Vegan Thai Basil Noodles with Crunchy Kale

Created by Laura Wright
5 from 8 votes

Vegan Thai basil noodles with crunchy kale is an easy, fast, flavourful, veggie-loaded, and healthy dinner with simple ingredients. The direct inspiration point for this dish is Pad Kee Mao. In this vegan recipe, I do not use meat or fish sauce. The high heat cooking method, sauce treatment, and flavour profile is inspired by this traditional dish.

Overhead shot of veggies and noodles in a bowl.
Up close shot of vegetables and noodles topped with Thai basil.
An overhead shot of ingredients for a vegan Thai basil noodle dish.
Image shows sliced vegetables on a cutting board along with a cup of Thai basil leaves.

Ease, simplicity, and big flavour are all the name of the game with these vegan Thai basil noodles with crunchy kale. We make a basic noodle stir fry with lots of chilies and garlic, add a bunch of nicely cut vegetables, and then we shower the bowls with crunchy, garlicky, sesame-flecked kale. So much flavour and texture. All ready in 30 minutes!

The inspiration point for this dish is Pad Kee Mao, sometimes referred to as drunken noodles because they are enjoyed after a night of drinking. The typical flavours involved include: garlic, chili, soy sauce, galangal, and either Thai or holy basil. Because I’m vegan, I didn’t opt for meat or fish sauce in my version and crunchy kale on top is definitely not typical! But the high heat cooking method and sauce treatment is inspired by this traditional dish. You can read more about it here.

I’m spending less time on social media and streamlining my cooking in a big way lately. Some of these changes will definitely be reflected here for at least a little while (bye for now weekend drink/links posts). I’m a person first, and I always maintain that you have to make space to FEEL the light inside of yourself before you can pass it on to others. Time to cultivate that light with a bit more focus.

Love you all. Hope you get a chance to make this recipe :)

Image shows a bunch of kale leaves coated in oil, before roasting.
An up close shot of brown rice noodles.
Image shows cooked noodles being added to a pan with sautéed vegetables.
Image shows noodles and vegetables being stirred together in a sauté pan.
Image shows a single serving of a vegan Thai basil noodle dish.

Vegan Thai Basil Noodles with Crunchy Kale

Vegan Thai basil noodles with crunchy kale is an easy, fast, flavourful, veggie-loaded, and healthy dinner with simple ingredients.
5 from 8 votes
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings 2 -3



  • 2 cups chopped kale, packed
  • 1 ½ tablespoons avocado oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, plus extra
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste


  • 6 ounces 170 grams brown rice noodles
  • ¼ cup gluten-free tamari soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons filtered water
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup or agave nectar
  • 1 red hot chili, finely minced (use more or less to taste–this had some heat)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 medium carrot, julienned
  • 1 bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 ½ cups chopped green beans
  • ¾ cup Thai basil leaves
  • chili-infused oil, optional


  • My crispy tofu would be an excellent addition here! I just wanted to keep this simple with veggies and crisped up kale, but there’s a lot of ways to go deluxe with this recipe.
  • This dish does taste good with regular basil, but it really isn’t the same.


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, massage the kale with ½ tablespoon of the avocado oil, sesame seeds, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Once the kale is thoroughly coated and slightly softened, spread it out on the baking sheet in a single layer.
  • Bake the kale until crisp and dry, about 15 minutes. Set aside to crisp even further.
  • Cook the brown rice noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
  • In a liquid measuring cup, stir together the tamari, water, and maple syrup. Set aside.
  • Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the remaining oil and swirl it around. Add the chili and garlic and stir until quite fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Add the carrot, bell pepper, and green beans and keep stirring until the edges of the vegetables have softened a bit, about 3 minutes. Season them with salt and pepper. Pour the tamari mixture into the skillet. Keep stirring and tossing the vegetables until they are crisp-tender, about 3 more minutes. Add the cooked brown rice noodles to the skillet and stir to heat through and combine.
  • Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the Thai basil leaves. Divide the servings of vegan Thai basil noodles into serving bowls. Drizzle the top of the noodles with chili oil, if desired. Finish the noodles by crushing up the crispy kale on top and sprinkling with sesame seeds. Serve immediately.
07/08/2019 (Last Updated 18/03/2024)
Posted in: autumn, gluten free, kale, main course, nut free, quick, salty, side dish, sour, spicy, spring, summer, umami, vegan, winter


Recipe Rating

  • Brandi

    5 stars
    Wowza!! So delicious! Better than takeout

  • Nancy

    5 stars
    Made this last night to rave reviews from my family. I added soy curls for protein. Will make it again!

  • Liza

    5 stars
    This recipe is a go to for my husband and I. Whenever we aren’t sure what to make for dinner this always hits the spot! We have made it for vegans and non-vegans alike and everyone always asks for the recipe!

    Highly recommend adding this one to your rotation!

  • Blaire

    5 stars
    This was delicious! My pepper wasn’t hot enough for me (thought maybe after sitting for a day…) so Next time I’ll hopefully get a hotter pepper. Not usually a kale fan, but the crispy sesame garlic kale on top was a nice touch. Will definitely make again! 

  • Amy

    This was delish! I had to cook the veggies a little longer until the green beans were done. I also hate when recipes call for 6oz of noodles and the package is 8oz. Next time, I would cook only half of the package so the veggie to noddle ratio is higher. The crispy kale and the thai basil make all the difference!

  • Lieselotte

    Laura, Do you think it could be made ahead and warm it up the next day?

    • Laura

      Hi there!
      I would not recommend making this one ahead of time and reheating. I find that the rice noodles go a bit mushy and the basil loses its flavour entirely.

  • Jennifer

    This dish is amazing! I’ve made it at least four times since discovering it a few weeks ago and we’re always disappointed when the leftovers are gone. At least I’ve learned to make extra crispy kale–which is so incredible in so many dishes. Thanks for your wonderful recipes, your wise words and your beautiful photography–it is truly artful. Than you!

  • Scarlet

    I love thai noodles. I can’t wait to try this recipe because it looks like something my whole family will enjoy- even those who aren’t vegan. Pinning to try soon.

  • Rui

    Just made this today and it was delicious! Thank you so much ❤️

  • Sue

    OMG Laura! This was fantastic!!!! It tasted phenomenal and the great flavors wafted throughout the house. I was out of kale so I went heavy on the veggies and doubled the sauce. Thank you so much .

  • Michelle

    A fabulous meal. Simple to prepare and all the flavours blended together so well. The sesame kale chips gave the dish an extra flavour boost.

  • Erin

    Can’t wait to try this! Do you think it could be made ahead of time and served cold?

  • Carrie

    I was trying to find a dish where I could use my garden green beans and purple basil and this happened to pop up on my Instagram feed. Kinda fate, right? Anything I’ve ever made from The First Mess has been delicious, and this one, yet again, did not disappoint. Perfect amount of spice and flavor, full of yummy veggies too! We added broccoli and the crispy tofu to make it a full, one bowl full meal. Definitely recommend!

  • Diane

    A great recipe and post. Here’s to more woman taking time to cultivate the light!

  • Lynda

    I love it when a recipe comes to my inbox on a morning when I have no clue what is for dinner, but I have all the ingredients available in my fridge/garden to create the recipe. Dinner dilemma solved :)

  • Allie

    This looks amazing! I’ve actually never purchased Thai Basil leaves. Do you get them at a special market?

    • Laura

      Hi Allie! You’ll find Thai basil in Asian grocery stores or in supermarkets that carry a more robust selection of asian vegetables. Thai basil typically has dark purple stems and the leaf is more elongated than typical basil. I always grow some in my garden in the summertime because I have a hard time finding it where I live. If you can’t find it, you can substitute regular basil!

  • Agnes

    You are so right in wanting to prioritize your own well being! I only recently (and admittedly at a great cost) realized that the work, work, work mindset was not only getting me nowhere because I was so focused on working all the time that I wasn’t making logical and consistent long term efforts or decisions for my career (if that makes any sense!). Plus my health (both physical and mental) was declining from neglect for years before I finally reached a breaking point… I don’t wish that on anyone, for real! My point is: take immensely good care of yourself, always! Much love :)

    • Eva

      I completely agree! I have a wonderful teacher who says “Don’t be the job! Don’t Work, meditate! Work is for donkeys!” (He means that instead of working to work, becoming the job, one should use the job as a kind of “play”; a way to observe oneself and meditate. ) If the job becomes overwhelming, it’s time to stop and go opposite, focus as you say on “growing the light inside” so you can pass it on to others.

      It’s so easy to “become the job”; to say “I AM a _________ (insert job title)” – to let the work we do consume the life. It’s so much suffering all the time when we do this – we always have to be anxious that it is going well, afraid lest it should not go well, disturbed every time somebody criticises it, (I am the job, therefore they are criticizing ME.) If I know I’m not the job, it’s just something I do, then I suffer a lot less.

      I think it doesn’t really matter what you do, the important thing is to do it with grace and joy.

      • Susan

        Lots of wisdom in this practice ! Work is for donkeys! Love it.