Thai Basil Chicken
If you always order Thai basil chicken from your favorite Thai restaurant, this recipe is for you! It’s no secret that I am a huge lover of all things Thai and Thai basil chicken is one of my go-to orders. It’s spicy, flavorful, and fresh! I love Thai basil so much that I even grow my own in my Aerogarden. I love having it on hand and adding it to stir fries and fried rice for a punch of fresh flavor.
If you haven’t tried Thai basil chicken, now is the time! Tender chunks of finely chopped chicken sautéed with shallot, ginger, Thai chilies, veggies, and tons of fragrant Thai Basil. This is a healthy one-pan recipe that takes less than 30 minutes! You’ll have a delicious and low-key dinner on the table in no time.
Thai Basil Chicken: A One-Pan Wonder
Everyone needs those recipes that come together quickly in one pan for busy weeknights. This is that recipe! Thai basil chicken is totally adaptable, comes together in less than 30 minutes, and gets made in ONE PAN. Less dishes on a weekend=bliss. I love ordering take out from my favorite Thai restaurant, but I love to try and recreate the dishes at home!
There’s something so satisfying about making Thai basil chicken at home and having it be just as good as take out! While I would never claim for this recipe to be authentic, the spirit and flavors of the dish are meant to honor the classic Thai dish.
In order to get the flavors right, there are some specialty Asian ingredients that you’ll need to acquire so I urge you to visit your local Asian market! You can get all the ingredients on Amazon as well (and some well-stocked grocery stores!), but I love supporting local Asian markets and businesses.
What is Thai Basil Chicken?
Thai basil chicken, or Pad Krapow Gai, is one of the most popular street foods in Thailand. The method of cooking is inspired by Chinese stir fry. In this instance, chicken (but can also be made with pork, beef, or seafood) is stir fried with Thai basil and aromatics like shallots, garlic, and Thai chilies. Over time, vendors started adding additional ingredients like eggs and vegetables.
Thai basil is, obviously, a key ingredient in Thai basil chicken. In fact, the authentic dish actually calls for Holy Thai basil which is slightly different than Thai basil. Holy Thai basil is fairly difficult to find, so recipes have adapted over time to include Thai basil since it’s easier to source.
So what is Thai basil and how is it different from Italian Basil? Thai basil has the same sweetness that Italian basil has, but with a hint of anise spice. I love having it on hand and adding it to fried rice, curries, stir fries, and even wontons! You could swap in regular basil, but just know that it won’t taste the same and you’re losing some of the classic flavor. Over the years, Thai basil has become much easier to find! Some well-stocked grocery stores carry it, but you can also find it at almost any Asian market. I urge you to get out and explore your local Asian grocery stores for the necessary ingredients.
Why You’ll Love this Recipe
Easy – This recipe only requires a handful of ingredients and about 10 minutes to prep, what could be easier than that? You’ll be shocked at how quickly this recipe for Thai basil chicken comes together.
Makes great leftovers – We’re big leftovers people! I always make a large batch of whatever we’re having for dinner so I can spread it out through the week. Thai basil chicken is perfect for meal prep and only gets better the next day!
Healthy – We try and live by the 80/20 rule at home. 80% whole and healthy foods and 20% indulgence. Thai basil chicken is super flavorful and filling while also being healthy! Chicken is full of protein which keeps us full longer. This is a great way to add more veggies to your diet, too! This is a balanced and delicious dinner that you’ll turn to over and over again.
Customizable – I love this recipe because you can customize it to your tastes! Swap in different proteins like chicken breast, tender beef, pork, or shrimp. Swap out different veggies for your favorites. This is a great recipe for using up what you have on hand!
How to Make Thai Basil Chicken
While you don’t need any fancy equipment to make Thai basil chicken, I highly recommend investing in a quality wok. We use ours ALL the time and it makes it so much easier to cook up stir fries and fried rice thanks to the extra surface area.
The wok I’m linking below is carbon steel (the best!), but make sure to read up on care and maintenance before purchasing.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Chicken. I used finely chopped boneless skinless chicken thighs, but you could also use ground dark meat chicken or diced chicken breast.
- Aromatics. Thinly sliced shallots, scallions, and garlic make up the flavor backbone here.
- Thai Birds-eye Chilies. Small Thai chilies pack some heat, but they add incredible flavor! Adjust the amount of chili based on your tastes. You could also swap in thinly sliced serrano chile.
- Veggies. I opted for red bell pepper, mushrooms, and green beans because that’s how my favorite Thai restaurants serve Thai basil chicken. You could swap in different veggies or omit them altogether.
- Soy sauce. Soy sauce makes up part of the sauce.
- Dark mushroom soy sauce. You can find dark soy sauce at just about any Asian market or on amazon here. Dark soy adds tons of umami flavor, but we only need a bit because it’s very intense.
- Oyster sauce. Oyster sauce is classic here and also adds rich flavor.
- Fish sauce. Fish sauce is a staple in Thai cuisine and adds umami to tons of dishes. Don’t skip this ingredient if you can help it!
- Brown sugar. Brown sugar adds a bit of sweetness to balance out the savory notes. You could swap in honey, if necessary.
- Thai basil. An obvious one! Thai basil is stirred in at the end to maintain its green color and flavor.
- Make the sauce. Combine all the sauce ingredients in a bowl and whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
- Saute the aromatics. Heat neutral oil in a large wok or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, add the thinly slice shallot, garlic, and Thai chilies and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring often, until softened.
- Add the chicken. And the diced chicken and the white/light green scallion pieces, and mushrooms and saute stirring often for 3-4 minutes until the chicken is mostly cooked through. Make sure to stir often enough so that the garlic and shallots don’t burn.
- Add the veggies and sauce. Add the bell pepper and green beans to the skillet and toss to coat in the oil. Add the sauce and cook until the green beans are no longer raw and the sauce is starting to reduce and caramelize.
- Finish with Thai basil. Add the Thai basil and green onions and cook for 1-2 minutes until the Thai basil wilts and becomes fragrant. Season to taste with salt (if needed) and serve over steamed jasmine rice.
Customizing Thai Basil Chicken
This is an easy recipe to adapt to what you have on hand! I love stir fries for their versatility and the ability to use up any meats or veggies that I have on hand. Here are my favorite ways for switching things up:
Switch up the protein. I love chicken thighs here, but you could easily swap in chicken breasts or ground dark meat chicken. You could also swap in beef, ground pork, diced pork tenderloin, shrimp, or even tofu! This recipe lends itself to just about any meat or protein with great results.
Swap the veggies. I love mushrooms, red bell pepper, and green beans but some other great options would be snap or snow peas, baby corn, bok choy, cabbage, etc.
There are so many ways to make Thai basil chicken your own!
Storing and Reheating Thai Basil Chicken
We’re often so busy during the week, that I love a good dinner recipe that I can turn into lunches and leftovers for the week!
You can store the Thai basil chicken in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days. All you have to do is just pop the chicken in the microwave to warm it through along with the jasmine rice.
I don’t recommend freezing Thai basil chicken since the veggies become unpleasant and mushy after being frozen and defrosted.
More Thai-Inspired Recipes to Try Now
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Thai Basil Chicken
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons hot water
Thai Basil Chicken
- 3 tablespoons neutral oil
- 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
- 3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 3-4 Thai birds-eye chilies, chopped
- 1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs, diced into small pieces
- 5 scallions, cut into 1" pieces (light green/white and dark green pieces kept separate)
- 8 oz button mushrooms, quartered
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 cups fresh green beans, cut into 1" pieces
- 1 1/2 cups Thai basil leaves
- In a small bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a wok or heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the sliced shallot, garlic, and Thai chilies. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring often to keep the garlic from burning.
- Add the diced chicken to the wok and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is starting to brown. Add the mushrooms and the light green/white parts of the green onion to the wok. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until the mushrooms are starting to get soft.
- Add the remaining veggies and the sauce and cook, stirring often, until the green beans are no longer raw and the sauce is starting to reduce. Stir in the Thai basil leaves and the dark green scallion pieces. Cook 2-3 minutes until the Thai basil is wilted and fragrant. Season to taste with salt if needed and serve over steamed jasmine rice.