This quick and easy Thai Basil Beef recipe takes less than 30 minutes to prepare and is so delicious! It’s made with ground beef (or steak) and a homemade Thai basil sauce that’s easy to customize to your preferred spice level.
We absolutely love Thai food, wether we make homemade Thai food, or go to our favorite restaurants. My husband’s favorite dish is Pad Gra Prow, AKA Thai Basil Beef, and I love this quick and easy version that mimics the flavors we love, even if it’s not truly authentic! For authentic Pad Gra Prow, try this recipe from Hot Thai Kitchen!
I love this recipe because it uses ground meat, so it’s inexpensive and soaks up more flavor, like I image Thai street food. It’s practical for a regular weeknight meal and you can have it on the table in less than 30 minutes!
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.
How to Make Thai Basil Beef
Cook Veggies: In a wok or large skillet over medium high heat add the oil, shallots, garlic, ginger and bell peppers. Sauté 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. I like to spoon the cooked ground beef into my food processor and pulse it a few times to break it into really small pieces.
Make Sauce: Stir together the brown sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, cornstarch beef broth and water. Add to the pan and cook for 2 minutes.
Add Basil and stir-fry until wilted.
Serve over hot cooked rice.
- 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. Try 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!
More Thai-Inspired Recipes:
- Pad Thai
- Green Curry Meatballs
- Spring Roll Bowls
- Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps
- Chickpea Curry
- Thai Quinoa Salad
- Red Curry
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Thai Basil Beef
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 shallots , chopped
- 8 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger , minced
- 1 red bell pepper , thinly sliced
- 1.5 lbs lean ground beef*
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
- 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1.5 Tablespoons oyster sauce*
- 2 or 3 Tablespoons chili paste with garlic*
- 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 cooked 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 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.
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I originally shared this recipe September 2019. Updated July 2020 and August 2023.