From Chef To Chef’s

Vegan Drunken Noodles – Connoisseurus Veg

These spicy vegan drunken noodles are packed with flavor! Made with pan-fried rice noodles, tofu, and veggies in spicy sauce, they taste like they came from a restaurant, but are actually really easy to make at home.

White wooden surface set with plate of Vegan Drunken Noodles, skillet, and lime halves.

Drunken noodles are one of my favorite Thai noodle dishes, and I used to always think there was some type of alcohol in the recipe, even though I couldn’t taste it. I mean, how else did they get drunk?

Turns out I was wrong! Drunken noodles (traditionally known as pad kee mao) got their name from the fact that the dish is super spicy and therefore likely to induce one to drink a lot. Enough to get drunk, I suppose!

The nice thing about this vegan drunken noodles recipe is that you can tailor the level of spiciness to suit your palate. Don’t feel like getting drunk tonight? Ease up on the peppers and chili paste! Or just drink water. That’s what I do. Either way, the dish will have plenty of flavor, thanks to ingredients like garlic, ginger, dark mushroom soy sauce, and fresh basil.

Jump to:

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Wide rice noodles. Look for fettuccine style rice noodles. Thinner rice noodles like pad Thai noodles are fine if you can’t find them.
  • Peanut oil. Just about any high-heat oil can be substituted, such as corn oil, canola oil, or coconut oil.
  • Tofu. The recipe calls for super firm tofu, which is really easy to work with. You could substitute firm or extra firm tofu if you’d like, but you’ll need to press it before cooking.
  • Soy sauce. Tamari or liquid aminos can be substituted if needed.
  • Dark mushroom soy sauce. This ingredient might require a trip to the Asian market. If you want to stick with what’s available at your usual grocery store, you can substitute with more regular soy sauce (or tamari or liquid aminos), though the sauce won’t turn out quite as dark and intense. Vegetarian oyster sauce or regular dark soy sauce can also be used as substitutes.
  • Brown sugar. Use organic brown sugar to keep the recipe vegan. Coconut sugar can be substituted if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Cornstarch.
  • Sambal oelek. This Asian chili paste is available in the international aisle at most supermarkets, and it’s where most of the heat in these vegan drunken noodles comes from. Use less for a milder dish, more for extra spice.
  • Shallot. ½ cup of red onion can be substituted if needed.
  • Garlic.
  • Ginger. Use Thai ginger (galangal) if you can find it. Otherwise, regular ginger is fine.
  • Scallions. Also known as green onions!
  • Red bell pepper.
  • Jalapeño pepper. This will also add some heat to the dish, so leave it out if you’d prefer it mild.
  • Basil. Drunken noodles are traditionally made with holy basil, which is a spicy variety that can be hard to find. Lots of restaurants also use Thai basil as a substitute, which has an anise-like flavor. Either is great in this dish, but Italian basil will work just fine if that’s all you can get. My hack for when I have to use Italian basil is to add a pinch of five spice powder — it helps mimic the flavor of Thai basil!
  • Lime wedges. Serve your vegan drunken noodles with these on the side, then squeeze as much juice onto your noodles as you like.

How They’re Made

The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll all the way down if you’d like to skip right to the recipe!

  • Cook your noodles first. Refer to the package directions and just cook them until they’re al dente. Depending on the brand, they may need to be boiled or simply soaked in hot water. In any event, you’ll want to rinse them with cold water and drain them in a colander when they’re done.
  • Do your prep work while the noodles cook. Cut your veggies, mince the garlic, grate the ginger, and mix your sauce up.
Hand stirring sauce ingredients for Vegan Drunken Noodles together in a glass bowl.
  • Pan-fry your tofu. Heat some oil in a nonstick skillet, then add diced tofu.
  • Cook the tofu for a few minutes, flipping the pieces once or twice, until they’re browned on multiple sides.
  • Remove the tofu from the skillet and transfer it to a plate when it’s finished cooking.
Tofu cubes cooking in a skillet.
  • Add some more oil to the skillet, along with finely chopped shallot. Sweat the shallot for a few minutes, until it starts to soften, then add minced garlic, grated ginger, and just the white parts of the scallions. Cook everything a minute or two more.
  • Crank up the heat and add your bell peppers and jalapeños. Stir-fry them for a few minutes, until they brighten in color and become tender-crisp.
Peppers being stir-fried in a skillet.
  • Add your cooked noodles to the skillet, along with the tofu and sauce. Quickly mix everything up so the sauce coats the noodles.
  • Cook the mixture briefly, until the sauce thickens up, which should take less than a minute.

Tip: Tongs or a fork work great for quickly mixing up the noodles and sauce in your skillet.

Tongs tossing Vegan Drunken Noodles in a skillet.
  • Take the skillet off of the burner and add fresh basil and the green parts of your scallions. Stir everything up so that the hot noodles and veggies cause the basil to wilt.
Skillet of Vegan Drunken Noodles on a white wooden surface.
  • Serve your vegan drunken noodles with some lime wedges on the side, and enjoy!
Close up of Vegan Drunken Noodles in a skillet.

Leftovers & Storage

Leftover vegan drunken noodles will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 3 days.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can this recipe be made gluten-free?

It can! Use gluten-free tamari place of the soy sauce and mushroom soy sauce.

Do rice noodles contain eggs?

Nope! Rice noodles typically do not contain egg, although I always recommend checking the ingredients to be safe.

Are drunken noodles normally vegan?

Most drunken noodle recipes aren’t vegan. In addition to some type of meat (typically chicken), the sauce is often made with oyster sauce and fish sauce. We’re using a mix of soy sauce and dark mushroom soy sauce in this recipe instead.

More Vegan Noodle Recipes

Like this recipe? If so, please stop back and leave me a review and rating below if you try it! Also be sure to follow me on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram, or subscribe to my newsletter for more recipes like this one!

Plate of Vegan Drunken Noodles with basil leaves and lime wedges on the side.

Vegan Drunken Noodles

These spicy vegan drunken noodles are packed with flavor! Made with pan-fried rice noodles, tofu, and veggies in spicy sauce, they taste like they came from a restaurant, but are actually really easy to make at home.


  • 8
    wide (fettuccine) rice noodles
    (Note 1)
  • 2
    peanut oil,
  • 8
    super firm tofu
    (Note 2)
  • 3
    soy sauce
  • 1
    dark mushroom soy sauce
    (Note 3)
  • 2
    cold water
  • 2
    organic brown sugar
  • 1
    sambal oelek,
    plus more to taste (up to 2 tablespoons)(Note 4)
  • 1
  • 2
    medium shallots,
    finely chopped
  • 2
    garlic cloves,
  • 2
    freshly grated ginger
  • 2
    white and green parts separated and chopped
  • 1
    jalapeño pepper
    (or other hot pepper of choice) sliced
  • 1
    medium red bell pepper
    cut into strips
  • 1
    fresh basil leaves
    (Note 5)


Prepare the Noodles

  1. Cook the noodles according to the package directions (either by soaking or boiling) until al dente.

  2. Drain the noodles into a colander when finished, then rinse them well with cold water.

  3. While the noodles cook, stir the soy sauce, dark mushroom soy sauce, water, brown sugar, sambal oelek, and cornstarch together in a small bowl.

  4. Coat the bottom of a large skillet with 1 tablespoon of oil and place over medium heat. Add the tofu cubes and cook them for about 10 minutes, flipping them once or twice, until browned on multiple sides.

  5. Remove the tofu from the skillet and transfer it to a plate.

  6. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Once the oil is hot, add the shallots. Sweat the shallots for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften.

  7. Add the garlic, ginger, and white parts of the scallions. Sauté everything together for about 1 minute, until the mixture becomes very fragrant.

  8. Raise the heat to high then add the jalapeño and bell pepper. Stir-fry the peppers for about 2 minutes, until they become tender-crisp and intensify in color.

  9. Add the noodles and cooked tofu to the skillet, and carefully pour in the sauce. Toss everything well to combine the ingredients, and cook the mixture briefly, just until the sauce thickens, about 1 minute.

  10. Remove the skillet from heat and stir in the green parts of your scallions and basil.

  11. Divide the noodles onto plates and serve with lime wedges on the side.

Recipe Notes

  1. Wide rice noodles are available at some supermarkets and most Asian markets. If you can’t find them, feel free to sub pad Thai noodles or rice vermicelli.
  2. Firm or extra firm tofu can be substituted, but will need to be pressed.
  3. Regular soy sauce can be used if you can’t find this, though you might need to use some extra. Taste-test the dish when it’s finished cooking and add more soy sauce to taste.
  4. One teaspoon will give you a very mild dish and two tablespoons should be quite spicy. Start with less if you’re not sure how much to use, adding more to taste when the dish is finished.
  5. Preferably use Thai or holy basil, but Italian basil works fine if you can’t find either of these varieties. You can optionally add a bit of Chinese five spice to enhance the flavor if you use Italian basil.

Nutrition Facts

Vegan Drunken Noodles

Amount Per Serving

Calories 392
Calories from Fat 97

% Daily Value*

Fat 10.8g17%

Saturated Fat 1.8g9%

Sodium 991mg41%

Potassium 227mg6%

Carbohydrates 63g21%

Fiber 1.9g8%

Sugar 7.2g8%

Protein 10g20%

Calcium 71mg7%

Iron 3mg17%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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