This quick and easy Thai Basil Beef recipe takes less than 30 minutes to prepare and is so authentic tasting you’ll feel like a true Thai chef! It’s made with ground beef (or steak) and a homemade Thai basil sauce that’s easy to customize to your preferred spice level.
One of my favorite things about this recipe is that it’s a 30 minute meal! Some of my other favorite International foods that make great quick weeknight meals include Arroz Chaufa (Peruvian Fried Rice), Chinese Chow Mein, and Baked Ziti.
Thai Basil Beef
When my husband and I lived in St. Louis, there was a Thai food restaurant that we frequented that was unlike any other; I’m salivating just thinking about it. This Thai basil recipe is my attempt at recreating one of my favorite dishes from this restaurant, Pad Gra Prow AKA Thai Basil Beef. It was made with ground beef in a very liquid-y sauce that was delicious as it soaked up in the rice it was served with.
Pad Gra Prow:
The king of street food in Thailand is called Phat kaphroa, and it’s made with your choice of meet (pork, chicken, beef, or seafood), stir fried with Thai holy basil and garlic, and served with rice and a fried egg. It has MANY names including: Pad Kra Pao, Pad Ka Prao, Pad Ka Pow, Pad Krapow, and Pad gaprao. Pad means “stir fried” and Krapow (kra pao, ka prao, ka pow) means “holy basil.”
Thai bail beef is known as Pad Gra Prow and is made with Thai sweet basil…I know, it starts getting confusing.
Let’s Talk Basil:
There are a few different types of basil used in Thai cooking.
- Holy basil (or hot basil) is known for adding heat to dishes. It can be harder to find so Thai basil is often used as a substitute.
- Thai Basil (or Thai sweet basil) has purple stems and a spicy licorice-anise flavor. Thai basil can be difficult to find in American grocery stores but can be found in most Asian grocery stores (I’ve seen it in every Asian grocery store I’ve ever been in!). If you can’t find it, regular old sweet basil will work as a substitute.
- Sweet Basil is the type of basil we are all probably most familiar with. It’s the most common type of basil found in grocery stores and is used in all types of sauces, marinades, and other recipes. This is a perfectly good substitute for Thai basil in any recipe, you just loose a little of the pungent taste that comes from Thai basil.
What makes this recipe unique (and more authentic) from other Thai basil recipes you may have had is that it is made with ground meat rather than thinly sliced pieces of steak. I love this because it feel like more authentic Thai street food, it soaks up more flavor and it’s cheaper and more practical for a regular weeknight meal. And best of all, you can throw it together in less than 30 minutes!
My favorite Thai Basil recipe because:
- 30 minute meal. Yep, this Thai basil recipe can be on your table in less than 30 minutes!
- Ground beef: I think this is the real star of the recipe. It adds a great texture to the dish and I love the way it absorbs some of the sauce.
- That Asian sauce: this sauce recipe is packed with flavor and I love that you can make it as spicy or mild as you like.
5 steps to easy Thai Basil Beef:
- Cook the veggies. In a wok or large skillet over medium high heat add the oil, shallots, garlic, ginger and bell peppers and fry for 3 minutes. Push the veggies off to the side.
- Add ground beef. Turn the heat to high and add the ground beef, breaking it up into small bits with a spoon. (I like to spoon the cooked ground beef into my food processor and pulse it barely a few times to break it into really small pieces).
- Make the sauce. In a small bowl stir together the brown sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, cornstarch beef broth and water and add to the pan. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the basil, and stir-fry until wilted.
- Serve over hot cooked rice.
More ways to make it your own:
- Meat: Use ground chicken, ground pork, or extra firm tofu (and vegetable broth) to make it vegetarian. Flank steak would also taste delicious in this recipe. Slice it thinly, against the grain.
- Oyster Sauce: You could substitute more soy sauce.
- Vegetables: Use any color bell pepper and add more vegetables if you like, like shredded carrot, thinly sliced zucchini, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots or mushrooms.
- Chili Sauce: Substitute sriracha hot sauce in place of the Asian Garlic Chili Paste
- Rice: Use any kind of rice you like, or skip the rice and serve it in a lettuce wrap!
Looking for more Thai Recipes? Some of my favorites include:
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Thai Basil Beef
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 shallots , chopped
- 8 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 red bell pepper , thinly sliced
- 1.5 lbs lean ground beef , or chicken
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon fish sauce*
- 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1.5 Tablespoons oyster sauce*
- 2 or 3 Tablespoons Asian garlic chili paste , or sriracha
- 3/4 cup low sodium beef broth
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1.5 cups holy basil leaves* , chopped
- 3 green onions chopped, for garnish
- 5 cups hot steamed jasmine or white rice
- In a wok or large skillet over medium high heat add the oil, shallots, garlic, ginger and bell peppers and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
- Push the veggies off to the side and add the ground beef, breaking it up into into small pieces as it cooks. (I like to use a meat chopper to break up the meat in very small pieces.)
- In a small bowl stir together the brown sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, chili paste, cornstarch, beef broth and water and add to the pan. Simmer for 5-10 minutes
- Add the basil and stir. Serve over hot steamed rice, with chopped green onion on top.
- Add a fried egg on top!
- Sauté Extra Veggies, like broccolini, shredded carrot, green beans, sliced zucchini, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, mushrooms.
- Vegetarian: Sauté chopped extra firm tofu (and vegetable broth), or prepare the sauce and serve over my air fryer tofu.
- Low Carb: skip the rice and serve it in a lettuce wrap, or over cooked spaghetti squash.
- Make Thai Basil Chicken
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HAVE YOU TRIED THIS RECIPE?!
RATE THIS RECIPE AND COMMENT BELOW! I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOUR EXPERIENCE.
If you going to comment on a recipe, make sure you follow it to a T and use you common sense and taste food before serving.
I think most recipes should have skill level of cooking, because some do not know to fix an issue that might come up.
Did the Thai beef dish for tea last night somes mates came to watch rugby so instead of going to take away I cooked that it was great and everyone loved it Ernie
Very yummy! Added extra bell pepper, some shredded carrots, and topped with green onions and sesame seeds.
Had to cook down the final meat / sauce / veggie mixture because it was too saucy for our taste, did this before adding the final basil.
Will definitely be making again!
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