If you’re looking for an easy, hassle-free Pad Thai recipe with no fish sauce and no tamarind, you’ve come to the right place! This Pad Thai comes together in under 30 minutes and is sure to impress. Plus, the sauce requires just five ingredients…I mean, can you say easy!
Pad Thai is, in my opinion, one of the best meals out there. Before I moved to Florida, I had the best authentic Thai restaurant near me and their Pad Thai never disappointed. While I still miss it, knowing I have the ability to whip up Pad Thai that’s almost as good, is pretty dang cool.
And don’t worry, while this Pad Thai is super easy, it is not lacking in flavor. Each ingredient used packs a powerful punch. Plus, it’s made even better with my all time favorite three ingredient tofu recipe. This meal is also SO versatile, you can whip it up for a last minute family dinner or for a fancy date!
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WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE
Minimal Ingredients – To make the Pad Thai sauce we’re just using simple pantry ingredients that you most likely already have on hand.
Easy to Make – This recipe takes under 30 minutes to prepare and only requires a few simple steps.
Tons of Flavor – Despite the fact that this Pad That recipe requires minimal ingredients, it’s still absolutely delicious! I can genuinely say you won’t notice that there’s no fish sauce or tamarind.
INGREDIENTS NEEDED (WITH SUBSTITUTIONS)
To make this Pad Thai recipe you will need the following ingredients:
For the Sauce
Soy Sauce – Soy sauce makes up the bulk of the sauce and by adding a bit more, we’re able to replace the fish sauce.
Rice Vinegar – A key ingredient, rice vinegar helps replace both the tamarind and fish sauce! In a pinch you can use apple cider vinegar (and use a bit less maple syrup) but the Pad Thai is way better with rice vinegar.
Maple Syrup – For a bit of sweetness to the Pad Thai sauce, we use maple syrup. You can also use agave – however I find agave to be slightly sweeter, so I would decrease the amount used slightly.
Lime Juice – To add a bit of tang to the sauce and to substitute for the tanginess that tamarind provides, we’re using lime juice. You can also top the Pad Thai with extra lime juice if desired!
Peanut Butter – Adding peanut butter to the sauce provides a smooth peanut flavor and creaminess that brings the Pad Thai to a whole new level.
Red Chili Flakes – If you want to add a bit of spice to your sauce, you can add red chili flakes. I think it adds the perfect amount of heat to the sauce!
For the Tofu
Extra-Firm Tofu – For this recipe, we’re using extra-firm tofu for the best consistency. However, you can also use firm tofu. Just make sure to thoroughly press the tofu prior to preparing.
Soy Sauce – Adding a bit of soy sauce adds a burst of flavor to the tofu.
Olive Oil – Olive oil creates a nice base for the corn starch as well as helps the tofu crisp up. Don’t have olive oil? You can use any neutral oil you have on hand.
Corn Starch – To give the tofu a nice crisp, we’re adding a light dusting of corn starch before baking.
Pad Thai Noodles – You can get any brand of Pad Thai / rice noodles but these Pad Thai noodles have the best consistency/flavor – they’re my go to!
Green Onions & Carrots – To add flavor and texture, carrots and green onions are added to the Pad Thai. You can get creative and add additional veggies as well!
Cilantro – Cilantro is used as a garnish and provides a peppery, lemon-y taste. However if you’re one of the people who thinks cilantro tastes like soap…feel free to leave it off!
Peanuts – Chopped peanuts add a delicious taste and perfect crunchy texture to this Pad Thai.
HOW TO MAKE PAD THAI WITHOUT FISH SAUCE
How to Make the Tofu
Step 1: The first step is to preheat the oven to 400F and prep the tofu. To begin, press the tofu to get any water out. You can use a tofu press or simply place the tofu on a plate, then place a paper towel on top of the tofu, and something heavy on top. Then, leave it to press for 15-30 minutes.
Step 2: After all the water has been removed from the tofu, chop the tofu into 1-inch rectangles and add the tofu to a bowl along with the soy sauce and olive oil.
Step 3: Once each piece is coated you can add the corn starch and shake it around until each piece has an even layer. If you don’t have any corn starch on hand, you can skip it, but I love the extra texture it adds to the tofu!
Step 4: Place the tofu on a parchment lined pan and place in the oven for 30 minutes, flipping the tofu half-way through. Or, if you have an air fryer, set the temperature to 400F and air fry for 20 minutes, shaking every 5 minutes.
While I do love how the tofu tastes when made in the oven, I do have to say the air fryer is a game changer. I use my Ninja air fryer just about every day!
How to Make the Pad Thai Sauce & Noodles
Step 5: Next chop the green onions (and make sure to save the dark green part for garnish!) and grate/shred the carrots.
Step 6: Then, sauté the light part of the green onions and the shredded carrots with a bit of oil.
Step 7: While sautéing, whisk together all the sauce ingredients until smooth. Add the sauce to the pan with the veggies and let simmer for a few additional minutes
Step 8: Lastly, boil the Pad Thai noodles! I like to boil mine for about a minute and then let soak for an additional five minutes.
I’d recommend following the instructions on the back of your package. However, if it says just to soak, I’ve always found it needs at least a minute of boiling to be al dente.
Step 9: Then add the tofu and noodles and mix it all together! Garnish with chopped peanuts and cilantro.
STORAGE & REHEATING
This Pad Thai is best when fresh, but you can store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days in the fridge. When ready to enjoy, reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop.
Note: The sauce will soak into the noodles, so I recommend whisking together some extra sauce to add on top of the noodles.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
For the salty sour taste that fish sauce typically provides, we’re using vinegar and soy sauce. This also keeps the Pad Thai vegan-friendly!
To substitute the tamarind we’re using a bit of vinegar, lime juice and maple syrup to provide a tangy, almost fruity taste.
If you want to make this Pad Thai ahead of time, you can prep the noodles, sauce, and veggies in advance. However, make sure to store the sauce and noodles separately so that the noodles don’t absorb all the sauce.
OTHER EASY DINNER RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
If you decide to try this Pad Thai, let me know! I love seeing your recreations tagged on Instagram @nourishedwithnatalie.
Easy Pad Thai (No fish sauce, No tamarind)
- 8 oz Rice/Pad Thai Noodles
Pad Thai Sauce
- 6 tbsp soy sauce
- 4 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tbsp peanut butter
- ½ tsp red chili flakes optional
Toppings + Add-Ins
- 4-6 green onions, chopped
- ½ cup carrots, shredded or grated
- 2 tbsp cilantro
- ¼ cup crushed peanuts
- 14 oz extra firm tofu
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp corn starch or nutritional yeast optional
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Press the tofu for 15-30 minutes to eliminate any extra water (using a tofu press or alternatively place tofu on a plate, cover with a paper towel, and add something heavy to place on top (canned goods, a cookbook, etc).
- Cut the tofu into 1-inch rectangles and add to a bowl along with the soy sauce and olive oil.
- Once evenly coated, add the corn starch/nutritional yeast to the bowl and shake around/use a wooden spoon or spatula, until the tofu pieces have an even layer on each piece.
- Place on a parchment lined pan and bake for 15 minutes, flip each piece of tofu, and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Or, air fry at 400F for 20 minutes, shaking every 5 minutes.
- Grate/shred the carrots and chop the green onions (save the dark green part for garnish).
- Boil the rice noodles for a minute, then let soak for 5 minutes, drain in cold water and set aside (or if instructions say to boil for 5 minutes you can follow that).
- Whisk together all the sauce ingredients in a bowl
- Add the white + light green onions and carrots to a pan (or pot) and lightly sauté, add the sauce and let simmer on low for 3-5 min.
- Add the pasta, sauce and veggies together and serve with cilantro and chopped peanuts.