Thai Basil Chicken

published Jan 13, 2022
Thai Basil Chicken Recipe

Gra pow, or holy basil, is the star ingredient in this quick dish.

Serves2

Prep10 minutes

Cook4 minutes to 6 minutes

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thai basil chicken on a bed of rice with a fried egg on top.
Credit: Perry Santanachote

Pad gra pow (or “pad krapow gai” or “gai pad krapow”) is a ubiquitous, quick lunch that can be found on nearly every corner of any well-populated area in Thailand. This popular street-food dish is commonly known as Thai basil chicken in the States, but the dish is less about the chicken (which could be any other protein, for that matter) and all about the basil. But not just any ol’ basil. 

The namesake gra pow, or holy basil, is indigenous to India and grows throughout Southeast Asia. In addition to being a delicious addition to stir-fries, holy basil has been shown to naturally decrease anxiety and symptoms associated with unbalanced blood sugar. No wonder it’s the perfect lunchtime meal! Holy basil is still a rare find in America but more common in Asian grocery stores. Thai basil and sweet basil won’t make it a true pad gra pow, but will still make for a dang good dish.

Key Ingredients for Thai Basil Chicken

The base of this dish is always basil, preferably holy basil, but Thai basil or sweet basil will do, too. Other essential ingredients include the following:

  • Garlic
  • Chilies
  • Onions

Optional ingredients include the following:

  • Bell peppers (feel free to substitute any vegetables you like)
  • Green beans
  • Chicken (you can use any protein you desire)

What Does Thai Basil Chicken Taste Like?

The basil will add an anise flavor to the dish, which is also quite salty, spicy, and garlicky. It’s a flavor-packed dish that’s eaten with steamed Jasmine rice, which also helps soak up the yummy sauce.

Credit: Perry Santanachote

What Kind of Chicken Should I Use with Thai Basil Chicken?

Use ground chicken for your Thai basil chicken and opt for dark meat (or less lean) if possible. You can also mince up chicken thighs to make your own coarsely “ground” chicken.

Thai Basil Chicken Recipe

Gra pow, or holy basil, is the star ingredient in this quick dish.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 4 minutes to 6 minutes

Serves 2

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons

    dark sweet soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon

    water

  • 1 tablespoon

    oyster sauce

  • 1 tablespoon

    fish sauce

  • 8

    Thai birds-eye chilies

  • 5 cloves

    garlic

  • 1/2

    small yellow onion

  • 1/2

    medium red bell pepper

  • 3 ounces

    green beans

  • 1 cup

    loosely packed fresh basil leaves, preferably holy basil

  • 2 tablespoons

    vegetable oil

  • 1 pound

    ground chicken

  • Steamed jasmine rice and fried eggs, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place 2 tablespoons dark sweet soy sauce, 1 tablespoon water, 1 tablespoon oyster sauce, and 1 tablespoon fish sauce in a small bowl and whisk to combine.

  2. Trim and thinly slice 8 Thai chilies into rounds. Mince 5 garlic cloves.

  3. Prepare the following, adding each to the same medium bowl as you complete it: Thinly slice 1/2 small yellow onion (about 1/2 cup). Trim and thinly slice 1/2 medium red bell pepper lengthwise (about 1/2 cup). Trim 3 ounces green beans and cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup). Pick fresh basil leaves until you have 1 cup.

  4. Heat a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and swirl the pan to coat the sides. Add the garlic and cook, stirring with a metal spatula, until lightly golden-brown, about 30 seconds. Increase the heat to high. Add the onion mixture and 1 pound ground chicken. Stir-fry, constantly stirring and flipping the ingredients, until chicken is cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sauce mixture and chilies and stir-fry until the sauce is absorbed by the meat, 1 to 3 minutes. Add the basil and stir just until wilted. Serve with jasmine rice and top with a fried egg if desired.

Recipe Notes

To fry an egg: Heat a wok or frying pan over high heat then add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Swirl the pan to coat the sides. When it begins to smoke lightly, crack in 1 large egg and cook for about 5 seconds. It will spit and sizzle and the whites should bubble and puff. Decrease the heat to medium and cook the egg, using a spoon to baste the egg with oil, just until the white has set and turned golden at the edges and the yolk is slightly runny, about 1 minute.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.