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. 

Want more 30-Minute Meals? Try Salmon Bowls, Orzo Salad, or Kung Pao Shrimp!

Thai Basil Beef in a bowl served over hot steamed rice, ready to enjoy.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

A wok with oil, shallots, garlic, ginger and bell peppers pushed to the side and raw ground beef placed in the pan.

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.

A wok filled with cooked ground beef, red peppers, shallots, and garlic to make Thai Basil ground beef.

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.

Brown sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, cornstarch, beef broth, and water in a small bowl for a Thai Basil Beef sauce.

Add Basil and stir-fry until wilted.

A Thai Basil Beef stir fry in a large wok with fresh basil on top.

Serve over hot cooked rice.

A close up image of an authentic Thai Basil Beef recipe with chopped green onions on top.

Recipe Variations:

  • 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!

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Recipe

Thai Basil Beef served over white rice in a bowl, ready to eat.
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 20 minutes
Total 30 minutes
Save Recipe

Equipment

Ingredients
 
 

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Notes

*Nutritional info does not include rice.
Oyster Sauce: You could substitute hoisin or use more soy sauce.
Basil: Holy basil is recommend, but Thai basil or sweet basil could be substituted.
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.
Chili Sauce: Substitute sriracha hot sauce in place of the Asian Garlic Chili Paste.
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.
Rice: Use any kind of rice you like, or make it low carb and serve it in a lettuce wrap!
Add a fried egg on top!
Make Thai Basil Chicken

Nutrition

Calories: 295kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 34gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 84mgSodium: 1854mgPotassium: 818mgFiber: 1gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 1219IUVitamin C: 45mgCalcium: 59mgIron: 4mg

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I originally shared this recipe September 2019. Updated July 2020 and August 2023.

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Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This was delicious as lettuce wraps. My Hubby and I devoured it. I will be making it for some friends and will serve it over Jasmine rice. I’m also making it for a potluck fellowship where I will serve it with flour tortillas as a Thai Taco garnished with cilantro and lime 🌮 😀

  2. 5 stars
    Hello! Are you sure I’m supposed to use 1.5 cups of holy basil? 1.5 cups seems too much. Please let me know. Always, thank you for your recipes ❤️

  3. 4 stars
    This looks pretty good except it’s missing one crucial element, lime juice. The acidity of half a lime makes this dish complex , complete and authentic.

  4. 5 stars
    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.

  5. 4 stars
    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

    1. 5 stars
      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!

  6. 1 star
    I used regular soy sauce without noticing it called for low sodium soy. It was inedible. Big huge waste of time and ingredients. So disappointed.

    1. Thank you for trying our recipe, and I’m sorry to hear that it didn’t turn out well for you. We understand how important it is to follow the recipe instructions, including the specific ingredients and measurements. Using regular soy sauce instead of low-sodium soy can definitely affect the overall taste and saltiness of the dish which is why we started to use low-sodium soy sauce. If you’d like to try the recipe again with the correct ingredients, we’d be happy to answer any questions you may have and would love to have you update your review. Thank you for your feedback

  7. 3 stars
    3 Tbsp of soy sauce would have been plenty. 6 Tsbp is WAY too much. Otherwise, pretty solid, but I would also add a good amount of sambal or a couple of thai chiles for some extra heat

  8. 5 stars
    All of your recipes are reliably great, but this one is top-notch. 💯 I make it often for my family and friends, and everyone loves it. Thank you, Lauren.

  9. 5 stars
    Loved the recipe I used lime squeezed over the finished product. I also palm sugar instead of brown sugar. It could have been hotter. Next time slice some jalapeños in it.

  10. 5 stars
    Delicious! I had to use regular basil (frozen as I didn’t have fresh and I didn’t have the Thai one) and used regular soy sauce (halved it to 3 tbs) and it came out very tasty. Can only imagine how better it is with Thai basil!

  11. 5 stars
    I just did a google search and came across this recipe. It was a hit with my husband and picky 5 year old daughter. I loved that it created so much sauce which I often lack when I have made this dish in the past. I increased the amount of brown sugar to temper the salt, but other than that change it was delicious!

    Thank you!
    DC

  12. 5 stars
    Loved this, made vegan with open nature ground, yondu (sub for fish sauce), vegan oyster sauce substitute. and vege broth. Super tasty. My hubby’s version was my vegan sauce on regular ground and he loved it. Thanks so much! This one got saved for the rotation.

  13. 5 stars
    Tried this recipe and I love it!! It was so good! Looking forward to try other recipes from this website…..

  14. 3 stars
    Hey! Great base recipe, I advise making a few adjustments.

    6 tbsp of soy is too much. I started with 2 tbsp soy sauce, and if that wasn’t enough salt, I added more.

    I also changed the liquid amount. I did 1/4 cup beef broth and that is it. Otherwise you’ll end up with soup. You can also use a slotted spoon and scoop out the beef if you want to reduce excess liquid.

    Fresh basil is the best! I’ve also messed up and used dried, but the flavour is weak.

    Finally, I served with lime!

  15. 4 stars
    The flavors are fantastic – I did have to buy several of the ingredients for the sauce buy it seems like a worthy pantry investment for future stir fries. My only problem was that there was way too much liquid in the sauce. A single tsp of cornstarch barely seemed to do anything for it, I had to boil it down for a few minutes and even then it was still pretty runny. But despite that, it was still a hit with the whole family, even the picky kids (possibly because I diced all the veggies quite small 😅). Thanks Lauren!

  16. 5 stars
    I normally don’t comment on recipe websites, but I have to here. You nailed the sauce! I have been eating this for decades at my favorite Thai restaurant, and for the last 5 years have been trying to refine this at home. The key items are: your specification of low sodium soy sauce and beef stock (it’s easy for this dish to be too salty), the addition of extra water (help distribute the flavors and gives you extra sauce for the rice) and cornstarch (makes for a silky sauce.) Also, I hadn’t thought of using Chili paste before (I used plain Chili paste, I didn’t have the Asian Garlic variety). It adds umami and really rounds out the flavor.

    For the posters who replied this was too salty, they didn’t use the low sodium varieties of soy and beef broth. 6 Tbls of soy seems like a lot, but it’s not when using low sodium.

    To repay the favor of you passing along the sauce, here are my suggestions for taking this over the top: use sliced steak for the meat. I don’t need to explain, you know why. Also, add a couple sliced Thai bird chili peppers. This completes the spicy flavor profile. And skip the ginger.

    Thank you very much, I will be adapting this with chicken next (sliced breast with chicken broth)!

  17. 5 stars
    This is so delicious! I added sugar snap peas and water chestnuts, instead of peppers. My husband has a hard time with peppers, but he absolutely raved about this recipe! Thanks, and will definitely be making this regularly 🙂

    Sue

  18. 5 stars
    I love this website!! All recipes I had cooked for last 4 months are just FANTASTIC!!!
    The Best cooking website there is!!!!
    100% proof

    Lidia R.

  19. 5 stars
    Oh my goodness, made this tonight and it was absolutely AMAZING!! Rave reviews from both my husband and my 10-year old. We’ll definitely be doing this one again! Thanks!

  20. When did you add the chili paste? Annoying that you didn’t put it in yet listed it in the recipe list

  21. 1 star
    Oh my gosh! It had so much promise, but the salt was deadly! It absolutely ruined it, all the liquids were so salty, even the low salt version didn’t make a difference. Very disappointing to have a meal be such a fail.

  22. 1 star
    We have enjoyed some other recipes on this site, but did not care for this one very much. The primary flavor profile was salt, which overpowered any of the sweetness from basil or brown sugar. Next time we may double the basil and brown sugar and halve the soy sauce / oyster / fish sauce, and add some lime at the end.

  23. 5 stars
    This is one of my weekly go to meals! So yummy and savory, just love it with some sriracha sauce.

  24. 5 stars
    Really great recipe. I substituted bell peppers for anaheim and marble peppers which gave it a good kick.

  25. 5 stars
    Stupendously good recipe! We made it with LightLife minced meat and it worked like a dream! Thank you so much for the excellent recipe!
    Diana

  26. 5 stars
    I made this recipe using regular basil; and it was amazing!! I made it with noodles! Kids loved it. This will be on monthly rotation.