts, and carbs from the rice noodles, this vegan peanut butter pad thai is delicious, filling, and nutritious.

a bowl of vegan pad thai

Pad Thai FAQ

Can I make it without tamarind paste?
Tamarind will impart the best flavor, but you can use rice vinegar or a mix of rice vinegar and lime juice.

Can I make it without peanut butter?
I love adding peanut butter to make the sauce a little bit creamy, plus peanuts pair really well with pad thai. But you can also use almond butter or sunflower seed butter. You could leave out the nut/seed butter completely, but I find it more satiating and satisfying with it.

Tips for Success

Adjust/scale sauce to your taste ⟶ I prefer lightly sauced dishes (so I can taste the other ingredients not just the sauce), but feel free to scale the sauce ingredients up or add more soy sauce/tamarind/sweetener to suit your tastes.

Use medium firm tofu ⟶ I used to always use firm or extra firm tofu for stir fries, but I always found them to be a little too dry. Medium firm tofu is my new favorite! It crisps up beautifully on the outside when fried but still retains a chewy, bouncy texture inside. You can find medium firm tofu at Japanese markets, or in your regular grocery store if you’re lucky (I shop at Sprouts a lot but they only have firm and extra firm tofu😢).

Replace soy sauce with vegan fish sauce ⟶ If you happen to have vegan fish sauce, you can swap that in place of soy sauce (but adjust amount to taste since vegan fish sauce can be more/less salty than soy sauce depending on the brand). For reference, soy sauce typically has about 800-1000 mg sodium per tablespoon.

vegan pad thai in a bowl with chopsticks

More Tasty Noodle Dishes!

chopsticks picking up a bite of pad thai

If you try out this peanut butter pad thai, don’t forget to leave a comment/rating down below and tag me in your photos on instagram I love seeing all of your tasty recreations!

a bowl of vegan pad thai

Peanut Butter Pad Thai

This peanut butter pad thai is a creamy plant-based twist on traditional pad thai. Loaded with tofu and veggies for a hearty and nutritious meal.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Asian, Thai
Servings 4


  • 8 oz rice noodles
  • 16 oz medium firm or firm tofu, drained
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage
  • 1-2 carrots, julienned
  • 8 oz bean sprouts


  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • 2-3 tbsp tamarind paste*
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 2-3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp ground dried shiitake mushrooms**, optional
  • ¼ cup water


  • ¼ cup crushed peanuts
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges


  • Soak rice noodles in hot water for 10-20 minutes until just tender. Drain and rinse under cold water.
  • Meanwhile, mix together sauce ingredients (starting with 2 tbsp tamarind and sugar). Taste and add more tamarind or sugar as desired. Add water as needed to thin. Set aside.
  • Cut tofu into cubes and pat dry with a towel. Heat a tablespoon of cooking oil in a large wok or skillet over medium high heat. Once hot, add tofu and cook undisturbed for a couple minutes on each side until golden brown. Transfer to a plate.
  • Add remaining oil to wok, then add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add cabbage and carrots and cook until crisp-tender, 3-5 minutes.
  • Add bean sprouts, noodles, tofu, and sauce. Cook for another minute, tossing well to combine all the ingredients.
  • Garnish with peanuts, cilantro, green onions, and lime juice.


GROUND DRIED SHIITAKE: Traditional pad thai uses fish sauce which is rich in umami flavor. To make it vegan, we use soy sauce and dried shiitake to add umami. You can omit this if necessary, but it adds an extra layer of flavor.

*Disclosure: This page may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, but the price remains the same to you. Thank you for supporting Ellie Likes Cooking!

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