Easy and so quick to whip up, this Thai Basil Chicken will become your new favorite Asian-style dish. It’s salty, sticky, sharp, spicy, and made with plenty of ‘’holy’’ basil which is the star ingredient in this dish.
We like to use ground chicken, chopped shrimp, or tempeh but other meat options are very much welcome too.
This Thai basil Chicken is served with fluffy cooked long grain rice, fried egg (totally optional!), and requires just 20 minutes of your time.
After this Thai chicken recipe, you'll not want to order takeout anymore, I can promise you that!
20 minutes of total prep and cooking is a great added bonus!
There is a skip-to-recipe button in the top left corner along with a clickable table of contents list (just below) that will quickly take you to the part you are more interested in. Enjoy!
Table Of Contents
My few comments on the ingredients + don't forget to read the Tips section!
The full recipe and ingredients can be found in the recipe card below this post.
- Sauces - if you can find low sodium options for all the sauces would be great, because this dish is well seasoned and is basically bursting with strong savory flavor. Most restaurants will serve you this dish overly seasoned and high in salt. This is not my vibe, and I like to keep it more healthy. Whenever possible, I opt for all low sodium variations. If I can’t get those, in this case, I will dilute the soy sauce, for example with a little water. I don’t add any salt or black pepper to this dish, nor any seasoning when cooking rice.
- Soy sauce - regular soy sauce is good as well, doesn’t have to be dark. The color will be different though. Soy sauce is with gluten, so be sure to choose the one that has a GF label on it.
- Chicken - ground chicken or ground turkey is great. You can share also use chopped shrimp, ground beef (lean), ground pork and etc. Lately, I’ve been loving tempeh which is one of the best vegan meat alternatives I’ve ever tried. It has so much flavor and doesn’t taste bland like tofu without seasoning.
- Basil - Holy Basil or Thai Basil? Honestly, any basil can be used here. Thai basil has a slightly spicy, licorice-like flavor and is a bit different visually. Holy Basil has a more peppery, clove flavor. It is what this dish was originally made with but nowadays we use any basil we can get our hands on. The most important is that it is fresh and fragrant. Lemon basil, Thai basil, regular basil - all is good here.
- Use a good amount of basil here, at least ½ cup to ¾ cups.
- Hot peppers - this and also garlic in this dish is a must! Can’t skip those for sure! I prefer using mild options or at least 1 hot and 1 mild pepper. Traditionally, bird’s eye chili (small red or green peppers, that in their shape and size resemble bird’s eye) are used in pad kra pao. They are quite hot! But you can use any hot pepper, as there are many substitutes for bird’s eye chili.
- Hot sauce - Sriracha, Frank’s, Valentina, or I like to use garlic chili sauce which is a little milder and has a pleasant garlicky flavor. It is my addition to the authentic Thai Basil stir fry, which you can definitely skip any time!
It is so simple, yet the flavor is on par with restaurant dishes if you are using all the sauces listed in the instructions.
It’s spicy, and garlicky with a delicious peppery taste that basil gives. And you want to use it a lot!
It is one of my favorite dinner recipes for two! Perfect for date night;)
Start by chopping up the garlic cloves and green chilis very finely. Or you can use a garlic press. Heat a nonstick pan or a wok with some cooking oil over medium-high heat.
And once hot, add the onion or shallots. Saute for a couple of minutes and follow with garlic, and green chili.
Make sure to add enough oil otherwise it will be not as fragrant. Saute for 30 seconds and add in ground meat.
Cook the chicken breaking it apart until no longer pink. Don’t overcook it. It should taste juicy and not dry.
Add in the sauces, and red chili. Saute for one minute and stir in the basil leaves.
Then, turn the what off, and keep stirring until the basil is wilted but the color is still vibrant.
If it gets a little too dry, you can add some water just to make it more sauce-y.
Serve with steamed brown or white rice and fried egg.
The extra creaminess that the egg gives in combination with the sticky sweet sauce is simply irresistible and can't compare to any other Asian dish we like to make. Simply delicious!
And don’t forget to squeeze a little lime juice on top or serve a lime wedge on the side.
- This dish is very easy and straightforward. The main thing is not to overcook anything, especially the basil leaves. Once you add the basil, remove the stir fry from heat and stir until basil leaves are wilted. That's it!
- Other veg to consider - in addition, sometimes I like to add long green beans and green or red bell peppers. Chopping these fine enough will resemble the hot chili peppers, but without being overly spicy. For added flavor in this Thai basil stir fry, it is quite common to add mushroom stock powder. It is not essential but you should definitely try it next time. Stirring in some diced mushrooms is also a great option.
- Fried Egg Thai style - Thai eggs are REALLY fried. If you want to do this the right authentic way, don’t be afraid to use enough oil. Heat the pan until the oil is very hot and then crack the egg, one at a time. While the egg is cooking, pour the surrounding oil on top of the egg until it is cooked to your liking. This is not what I did, I made sunny-side-up eggs with less oil in my Thai Basil Chicken recipe.
Our favorite Vegan substitute for Thai Basil Chicken is tempeh. Just make sure it's gluten-free if this is important for you. Once you chop up the tempeh, it texture actually resembles ground meat and it has plenty of strong nutty flavor (even without seasonings!). Much healthier, less processed and more flavorful than tofu.
Thai Basil Variations
Vegan Thai Basil - we cook a good amount of vegan sheet pan dinners, vegan enchiladas, vegan curry recipes. Overall gluten free vegetarian recipes are constantly in our weekly rotation.
And to be honest, for Asian recipes, we really like to go vegetarian as we love the soy-based products so so much!
For the vegan option, you will want to replace the meat and the fish sauce. For this, we mostly like to use tempeh.
There is also a vegan fish sauce that is made from seaweed.
To make this Thai Basil Chicken Vegan you have a few options. Tempeh, seitan (P.S. mostly made with gluten!), or tofu.
How to cook tempeh?
Thankfully cooking tempeh is quite straightforward and very easy (easier than getting that tofu crispy!).
Use a block of tempeh, chop it down fine enough that it resembles ground meat and make sure to cook it thoroughly as it is a fermented soybean product.
For tofu, you can use my crispy tofu recipe or use a fresh block of firm tofu instead.
This will require more prep on your side because removing excess water content from the tofu is important for the texture and flavor.
We like to serve Thai Basil Chicken With egg noodles, rice noodles, or the traditional way, with steamed brown or white rice. I prefer long-grain rice such as jasmine or basmati.
A fried egg is totally optional but adds a delicious creaminess to the dish.
Don't forget about the lime wedge, and plenty of scallions, chives, or more fresh basil for garnish. Prawn crackers too, yum! Or just have them on the side, they make a delicious gluten-free snack!
Freezing And Storing Instructions
For the best flavor, always consume the food right away or within 24 hours.
And hey, I know it is sometimes impossible, but this way you'll always know that you are getting the most of the nutritional value from the dish.
Although this being said, this dish is safe to keep in the fridge for 2-3 days. Reheat the same way, in the skillet, over medium-low heat until warmed through.
The sauce will become dry and sticky, make sure to add a little vegetable or meat broth or simply water to thin it out.
Serve with freshly steamed rice.
Thai basil has a peppery-licorice or anise flavor to it. The difference between regular basil (also called Italian basil) is that it has a sweet flavor and Thai basil more a peppery, savory flavor to it.
Basil has plenty of essential oils and antibacterial properties. It helps with all sorts of anti-inflammatory conditions and is great for cleansing your kidneys. Basil has an acetic acid compound in it which helps to push out the kidney stones together with the urine out of your body. It’s really good for you!
It’s very simple! Pad Krapow means beef, pork, or chicken stir-fried with garlic, chilies, and holy basil.
We love serving Thai basil dishes with steamed rice and fried eggs. Eggs add that extra creaminess that enhances the peppery spicy flavor of Thai basil. You can also serve this with noodles, pasta, and lentils.
Gluten-Free Asian Recipes
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If you like these types of recipes, gluten-free Asian noodles, or any Asian style recipes be sure to try these readers' favorites too!
I hope you'll enjoy this Thai Basil Chicken recipe, please leave a rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo of your food and tag me on Instagram @theyummy_bowl. I love seeing your creations!
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Thai Basil Chicken (Pad Kra Pao)
Thai Basil Stir Fry
- ½ cup brown onion or shallot (diced or shallots roughly chopped)
- 8 oz ground chicken (see notes)
- 5 garlic cloves
- ½ cup Thai basil or regular basil (see notes)
- 1 medium red chili (chopped roughly)
- 1 medium mild hot green pepper, ( see notes, chopped)
- Avocado oil for cooking
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce (gluten-free if using)
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce low sodium if possible and gluten-free if using
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or 2 teaspoon liquid honey
- 1 teaspoon garlic chili sauce or sriracha (or other hot sauce, see notes)
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 cup uncooked rice for serving
- 2-3 stalks of green onion for garnish
- More basil leaves
- Sesame seeds
- Prawn crackers
- 2 fried eggs
- Start by chopping up the garlic cloves and green chilis very finely. Or you can use a garlic press. Heat a nonstick pan or a wok with some cooking oil over medium-high heat.
- And once hot, add the onion or shallots. Saute for a couple of minutes and follow with garlic, and green chili. Make sure to add enough oil otherwise it will be not as fragrant. Saute for 30 seconds and add in ground meat.
- Cook the chicken breaking it apart until no longer pink. Don’t overcook it. It should taste juicy and not dry.
- Add in the sauces, and red chili. Saute for one minute and stir in the basil leaves. Then, turn the heat off, and keep stirring until the basil is wilted but the color is still vibrant. If it gets a little too dry, you can add some water just to make it more ''sauce-y''.
- We like to serve it over steamed brown or long grain white rice and a fried egg. And don’t forget to squeeze a little lime juice on top or serve lime wedges on the side.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)