May 1, 2023

Plant-Based Whole30 Pad Thai

Pad Thai is a sweet and sour stir-fried noodle dish commonly enjoyed as street food in Thailand. This plant-based Whole30 twist on pad Thai is made with spaghetti squash “noodles,” firm tofu, and colorful veggies covered in a sweet, sour, and creamy peanut sauce. Authentic pad Thai is made with tamarind, sugar, fish sauce, egg, shrimp, and peanuts. For this plant-based Whole30 pad Thai, we add peanut butter to the sauce to make the pad Thai more satisfying and satiating. We also use coconut aminos instead of sugar and fish sauce to add that sweet, savory flavor.

Plant-Based Pad Thai Swaps, Tips & Tricks

You can swap the peanuts/peanut butter for another nut/seed like almonds/almond butter, cashews/cashew butter, or toasted sesame seeds/tahini. 

Instead of tofu, you can use tempeh. Cut into cubes and steam (making it easier to soak up sauce), then marinate it while preparing the pad Thai. 

Feel free to swap the spaghetti squash for other “noodles” of choice, such as sweet potato noodles, zucchini noodles, or kelp noodles. If using sweet potato or zucchini noodles, opt for fresh noodles or make your own instead of frozen ones. Frozen veggie noodles can turn mushy easily. To make veggie noodles, use a spiralizer or even a peeler – the noodles will be much thinner and cook more quickly with a peeler. Stir fry with a bit of oil until just tender. Spaghetti squash or kelp noodles are a good option if you don’t have the tools to make your own noodles.

Or, if you want to skip the noodles entirely, you can turn these into lettuce cups! Butter lettuce and romaine are crunchy and sturdy – perfect for lettuce cups. 

This pad Thai recipe is really very versatile, so feel free to swap and adjust ingredients as needed to make it your own!

Bonus: Want to have a restaurant-level tofu experience at home? Check out this blog post for our favorite tips and tricks from Plant-Based Registered Dietician Rhyan Geiger!

Plant-Based Pad Thai

Photos & Recipe by Ellie Yamanaka

Plant-Based Whole30 Pad Thai

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes


Spaghetti Squash “Noodles”

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 tsp avocado oil


  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar or tamarind paste
  • 3 tbsp coconut aminos
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp water


  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • 16 oz extra-firm tofu cubed

Stir Fry

  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 bell pepper sliced
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage
  • 8 oz bean sprouts
  • 2 green onions cut into 2-inch segments
  • 1/2 cup cilantro chopped
  • 1/4 cup toasted peanuts crushed


Spaghetti Squash

  • PREHEAT oven to 425°F.
  • CUT spaghetti squash in half widthwise. Use a knife to cut around the seeds, then scoop them out with a spoon.
  • RUB avocado oil inside both halves, then place them on a baking sheet, cut side up. Roast for 30-45 minutes until tender. The skin should pierce easily with a knife or fork when done.
  • PLACE cut side down in a colander to drain off excess moisture and cool for 10 minutes.
  • SCRAPE the squash into strands with a fork. Let the strands drain off in the colander while you prepare the rest of the pad Thai.

Stir Fry

  • MIX sauce ingredients together in a bowl. Add extra water if needed to thin the sauce to a pourable consistency. Set aside.
  • HEAT 1 Tbsp avocado oil in a large wok or skillet. Pat tofu dry with paper towels then add to skillet. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and cook undisturbed for a couple minutes on each side until golden brown. Transfer to a plate.
  • ADD remaining 1 tablespoon avocado oil to skillet. Once hot, add garlic and fry for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  • ADD bell pepper and cabbage and cook until crisp tender, 3-5 minutes.
  • STIR in bean sprouts, green onions, tofu, and half the sauce. Cook for another minute, tossing well to distribute the sauce.
  • TURN off the heat then add in spaghetti squash, cilantro, peanuts, and remaining sauce. Toss until well combined.
  • GARNISH with extra lime juice, cilantro, and peanuts as desired.
Ellie Yamanaka from ellielikescooking wearing a white top and smiling at the camera.

Ellie Yamanaka

Ellie Yamanaka is a food photographer and recipe developer who loves making simple, feel-good plant-based recipes that don't compromise on taste or nutrition. She's been making messes in the kitchen since she was 12, and after finishing university 10 years later, she decided to trade in her nutrition degree for a camera and a kitchen. Through her food blog Ellie Likes Cooking, she hopes to inspire others to eat more plants and get creative in the kitchen.