Thai Basil Shrimp Fried Rice

Closeup top view of Thai holy basil shrimp fried rice on a plate with sliced cucumber.

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5 from 1 review

Fiery, flavor-packed and fabulous, this This Thai Basil Shrimp Fried Rice is quick and easy to stir-fry in under 30 minutes and EXPLODING with garlicky chili and hot basil flavors! Perfect for any night of the week!



For the Sauce:

For the Thai Basil Shrimp Fried Rice:

  • 6 Garlic cloves – peeled, roughly chopped
  • 610 fresh Red Chilies (Thai Bird’s Eye or any other small hot red chilies), to taste – de-stemmed, roughly chopped
  • 26 fresh Green chilies (Thai Bird’s Eye, Prik Kee Nu chilies or other hot green chilies – note 2), to taste – destemmed, roughly chopped
  • 1 Large Red Chili (mild) – destemmed, deseeded if desired, thinly sliced at an angle (reserve a few slices for garnish)
  • 1 small Yellow Onion – sliced into ¼-inch wide pieces
  • 1.5 cups Thai Holy Basil Leaves (substitute with Italian basil or Thai sweet basil leaves if unavailable – note 3)
  • 200 grams / 7 ounces peeled and deveined Shrimp (or prawns) – rinsed well, pat-dried
  • 3 cups cooked Long Grain Brown Rice (such as Thai jasmine brown rice, chilled day-old rice works best – note 4)
  • 2 TBLS Canola Oil (or any other neutral cooking oil with a high smoke point)
  • To Serve: Reserved slices of large red chili, sliced cucumber, chopped fresh chilies in fish sauce (prik nam pla)



  1. Make the sauce: Whisk together the oyster sauce, light soy sauce, sweet dark soy sauce, fish sauce, white sugar and water in a small measuring cup or bowl until combined well.
  2. Prepare the fresh ingredients: Prepare the garlic, fresh red and green chilies, large red chili and yellow onion as indicated in the ‘ingredients’ section. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and fresh red and green chilies (not the sliced large red chili) into a coarse paste (note 5). Pick the holy basil leaves off the stems, then rinse and pat-dry with paper towels. Rinse the shrimp thoroughly and pat-dry.

For the Thai Basil Shrimp Fried Rice:

  1. Stir-fry the onion and aromatics: Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in a large wok over high heat. Once hot, add the onion and stir-fry for 20 seconds. Add the smashed garlic chili paste and large red chili (reserve a few slices for garnish) and stir-fry for 30 seconds to combine. (Note: Open a window or switch on the exhaust fan if needed. Stir-frying chilies over high heat can produce a lot of smoke and pungent fumes.)
  2. Cook the shrimp: Add the shrimp and stir-fry for 1 minute until they start to develop color and are almost cooked.
  3. Add the rice and sauce: Add the cooked brown rice and pour the sauce on top. Stir-fry until combined well and every grain of rice is evenly coated with the sauce – about 1 minute.
  4. Toss through the basil: Add the holy basil leaves and toss briefly to combine until wilted – about 30 seconds. Switch off the heat.
  5. To Serve: Transfer to a serving plate or divide evenly into bowls and garnish with the reserved sliced large red chili pieces. Or for fancier plating, place 2 pieces of the reserved sliced large red chili into a bowl and spoon the fried rice on top. Press down with the back of a spoon until the rice is in an even layer. Tip out onto a plate. Repeat with the remaining servings of fried rice. Serve with sliced cucumber and chopped fresh chilies mixed with fish sauce (prik nam pla) in a small bowl or sauce dish on the side if desired.



  1. Sweet Dark Soy Sauce. This is a Thai sweet and sticky dark soy sauce that is more viscous than regular light soy sauce. Substitute with kecap manis (Indonesian sweet dark soy sauce) if unavailable.
  2. Green Chilies. I’ve used both Thai Bird’s Eye and Prik Kee Nu green chilies here. Prik kee nu literally translates to “mouse dropping chilies” in English. The name comes from their shape. These tiny hot chilies are fiery hot and even hotter than Bird’s Eye chilies. Use with caution or omit if you prefer a milder dish. Adjust the quantity of both hot red and green chilies you use based on your heat level preference.
  3. Thai Holy Basil Leaves. Known as ‘kaprow’ or ‘gaprao’ in Thai and sometimes called spicy or hot basil in English. It has a unique peppery flavor, furry stems, and leaves that have ridges. Find it in an Asian supermarket or Thai grocery store if you’re based in the U.S or outside of Asia. In Asia, you can find it in the Thai stall at your local wet market. If unavailable, substitute with regular Italian basil or Thai sweet basil. Although Italian basil will be closer in flavor to holy basil than Thai sweet basil, either will still taste great in this fried rice.
  4. Long Grain Brown Rice: Long grain brown rice is more nutritious than white rice and has a hint of nutty flavor and firmer texture. Feel free to use Thai jasmine white rice or other long grain rice instead. Day old chilled rice works best and won’t turn into mush like hot, freshly cooked rice will.
  5. Mortar and Pestle: Smashing the chilies and garlic using a mortar and pestle is best as it helps to release their oils for a more pronounced spicy and garlicky flavor in the fried rice. If you don’t own a mortar and pestle, roughly chop the garlic and chilies and then smash them by pressing down on them with the flat side of your knife. Or use a mini blender to pulse into a coarse paste. 
  6. Storing and leftovers. Although this fried rice tastes best when eaten on the day of cooking, if can be stored in the fridge in an airtight sealed container for up to 2 days. Reheat in the microwave on high for 1-2 minutes or until hot throughout.
  7. See ‘Variations’ section in the post above if you’d like to customize this fried rice.