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Authentic Thai Basil Beef Recipe (Pad Ga Prow)

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Authentic Thai basil beef recipe – a quick and easy ground beef stir-fry, perfect for your busy weeknights. In just 20 minutes, you’ll whip up a plate of spicy and savory meaty goodness, complete with a fried egg and steamed jasmine rice.

Authentic Thai basil beef with jasmine rice and crispy fried egg.

Try some of these reader-favorite beef stir-fries! Beef pad see ew with fresh rice noodles, and nua pad prik, an easy chili beef recipe.

Authentic Thai basil beef

This Thai ground beef with basil is the real deal – like authentic Thai takeout, but even more delicious because it’s homemade.

It’s a balanced mix of sweet, spicy, and savory, all tossed together with freshly minced beef, plenty of chilies, and aromatic garlic.

Using pre-minced beef is completely fine, but in Thailand they’ll often freshly mince the beef for pad ga prao nua. It brings extra flavor and the texture is simply better.

Suny-side-up egg over pad ga prow, Thai basil beef, with steamed rice on a plate.

The stir-fry base is made up of fragrant garlic and spicy chilies, traditionally pounded with a mortar and pestle. This method releases their natural aromas and juices, adding more flavor.

When it all hits the wok, be prepared for a bit of eye-watering and sneezing, but that’s just how you know it’s truly authentic!

Hand presenting Thai holy basil.
Holy basil leaves, a key ingredient for pad ga prow.

This traditional Thai basil beef recipe is surprisingly easy to make, full of genuine Thai flavors, and it all comes together in one pan.

Psst, here are two of my popular easy minced beef recipes you can try later: Thai ground beef larb recipe and these Thai ground beef lettuce wraps are always a hit!

Traditional pad ga prow

Pad ga prow, a classic Thai dish, typically combines minced pork or other protein with garlic, chilies, and holy basil. Seasoned with fish sauce, soy sauce, and a hint of sugar for balance, this stir-fry is often topped with a fried egg and served over rice.

Close-up of Thai basil beef stir-fry with fresh holy basil and a fried egg.

In the world of online recipes, it’s easy to stumble upon Westernized versions of pad ga prao, that have strayed far from their roots. I’ve seen recipes with chili paste, sweet basil, and lots of vegetables.

It got me thinking – it’s time to bring you the real deal – an authentic Thai basil beef made with holy basil. You know, the kind you’d find in Thailand!

Hey, don’t get me wrong, customizing Thai food is totally fine. In fact, I always encourage you to do so.

But let’s get one thing straight, if it has sweet basil, it’s not pad ga prao. What you’re cooking up is more like pad horapa, a Thai sweet basil stir-fry, which is delicious in its own way.

Alright, rant over!

Ingredients

Ingredients can be sourced at Asian grocery stores and Asian markets.
The exact measurements are in the recipe card at the end of this post.


Top-view of ingredients for Thai basil beef recipe: minced beef, oyster sauce, white pepper, fish sauce, white sugar, garlic, chilies, and holy basil.
  • Beef – You’ve got two choices here: mince it or slice your steak thinly. Thai basil ground beef is my preference – we call it ‘pad ga prao nua sap’ in Thailand. ‘Nua’ means beef and ‘sap’ means minced. Minced beef really soaks up all the flavors. If you slice it instead, you get juicy and spicy strips of steak.
  • Holy basil – Holy basil has a peppery punch that makes it distinct from sweet basil. When you throw it in the stir-fry, it gives everything a subtle spicy, slightly clove-like taste.
  • Chilies – For a spicy Thai basil beef, use Thai bird’s eye chilies or Jinda chilies. If you’re not into too much spice, pick a milder chili pepper or take out the seeds.
  • Dried chilies – I like to toss in some dried chilies, which add more heat and a smoky note. This is totally optional.
  • Garlic – Fresh garlic is a key ingredient in Thai stir-fries. We’ll pound the garlic with the chilies, creating a flavorful base for our stir-fry.
  • Black soy sauce – It makes the beef look darker and tasty, with a sweetish, deep flavor that’s just right. Make sure not to use too much, as you don’t want the dish to become overly sweet. In authentic Thai food, it’s all about balancing the flavors.
  • Oyster sauce – Oyster sauce is a key ingredient in many Thai stir-fry dishes, adding a unique savory flavor that makes everything in the pan better.
  • Fish sauce – Salty and full of umami, fish sauce is a must to make your Thai beef basil taste like it came straight from a street food market.
  • White pepper – Adds warmth and gives your dish a little spice.
  • White sugar – A sprinkle of sugar balances all the flavors, smoothing out the spicy and salty tastes so everything’s just right.
  • Oil – Use a neutral oil with high smoke point, like canola oil or vegetable oil.

Cooking instructions

Raw minced beef on a wooden cutting board with a cleaver.

1. Finely chop your beef into the desired mince size on a cutting board.

Chili garlic paste pound in a stone mortar.

2. Grind the chilies and garlic into a rough paste using a mortar and pestle.

Chili garlic paste fried in a wok.

3. Heat oil in your wok over medium-high, then add your chili garlic paste and cook until golden and fragrant, or about 20 seconds.

Ground beef stir-fried with garlic and chilies in a wok.

4. Add your ground beef and cook the meat until it’s done, making sure not to overcook.

Cooked ground meat in a wok after being tossed with stir-fry sauces and seasonings.

5. Add your sauces and seasonings: black soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, white pepper, and white sugar. Mix thoroughly to ensure the beef is well-coated with the ingredients.

6. Finally, turn off the heat and stir in holy basil. Serve immediately with rice and a fried egg.

Ready to try some of my other Thai beef recipes? Thai crying tiger steak and Thai beef jerky are great for a light meal, and nam tok beef is great with a side of Thai sticky rice.

Kitchen tools

  • Large wok pan with spatula or large skillet: For stir-frying, you’ll need a large wok with the space to cook everything evenly and quickly.
  • Mortar and pestle: Go traditional and crush the garlic and chilies with a mortar and pestle, releasing the maximum flavors.
  • Cutting board and sharp knife
  • Measuring spoons and cups

Recipe tips and tricks

  • Customize the protein: You can swap the beef for chicken, pork, shrimp, or other protein. If you’re mincing it, make sure to mince it well. For a vegetarian version of this Thai basil beef stir-fry recipe, try firm tofu or mushrooms.
  • Balance the flavors: Thai cooking is all about the balance of salty, sweet, sour, and spicy. Adjust your fish sauce, soy sauce, and sugar to taste. Always taste test before serving!
  • Use holy basil: Your best bet is finding holy basil at an Asian grocery store in the fresh produce section. Holy basil is sometimes labeled as ‘hot basil’ or ‘Tulsi’. If you love Thai cooking, you can try growing your own holy basil, which is surprisingly easy.
  • Vegetables: Traditionally, pad ga prow has no vegetables. However, feel free to add vegetables if that’s what you prefer – yard long beans, onions, or bell peppers.
  • Hot wok: Make sure your pan is hot before adding the ingredients, and stir-fry quickly to prevent burning.

How to serve

Serve your stir-fried basil beef with steamed jasmine rice. Top with a fried egg and optionally add prik nam pla, a spicy Thai table condiment.

How to store and reheat

Let your leftovers cool to room temperature and transfer them to an airtight container. Store in your refrigerator and consume within 3 days.

Reheating instructions: Reheat on the stovetop over medium heat. If you’re in a hurry, you can reheat it in the microwave.

Frequently asked questions

Is Thai basil beef spicy?

Yes, Thai basil beef is spicy. You can reduce the number of chilies or remove the seeds to lower the heat level. Alternatively, you can use milder chilies.

Is this recipe gluten-free?

No, this recipe is not gluten-free. To make it gluten-free, simply use gluten-free sauces and seasonings.

Can I make this ahead of time?

Yes, Thai basil stir-fry is great for making ahead of time as it’s easy to reheat. However, for the best flavor, it’s best to serve straight from the wok.

Thai basil recipes

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Authentic Thai Basil Beef Recipe (Pad Ga Prow)

Authentic Thai basil beef with jasmine rice and crispy fried egg.
Serve Thai basil beef with a side of jasmine rice and a fried egg. Quick, easy, and delicious!
Praew
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Cuisine Thai
Course Main Course
Serving Size 2 people

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 3 chilies add to taste
  • 3 dried chilies optional, add to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 8.8 ounces beef minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 cup holy basil

Instructions

  • Finely chop your beef into the desired mince size on a cutting board.
  • Grind the chilies and garlic into a rough paste using a mortar and pestle.
  • Heat oil in your wok over medium-high, then add your chili garlic paste and cook until golden and fragrant, or about 20 seconds.
  • Add your ground beef and cook the meat until it’s done, making sure not to overcook.
  • Add your sauces and seasonings: black soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, white pepper, and white sugar. Mix thoroughly to ensure the beef is well-coated with the ingredients.
  • Finally, turn off the heat and stir in holy basil. Serve immediately with rice and a fried egg.

Notes

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • Feel free to add garlic and chilies to taste.

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