An authentic street food favorite, Thai Basil Chicken derives its enticing aroma from garlic, ginger, oyster sauce and chili paste, served over Jasmine rice. It’s a simple and healthy dinner that’s ready in less than 30 minutes. 

This easy stir-fry is part of my expanding collection of Thai Recipes which include Massman Curry, Thai Basil Beef, and Pad Thai.

Thai Basil Chicken served with rice, on a plate.Whenever we eat at a Thai restaurant, Thai basil Chicken (and Drunken Noodles) are my favorite hot food items and this homemade version can compete with the best ones I’ve had! The BEST part is how easy it is to throw together. Like too easy.

The heart of this dish is the basil and when it comes to Thai cooking, not all basils are created equal. Here are a few different cultivars to consider:

  1. Sweet Basil is the most common variety and familiar from Italian cuisine such as pesto dishes and caprese salad. It will work fine for Thai Basil Chicken as well, BUT you will lose out on some of the pungent and uniquely Thai flavor of our next contestant. 
  2. Thai Basil has purple stems and a spicy licorice-anise flavor.  Thai basil may be difficult to find in your local supermarket but can be found in most any Asian grocery store.
  3. Holy or hot basil adds heat as the name implies. It can be a bit harder to find.

How to make Thai Basil Chicken:

  1. Sauté veggies: shallots, garlic, ginger, bell peppers etc. for 3 minutes over medium high heat in a wok or large frying pan. Set aside.
  2. Sauté ground chicken over high heat in same pan, breaking it up as it cooks.
  3. Stir together sauce: brown sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, cornstarch, chicken broth and water, in a small bowl, then add to pan. Cook for 3 minutes.
  4. Add basil and stir-fry until wilted.
  5. Serve over steamed Jasmine rice.

Two process photos for cooking veggies and ground chicken in a pan, then adding sauce and basil to make Thai Basil Chicken.

Variations:

Spice it up: Add one or more chopped red Thai peppers (also known as bird’s eye chilis) for heat and color. Deseed to reduce heat or use Holland peppers which are a bit less spicy.

Vary the veggies: asparagus, green beans, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, zucchini, and broccolini all taste great in this dish.

Possible proteins: substitute chicken thighs or, to go vegetarian, cubed, sautéed firm tofu.

A wok with Thai basil chicken in it, and a wooden spoon for serving.

Make Ahead Instructions:

Chop the veggies and mix up the sauce ahead of time and all there’ll be left to do will be a few minutes of sautéing! Just remember to put on the rice first since that will take about 20 minutes.

Freezing Instructions:

Made as directed, but do not add the basil. Allow to cool, then store in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Reheat in a skillet, and add fresh basil once warm. Serve with freshly cooked rice.

Consider trying these popular International Recipes:

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Recipe

Thai Basil Chicken served with rice, on a plate.
Prep 10 mins
Cook 10 mins
Total 20 mins
Add to Meal Plan

Video

Ingredients
  

  • 2 Tablespoon oil , vegetable or canola
  • 2 shallots , thinly sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger , minced
  • 1/2 bell pepper , thinly sliced
  • Additional veggie ideas: asparagus, green beans, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, zucchini, broccolini
  • 1 pound lean ground chicken , diced chicken breast or ground turkey
  • 2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon fish sauce (or substitute hoisin sauce)
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 teaspoons oyster sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Asian Garlic Chili Sauce or Sambal Oelek, more or less to taste, for heat
  • ½ cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2/3 cup fresh basil leaves
  • Cooked Jasmine rice , for serving

Instructions
 

  • In a wok or large skillet over medium high heat add the oil. Once hot but not smoking, add shallots, garlic, ginger, bell peppers (and any other veggies) and fry for 3 minutes.
  • Push the veggies off to the side. Turn the heat to high and add the ground chicken, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks.
  • In a small bowl stir together the brown sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, cornstarch chicken broth and water and add to the pan. Cook for 3minutes.
  • Add the basil and stir-fry until wilted.
  • Serve over hot cooked rice.

Notes

Make Ahead Instructions: Chop the veggies and mix up the sauce ahead of time and all there’ll be left to do will be a few minutes of sautéing! Just remember to put on the rice first since that will take about 20 minutes.
Freezing Instructions: Make as directed, but do not add the basil. Allow to cool, then store in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Reheat in a skillet, and add fresh basil once warm. Serve with freshly cooked rice.

Nutrition

Calories: 273kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 22gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 98mgSodium: 1089mgPotassium: 762mgFiber: 1gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 677IUVitamin C: 22mgCalcium: 29mgIron: 2mg

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I originally shared this recipe February 2015. Updated July 2020 with recipe tweaks I’ve made over time, process photos and improved instructions.

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About The Author

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
    Very tasty! A definite keeper recipe. I replaced some of the water when making the rice with coconut milk for added flavor. Next time I think I’ll add diced water chestnuts to the veggie mix.

  2. 5 stars
    Yummm! I added more hot garlic sauce and basil for my taste and it was great!!
    I also steamed my chicken breasts in my instant pot which sped up the cooking in my pan with the veggies.
    Will definitely make this again!

  3. Thinking about making the Thai basil chicken. Could you leave out the oyster sauce or maybe substitute something? Love all the recipes I’ve tried from here. Thanks!