This pad krapow chicken recipe, a spicy Thai basil chicken stir-fry, is THE BEST you'll ever try! It's so fragrant and quick, perfect for an easy weeknight dinner. Bye-bye takeout!
Pair with jasmine rice, soaked in all those rich flavors, and a fried egg with a runny yolk to mellow down the spiciness. For a variation, try khao pad krapow - fried rice with holy basil.
What is pad krapow
Pad krapow is a classic Thai stir-fry often made with minced chicken or pork, infused with fresh chilies and garlic. It's seasoned with a blend of sweet, spicy, and salty, then served with jasmine rice and often topped with a fried egg.
This pad krapow chicken is another classic Thai dish to add to your collection of quick and easy dinner recipes.
The aroma of sizzling garlic and chilies in the pan is simply irresistible! It gets anyone in the house at the dinner table early.
This dish is Thailand's street food favorite. It's savory and lightly sweet, with tender chicken and lots of chilies.
It's affordable and ridiculously quick and easy to put together.
It's so simple, yet so luxurious you'll find it in many Thai restaurants as well as street food corners.
Pro-tip: Get that jasmine rice and fried egg ready before you fire up the wok. Once you get the hang of making stir-fried basil chicken, you'll whip it up faster than you can fry the egg.
Ok, maybe not that fast, but it'll be pretty quick!
Thai basil chicken recipe
Who says you can't have restaurant-quality dishes in the comfort of your home? Not me!
Authentic Thai food: When someone mentions Thai food, don't you just instantly think of a hot and spicy dish? One bite of this spicy, saucy, and tender chicken, and you'll be a basil chicken fan for life!
Simple ingredients: If you're into Thai cuisine, chances are you've already got everything you need in your kitchen pantry.
Beginner-friendly: If you're just starting out on your Thai cooking journey, this recipe is easy-peasy.
Customizable: This pad krapow gai recipe is easy to customize. Prefer a different protein? Simply sub chicken with beef, pork, or seafood. If you'd like to add some vegetables, toss in yard long beans, onions, or shallots.
Quick: Imagine a cozy night in with dinner on the table in less than 20 minutes. This spicy pad krapow chicken recipe is made in just one-pan, which means less time cleaning, and more you-time.
What is holy basil
Thai holy basil is a variant of basil popular in Thai cuisine. Unlike Thai basil, which has a sweet, anise-like flavor, holy basil has a more peppery, spicier kick, making it a key ingredient in authentic Thai dishes like pad krapow.
If you stumble upon a recipe that suggest using Thai basil as a substitute for holy basil, let's just say you see a Thai person doing that, ever. Both have their own unique taste and aroma.
Mixing them up makes a different dish, totally not the same thing!
So if you're thinking of subbing in Thai basil for holy basil, I suggest not to. Keep it authentic and delicious!
For the exact measurements, please scroll down to the recipe card at the end of this post.
Chicken - The main source of protein. Choose chicken thighs or beast, and make sure not to overcook it. Additionally, you can mince thighs or breast until finely chopped.
Golden mountain seasoning sauce - This classic ingredient of Thai cuisine adds a salty flavor, enhancing the overall flavors of the stir-fry.
Dark soy sauce - Adds a subtle sweetness, but mostly used to darken the color of this spicy chicken stir-fry.
Oyster sauce - Oyster sauce adds an umami and savory flavor.
White sugar - White sugar is needed for balancing out the spiciness and saltiness. Tip: if your dish is too spicy, try adding an extra sprinkle of sugar.
Fish sauce - A key ingredient of Thai food, adds umami and a salty flavor.
Fresh chilies - You can adjust the heat to your liking. I always use Thai jinda chilies or bird's eye chilies, but you can use a mild type of pepper as well.
Holy basil - Always at near the end of cooking after turning off the heat.
Garlic - Garlic is used as the base of many Thai stir-fry dishes for its aroma and flavor.
Pound garlic and chilies
Crush garlic and chilies using a mortar and pestle.
Fry garlic and chilies
Place a wok or skillet over medium-high heat and add oil. Wait until hot, then toss in your garlic and chili paste. Sauté until golden.
Cook the chicken
Add chicken and stir-fry until it's cooked. Don't overcook the chicken.
Add dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, fish sauce, golden mountain, and white sugar. Stir well, making sure each piece of chicken is coated with sauce.
Add holy basil
Turn off the heat and toss in the holy basil leaves. Give it a good stir, making sure not to break the leaves. Serve immediately.
Tips for the best pad kra pao chicken
Don't burn the garlic: The garlic should be golden, don't burn it because it will turn bitter. If you feel more comfortable, you can start over medium-low heat.
Cook in batches: Avoid overcrowding your wok or skillet. Work in batches to distribute the heat evenly.
Prep ahead: Stir-frying is best done over high-medium heat, at high pace. Prep your ingredients so you can move quickly when cooking. You can mix the sauces in advance if you wish.
Fried egg: Don't skip the egg! It's not just for garnishing, the yolk mellows down the spiciness and perfectly complements the dish.
Non-stick wok or non-stick skillet
Cutting board and chef's knife
Mortar and pestle: For pounding the garlic and chili peppers.
How to serve
Serve for lunch or dinner with a portion of freshly steamed rice.
Optional garnishes and pairings
Fresh vegetables: Thai basil stir-fry is typically served without vegetables. If you'd like to add some greens, you can opt for sliced cucumbers, yard long beans, onions, and garnish with chopped spring onions
Prik nam pla: This spicy Thai condiment is often out on the tables at Thai food markets, since it can be drizzled over just about anything.
Fried egg: A sunny-side-up egg with a slightly runny yolk is a Thai classic combination. It makes your pad krapow even more yummy, and it's great to mellow down the spiciness.
How to store
Allow your leftovers to cool down to room temperature and transfer them to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Reheating instructions: Reheat in a skillet or wok over medium heat. Add a little water or oil if necessary. Alternatively, you can reheat in the microwave.
Freezing instructions: Transfer your meal into a freezer-safe container or bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ's)
Where can I buy holy basil?
Holy basil can be bought at most Asian grocery stores, especially Thai supermarkets. If you can't find it, you can buy dried holy basil leaves on Amazon as an alternative.
Is this recipe gluten-free?
You'll have to check the labeling of your soy sauce and oyster sauce, while gluten-free version of these sauces exist, you'll have to look for them in the store or online. Make sure to double-check the labeling of the other sauces as well.
Can I make a vegetarian basil stir-fry?
Yes! Simply swap the chicken for tofu and use a vegan fish sauce and swap oyster for mushroom sauce. Or simply head over to my Thai basil recipe vegetarian.
Do I need a mortar and pestle?
Traditional Thai cooking often needs a mortar and pestle to bring out the full flavors and aromas of the ingredients. If you don't have one, you can finely chop the garlic and chilies with a sharp knife, but I do recommend using a mortar and pestle.
Is this Thai basil chicken recipe spicy?
This recipe is medium spicy. You can increase the spiciness by adding more chilies. You can decrease the spiciness by reducing the number of chilies, using a mild type of chilies, or removing the chili seeds.