This Thai Basil Tofu stir fry (Pad Krapow) is meatless, loaded with crispy tofu and drenched in a sweet and spicy Thai chili sauce, then arranged over tender rice noodles that are smothered in coconut milk and fresh garlic. Vegan and gluten-free, this is a quick and easy Thai basil tofu recipe that beats takeout and requires only one pot and 20 minutes to prepare.
Thai Basil Tofu! I am on a roll with vegan Thai recipes, like this Drunken Noodles Recipe, Easy General Tso's Tofu, One Pot Chickpea Coconut Curry, Shiitake Mushrooms Recipe, and Forbidden Rice Recipe. And if you love recipes with tofu, try this Chili Garlic Tofu, simple to make yet packed with flavor.
Why do I love vegan recipes, especially Thai recipes? Let me count the ways. Plant-based, packed with flavor, quick and easy, absolutely delicious, simple ingredients. What more can you ask for?
🥘 Ingredients For Thai Basil Tofu (With Substitutions)
- Tofu - extra firm tofu is a must for this my Thai Basil Tofu recipe. Because it contains less water than other types of tofu, it doesn't crumble during the cooking process and maintains its shape. If you prefer, you can substitute tofu with seitan, tempeh, or chickpeas.
- Red bell pepper - adds a crunchy texture to the dish and a lovely red color. May substitute with orange or green bell pepper without affecting the taste much.
- Raw cashews - another crunchy delight, raw, unsalted cashews work best for this recipe. You may substitute cashews for other nuts, such as peanuts or pecans, if you please.
- Thai basil - fresh Thai basil leaves and holy basil are distant cousins and both can be used in this recipe. If you prefer a sweeter flavor similar to licorice or aniseed, Thai basil, also known as Thai sweet basil works best. If you prefer a spicy, peppery flavor, then choose holy basil. If you're unable to find in your local Asian market, you can purchase fresh Thai basil or a fresh holy basil plant on Amazon. You may also use regular basil from the supermarket.
- Vegan fish sauce - packs a powerful Unami punch when used in this recipe, enhancing its savory, rich flavor. If unavailable, simply use more tamari or soy sauce in the recipe.
- Ginger - fresh, grated ginger adds a spicy, earthy flavor to this Thai Basil Tofu that you're unlikely to find when using powder or paste. However, if fresh ginger is unavailable, ground ginger or ginger paste are appropriate substitutes.
- Asian red chili paste - also known as Sambal Oelek. If you like a little heat in your Thai cuisine, don’t scrimp on the Asian red chili paste. If unavailable, however, you may substitute with any kind of hot sauce or sriracha.
- Tamari - if you're not gluten-intolerant, you can substitute tamari with regular soy sauce.
- Agave nectar - if unavailable, you may substitute with an equal amount of pure maple syrup, or half the amount of coconut sugar or organic brown sugar.
- Coconut garlic rice noodles - there is absolutely nothing like these noodles in the whole wide world, but if you prefer, you can substitute with jasmine rice. EXPERT TIP: to cut down on calories in this recipe, use lite coconut milk or omit the coconut milk altogether.
Exact ingredient measurements can be found in the recipe card below!
🍚 How to Press Tofu (Two Ways)
When cooking tofu, it's highly recommended that you press it first. This removes excess water that, if not removed, makes tofu less crispy and less able to absorb all the delicious herbs, spcies and flavors that it's cooked in. Here are two easy methods of pressing tofu:
- Tofu press - I prefer using a bamboo tofu press when pressing tofu (here's a favorite tofu press on sale on Amazon) prior to cooking. Simply remove tofu from package, rinse under cold water, place inside the tofu press and tighten the screws. I generally press for at least 30 minutes or longer - I like crispy tofu, don't you?
- Manual press - If you don't cook tofu often and/or want to invest in a tofu press, you can just as easily press it manually by wrapping your tofu block in multiple layers of paper towels, setting it on a plate or cutting board, then placing a heavy object over it such as a large cast iron skillet or a big stack of books (be sure to place a water-proof barrier between tofu and books or you'll have soggy books). Press it for at least 30 minutes, just like when using a commercial tofu press.
🔪 How to Make This Thai Basil Tofu Recipe
1. Start by placing rice noodles in a pot of salted, boiling water. Prepare according to package instructions. Once tender, remove from heat, rinse with cold water and drain. Place noodles back in pot and add coconut milk, vegan butter, garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir and set aside. TIP: you may need to reheat the noodles on low heat once the tofu and vegetable stir fry is ready to ensure all the ingredients are served nice and warm.
2. Prior to frying tofu it needs to be pressed for at least 30 minutes (instructions above). Once pressed, add sesame oil to a large wok or skillet over medium high heat. When oil begins to shimmer, add tofu, season with white pepper and fry until golden brown and crispy on all sides, turning frequently (about 10-12 minutes).
3. Add the garlic, ginger, red bell pepper, and cashews. Stir, and cook another 3-5 minutes.
4. To make the stir fry sauce, combine tamari, agave, vegan fish sauce, and chili paste in a medium bowl. Whisk thoroughly. Pour over Thai Basil Tofu. Stir to coat tofu and other ingredients until drenched in sauce and sauce begins to bubble (about 2-3 minutes).
5. Remove from heat. Add roughly torn basil.
6. Stir until wilted. To serve, divide noodles (you may have to reheat oodles a little) into bowls and top with Thai Basil Tofu, more fresh basil, mint and sliced or diced mango. Bon Appetit!
🌟 Why This Recipe Works
- nutrient and health-friendly – tofu is an important source of protein and is an excellent substitute for recipes made with chicken or beef. In addition, the soy isoflavines found in tofu have been found to reduce levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol.
- quick and easy – one pot (except for the noodles), 20 minutes. That’s all you need to make this recipe. It’s a perfect weeknight dinner or double it on the weekend and enjoy it all week.
- dietary restriction-friendly – suitable for many diets, including gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian.
- budget-friendly – 4 servings costs less than $20 to make; a plus for every budget.
- equipment-friendly – to make this recipe, grab your favorite WOK or large skillet. I cook all my stir fry recipes in my CookLover Wok. It's the best WOK in the whole world. The only other thing you'll need is a large pot (I like this one from Bialetti that's made for noodles and has a strainer built into the lid) to boil the noodles and a wooden spoon for the stir fry. I also highly recommend a tofu press, however, instructions for making your own are in the Expert Tips section.
Thai basil is a variety of basil frequently used in Asian and Thai cuisine. Unlike Italian basil, Thai basil has sturdy, resilient leaves that withstand prolonged cooking times and high heat. It has a distinct licorice flavor and aroma that is sinfully delicious in many an ethnic dish.
Yes, anything crunchy will work, such as asparagus, broccoli or carrots.
Store in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days in your refrigerator.
Stir fry dishes are best when served immediately after cooking. I have not frozen this recipe before, but I would not recommend it.
🍛 What To Serve With Pad Krapow Tofu
Aside from these amazing coconut garlic noodles, I love serving Thai Basil Tofu noodles with this Forbidden Rice Recipe or even my Vegan Garlic Mashed Cauliflower (such a great combo, this is a must-try). You can also serve this recipe with jasmine or brown rice, as well.
👩🏻🍳 Expert Tips
- DO NOT OVERCOOK RICE NOODLES in this Thai stir fry recipe. Doing so will make them sticky and glumpy. Be sure to follow package instructions for cooking time and rinse with cold water during the draining process.
- To make this Thai Basil Tofu super saucy, simply double the sauce recipe.
- If noodles cool off while preparing the Thai Basil Tofu recipe, reheat them in the same pot on low heat, stirring frequently prior to serving.
- To make recipe lower in calories and fat, use light coconut milk or omit the coconut milk altogether.
For more great Asian recipes, check out these 32 Vegan Date Night Recipes.
🥡 More Asian-Inspired Recipes
Have you tried this? Why not leave a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card right below and/or a review in the comment section further down the page? I always appreciate your feedback. You can also follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, and sign up for my newsletter!
Thai Basil Tofu Recipe
For the Thai Basil Tofu
- 2 tablespoon sesame oil
- 12 oz extra firm tofu pressed and diced
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 2 cloves fresh garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger grated
- 1 red bell pepper seeded & sliced lengthwise
- ½ cup raw cashews
- 1 cup Thai basil roughly torn
- ½ cup fresh mint roughly torn
- 1 mango thinly sliced
For the Thai Chili Sauce
- ½ cup tamari
- ¼ cup agave
- 2 tablespoon vegan fish sauce
- 2 tablespoon red chili paste
For the Coconut Garlic Noodles
- 16 oz rice noodles
- 14 oz coconut milk 1 can (may use light)
- 3 tablespoon vegan butter
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes crushed
- Start by placing rice noodles in a pot of salted, boiling water. Prepare according to package instructions. Once tender, remove from heat, rinse with cold water and drain. Place noodles back in pot and add coconut milk, vegan butter, garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir and set aside. You may need to reheat the noodles for a few minutes on low heat once the tofu and vegetable stir fry is ready to ensure all the ingredients are served nice and warm.
- Prior to frying tofu be sure to press for at least 30 minutes using a Tofu Press. If unavailable, wrap tofu block in lots of paper towels and place a heavy object on top. Once pressed, add sesame oil to a large wok or skillet over medium heat. When oil begins to shimmer, add tofu, season with white pepper and fry until golden brown and crispy on all sides, turning frequently (about 10-12 minutes).
- Add garlic, ginger, red bell pepper, and cashews. Stir, and cook another 3-5 minutes.
- Combine tamari, agave, vegan fish sauce, and chili paste in a medium bowl. Whisk thoroughly. Pour over Thai Basil Tofu. Stir until ingredients are evenly coated and sauce begins to bubble (about 2-3 minutes).
- Remove from heat. Add roughly torn basil.
- Stir until wilted. To serve, divide noodles into bowls and top with Thai Basil Tofu, more fresh basil, mint and sliced mango. Bon Appetit!
- FYI: Nutrition calculation is only an estimate.
- DO NOT OVERCOOK RICE NOODLES. Doing so will make them sticky and glumpy. Be sure to follow package instructions for cooking time and rinse with cold water during the draining process.
- I love my Tofu Press. It's the absolute best investment if you're into making Asian dishes, or other stir-fry dishes with tofu. However, If you don’t have a tofu press, you can make your own. Simply layer a plate with a ton of paper towels. Place your tofu on top. Add another layer of paper towels and place a plate over it. Add some heavy objects, such as books, or whatever you have lying around and wait for about 30 minutes until much of the water has been absorbed by the paper towels. Now you’re ready to cook!
- To make this Thai Basil Tofu super saucy, simply double the sauce recipe.
- If noodles cool off while preparing the Thai Basil Tofu recipe, simply reheat them in the same pot on low heat, stirring frequently prior to serving.
- To make recipe lower in calories and fat, simply use light coconut milk or omit the coconut milk altogether.