This Vegetarian Pad Thai is a colorful combination of fresh produce, an easy vegetarian pad Thai sauce, and freshly spiralized zucchini noodles. It’s a magic wand that transforms classic pad Thai into a healthy, low-carb, 30-minute dinner.
My love for pad Thai runs deep.
So much so, that when Ben and I visited Thailand, we split a plate of pad Thai every single day of the trip, both at lunch and at dinner.
It was so tasty and such a bargain, we couldn’t resist!
Back on this side of the Pacific Ocean, pad Thai is still a dish I love to cook at home.
It’s fast, easy, and hits the spot every time I’m feeling tempted by takeout (this recipe is a better choice!).
If you are going for authenticity, this Healthy Shrimp Pad Thai with rice noodles is most like the version we ate daily in Thailand.
That said, during our travels we often came across vegetarian pad Thai too.
5 Star Review
“I cannot tell people how wonderful this dish is – just DELISH!”— Martha —
Today, I’m sharing a vegetarian pad Thai inspired by those we devoured on our trip (read more about our travels in this post: Thailand Part 1).
One major difference between today’s vegetarian pad Thai and the ones in Bangkok?
While not traditional, swapping zucchini noodles for classic rice noodles is a great way to make pad Thai a healthy dinner option for any night (or if you’re me in Thailand, every night) of the week.
Zoodles Vs. Rice Noodles
When summer produce is in its prime, swapping the usual rice noodles for spiralized zucchini to make zoodle pad Thai is an excellent way to use up that bumper crop.
At other times of year, I still love to cook with zucchini noodles beause:
- Zucchini is accessible and affordable.
- Zucchini noodles cut the calories and carbs of traditional pad Thai dramatically.
- It packs extra vitamins, minerals, and a serving of veggies into every bowl.
- Zoodles make pad Thai an easy, one-pot meal because no boiling of water is required.
If you haven’t jumped on the zoodle train yet, this vegetarian pad Thai is an ideal place to start (then follow-up with this Zucchini Stir Fry).
How to Make Vegetarian Pad Thai
Start to finish, this vegetarian pad Thai recipe is ready in 30 minutes (here are more of my favorite 30-minute meals).
It offers healthy proteins and fats thanks to a trio of eggs, peanuts, and edamame, and is veggie packed.
The sauce is salty, a little funky (in a good way), and has a touch of spice and sweetness.
- Zucchini. The zucchini noodles drink up the flavor of the tasty pad Thai sauce, provide an extra serving of veggies, and make this meal incredibly healthy and low carb too.
- Soy Sauce. Gives this dish its iconic briny, umami flavor. I always opt for low sodium soy sauce to keep the dish from becoming too salty.
- Rice Vinegar. Has a serious impact on the yum-factor of this sauce. Don’t skip or skimp!
- Chili Garlic Sauce. Or Sriracha, if you prefer, provides just the right amount of kick.
- Honey. Sweetness to balance the chili sauce (classic pad Thai uses regular sugar if you prefer).
- Eggs. Provides protein to make this dish filling and satisfying.
- Carrots. Add a bright burst of orange color and pack each serving with vitamin A.
- Bean Sprouts. A classic addition to any pad Thai recipe. It makes the recipe fresh and a little crunchy.
- Edamame. Provide a nice contrasting texture while contributing a dose of healthy plant-based protein. (If you love edamame, try my Edamame Hummus.)
- Garlic and Green Onions. Add a little extra aroma and zip.
- Cilantro. Finishes the dish with a little color and fresh herb taste.
Add a sprinkling of fresh, chopped Thai basil (or regular basil) and chives for yet another layer of flavor.
- Lime. A final squeeze of fresh lime juice balances and brightens the dish.
- Peanuts. Give this dish a nice crunch that contrasts the tender vegetables beautifully. A pad Thai essential.
- In a small bowl, mix the sauce ingredients.
For sweeter pad Thai, add additional honey. For spicier, add additional chili paste.
- Spiralize the zucchini into zoodles (or cut into ribbons using a Y-shaped vegetable peeler). Set aside.
- Next, sauté the garlic, and scramble the eggs until they just begin to set.
- Add the zucchini noodles, bean sprouts, carrots, edamame, green onions, and sauce. Then, cook until the veggies are crisp-tender.
- Garnish with peanuts, cilantro, and lime wedges. Serve and ENJOY!
- To Store. Zucchini noodles soften when reheated. Therefore, this recipe is best enjoyed the day it is made, but it can last in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.
- To Reheat. For best results, quickly warm the pad Thai, uncovered, in a skillet over medium-high heat until heated through.
- To Freeze. Freezing is not recommended.
Meal Prep Tip
While this recipe does not hold up the best to reheating, you can prep the ingredients in advance to cut down cooking time for a make-ahead dinner.
- Prewash, spiralize, and chop your produce up to 24 hours before cooking.
- Store prepped veggies in separate or divided containers in the refrigerator.
- Mix the sauce ahead and store it in an airtight container.
Then, when ready to cook, simply heat your skillet or wok and cook as directed in the recipe. Easy peasy!
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Spiralizer. For making fresh, healthy zucchini, beet, or butternut squash noodles.
- Nonstick skillet. A nice, deep skillet is ideal for making veggie-pack stir fry recipes.
- Wok. If you have the cupboard space and enjoy making stir fries often (like this Vegetable Lo Mein), a wok is a great investment.
Frequently Asked Questions
No. If we get technical, traditional pad Thai is not typically vegetarian because most authentic recipes contain fish sauce which is derived from fermented small fish or krill. Additionally, pad Thai recipes often contain sautéed shrimp or chicken, although tofu is also common.
Vegetarian pad Thai is an excellent, healthy dinner option. As long as you don’t go overboard on the sugar or oil, then pad Thai is low in fat, cholesterol, and calories. Recipes like this one also get bonus points since it swaps traditional rice noodles for zucchini noodles (zoodles) making it a low-carb meal and offering even more vegetables.
No. Unlike General Tso’s Chicken, a popular Chinese dish that actually has origins in Taiwan and the United States, pad Thai was actually created in Thailand.
Vegetarian Pad Thai
FOR THE SAUCE:
FOR THE VEGETARIAN PAD THAI:
- 2 medium zucchini
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil divided
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 1 cup grated carrots
- 1/2 cup shelled edamame
- 2 large green onions finely chopped
- 1/4 cup finely chopped peanuts
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Lime wedges for serving
- Additional hot sauce for serving
- In a small bowl, stir together the sauce ingredients. If you prefer a sweeter pad Thai, add additional honey. For spicier, add additional chili paste.
- With a spiralizer, cut the zucchini into zoodles. If you don’t have a spiralizer, you can cut the zucchini into ribbons using a Y-shaped vegetable peeler. Set aside.
- Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, then crack the eggs directly into the skillet. Break apart the yolk with the spatula and let cook for 30 seconds, until just beginning to set. Add the noodles and sauce and stir to coat. Next, add the bean sprouts, carrots, edamame, and chopped green onions and let cook until the bean sprouts are crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Sprinkle on the peanuts and cilantro. Serve immediately with lime wedges and additional hot sauce as desired.
- TO STORE: Because zucchini noodles soften when reheated, this recipe is best enjoyed the day it is made, but it can last in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.
- TO REHEAT: For best results, quickly warm the pad Thai, uncovered, in a skillet over medium-high heat until heated through.
- TO FREEZE: Freezing is not recommended.
- To Make Vegan Pad Thai: Use maple syrup or light agave in place of the honey (for vegan), and omit the eggs or substitute them for extra edamame or Air Fryer Tofu.
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