Thai Basil Chicken is one of the easiest and most popular Thai stir fries. Incredibly quick to make, this Thai Basil Chicken recipe (Gai Pad Krapow) is packed with flavor and ready in 20 minutes!
Thai Basil chicken is a popular Thai street comfort food made with chicken, stir fried in a savory and spicy sauce and tossed with lots of Thai sweet basil.
Basil Chicken also known as Pad Krapow Gai and Gai Pad Krapow is usually served with rice and topped with a fried egg.
So if you never had Thai Chicken with basil, let me tell you why you should make it!
- This Thai recipe is made with ingredients you can find at most supermarkets.
- This Thai basil stir fry recipe is made with ground chicken which cooks incredibly quickly. Making this the perfect meal for busy weeknights.
- This recipe is budget friendly and can be customized to your taste. If you love spicy foods, make this a Spicy Thai Basil Chicken dish! Swap the veggies in the recipe below with any vegetable you have at home!
Thai Basil Chicken Ingredients
- Ground Chicken/Minced Chicken: If you prefer, you can make this dish with boneless and skinless chicken breasts or thighs cut into bite size pieces. Ground turkey, ground beef or ground pork can also be used.
- Oil: Any mild oil such as vegetable oil, canola oil, peanut oil, avocado oil or coconut oil.
- Garlic: I prefer fresh garlic minced. Garlic paste can also be used.
- Thai Chiles: Or birds eye chiles, deseeded. Fresh serrano chiles or jalapanos can be used. If you don’t want the chicken basil to be too spicy, devein the chiles (that is where the heat comes from). Dried Chili flakes can be used if fresh chiles are not available.
- Red Onions: Peeled and sliced. You can use white, brown or yellow onions as well.
- Red Bell Peppers – Sliced. Any color of bell pepper can be used.
- Thai Basil – Thai Holy basil or Italian basil can be used.
For The Basil Stir Fry Sauce
- Sweet Soy Sauce: If you don’t have sweet soy sauce, simply mix low sodium soy sauce or light soy sauce with a pinch of sugar. Use tamari if you want to keep the dish gluten free.
- Oyster Sauce: This rich and thick sauce is available in most supermarkets. You can find gluten free oyster sauce sold online and in certain specialty markets.
- Fish Sauce: An essential ingredient in Thai cuisine.
- Chicken Broth: Vegetable broth or water can be used.
- Ground Black Pepper
How To Make Basil Chicken
- Mix the sauce ingredients and set aside.
- Heat the oil into a wok or large skillet and stir fry the garlic and chiles for about a minute. Don’t brown the garlic.
- Add the ground chicken and stir fry for 3 – 4 minutes, breaking up the minced chicken into smaller pieces (the size of small pebbles).
- When the chicken is no longer pink, drain any excess liquid (if needed).
- Add the onions and peppers and stir fry for about a minute. Don’t overcook the veggies so they stay crispy.
- Stir in the sauce and stir fry for a couple of minutes. The sauce will get a bit thick.
- Stir in the basil and cook until the basil is wilted. The basil will turn a darker color as soon as it gets heated up. Serve!
Is Thai Basil The Same As Regular Basil?
Thai Basil and regular basil (Italian basil) are similar in flavor however, Thai Basil has hints of licorice (anise) flavor.
Thai Basil also known as Thai Sweet Basil is different from Thai Holy Basil. In Thailand, Basil Chicken is always made with Thai Holy Basil however, this peppery tasting basil is very hard to find outside of Thailand. For this reason, Thai basil is commonly used to make this dish.
Fresh spinach, asparagus, broccoli florets, cauliflower florets and mushrooms are great additions to this chicken basil stir fry!
Sweet soy sauce is a sweetened soy sauce that is thicker and darker than regular soy sauce. It is made with soy sauce, palm sugar, aromatics like ginger and green onions and a mixture of spices.
If you can’t find sweet soy sauce, simply add a pinch of granulated sugar or brown sugar to regular, lite or low-sodium soy sauce.
Basil Chicken Recipe Tips
- If you cannot find Thai basil, regular basil is a good substitute.
- Make your own sweet soy sauce at home by mixing regular, low-sodium or light soy sauce with a pinch of sugar.
- If you only have dried spices (garlic powder and dried chili flakes), heat the oil in the wok or skillet, stir fry the chicken, drain any excess liquid and then add the dry spices. Follow the rest of the recipe as written.
- Make sure you have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go before you turn on the stove! This chicken with basil dish cooks quickly!
Thai Holy Basil
- The word Krapow means holy basil (Tulsi), a specific type of sweet and peppery basil.
- In Hindu mythology, holy basil is believed to ward off evil spirits.
- Krapow or holy basil is said to have hundreds of medicinal properties.
- In some cultures, its believed that “No disease visits a house that has a plant of holy basil at its door steps”
- In Thailand and other southeast Asian countries, Holy basil is the type of basil always used to make Thai Basil Chicken, Thai Basil Beef (Pad Gra Prow) as well as other stir fries.
Other Popular Asian Recipes:
- Tom Yum Soup
- Coconut Curry Soup
- Honey Soy Baked Chicken Drumsticks
- Easy Asian Slaw
- Cauliflower Fried Rice
- Beef with Broccoli
- Thai Red Curry Chicken
- Chicken Satay with Spicy Peanut Sauce
- Pad Thai
- Baked Salmon with Honey Ginger Glaze
- Korean Grilled Flank Steak
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Thai Basil Chicken Recipe
For the Sauce
For the Stir Fry
- 2 tablespoons vegetable, canola or peanut oil
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped or minced
- 1 – 2 Thai or serrano chiles, seeded and thinly sliced
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 1 small red onion, sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced
- 1 cup Thai basil leaves, stems removed, loosely packed *see notes
- In a small bowl, mix the sauce ingredients and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add the garlic and chiles and cook for about 20 seconds stirring constantly. Add the ground chicken and cook for about 3 – 4 minutes breaking up the meat into small pieces. You want the chicken to have some texture so don't break it up too much. When the chicken is no longer pink, drain any excess liquid.
- Add the onions and red bell peppers and stir fry for about 1 minute. Stir in the sauce and cook, stirring constantly until the sauce starts to thicken, about 2 minutes. Stir in the basil and cook until the basil is wilted and the chicken is cooked through.
- If you can’t find sweet soy sauce, mix 3 tablespoons of regular, low sodium or lite soy sauce with a pinch of granulated or brown sugar.
- If you cannot find Thai Holy Basil or sweet basil (aka Thai basil), feel free to use regular basil (Italian basil).
- You can chop the basil or use the leaves whole as I did.
- The basil turns a darker color as it wilts. For a nice presentation, garnish with a few fresh basil leaves.
This post was first published in 2019 and has been updated to provide the reader with additional information. The recipe remains the same.