Thai Basil Chicken
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Thai Basil Chicken, also known as Pad Krapow Gai, is a traditional Thai street food dish made with ground chicken, spicy Thai chilies and fresh Thai basil. This dish is incredibly flavorful, and this authentic recipe is easy to make at home in just 25 minutes!
Table of contents
It was the year 2020 and I was making pasta like it was going out of style. I started trading friends pasta for fresh lemons from their trees, bottles of wine and canned cocktails. But my favorite trade was with my friend Victoria. She brought us authentic Thai food, in exchange for homemade pasta.
It was a warm summer day when she brought us this delicious Thai Basil Chicken dish. After we ate just one bite, I knew I had to have the recipe. She passed on her recipe and I’ve been making it ever since.
It has become a weekly dinner at our house because it’s so incredibly flavorful and easy to make! In less than 30 minutes and in just one pan, you can make this recipe for dinner tonight.
Why you’ll love it
- It has the perfect balance of saltiness, spice and fresh flavors!
- It’s made with authentic ingredients, giving you the same taste as your favorite Thai restaurant.
- It’s easy to make in just 25 minutes!
- It’s bursting with bold flavors and fragrant aromas.
- Soy sauce – feel free to use traditional or low-sodium soy sauce, depending on your preferred level of saltiness. If making this recipe gluten free, use tamari instead of soy sauce.
- Oyster sauce – you can find this ingredient in the Asian section of most major grocery stores. Even though it has oyster in the name, this sauce isn’t actually fishy tasting at all. It’s thick, sweet and salty. It helps thicken the sauce for this dish and adds a wonderful umami flavor.
- Fish sauce – you can also find this sauce in the Asian section of most grocery stores. It adds another element of umami to the dish and a wonderful salty, savory flavor.
- Granulated sugar – just a little bit of sugar adds sweetness and balances out the salty, spicy flavors in this dish.
- Canola oil – or another vegetable oil that can handle high-heat cooking, like avocado or sunflower oil.
- Onion – I use diced yellow onions for this recipe, but you can also use red onions or shallots.
- Green beans – trim the ends from fresh green beans, then cut them into 1 inch pieces. If you don’t have fresh green beans, you can use cut frozen green beans. But I do recommend thawing them slightly before adding them to the recipe.
- Thai chilies – these small, thin chili peppers are very spicy. I’ve made this recipe with as few as 4 Thai chilies, and up to 8 chilis. Adjust the amount of chilies to your taste preference. With 4-6 Thai chilies, this dish will have a medium spice level. With 8-10 Thai chilies this dish will be very spicy. If you don’t like spice, you can leave them out, or add 1-2 for flavor. If you can’t find Thai chilies at the grocery store, substitute 1 serrano chili pepper for every 2 Thai chilies.
- Garlic cloves – fresh minced cloves are always preferred for the best flavor!
- Ground chicken – this dish is most commonly made with ground or minced chicken. In Thailand, it’s a popular street food stir-fry. Using ground chicken means it cooks quicker than cubed or sliced chicken thighs or breasts. Ground chicken is typically made up of white and dark meat chicken giving this dish a delicious flavor.
- Thai basil leaves – this herb is essential to achieve the authentic taste of this dish. Check out this article all about Thai Basil to learn more about the herb, including where to buy it and how to freeze it. If you absolutely cannot find the herb, I recommend substituting 1 1/4 cups traditional basil leaves + 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves.
I’ve included step by step photos below to make this recipe super easy to follow at home. For the full detailed recipe instructions, video and ingredient quantities, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Prepare the sauce. In a small bowl, whisk soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, water and sugar together. Set the prepared sauce to the side.
- Cook the veggies and chicken. Heat canola oil in a large skillet, or wok, on the stove over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add diced onions and cut green beans. Cook for 4 minutes. Add minced garlic and Thai chilies and cook for an additional minute. Add ground chicken, and cook for 4-5 minutes, flipping and crumbling the ground meat during the cooking time.
- Add the sauce. Once the chicken is browned, pour the sauce into the pan and toss it with the chicken and vegetables. Cook for 8 minutes to allow the sauce to cook into the chicken.
- Add Thai basil. After 8 minutes, add Thai basil leaves to the pan, stir to combine, then immediately remove the pan from the heat on the stove and serve the Thai basil chicken.
What to serve with it
I recommend pairing this Thai Basil Chicken with your favorite variety of rice. Click any of the links below for the recipes.
Sometimes you’ll see this dish served over rice and topped with a fried egg. If you’d like to add a fried egg, I recommend cooking it while the sauce cooks into the chicken.
You can also wrap up the chicken in iceberg or butter lettuce leaves to make lettuce wraps, for a delicious low carb meal, or appetizer.
Additions and substitutions
This dish is absolutely delicious just the way it is, but if you’re missing an ingredient, or looking to switch things up, try one of these recipe additions or substitutions.
- Ground turkey for ground chicken – if you already have ground turkey at home, or simply prefer the flavor over ground chicken, you can make this recipe with ground turkey.
- Bell peppers instead of green beans – I don’t always have green beans at home, but I almost always have bell peppers, so sometimes I’ll substitute in diced red bell peppers for the green beans.
- Serrano peppers for the Thai chilis – if you can’t find Thai chilies, use 1 serrano chile pepper for every 2 Thai chilies. Using 2 serrano peppers will give this dish a medium spice, while using 3-4 will make this dish very spicy.
- Traditional basil for Thai basil – I highly recommend using Thai basil whenever possible, as it has it’s own unique flavor and aroma that gives this dish it’s signature flavor, but if you can’t find Thai basil, you can substitute 1 1/4 cups traditional fresh basil leaves + 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves. I recommend adding the mint leaves because that is a flavor found in Thai basil, that’s not found in traditional sweet basil.
Make this recipe gluten free with a couple of simple swaps. Use gluten free oyster sauce, gluten free fish sauce and gluten free soy sauce, also known as tamari. Combining gluten free versions of each of these sauces, will make the entire dish gluten free.
To make this recipe vegan and vegetarian, replace the fish sauce with an additional 2 teaspoons soy sauce. Replace the oyster sauce with a vegetarian mushroom oyster sauce. Replace the ground chicken with meatless tofu crumbles.
Storage and reheating
Store leftover Thai basil chicken in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat the chicken in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, or in a skillet on the stove over medium-high heat for 4-6 minutes.
The sauce can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. I like to double the sauce recipe and make this dish twice in a week. It’s seriously that good, you’ll want to do the same!
More Thai recipes
Try these other authentic Thai recipes that have been tested and perfected in my kitchen!
Made this Thai Basil Chicken recipe and loved it? Be sure to rate it 5 stars in the recipe card below!
Thai Basil Chicken
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- ½ cup onion, diced
- ½ cup green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 5-10 Thai chilis, minced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 1 ½ cups Thai basil leaves
- In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, water and sugar. Set aside.
- Add the canola oil to a large skillet, or wok, on the stove over medium-high heat.
- When the oil is hot, add the onions and green beans, cook for 4 minutes.
- Add the minced thai chilies and garlic, cook for 1 minute.
- Add the ground chicken, cook for 4-5 minutes.
- Pour in the sauce, toss everything together and continue cooking for 8 minutes.
- After 8 minutes, stir in the Thai basil leaves, then immediately remove the pan from the heat and serve the chicken with cooked rice, or in lettuce wraps.
- Thai chilies – with 4-6 Thai chilies, this dish will have a medium spice level. With 8-10 Thai chilies this dish will be very spicy. If you don’t like spice, you can leave them out, or add 1-2 for flavor. If you can’t find Thai chilies at the grocery store, substitute 1 serrano chili pepper for every 2 Thai chilies.
- Thai basil – this herb can be found at Asian markets and some major grocery stores. I highly recommend using Thai basil whenever possible, as it has it’s own unique flavor and aroma that gives this dish it’s signature flavor, but if you can’t find Thai basil, you can substitute 1 1/4 cups traditional fresh basil leaves + 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves. I recommend adding the mint leaves because that is a flavor found in Thai basil, that’s not found in traditional sweet basil.
- To make this recipe gluten free, use gluten free oyster sauce, gluten free fish sauce and gluten free soy sauce, also known as tamari.
- To make this recipe vegan and vegetarian, replace the fish sauce with an additional 2 teaspoons soy sauce. Replace the oyster sauce with a vegetarian mushroom oyster sauce. Replace the ground chicken with meatless tofu crumbles.
- Store leftover Thai basil chicken in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Reheat the chicken in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, or in a skillet on the stove over medium-high heat for 4-6 minutes.
- The sauce can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.
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One Comment on “Thai Basil Chicken”
very tasty recipe. Basil and chicken combo is very nics.