That Spicy Chick

Thai Holy Basil Chicken (Pad Kra Pow Gai)

This Thai Holy Basil Chicken is quick and easy to stir-fry on any given weeknight, incredibly delicious, and full of garlicky and spicy flavors! It’s also customizable with your choice of protein (pork, beef, tofu, etc.), can be made gluten-free, and ready to go in 25 minutes!

Close up of ground chicken Thai basil stir-fry with sliced baby corn in a large white serving bowl.

Calling all my Thai food lovers! I have an easy weeknight stir-fry that’s spicy, savory, sweet, and pure tasty magic to share with you today – this Thai Holy Basil Chicken! ❤️

It’s one of my all-time and beyond favorite Thai dishes, and it’s downright delicious over a bed of warm steamed white rice! 😋 You’ve probably seen it listed on Thai restaurant menus as Pad Kra Pow Gai, Pad Gaprow Gai or Pad Gaprao Gai, and possibly even tried it.

I know I’ve previously shared a Spicy Thai Basil Chicken recipe with you before. But that version isn’t entirely traditional as I add gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste) to kick things up a notch. I also use Thai sweet basil (‘horapha’) instead of holy basil (‘kra pow’) in it.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s still one of my favorite weeknight stir-fries and incredibly tasty with its Thai-style fried egg-yolky-goodness action going on! 😋 But I thought it was time to share a more traditional recipe with you for Thai basil chicken since I make it very often.

This dish is deliciously flavorful with its garlicky and spicy notes, and I absolutely adore its umami packed thin sauce. 😋

Top view of plate with rice topped with ground chicken Thai basil stir-fry with sliced baby corn.

Best of all, it’s ready in just 25 minutes and is FAAAAAST. F.A.S.T. See what I did there to emphasize? It’s SUPER quick to make because you’re cooking over high heat. The prep takes more time than the actual stir-fry, which is a good thing because it means that your delicious dinner will be on the table in no time!

I truly think you guys are going to love this dish and appreciate how simple and easy it is to make at home.

So without further ado, let’s jump in and make some Thai Holy Basil Chicken! 🤗

Thai holy basil chicken stir-fry with baby corn in a large wok.

WHAT IS THAI HOLY BASIL CHICKEN?

It’s basically a ground (or sliced) chicken dish that is stir-fried with garlic, chilies, onion (or shallots) in a lovely umami packed salty and sweet sauce, and tossed with some Thai holy basil (‘kra pow’ or ‘krapow’ in Thai, and also known as spicy basil).

My recipe for this classic Thai dish was inspired by two cooking classes I took while in Bangkok on two separate holidays. But of course, I spiced and garlicked up my version of this popular Thai favorite. 😉 The result is a dish that’s exploding with flavor and spice! (But you can tone down the heat if you like of course.)

Top view of ground chicken Thai basil stir-fry with sliced baby corn on a bed of white rice on a round white plate. Small bowl with chopped chilies and fish sauce and the rest of the stir-fry in a large white serving bowl in the back.

WHAT TO SERVE WITH THAI SWEET BASIL CHICKEN?

This dish is traditionally served with warm steamed rice and a Thai-style fried egg (‘kai dao’). A Thai-style fried egg is a deep fried egg in which the white part has set, but the yolk is still runny. It’s mega delicious with Thai Holy Basil Chicken, and often served as a side in Thailand. I go into detail about how to make it in my Spicy Thai Basil Chicken post. Feel free to check it out if you’re interested in making it to serve alongside this dish.

You can also serve this dish with some Prik Nam Pla – a sauce mixture that is commonly found on any Thai restaurant’s table. It’s made with fish sauce, chopped garlic and chilies, lime juice, and a bit of sugar to taste.

Or you could serve it with just chopped chilies and fish sauce like I did in the photos if you prefer. But these side sauces are totally optional.

Thai holy basil leaves.

INGREDIENTS

Here’s what you’ll need to make this easy stir-fry:

  • Garlic: I use a whopping twelve cloves in this dish and love the extra garlicky flavor!
  • Red and Green Chilies: Bird’s eye is preferred as it’s what they use in Thailand. These beautiful tiny chilies are HOT! So be sure to adjust the amount to taste. You could also deseed them to make this dish milder. If you can’t find bird’s eye chilies easily where you live, Holland chilies or any other small chilies will work fine.
  • Large Red Chili: This chili is more for color than heat as they are rather mild.
  • Onion: I used yellow onion, but red or white onion will work too. You could also use shallots instead if you like.
  • Veggies: Although veggies are not always added to this dish in Thailand, I like to add a few sliced baby corns for some crunch and natural sweetness. You could also add finely sliced green snake beans if you like, which is occasionally used in the dish in Thai restaurants.
  • Thai Holy Basil Leaves: This is what this dish is all about! Holy basil (also known as ‘kra pow’ in Thai or spicy basil) has a lovely peppery taste. It adds a whole lot of flavor and aroma to this dish! You can try finding it at your local Asian or Thai grocery store if you’re based in the US. In Asia, you can find this in the Thai stall at your local wet market during the summer. But if you can’t find holy basil easily, substitute with Thai sweet basil or Italian basil. The dish won’t be traditional as it’s normally made with holy basil. But I promise you that it’ll still be mighty delicious! In fact, I normally use Thai sweet basil in the winter here as my local wet market only carries holy basil during spring and summer.
  • Light Soy Sauce: Just your regular Asian light soy sauce.
  • Sweet Dark Soy Sauce: This is a thick and viscous type of soy sauce. It gives the dish a lovely color and adds just a tiny hint of sweetness.
  • Oyster Sauce: This umami packed sauce adds an incredible amount of flavor, and also helps to thicken the sauce.
  • White Sugar: To balance out the spicy and salty flavors. Feel free to use more or less to taste.
  • Ground Chicken: I used ground chicken, but you could also use ground pork or beef instead if you like.
  • Canola Oil: Or any other neutral flavored cooking oil.
  • Water (or chicken broth): To add moisture and help create a thin sauce.
  • To serve: Warm steamed white (or brown) rice, or quinoa, or any other grain you prefer. Thai-style fried egg (one for each person). Also Prik Nam Pla, or just chopped chilies and fish sauce (optional).
Top view of ground chicken Thai basil stir-fry with sliced baby corn in a large white serving bowl.

HOW TO MAKE THAI HOLY BASIL CHICKEN STIR-FRY

We’ll start with the prep work first. It’s best to have everything on hand by your wok as this is a QUICK stir-fry!

Prepare the fresh ingredients: Roughly chop the garlic and red and green Bird’s eye chilies into smaller pieces. Then smash them using a mortar and pestle until a rough paste forms. (This helps the garlic and chilies to release their oils and makes this dish more flavorful.)

Smashed garlic and red and green bird's eye chilies in a mortar and pestle.

(Note: If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can finely mince the garlic and bird’s eye chilies. Alternatively, you could also use a mini blender and pulse until a coarse paste-like texture is achieved.)

Thinly slice the large red chili at an angle, slice the yellow onion, and cut the baby corn in half lengthwise, and then again widthwise. Pick the holy basil leaves off the stems, then wash and dry them with some paper towels. Set everything aside.

Make the sauce: Combine the light soy sauce, sweet dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar in a measuring cup or small bowl. Mix with a spoon until evenly combined and set aside.

Measuring cup with sauce and a spoon. Light and dark soy sauce bottles, oyster sauce bottle, and white sugar in a sealed airtight container behind.

Now that you’ve got all your ingredients ready to go, it’s time to make this quick and easy stir-fry!

  1. Stir-fry the garlic and chilies: Heat the canola oil in a large wok over high heat. Once hot, add the smashed garlic chili paste and the thinly sliced large red chili. Stir-fry for 30-40 seconds. (Note: It can become quite smoky and pungent so open a window or turn on the exhaust fan!) Next, add the onion and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes or until slightly softened.
  2. Cook chicken and add the sauce: Add the ground chicken and cook for 2 minutes or until no longer pink, breaking up the lumps as you go and stir-frying to combine with everything else. Throw in the baby corn and toss to combine. Then pour in the sauce and continue stir-frying until everything is coated with it.
  3. Add basil and water: Toss in the holy basil leaves and give everything a quick stir to combine. Then add 1/4 cup of water into the measuring cup that had the sauce, swirl it around, and it pour into the wok. Continue to stir-fry for a minute or until the basil has wilted and the liquid has mostly cooked off.
  4. Serve!: Transfer to a serving dish/bowl and serve immediately with warm steamed rice! Serve Prik Nam Pla, or a simple mixture of chopped red and green chilies and fish sauce on the side if desired.
Front view of ground chicken Thai basil stir-fry with sliced baby corn on a bed of white rice on a round white plate. Small bowl with chopped chilies and fish sauce and the rest of the stir-fry in a large white serving bowl in the back.

Full ingredient amounts/instructions in the recipe card below.

Spoon holding up a bite of ground chicken and rice with chilies above plate with Thai basil chicken stir-fry and rice.

VARIATIONS

If you’d like to customize this Thai Holy Basil Chicken recipe, you can…

  • Make it gluten-free: Use Tamari, a gluten-free soy sauce, or coconut aminos in place of the light soy sauce. Also use a gluten-free sweet soy sauce such as a gluten-free kecap manis, as well as a gluten-free oyster sauce.
  • Use a different protein: Ground pork or beef would also taste great.
  • Use chicken thighs or breasts: If you don’t have ground chicken on hand, you can use sliced chicken thighs or breasts instead. I recommend thighs over breasts as they are more flavorful and juicy. You could also use your knife to hand mince the chicken thighs too.
  • Make it vegetarian/vegan: Swap the chicken for firm tofu instead, and use a vegetarian oyster sauce. I recommend crumbling the tofu first with your hands or a fork, then frying it the wok until it’s mostly dry. Then transfer to a clean bowl and set aside. Add it back to the stir-fry when you’d add the chicken, and follow the rest of the instructions as indicated. Alternatively, you could also use Omnipork® or Beyond Beef®.
  • Add more veggies: I kept it simple and used baby corn because I love its crunchy texture and subtle sweet taste. But you could also add finely sliced green beans such as snake beans, sliced mushrooms (any kind you like), bok choy, choy som, broccoli florets, etc.
  • Use a different basil: Since Thai holy basil can be difficult to find depending on where you live, you can use Thai sweet basil or regular Italian basil instead.
  • Toss with spaghetti: Instead of serving over rice, you can make an Italian and Thai fusion masterpiece by tossing spaghetti or capellini with the Thai Holy Basil Chicken stir-fry. I’m actually going to be sharing my incredibly tasty Thai Basil Chicken Spaghetti recipe soon, so be sure to check back in for it!
Spoon holding up a bite of ground chicken and rice, and plate with Thai basil chicken stir-fry and sliced baby corn on top of rice.

MORE EASY THAI RECIPES

Looking for more delicious Thai recipes that are easy to make at home? Check out some of my favorites below!


If you make this recipe, leave a comment and review it below with a star rating! I always appreciate your feedback. Take a photo and be sure to tag it with @thatspicychick on Instagram and hashtag it #thatspicychick so I can see! 😉

Print
Top view of ground chicken Thai basil stir-fry with sliced baby corn in a large white serving bowl.

Thai Holy Basil Chicken (Pad Kra Pow Gai)

5 from 1 reviews

This Thai Holy Basil Chicken is quick and easy to stir-fry on any given weeknight, incredibly delicious, and full of garlicky and spicy flavors! It’s also customizable with your choice of protein (pork, beef, tofu, etc.), can be made gluten-free, and ready to go in 25 minutes!

  • Author: Lavina
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Dinner, Lunch
  • Method: Stir-fry
  • Cuisine: Thai
Scale

Ingredients

  • 12 Garlic cloves – roughly chopped
  • 410 Red Chilies (Bird’s eye preferred, but Holland chilies will work too.), to taste – deseeded if desired and cut into halves or thirds depending on length
  • 410 Green Chilies (Bird’s eye preferred, but Holland chilies will work too), to taste – deseeded if desired and cut into halves or thirds depending on length
  • 1 large Red Chili – deseeded if desired, thinly sliced at an angle 
  • ½ Yellow Onion (or red/white onion/ 6 shallots) – thinly sliced, then sliced in half
  • 6 pieces Baby Corn (optional) – cut in half lengthwise, and then again widthwise
  • 1.52 cups Thai Holy Basil Leaves (substitute with Thai Sweet Basil or Italian Basil if you can’t find holy basil) – washed and dried
  • 2 TBLS Light Soy Sauce
  • 1TBLS Sweet Dark Soy Sauce (the thick and viscous type)
  • 4 TBLS Oyster Sauce
  • 2.5 TSP White Sugar, or more or less to taste
  • 480 grams (about 1 pound) Ground Chicken (or you can use ground pork or beef if you prefer)
  • 23 TBLS Canola Oil (or any other neutral flavored cooking oil)
  • ¼ cup Water (or chicken broth)
  • To Serve: Warm steamed rice (white or brown), or quinoa, or any other grain you prefer.
  • Optional Sides: Thai-style fried egg (one for each person), fish sauce with chopped bird’s eye chillies, Prik Nam Pla (optional) – a mixture of fish sauce with minced garlic, minced chilies, lime juice, and sugar to taste

Instructions

Prep:

  1. Prepare the fresh ingredients: Roughly chop the garlic and the red and green Bird’s eye chilies into smaller pieces. Then smash them using a mortar and pestle until a coarse paste forms. (This helps the garlic and chilies to release their oils and makes this dish more flavorful.) Thinly slice the large red chili at an angle, slice the yellow onion, and cut the baby corn in half lengthwise and then again widthwise. Pick the holy basil leaves off the stems, then wash and dry them with some paper towels. Set everything aside.
  2. Make the sauce: Combine the light soy sauce, sweet dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar in a measuring cup or small bowl. Mix with a spoon until evenly combined and set aside.

For the Thai Holy Basil Chicken:

  1. Heat the canola oil in a large wok over high heat. Once hot, add the smashed garlic chili paste and the thinly sliced large red chili. Stir-fry for 30-40 seconds. (Note: It can become quite smoky and pungent so open a window or turn on the exhaust fan!) Next, add the onion and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes or until slightly softened.
  2. Add the ground chicken and cook for 2 minutes or until no longer pink, breaking up the lumps as you go and stir-frying to combine with everything else. Throw in the baby corn and toss to combine. Then pour in the sauce and continue stir-frying until everything is coated with it.
  3. Toss in the holy basil leaves and give everything a quick stir to combine. Then add 1/4 cup of water into the measuring cup that had the sauce, swirl it around, and it pour into the wok. Continue to stir-fry for a minute or until the basil has wilted and the liquid has mostly cooked off.
  4. To Serve: Transfer to a serving dish/bowl and serve immediately with warm steamed rice, and Prik Nam Pla or fish sauce with chopped chilies on the side if desired.

Notes

  1. Garlic Chili Paste: If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can finely mince the garlic and bird’s eye chilies. Alternatively, you could also use a mini blender and pulse until a coarse paste-like texture is achieved.
  2. Make it gluten-free: Use Tamari, a gluten-free soy sauce, or coconut aminos in place of the light soy sauce. Also use a gluten-free sweet soy sauce such as a gluten-free kecap manis, as well as a gluten-free oyster sauce.
  3. Use a different protein: Ground pork or beef would also taste great.
  4. Use chicken thighs or breasts: If you don’t have ground chicken on hand, you can use sliced chicken thighs or breasts instead. I recommend thighs over breasts as they are more flavorful and juicy. You could also use your knife to hand mince the chicken thighs too.
  5. Make it vegetarian/vegan: Swap the chicken for firm tofu instead, and use a vegetarian oyster sauce. I recommend crumbling the tofu first with your hands or a fork, then frying it the wok until it’s mostly dry. Then transfer to a clean bowl and set aside. Add it back to the stir-fry when you’d add the chicken, and follow the rest of the instructions as indicated. Alternatively, you could also use Omnipork® or Beyond Beef®.
  6. Add more veggies: I kept it simple and used baby corn because I love its crunchy texture and subtle sweet taste. But you could also add finely sliced green beans such as snake beans, sliced mushrooms (any kind you like), bok choy, choy som, broccoli florets, etc.
  7. Use a different basil: As Thai holy basil can be difficult to find depending on where you live, you can use Thai sweet basil or regular Italian basil instead.
  8. Toss with spaghetti: Instead of serving over rice, you can make an Italian and Thai fusion masterpiece by tossing spaghetti or capellini with the chicken. I’m actually going to be sharing my incredibly tasty Thai Basil Chicken Spaghetti recipe soon, so be sure to check back in for it!

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe
  • Calories: 400
  • Sugar: 16.5g
  • Sodium: 941mg
  • Fat: 19.5g
  • Saturated Fat: 3.5g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 14.7g
  • Trans Fat: 0.1g
  • Carbohydrates: 33.3g
  • Fiber: 4.7g
  • Protein: 28.1g
  • Cholesterol: 103.2mg

The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.

This post may contain affiliate links. We are a part of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.