Thai basil Chicken or Gai Pad Kra Pao is a classic Thai street food and it's full of delicious flavors. Ground beef, pork, or turkey work well for this dish and it's great to serve it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. This Thai basil Chicken stir fry recipe is hearty, full of protein from the ground chicken meat, eggs and green beans. It’s not too heavy either, that’s why Thai basil chicken is one of our family favorites for a weekend brunch.
What is Thai Basil Chicken or Gai Pad Kra Pao?
Well, here’s a little Thai language lesson for you. Thai Basil Chicken Stirfy or Gai Pad Kra Pao (Gai-Pud-Grae-Pao), a word for word translation is: Gai means chicken, Pad means stir fry and Kra Pao means Holy Basil. So, it’s a Thai chicken stir fry with Holy basil using any protein, usually ground or chopped up very small. This recipe calls for ground Chicken. Now, it is very important that you use Holy basil for this recipe, as it is the main ingredient for this popular Thai street food. The Thai basil chicken basil dish is named after Holy basil specifically. You can substitute other types of basil if you have no other option. But know this, you will miss out substantially on what makes this dish a Thai classic. Keep on reading for tips on how to preserve Holy basil for the winter months.
Ingredients You’ll Need for This Thai Basil Chicken Recipe:
American Grocery Store Ingredient List
- Ground chicken (turkey, beef or pork is ok, too)
- Fresh green beans-diced small, about ¼ inch
- Vegetable oil
Asian Grocery Story Ingredient List
- Holy basil (leafy parts and soft tips)
- Thai chilis
- Sweet dark soy sauce
- Fish sauce
- Oyster sauce
- White or light soy sauce
What is Holy Basil?
Holy basil is a type of basil with a distinctive peppery flavor with an aftertaste that leaves a slight tingling feeling to your tongue. It smells like a combination of Cinnamon basil, Lemon Balm (herbs) and dried cloves (spice). Maybe that’s not helpful, but my point is, it’s quite unique and a substitution is not recommended.
Where Can You Find Holy Basil?
You can find Holy basil in the produce section of any Asian grocery store. Look for light green colored basil with a fuzzy branch and stems. See enlarged picture below. They usually are sold in small bunches. Ask the workers there, they will be happy to help. Get a picture of the Holy basil here to bring with you if you want a visual image of it and then go on a little adventure to the Asian grocery store.
And while you are there, you might as well grab ingredients for this Drunken Noodle Recipe, too, because this dish calls for Holy basil as well. So there you go, two birds with one stone!
Expert Tips for this Recipe
Holy basil thrives in hot climates and I tend to see more of them during the summer months. If you live in a cold climate like me, this is what I would do if I were you: Buy a few bunches of Holy basil during the summer season. Wash and dry them with paper towels and pick the leaves and soft tips and freeze them in Ziploc bags for those months where fresh herbs are sparse. This is the best option I’ve come up with. Never use dried leaves or powdered Holy basil. They are great for tea but that’s about it. Don’t do it.
If a substitution is a necessity, use Thai or Cinnamon Basil instead and add extra because Holy basil has a stronger flavor.
How to Make Thai Basil Chicken:
Thai Basil Chicken Cooking Instructions, As numbered in the picture above.
#1. Cook your egg first and set it to the side until ready to serve over your cooked Thai Basil Chicken. See instruction below with title, Side 1: Fried Eggs Recipe.
#2. In a small bowl, add all the sauces together and wait until it's time to put the sauce into the stir fry.
#3. Heat your wok or large skillet pan over med-high heat on your stove and wait until the wok is hot, 3-5 minutes. Add 2-3 Tbsp of oil and wait again for 1-2 minutes until the oil is hot, add garlic, chilis, and shallots. Stir all together for 1-2 minutes until fragrant but not too brown.
#4. Add ground meat, stir all together, breaking up the large chunks of meat as needed. Let it cook and keep breaking the chunks as you go along. Cook until meat is done, anywhere from 6-10 minutes, depending on your stove and what type of pan you are using. Cook until the meat is slightly brown
#5. Pour in the sauces that you mixed earlier.
#6. Also, add the chopped green beans and stir all together for about 2 minutes.
#7. There’ll be some liquid forming at this point in your pan or wok. That’s a very good thing! That’s all the flavors coming out, right there. If not, add about 2-4 Tbsp to the empty sauce bowl, do a quick swish and pour that liquid into your pan to give the meat a little moisture. Stir it all in.
#8. Add in your Holy basil, mix it in with the meat, cook 30 seconds more and turn off your heat.
#9. Your finished Thai Basil Chicken!
Please be sure to read "Important Kitchen Notes" in my recipe card for more information on how to serve this dish.
Dish a portion of cooked Jasmine rice on a plate, add the Kra Pao on top, make sure to scoop some liquid, too, and let that deliciousness seep into the Jasmine rice. Add your fried eggs on top and serve with sliced cucumber and spicy chili sauce on the side. Runny eggs are even tastier with this dish, especially if you add just a dash of the spicy chili sauce with it.
Serve Thai Basil Chicken with These Sides:
Side 1: 1-2 Fried egg per serving (Check side 1 recipe on cooking instruction below)(Usually served with Thai Basil Chicken, highly recommend it.)
- 1-2 egg per serving
- 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
Fried Egg Cooking instruction
- Heat the pan on med-high, wait until the pan is hot, add oil and wait until the oil is hot. Add the egg, no beating or scrambling here.
- Let it fry in oil until the edge starts to look slightly brown and crispy. Cook to your liking: runny, semi-runny, medium, etc. If you like your egg on the well done side, just flip the entire egg over and let it cook for 1 minute until you are happy with how it looks.
- Remove from the pan and set on a plate with a paper towel to drain out some oil. Let it cool while you go cook your Thai basil chicken.
Side 2: Thai spicy chili sauce(Check side 2 recipe cooking instruction below)
Thai Spicy Chili Sauce Recipe
- 1 Tbsp Fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp Lime juice
- 1 Tbsp Water
- 1-2 Chili’s-diced very small
- ½ Garlic clove-diced extra small
Mix all these together, adjust the flavor to your liking, serve in a small sauce bowl on the side of the finished Thai basil chicken. Enjoy!
Side 3: Cooked Jasmine rice, optional but highly recommended
Side 4: Sliced cucumber-helps cool off the spiciness, this is optional
Enjoy your Thai basil chicken or Pad Kra Pao! It’s an awesome breakfast dish. Hearty but not too heavy and it's full of protein from the meat, eggs and green beans. Thai basil chicken is one of our family favorites for a weekend brunch.
Recipe For Thai Basil Chicken Below:Print