This Vegan Pad Thai with kale is a veggie-packed twist on a street food classic. It’s balanced, fresh and filling. Made with lots of greens like kale, peas, cilantro and cucumber, it takes just 30 minutes from start to finish.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- All the best flavors of the original: This dish still uses the same classic pad thai flavors of cilantro, lime, a hint of sweetness (from maple syrup instead of palm sugar), peanuts and chilli.
- Versatile Veggies: Packed with vibrant kale, crunchy carrots, and peas, this recipe adds even more variety and nutrition to a healthy dish. Plus, it’s versatile – use what you have in the refrigerator! The lime juice, coriander and peanut sauce brings everything together at the end.
- Balanced and filling: I love this meal because it is so delicious but perfectly balanced. The rice noodles are a source of carbs, the tempeh is the protein, lots of veggies plus peanut butter and a little bit of vegetable oil for cooking make up the healthy fats. It’s super filling and satisfying!
- Quick and Easy: I find super fresh recipes sometimes take ages but this one is very quick and will be on the table in 30 minutes. If you want to use it for meal prep, I’d suggest just chopping your veggies and making the sauce in advance, then cook the noodles and throw it all together on the night for the best texture.
Ingredients for Vegan Pad Thai
Here are some of the key ingredients for this recipe:
- Rice Noodles: A gluten-free alternative to regular noodles, providing complex carbs for sustained energy. If you can find brown rice noodles, that would be even better!
- Natural Peanut Butter: Adds a smooth creamy finish and healthy fats to the sauce.
- Pure Maple Syrup: A natural sweetener – you could substitute this for brown sugar or palm sugar if preferred.
- Fresh Lime: whatever you do PLEASE use fresh lime, not bottled. It gives a lot of the flavor to this dish and makes it taste fresh and zesty.
- Tempeh: Tempeh is the plant-protein of choice in this dish. It’s similar to tofu but has a more dense creamy texture, with some whole beans remaining. The flavour is also stronger and almost cheese-like as it is fermented. If you prefer tofu, or can’t find tempeh, then feel free to substitute it 🙂
Now, all the ingredients and specific quantities are listed in the recipe card at the bottom of this post, but here is a shopping list for your convenience:
- Brown rice noodles (or regular rice noodles)
- Creamy peanut butter
- Pure maple syrup
- Frozen green peas
- Yellow onion
- Soy Sauce
- Fresh cilantro
- Green onions (spring onion)
- Crushed peanuts (optional)
How to Make Vegan Pad Thai
This recipe for vegan pad thai is super straightforward! Check the recipe card at the bottom of this post for all the details, but here are some high-level are step-by-step instructions:
Step One: Cook Noodles to packet instructions.
Step Two: Make the sauce by whisking all ingredients together. Add a splash of water if you’d like a thinner consistency.
Step Three: Sauté the veggies and the tempeh.
Step Four: Combine the sauce, noodles, tempeh and veggies.
Step Five: Top with cucumber, cilantro, crushed peanuts and a wedge of lime. Eat immediately and enjoy!
Substitutions and Variations
Noodles: You could use any kind of noodle you like! Rice noodles come in varying widths and white and brown options. Pad Thai is made with rice noodles but you could also use wheat or ramen noodles if preferred.
Peanut butter: If you’re allergic to peanuts or prefer not to eat them, you can swap the peanut butter for almond butter and omit the granulated peanuts. For a crunchy garnish you could substitute the granulated peanuts for fried shallots if desired.
Maple syrup: Don’t have any maple syrup? You can swap this out for brown sugar, agave syrup or any other syrup, sweetener or sugar. Add slightly less than what the recipe calls for in case the alternative you use is sweeter than maple syrup, then taste test and adjust to your preferences.
Lime: You can swap lime for lemon if you’re in a pinch or prefer the taste of lemon.
Protein: Tempeh can be a little polarizing for its unique pressed-soybean texture and fermented flavor. It can be swapped for tofu or any other protein of choice – this would be great with plant-based chicken or beef strips, or even shelled edamame.
Vegetables: You don’t have to stick to kale, peas and carrot! Customize the vegetable mix based on availability and personal taste preferences. Try bean shoots or snow peas, spinach, silverbeet, bok choy or any veggies you would like.
Garnishes: Mix up the finishing ingredients if desired. This would be great with avocado, sesame seeds or fried shallots. Make sure you have a mix of fresh flavours and crisp textures to keep the dish satisfying and balanced.
You can keep leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Consume within 2-3 days for optimal freshness. Ideally, keep the garnishes of cucumber, green onion, peanuts and coriander separate so they don’t go soggy.
I hope you love this healthy Vegan Pad Thai! Don’t forget to try some of my other Thai and Asian inspired dinners like my Peanut Curry (similar to Massaman), Udon Noodle Stir Fry and my 5 Minute Stir Fry Sauce which can be added to almost any combo of veggies for an easy meal. Let me know what you think of this one in the comments below and feel free to tag me in your creations on Instagram @glowdiaries___ . I love to see what you’re making and I will repost it to my stories 🙂
Vegan Pad Thai with Kale (Healthy & Easy)
- 8 oz dry rice noodles (225g)
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 onion diced
- 10 oz tempeh cubed
- 4 carrots peeled and sliced into matchsticks
- 4 cups fresh kale leaves stems removed and roughly chopped (about 1/2 a large bunch)
- 10 oz frozen peas (280g)
- 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter natural
- 1 lime juiced
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes optional
- 1 cucumber quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro roughly chopped
- 1 lime sliced into wedges
- 2 tbsp crushed peanuts
- 3 stalks green onion thinly sliced
- Cook rice noodles according to the package instructions. Drain well.
- Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together all sauce ingredients until smooth. Add a little extra water if you prefer a thinner sauce.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and sauté the onion 2 minutes. Next, add tempeh and cook for a further 2 minutes. Then add kale, carrots, peas, and onions, stirring occasionally, until kale has wilted and carrots are crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. If needed, add water 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time as needed, to prevent the vegetables sticking to the pan.
- Toss noodles with cooked vegetables and peanut sauce. Season with salt or extra soy sauce to taste. Top each serving with cucumber slices, cilantro, green onion, peanuts (if using), and lime wedges.