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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Holy or hot basil adds heat as the name implies. It can be a bit harder to find.
How to make Thai Basil Chicken:
- Sauté veggies: shallots, garlic, ginger, bell peppers etc. for 3 minutes over medium high heat in a wok or large frying pan. Set aside.
- Sauté ground chicken over high heat in same pan, breaking it up as it cooks.
- 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.
- Add basil and stir-fry until wilted.
- Serve over steamed Jasmine rice.
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.
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.
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:
Thai Basil Chicken
- 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
- 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.
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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.