Thai basil chicken fried rice (Kao Pad Kaprao Gai) is a light and tasty recipe that is quick to make. The subtle peppery taste of basil combined with umami flavors from the sauces and seasoning makes this recipe a perfect comfort meal for everyone!
If you love basil and fried rice, this recipe is delightful to add to your rotation. It's one of the easiest and tastiest Thai food. You will probably not find it in Thai restaurants, or I haven't yet.
Don't forget to pair your fried rice with this perfect sauce-Prik Nam Pla recipe.
If you love fried rice, try Tom Yum fried rice, green curry fried rice, Authentic Thai shrimp fried rice, and pineapple fried rice. For a vegetarian version, try this easy Thai fried rice recipe. All are uniquely flavorful and addictive! Learn more about the different types of Thai rice and how to use them in this blog post here.
Why this recipe works
- It's quick and easy to assemble and takes less than 30 minutes!
- It's flavorful! The
- The protein is adaptable! You can adapt the protein to your favorite meat, like pork, beef, duck, shrimp, or tofu.
- It doesn't have to be spicy! Use as little or as much chili peppers as you prefer!
- It's a perfect first dish to introduce to your kids, friends, or family new to Thai food. It's light and delicious at the same time!
- This recipe is also a great dish to make for a potluck or dinner party.
Ingredients notes & substitutions for making Thai basil chicken fried rice (Kao Pad Kaprao Gai).
- Garlic. Use anywhere from 3-5 garlic cloves for this recipe. It adds an incredible fragrance.
- Thai chilies. I used bird's eye chilies. Use as much or as little as you prefer for your spice level. Jalapenos or serrano peppers work well, too, as substitutes. If you don't like spicy food, use sliced bell peppers instead.
- Shallot. Use any onion as a substitute. Purple, white, and sweet onions will work fine for this recipe.
- Oil. Use high smoking point oil only. Avocado, canola, or vegetable oil are great for this recipe.
- Chicken breast. Chicken thighs work, too, for this recipe. Substitute any protein if preferred. Pork, beef, turkey, and duck work great. Tofu and shrimp also work but use less time to cook these lighter proteins.
- Eggs. You can lightly whisk your eggs before scrambling them in the pan for easier and quicker cooking. Cooked Thai jasmine rice. The type of rice used for Thai basil fried rice is very important. Use leftover or day-old jasmine rice instead of fresh rice. Check below on kitchen notes for more tips on the rice used for Thai fried rice.
- Oyster sauce. It adds a delicious umami flavor to the fried rice. I used the Thai brand for my oyster sauce.
- Fish sauce. Each fish sauce brand has its level of saltiness. Adjust as needed with the one you have.
- Rice vinegar, fresh lime juice, or apple cider vinegar. Lemon juice also works. The citrus flavor helps round out the sweet and salty flavors of the fried rice.
- Sugar. Use white, brown, monk fruit, or palm sugar.
- Ground white pepper. White peppers add a unique flavor to the dish. It adds an extra depth of flavor that is hard to achieve with black pepper.
- Thai basil. The go-to basil for stir-fry dishes in Thailand is typically the Thai holy basil. The holy basil has a pop of flavor with peppery and cinnamon-like tastes. These are difficult to find in my local Asian market. My recipe uses Thai sweet purple basil. Regular basil, typically Italian basil, from an American grocery store works as a substitute, but add ½ cup extra to make up for the bold flavors of holy and Thai basil.
Check the recipe card below for exact measurements of these ingredients.
How to make Thai basil chicken fried rice
Step 1. Mix oyster sauce, fish sauce, rice vinegar, white pepper, and sugar. Set aside until ready.
Step 2. On medium-high heat, heat a wok, large skillet, or pan. Fry the minced garlic, Thai chilis, and shallot.
Step 3. Add the chicken to the pan, cook for 4-5 minutes until lightly golden brown. Stir often.
Step 5. Add the oyster sauce mixture to the chicken, and stir well.
Step 7. Then use the spatula to evenly spread the fried rice over the pan surface, making it as flat as possible to "dry out the rice" so it's not mushy.
Step 4. Move the chicken to the side of the pan, add more oil to the pan, then the eggs, and scramble lightly.
Step 6. Add the rice, stir everything together in a pan.
Step 8. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Add the Thai sweet basil, and stir well together one last time. Turn the heat off, and it's ready!
Add lime wedges, sliced red chilies, fresh basil, sliced cucumbers, red pepper flakes, or ground white pepper. Try Thai chili paste as well if you are feeling adventurous-more spicy!
Kitchen Notes and Tips
- Leftover rice is best for fried rice recipes. This means cooked rice from a day or two before. Day-old rice has less moisture, so it's less likely to get mushy in the pan when cooked.
- Quick tips if you forget to cook your rice ahead of time. Use less water when cooking rice in the rice cooker or pot. Two, scoop out your freshly cooked rice, spread it out in a baking pan, and leave it at room temperature for at least one hour while you prep the ingredients.
- White rice is best for this fried rice recipe though brown rice will work too.
- If you can not find Thai or holy basil, use Italian sweet basil instead but add up to ½ cup extra to make up for the earthy basil flavors. Basil is the star ingredient that gives this recipe the unique fried rice taste. Don't skip out! (:
- Holy basil is commonly used in Thai cuisine. They are light green and have fuzzy stems with smaller narrow leaves. They add a lightly spicy and sweet flavor to this rice dish. The Thai name for holy basil is "Bai Kapraw," The same name used for the wildly popular Thai Spicy basil chicken.
- Sauces. In Thai cooking, fish sauce is used more than soy sauce, commonly used in Chinese cooking. If you don't use fish sauce, it's ok to substitute soy sauce. The flavors will be different, more like a Chinese fried rice recipe. It will still taste good! Use Thai light soy sauce if possible and not dark soy sauce.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! You absolutely can. To make this fried rice dish vegetarian, use tofu or tempeh instead of meat and soy sauce instead of fish sauce.
Yes. Fried rice is great as leftovers. They keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
There are some differences between Thai fried rice and Chinese fried rice. Thai fried rice use fish sauce and seasoning sauce (Golden Mountain sauce) to season the rice, while Chinese fried rice often uses soy sauce for flavoring. Also, Thai fried rice use fragrant Thai jasmine rice, while Chinese fried rice uses long-grain white rice.
More popular Thai recipes you'll love
- Tom Yum fried rice
- Bacon-wrapped grilled Enoki mushrooms
- Green curry fried rice
- Pineapple fried rice.
- Thai green curry
- Spicy Thai basil chicken (Pad Krapow Gai)
- Thai chili garlic paste
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