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 4 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!





  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.


  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!


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.