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Pad Horapa (Thai Sweet Basil Stir-Fry Recipe)

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Pad horapa is one of the go-to’s for a quick and easy dinner, ideal for any home cook. This Thai sweet basil stir-fry recipe can be made with beef, chicken, or any protein that goes with a mix of garlic, fresh chilies, and a savory stir-fry sauce. Slightly sweet, salty, and spicy, it’s a winning combo with rice!

Close-up of pad horapa, Thai sweet basil stir-fry, showing beef and sweet basil mingled in a stir-fry sauce, on a bed of jasmine rice.

After this easy Thai basil stir-fry, your next stop should be the authentic pad kra pao, a street food classic packed with holy basil! And this authentic Thai basil beef stir-fry is always a hit.

What is pad horapa

Pad horapa is a fragrant Thai sweet basil stir-fry with spicy chilies and garlic, often made with chicken or beef. It’s a staple in Thai cuisine, beloved for its blend of sweet, spicy, and savory.


Pad horapa is pronounced as “pahd ho-ra-paa”, with a soft roll of the ‘r’ and a light ‘paa’ at the end.

Thai sweet basil beef recipe

This Thai basil beef stir-fry is AMAZING. I’m not kidding. Quick, easy, and perfect to whip up at home!

Thai basil beef stir-fry with greens in a sizzling wok.

It’s the kind of dish you could turn to every day.

It’s got that authentic Thai taste you’re craving, with a perfect balance of flavors. Great for when you want a quick dinner without too much cleanup.

A takeout classic you can easily make in your own kitchen? Yes, please!

Pad horapa, a Thai sweet basil beef stir-fry served with jasmine rice.

In Thailand, it’s commonly prepared with beef, but you can totally make this Thai basil recipe yours and switch it up with chicken, pork, or seafood.

Serve it up with fluffy steamed rice and a fried egg for a meal that’s packed with authentic Thai goodness. This is so, so good!

Why try this Thai beef basil recipe

  • Ridiculously quick and easy: In just a few MINUTES, you’ll have a restaurant-quality meal out on the table, perfect for your busy weeknights.
  • Easy to customize: Whether you like it spicy or mild, with beef, chicken, or pork, this recipe is easily adaptable.
  • Healthy and light: Thai food is often loaded with fresh herbs and lean protein, and this dish is no different. It’s good for you and so delish.
  • Minimal cleanup: This one-pan wonder allows you to actually spend time at the dinner table!
  • Crowd-pleaser: It’s a hit for family dinners or when having guests over.

This beef pad see ew and Thai beef and broccoli recipe are some more beef stir-fries you’ll love!

Sweet basil vs holy basil

In my recipes, I always emphasize that holy basil cannot be substituted for sweet basil, a suggestion often made in the Western world.

This recipe perfectly illustrates the point. Many Westernized online recipes suggest substituting holy basil with sweet basil, but that completely changes some dishes like pad krapow, turning it into something completely new like this pad horapa recipe!

Now, what are the differences?

Sweet basil

Hand touching sweet basil.
Sweet basil, growing in my grandmother’s yard.
  • Often used in Western dishes, it’s versatile and a common addition to pastas, salads, and more.
  • Sweet basil offers a milder taste with sweet, slightly peppery notes and a hint of anise.
  • It has bright green, slightly rounded leaves.

Holy basil

Hand presenting Thai holy basil.
Thai holy basil.
  • Essential in many Thai dishes, it imparts a distinct, spicy herbal note that’s irreplaceable in recipes like Thai holy basil stir-fry.
  • Holy basil, or ‘tulsi,’ has a more robust, spicy flavor with clove-like undertones.
  • It features smaller leaves with a more jagged edge and often purplish hues.

Holy basil is harder to find outside of Southeast Asia, sometimes making authentic Thai cooking a bit complicated. If you’re fortunate enough to find it, consider freezing it for later use.

How to freeze basil:

  1. Pluck the basil leaves from the stems.
  2. Blanch briefly for about 10 seconds.
  3. Pat the leaves dry and form into balls.
  4. Place the basil balls on a baking sheet to prevent them from sticking and freeze.
  5. Once frozen, transfer each ball into an airtight container, remove air, and freeze again.

Typically, you can find them at Asian grocery stores. If not, try asking Thai employees; they might know where you can source some.

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.


Pad horapa ingredients on banana leaf: garlic, chilies, basil, beef, sugar, oyster sauce, soy sauce, and pepper.
  • Beef – Spicy beef basil is a classic in Thailand. If you’re in the mood for variety, try chicken, pork, or even tofu. This dish is easy to customize.
  • Oyster sauce
  • Golden mountain sauce – This duo makes up the sweet basil stir-fry sauce, adding a savory, umami-packed flavor.
  • White pepper powder – Adds a subtle, earthy heat, which perfectly complements the spicy notes of the chilies.
  • White sugar – Thai food is all about balancing the flavors. A sprinkle of sugar balances out the spicy and the salty notes.
  • Sweet basil – Sweet basil adds a fragrant, slightly peppery flavor with a hint of sweetness.
  • Chilies – Use Thai bird’s eye chilies for a spicy stir-fry, or use a mild type of chili pepper for a milder dish. If you’re cooking for kids, simply omit the chilies.
  • Garlic – The base of many Thai stir-fry dishes is a pounded mixture of garlic and chilies, and pad horapa is no exception.
  • Oil – Choose a high smoke point oil with neutral flavor, like sunflower oil or vegetable oil.

Cooking instructions

Freshly pounded chili and garlic paste in a mortar.

1. Pound the chilies and garlic with a mortar and pestle.

Garlic and chili paste sizzling in a wok

2. Preheat your oil in a wok and add your chili and garlic paste. Let it fry until it becomes fragrant, and the garlic turns golden.

Beef with garlic and chili paste in a wok.

3. Toss in the beef slices and stir-fry until they’re nearly done. Avoid overcooking!

Beef slices with garlic and chilies sizzling in a stir-fry sauce.

4. Add the sauces and seasonings: white pepper powder, white sugar, golden mountain, and oyster sauce. Keep things moving and coat each piece of beef with the stir-fry sauce. Make sure the sugar is completely dissolved before continuing.

Stir-fried pad horapa with wilted basil and beef.

5. Lastly, turn off the heat and then stir in sweet basil. Serve immediately with rice.

Kitchen tools

  • Mortar and pestle for crushing the chilies and garlic
  • Cutting board and chef’s knife
  • Measuring spoons and cups
  • Large wok pan with spatula

How to serve

Serve pad horapa hot off the stove alongside steamed jasmine rice. Optionally, top it off with a fried egg to mellow down the spiciness.

Garnish with additional fresh basil leaves and slices of chili.

How to store and reheat

Let your leftovers cool down to room temperature, then transfer them to an airtight container. Store them in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. This dish is perfect for meal prep!

Reheating instructions: Gently reheat your Thai beef basil stir-fry in a pan over medium heat.

Frequently asked questions

Can I make this recipe vegetarian?

Yes, you can easily swap out the beef for tofu or even add a mix of vegetables like onions, yard long beans, or your favorite stir-fry vegetables.

Is Thai basil beef stir-fry spicy?

Typically, a Thai basil stir-fry is quite spicy. The spice level is easy to customize by adjusting the number of chilies to your taste.

Can I use ground beef instead of sliced beef?

Sure! Ground meat is another variation you can try.

Is this dish gluten-free?

To make pad horapa gluten-free, ensure you use gluten-free oyster sauce and seasoning sauces.

Thai basil recipes

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Pad Horapa (Thai Sweet Basil Stir-Fry Recipe)

Pad horapa, a Thai sweet basil stir-fry with beef, served with jasmine rice on a traditional patterned cloth.
Pad horapa is an easy-to-make dish with sweet basil and your choice of protein. Serve with rice for a complete meal.
Praew
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Cuisine Thai
Course Main Course
Serving Size 2 people

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 4 chilies add to taste
  • 10.5 ounces beef
  • 1.5 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon golden mountain sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper powder
  • 1 cup sweet basil

Instructions

  • Pound the chilies and garlic with a mortar and pestle.
  • Preheat your oil in a wok and add your chili and garlic paste. Let it fry until it becomes fragrant, and the garlic turns golden.
  • Toss in the beef slices and stir-fry until they’re nearly done. Avoid overcooking!
  • Add the sauces and seasonings: white pepper powder, white sugar, golden mountain, and oyster sauce. Keep things moving and coat each piece of beef with the stir-fry sauce. Make sure the sugar is completely dissolved before continuing.
  • Lastly, turn off the heat and then stir in sweet basil. Serve immediately with rice.

Notes

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • Feel free to swap the beef with your favorite proteins.

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6 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This recipe was really simple to make, and really delicious. The sauce seeping into jasmine rice was so good! To try something new to myself, I used pork instead of beef which worked out great!

5 from 5 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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