Rainbow Vegetarian Pad Thai with Peanuts and Basil Recipe - Skillful Cook
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Rainbow Vegetarian Pad Thai with Peanuts and Basil

187 reviews / 4.4 average

Rainbow Vegetarian Pad Thai with a simple five ingredient Pad Thai sauce - adaptable to any veggies you have on hand! So easy and delicious!

Fast and easy? Adaptable? Simple? Delicious? That's this vegetarian pad thai.

Once again, NOODLES.

Here we are again, just me and my big bowl-o-noodles... and a few veggies, and a lot of sauce, and a handful of fresh basil and cilantro.... a fork, a hungry mouth, a heart-eyes emoji... ugh. This reunion with me and cooking could not get any happier.

This Rainbow Vegetarian Pad Thai is first and foremost RAINBOW, which is the only fun way to eat anything in life.

It is brown rice noodles (affiliate link), and spiralized veggies (affiliate link) (because veggies in noodle form feels like more noodles), and a super tangy-delicious Pad Thai sauce that you just shake up in a jar in about five seconds flat, and peanuts that almost instantly start to soak up the sauce, and a gently scrambled egg that kind of cream-ifies the whole thing.

Also: fresh herbs by the fistful. You'll take a bite, you'll love it, and then you'll remember you have to add in the basil, and so you'll add them in and try your second bite complete with the herbs, and OH MY GOODNESS things just went to the next level. I'm so excited for you.

In This Post: Everything You Need For Vegetarian Pad Thai

Prefer To Watch Instead Of Read?

Vegetarian Pad Thai being scooped up with tongs

Low Effort, Big Flavor

This Rainbow Vegetarian Pad Thai (with peanuts and basil dohhh) is just really good, my friends. It is really good and surprisingly easy. I took a few ideas I had seen out there in the big wide internet world (vegetables as noodles! Pad Thai sauce-ery!) and made them into this. And I am so happy with how it turned out + the minuscule amount of effort it takes to get there.

As I've mentioned a few times, I've been really taking it easy lately in the kitchen. When I say take it easy, I don't mean making ten minute basil artichoke toasts and five minute magic green sauce. I mean taking it easy as in NOT COOKING ANYTHING. We're talking life-saving dinner made by friends, hot dogs (gulp), mac and cheese, and chicken nuggets out of the freezer. During these last few weeks, my old self has definitely been food-snob-judging my current self.

It's a hard job, all this noodle-eating, but I'm willing to fight the good fight. Carry on, Warrior!

Pad Thai in Skillet with tongs

Ingredients In This Vegetarian Pad Thai

Lots of easy-to-find, fresh ingredients in this Pad Thai!

  • Brown rice noodles*
  • Veggies (you can use whatever you'd like, but we really love red bell peppers, zucchini, onion, and carrots)
  • Egg
  • Peanuts
  • Fresh herbs

And for the sauce you'll need:

  • fish sauce
  • brown sugar
  • broth
  • white vinegar
  • soy sauce
  • chili paste

How To Make Some Yummy Pad Thai

Let's talk about how to make this Pad Thai, because it's so easy. More like I'll show you with pictures because I talk too much, always.

  1. Prep your noodles and veggies. Soak your noodles in a bowl of cold water to get them ready. Spiralize your veggies - you don't need-need to spiralize. You can use a peeler or just cut the veggies into thin strips. But boy, oh boy! Spiralizers are fun to use!
  2. Shake your sauce. Toss the fish sauce, brown sugar, broth, vinegar, soy sauce, and chili paste into a small jar and shake it up until a sauce forms.
  3. Cook your veg. Stir fry your veggies in a pan with a little bit oil. Just 2-3 minutes should do it so that the veggies remain crispy rather than soggy. No sad veggies in this Pad Thai!
  4. Add the noodles and other bits of yum. Add your drained rice noodles to the hot pan. Move the noodles to the side and cook the egg. Add the veggies back to the pan with the sauce and slurp away on the best vegetarian Pad Thai.
Bell Peppers for Vegetarian Pad Thai
Pad Thai Noodles Soaking
Measuring cup pouring sauce on to pad thai noodles
Tongs grabbing pad thai

Pad Thai Variations

Lots of ways to make these noodles for you! May we suggest...

  • Crisped up tofu - why are these cubes so addictingly good?
  • Bean sprouts - the perfect crunch
  • Garlic - hello, good friend. You are welcome here.
  • Lime squeeze - the perfect freshness right on top
  • Different veggies (mushrooms, green onions, pea pods, so many fresh options!)
Vegetarian Pad Thai Noodles on a Plate

However you Pad Thai, do not, we repeat, DO NOT sleep on these slurpable noodles. Just so, so good.

Vegetarian Pad Thai: Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this without sugar?

If going sugar-free is important to you, make sure to sub another sweetener for the brown sugar. Also important: fish sauce contains trace amounts of sugar.

How sticky should my noodles be?

There is a fine line between the mixture being Just Right Sticky and TOO Sticky. Usually too sticky happens when you cook it too long. Watch it carefully and once you see it starting to come together, remove from heat right away and toss with the veggies.

Should I use all of the sauce?

You might not need all the sauce in this recipe, but I (as a sauce lover) did use all of it! I would say just eyeball whatever amount looks good to you and save the rest to add in later if you want.

How can I make this gluten-free?

This recipe is gluten-free other than the 1 tablespoon soy sauce, so just swap that out for tamari if you need it to be gluten-free!

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Rainbow Vegetarian Pad Thai on a plate with cilantro.

Rainbow Vegetarian Pad Thai with Peanuts and Basil

  • Author: Skillful Cook
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


Rainbow Vegetarian Pad Thai with a simple five ingredient Pad Thai sauce - adaptable to any veggies you have on hand! So easy and delicious!


Units Scale

For the Pad Thai

  • 4 ounces brown rice noodles* (you can get stir-fry type noodles or Pad Thai noodles - and usually that's half a box)
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 red pepper
  • half a yellow onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup peanuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh herbs like cilantro, green onions, and basil, chopped

For the Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce or vegan fish sauce substitute
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar (or sub another sweetener)
  • 3 tablespoons chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chili paste (sambal oelek)


  1. Place the uncooked noodles in a bowl of cold water to soak. Spiralize the zucchini, red pepper, and onion into noodle-like shapes. Cut the carrots into very small pieces (or spiralize them, too, if they're big enough).
  2. Shake up the sauce ingredients in a jar.
  3. Heat a tablespoon of oil over medium high heat. Add the veggies - stir fry with tongs for 2-3 minutes or until tender-crisp (if they are not spiralized, they might need longer). Be careful not to overcook them - they'll get soggy and heavy. Transfer to a dish and set aside.
  4. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan. Drain the noodles - they should be softened by now. Add the noodles to the hot pan and stir fry for a minute, using tongs to toss. Add the sauce and stir fry for another minute or two, until the sauce is starting to thicken and stick to the noodles. Push the noodles aside to make a little room for the egg - pour the beaten egg into the pan and let it sit for 30 seconds or so. Toss everything around with the tongs. The egg mixture will stick to the noodles and everything will start getting sticky.
  5. Add in the vegetables, toss together, and remove from heat. Stir in the peanuts and herbs and serve immediately.


  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 5 mins
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Thai

Keywords: pad thai recipe, easy pad thai, vegetarian pad thai, sticky noodles, pad thai sauce

NOTE: The fish sauce is a key ingredient and the flavor is hard to replicate, and personally, I'm not a die-hard vegetarian, so this works for me as is. But that being said, if I were absolutely 100% vegetarian, I would try this recipe as a vegan fish sauce substitute.

More Slurpable Noodle Recipes

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Instagram images of Pad Thai.

One More Thing!

This recipe is part of our simple slurpable noodles page. Check it out!

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    Oh Lindsay I LOVE your easy, healthy meals and this is no exception! This looks amazing, and I love all those crushed up peanuts they add such a fantastic texture!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      My husband and I decided to try going vegetarian for January and this was the first recipe I tried. OMG it was amazing! I followed the recipe as written but added bean sprouts to the veggies as well as a squeeze of fresh lime juice to the sauce and on top of the plated dish. My husband said I could make it every night! It was a big hit and I will absolutely be making it again. Thank you!

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      I made this earlier today and it is SOO salty. I’ve got heartburn now. Compared to other recipes this calls for a lot more soy sauce. I’ll be looking for a new recipe and putting the rest in the bin. Perhaps others could amend the sauce recipe to salvage it or look elsewhere for a recipe.

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    Oh why hello, gorgeous! THIS is what’s making my stomach growl at 7:30 a.m. My oatmeal suddenly seems a bit lacking with all those gloriously swirled noodles ;). Love that you shot this on that wood backdrop as well! It brings such a nice warm and earthy feel to the photo!

    Feel free to send over a plate of this to California haha! Happy Monday!

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hi Lindsay, I really enjoyed your post! It feels so real: life with picky eaters is troublesome especially when it comes to healthy food. Yay to you for having them eating fresh apples! You’re doing a great job with those kids and I am so in awe after admiring this lovely vegetarian pad thai that you mastered meanwhile. Can’t wait to try it 🙂

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    Pad Thai is a BIG deal in our house. Like, I make the sauce on the reg and keep it in the fridge so we can face plant into it ALL the meals.
    And the rainbow goodness? HECK to the yes. I am majorly needing some take-er-easy meals, so I am all about this. Pinned!

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    Goodness, that looks mighty tasty. Okay, so as a newbie to the vegetarian world, can I ask a quick question? Is fish sauce a go for super serious vegetarians? Hosting friends tonight and this looks like just the ticket, but I want to make sure it’ll work for them. Thanks!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Agreed! I would swap it out if the people you’re cooking for are full time, real deal vegetarians. I also linked a vegan fish sauce in the post that you could try as a replacement! Thanks for the comment Amy!

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Hi! I just tried this but made a couple tweaks, just because I didn’t have all the ingredients. I was looking for a good base recipe and this is it! Thanks! 🙂 (My tweaks were really just using a bit of peanut butter to make the sauce creamy and have more body–since I didn’t have fish sauce, using spinach instead of zucchini, omitting the egg, and using sriracha! Oh, and squeezing a little lime juice into the sauce, too!)

        On the topic of vegan fish sauce, I found this recipe a while ago and pinned it for reference (I’m not vegan, but one never knows when it’ll come in handy): https://food52.com/blog/15368-a-fish-sauce-with-all-of-the-flavor-none-of-the-fish

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    This looks so good! I’ve always been a little afraid of making Pad Thai at home because I thought the sauce was difficult, but your sauce appears to be so easy! I must try this out!
    xx Sydney

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    My current obsession is spring rolls, and I would TOTES wrap up leftovers (if they exist) with lettuce, some quick pickled veg, and a drizzle of sweet chili sauce. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaas.

    PS- I just realized that I majorly mess up your stats. I subscribe to your email list, which I check on my “vintage” iPhone 4S. But then. I type in the website when I get to my computer for the day to read/comment/ruin all your hard work analyzing traffic to POY. Sorry!

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Woah this recipe was SO SALTY! I couldn’t eat more than two bites and had to throw it out. I might try it again though with half as much fish sauce and soy sauce.

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    How awesome is this!
    I know how you feel about not cooking sometimes – most Sundays I get in a cooking slump – and don’t wanna do any cooking at all…then my daughter tries to eat chocolate covered noodles and I’m back in business!

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    Yes, yes, and yesssss. What I wouldn’t give to face-plant in a big ol’ bowl of that right about now! This looks DELISH and SO impressed that you made it to the kitchen and whipped this up despite the craziness. High fives.

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    Another awesome recipe, the pictures make it look absolutely delicious. I’m not a fan of meat less Pad Thai but I will be definitely be using this recipes and adding meat to it.

    PS – The Spiralizer looks like too much fun haha

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Awesome! Hope you enjoy it Chris! 🙂 I love Christopher’s comment about adding shrimp… that could be good too!

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    I think what you are doing for those kids is so amazing. You deserve some time off from cooking.

    This recipe looks delicious; I can’t wait to try it! I have that exact spiralizer and I love it.

    Question about the fish sauce – I have tried some very yucky fish sauces. Can you recommend a brand that is good? Thanks!

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    This recipe looks absolutely delicious! I will definitely have to give it a try!

    I have that exact spiralizer too & love it!

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    Looks great and probably tastes great. WARNING – heart bomb for anyone with heart problems or potential heart problems. 58% sodium????
    Three things hospitals tell you or ask you if you have heart problems or potential
    1 – You are lucky to be alive
    2 – Do you smoke?
    3 – Avoid salt
    ( I have had 3 heart attacks in a year and well under 10% functioning heart so had a little experience LOL) Guess both God and Devil don’t want me yet LOL.
    Try to substitute low sodium ingredients in the sauce if you can
    Would love to taste this recipe though. Looks fantastic. Love your site by the way.

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hey Lindsay,

    This looks deliciously colourful! Will be running out to get a spiralizer so I can try this recipe out at home 🙂

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    Made it tonight and loved the favors! Two problems, though… The noodles didn’t soften and the fish sauce remained stinky after dinner.

    Very disappointed about the noodles since it made the meal inedible. Next time, I’ll boil them a bit or maybe use some whole wheat angel hair pasta (cooked).

    The fish sauce – what can you do..? It’s a bit stinky to me. The dish had great flavor though so I’ll make it again.

    Live spiralizing all the veggies!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Fish sauce – I find it stinky, too! Generally though, the stink leaves (or at least lessens) after a short cook time. You could try cooking the sauce prior to adding it to the noodles to see if that helps. Also, rice noodles are definitely tricky. I think this would be good with angel hair if you decide to go that route. 🙂

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        I couldn’t end on a fail so I made it again tonight. AWESOME!! Bought the correct noodles (love them) and added chicken. Stir fried the chicken in sesame oil with a little crushed red pepper at the beginning and tossed it in at the end. So good!! Thank you for a delicious meal!

      2. Skillful Cook Logo

        I love Pad Thai and this recipe was delicious. I just added a bit of tofu. I haven’t use rice noodles before. I will have to cook them a bit next time as they needed to be softer. My only problem using noodles is getting them incorporated into the dish. I generally end up cutting them in half or they won’t separate. Do you have a suggestion?

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      I had the same issue with the noodles! I don’t understand how they get soft just by soaking/sautéing. Couldn’t even bite into them and I cooked way longer just to see if I could salvage the meal. Not even close to done!