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This carrot noodle pad thai with shaved carrots is a healthy twist on a takeout favorite. It's perfectly cooked carrot noodles, bean sprouts, prawns, and egg tossed in a tasty tamarind sauce, and served with all the toppings. It's easy to make, and it's ready in just 30 minutes!
Here's a healthy pad thai recipe that's colorful, fresh, and full of flavor. In this untraditional version, we use carrot ribbons in place of rice noodles for a light yet satisfying dish that won't weigh you down.
Carrot noodles are really easy to make, too. All you need is a handy ol' vegetable peeler. Since pad thai noodles are typically wider, using a vegetable peeler helps mimic their width.
It's a versatile recipe so you can add more vegetables like finely sliced bell pepper or cabbage, serve it with grilled chicken breasts, or make it vegetarian and swap the shrimp for tofu. It comes together quickly and since it's all made in one pan, clean-up is a breeze!
Is Pad Thai healthy?
Thai food is filled with fresh flavors and ingredients and tends to be rich in vegetables, making it one of the healthiest cuisines on the planet.
The takeout version of pad thai can have unwanted ingredients, and be high in calories, sugar, and sodium. That's why we like to make it ourselves!
This carrot noodle version has all the familiar pad thai flavors we love, but with only clean ingredients and an extra nutritional boost.
Carrot noodle Pad Thai ingredients
Here's everything you'll need to make carrot noodle pad thai:
- Tamarind paste – look for tamarind paste in a jar at your grocery store. If you can't find it, it also comes in a block which you can soak in a little hot water before you remove the seeds and pulp.
- Palm sugar (or coconut sugar) – brown sugar also works well.
- Fish sauce – adds an intensely rich flavor to dishes.
- Soy sauce – use gluten-free if needed. Tamari or coconut aminos also work well.
- Carrots – large carrots tend to work best. If they're older winter carrots, we peel them first. If we're buying them fresh from the farmer's market in the summer, we don't.
- Oil – any neutral cooking oil works well here like olive, coconut, or avocado oil.
- Prawns – if your prawns are unshelled, make sure to remove the shell and devein them before cooking.
- Eggs – eggs are a classic pad thai ingredient and add protein to this delicious vegetable-based dish.
- Veggies: onion, garlic, bean sprouts, green onions, cilantro, and lime
- Toppings: Sriracha, chopped red chili, extra scallions, cilantro, and whole peanuts – you could swap the peanuts for cashews, add Thai basil, or sprinkle on red pepper flakes for a little added heat.
How to make carrot noodle Pad Thai
Carrot noodle pad thai is a healthy and delicious meal that's easy to make in a couple simple steps. Here's how it comes together:
- Make the pad thai sauce by whisking the ingredients together in a little bowl.
- Peel the carrots into noodles. (see tips for more instructions)
- Next, saute the onion and garlic then add the prawns and cook them until they turn pink then take them out of the pan.
- Now scramble the eggs. Put them with the cooked prawns once they're done.
- It's time to saute the carrot noodles! Once they're mostly soft, add the bean sprouts and that tasty sauce you made.
- Now put the prawns and eggs back into the pan and toss everything together.
- Divide the pad thai into two bowls then make a delicious sauce with the remaining liquid in the pan by boiling it until it thickens.
- Finally, squeeze a little lime juice over top and add all your favorite toppings. Dig in!
Full recipe instructions are in the recipe card below.
Tips for making the best carrot noodles
Carrot ribbons are easy to make, but here are a few tips that help them turn out great every time:
- Rotate the carrot every few peels to get noodles of the same width.
- Pull the vegetable peeler towards you so the noodles are slightly thicker.
- When the carrot is too small to hold, set it down on a cutting board at the edge of your counter. The blade can have contact with the carrot until it is very thin this way, so you can get the most from them.
- Count on 2-3 carrots per person.
Can I use rice noodles in place of the carrot noodles?
Absolutely! Follow the package directions for cooking and add them as you would the carrot noodles.
Where can I find tamarind paste?
Look for tamarind paste in the Asian or Thai section of your grocery store. It's sometimes available in a jar (the easiest), but you'll also find it sold as a block that you'll need to soak and remove the seeds and pulp.
How long does do leftovers keep in the fridge?
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days.
What to serve with carrot noodle Pad Thai
We make this veggie noodle pad thai on nights when we're craving something light and nourishing.
Popular veggie noodle recipes
- Creamy Avocado Pesto Zucchini Noodles with Burst Tomatoes
- 15-Minute Zucchini Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce
- 20 Minute Cashew Chicken Zoodles
- Spicy Sesame Chicken Zoodles
- Coconut Curry No Cook Veggie Noodles
- 3 tablespoons tamarind paste (see notes)
- ¼ cup palm sugar (can use brown sugar)
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce (gluten-free if needed)
- 4 medium carrots
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil (divided)
- 1 medium onion (sliced thin)
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 10 large prawns
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups bean sprouts
- 2 green onions (sliced)
- 1 handful cilantro (stems torn off)
- 1 lime (juiced)
- Sriracha, chopped chilis, extra green onions, cilantro, and whole peanuts (to serve)
- Add the tamarind paste, palm sugar, fish sauce, and soy sauce to a small bowl and mix well.3 tablespoons tamarind paste, ¼ cup palm sugar, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- Peel the carrots then slice them into long ribbons using the peeler. (See the blog post for more detailed instructions.) Place the carrot noodles into a large bowl.4 medium carrots
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the prawns and cook, stirring a few times, until they have turned pink, about 1-2 minutes. Remove the prawns and onions from the pan.2 tablespoons cooking oil, 1 medium onion, 3 cloves garlic, 10 large prawns
- Pour the remaining tablespoon of oil into the pan. Once it is hot, crack the eggs into the pan and stir them around. Cook them until they are scrambled then remove them from the pan and put them in the same bowl as the prawns.2 large eggs
- Put the pan back on the heat and add the carrot noodles. Unless you have a very big skillet they will barely fit. Don't worry, they will shrink as they cook. Cook them for about 2 minutes, turning them with tongs so they cook evenly. Add the bean sprouts and mix them in using the tongs. Pour in the tamarind sauce and continue to toss the noodles. Continue to cook the noodles until they are soft but still have a slight crunch, about 2-3 more minutes.2 cups bean sprouts
- Add the green onions, cilantro, and cooked onions, prawns, and eggs back into the pot and toss it so everything is mixed in well.2 green onions, 1 handful cilantro
- Divide the pad thai between two bowls. Return the pan to the heat and turn the heat to high. Let the liquid in the pan boil until it thickens then pour it over the noodles.
- Top the pad thai with a squeeze of lime juice and any or all of the optional toppings. Serve right away.1 lime, Sriracha, chopped chilis, extra green onions, cilantro, and whole peanuts
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.