Spicy Thai Basil Chicken

Spicy Thai Basil Chicken, known as Pad Krapow Gai in Thai, is a fiercely flavorful and aromatic dish that has earned its place as a staple in Thai cuisine. This dish combines the heat of Thai chilies with the unique taste of Thai basil, alongside tender chicken and a savory sauce, creating a meal that is both satisfying and quick to prepare. Perfect for a weeknight dinner or a special occasion, Pad Krapow Gai brings a taste of Thailand right to your table.

Choosing the Right Ingredients

The success of Spicy Thai Basil Chicken hinges on the freshness and quality of its ingredients. Key components include ground chicken for its ability to absorb flavors, Thai basil for its unmistakable aroma, and Thai chilies for that essential kick. For the sauce, a combination of fish sauce, soy sauce, and a bit of sugar balances the flavors. Fresh garlic and shallots add depth, making every bite a complex experience of taste.

Spicy Thai Basil Chicken

Preparing the Chicken

Begin by heating a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add a little oil, followed by minced garlic and finely chopped shallots, stirring until golden and fragrant. Add the ground chicken, breaking it apart with a spatula. Cook until the chicken is evenly browned, ensuring that it’s fully cooked yet still tender.

Crafting the Flavorful Sauce

In a small bowl, whisk together fish sauce, soy sauce, and a touch of sugar to create the sauce that will coat the chicken and bring the dish to life. Pour this mixture over the cooked chicken, allowing it to simmer and thicken slightly, which infuses the meat with its savory, slightly sweet flavor.

Adding Heat and Aroma with Thai Basil and Chilies

The final, and perhaps most important, step involves stirring in copious amounts of fresh Thai basil leaves and sliced Thai chilies. The heat should wilt the basil just enough to release its flavor without cooking it down entirely. The chilies should be added according to taste, with more for those who prefer a fiery dish.

Serving Suggestions

Traditionally, Spicy Thai Basil Chicken is served over steamed jasmine rice, making for a comforting and satisfying meal. For an authentic touch, top with a fried egg, letting the runny yolk add richness to the dish. Cucumber slices or a simple cucumber salad can offer a cooling contrast to the dish’s spice, rounding out the meal beautifully.

Exploring Variations for Dietary Needs

Spicy Thai Basil Chicken is adaptable to various dietary preferences. For a vegetarian version, substitute ground chicken with firm tofu or tempeh, ensuring to press out excess moisture for the best texture. Fish sauce can be replaced with a vegan fish sauce alternative or soy sauce to maintain the dish’s umami depth while catering to vegetarians and vegans.

Mastering the Art of Balance

Achieving the perfect balance of flavors is critical in Thai cooking. Taste the dish as you cook, adjusting the levels of fish sauce for saltiness, sugar for sweetness, and chilies for heat. The goal is to reach a harmonious blend where no single flavor overpowers the others, embodying the essence of Thai cuisine’s complexity.

Garnishing for Enhanced Flavor and Presentation

Garnish the dish with additional fresh Thai basil leaves and slices of red chili to enhance its visual appeal and flavor. A sprinkle of finely chopped green onions or a squeeze of lime juice before serving can add a fresh, zesty finish that elevates the dish to new heights.

Incorporating Spicy Thai Basil Chicken into Your Meal Rotation

Due to its straightforward preparation and explosive taste, Spicy Thai Basil Chicken can easily become a go-to meal for those looking to spice up their dinner routine. It’s versatile enough to serve as a quick weeknight dinner but also special enough for entertaining guests. Pairing it with different sides, such as sticky rice, rice noodles, or a light salad, keeps the dish exciting and adaptable to various occasions.

Sharing the Joy of Thai Cooking

Cooking and sharing a traditional dish like Spicy Thai Basil Chicken is a wonderful way to explore and celebrate Thai culture. Whether it’s a family dinner or a larger gathering, this dish is sure to impress and satisfy. Encouraging friends and family to participate in the cooking process can make the experience even more enjoyable and memorable, fostering a deeper appreciation for Thai cuisine’s rich flavors and culinary traditions.

Mastering the Stir-Fry Technique

Achieving the perfect stir-fry is crucial for Spicy Thai Basil Chicken. High heat is key—it sears the chicken quickly, locking in juices and ensuring the meat remains tender. Constant stirring and tossing are vital to prevent any ingredients from burning, allowing for even cooking. This method not only cooks the dish quickly but also enhances the flavors, melding them together in the hot wok or skillet.

Adjusting Spice Levels to Taste

While Spicy Thai Basil Chicken is known for its heat, it’s easy to adjust the spice level to suit your preference. For a milder dish, reduce the number of Thai chilies or remove their seeds before adding them to the wok. If you’re adventurous and seek extra heat, include more chilies or even a bit of chili paste to ramp up the intensity. Remember, it’s all about finding the right balance that appeals to your taste buds.

Exploring Variations of the Dish

Spicy Thai Basil Chicken is a versatile recipe that welcomes variations. While ground chicken is traditional, you can easily substitute it with sliced chicken breast, beef, pork, or even tofu for a vegetarian version. Each variation offers a new texture and flavor profile, allowing you to customize the dish based on your dietary preferences or simply what you have on hand.

Incorporating Additional Vegetables

For a more nutritious and colorful meal, consider adding vegetables to your Spicy Thai Basil Chicken. Bell peppers, green beans, mushrooms, or baby corn can be quickly stir-fried along with the chicken, adding vitamins and making the dish more filling. Adding vegetables transforms it into a complete meal, showcasing the flexibility of Thai cooking to incorporate fresh, seasonal produce.

Enjoying Leftovers and Meal Prep

Spicy Thai Basil Chicken makes for excellent leftovers and can be a key component of meal prep for the week ahead. It reheats well, with the flavors often melding and intensifying overnight. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator and simply reheat on the stove or in a microwave. Serve over fresh rice or stir into noodles for a quick and easy meal that keeps the delicious experience of this Thai classic going.

Embracing Authentic Thai Cooking Techniques

To truly capture the essence of Spicy Thai Basil Chicken, embrace authentic Thai cooking techniques. One such technique is the use of a mortar and pestle to grind the garlic and chilies, releasing their natural oils and flavors more effectively than chopping alone. This method, although more labor-intensive, can deepen the flavor profile of the dish, bringing it closer to what you would find in Thailand.

Spicy Thai Basil Chicken

Pairing with Traditional Thai Sides

Enhance your Spicy Thai Basil Chicken experience by pairing it with traditional Thai sides. Sticky rice, a staple in Thai cuisine, makes an excellent accompaniment, as its texture and slight sweetness complement the dish’s spicy and savory notes. Additionally, a side of papaya salad, with its crisp texture and tangy sauce, can offer a refreshing contrast to the rich flavors of the chicken.

Understanding the Role of Thai Basil

Thai basil plays a more significant role in Spicy Thai Basil Chicken than merely adding flavor; it introduces an element of Thai tradition and authenticity to the dish. Unlike sweet basil, Thai basil offers a peppery, slightly spicy flavor that is irreplaceable in this recipe. Understanding and appreciating the unique characteristics of Thai basil not only enhances the dish but also your appreciation for Thai culinary heritage.

Exploring Street Food Inspirations

Spicy Thai Basil Chicken is a popular street food item in Thailand, celebrated for its quick preparation and robust flavors. Drawing inspiration from street food versions of the dish can inspire you to experiment with varying techniques and ingredients, such as adjusting the level of sauce for a wetter or drier finish, or adding crispy fried basil leaves as a garnish for added texture.

Celebrating the Fusion of Flavors

Ultimately, Spicy Thai Basil Chicken is a celebration of the fusion of flavors that define Thai cuisine: the heat from the chilies, the aromatic Thai basil, the umami from fish and soy sauces, and the slight sweetness from the sugar. Each element plays a crucial role, and together, they create a harmonious balance that makes this dish so beloved. As you cook, taste, and adjust, remember that achieving this balance is the key to authentic and delicious Spicy Thai Basil Chicken.

Spicy Thai Basil Chicken

FAQs about Spicy Thai Basil Chicken (Pad Krapow Gai)

Q1: What can I use if I can’t find Thai basil? A1: If Thai basil is unavailable, you can substitute it with sweet basil for a different but still delicious flavor. However, the dish will lack the distinctive peppery taste of Thai basil.

Q2: Can I make this dish vegetarian? A2: Absolutely! Substitute the chicken with firm tofu or a mix of mushrooms for a vegetarian version. Keep the rest of the recipe the same to retain the authentic flavors.

Q3: How do I prevent the chicken from becoming too dry? A3: Avoid overcooking the chicken by cooking it just until it’s no longer pink inside. Using higher heat for a shorter time can help sear the chicken and lock in moisture.

Q4: Can I make Spicy Thai Basil Chicken without a wok? A4: Yes, you can use a large skillet or frying pan instead of a wok. The key is to have enough surface area for the chicken to cook evenly and quickly.

Q5: How spicy is this dish supposed to be? A5: The spice level can be adjusted to taste. Start with fewer chilies if you prefer a milder dish and add more if you like it hot. Remember, it’s easier to add more heat than to take it away.


Spicy Thai Basil Chicken (Pad Krapow Gai) is a vibrant, flavor-packed dish that beautifully showcases the essence of Thai cooking. With its combination of fresh Thai basil, fiery chilies, and savory sauce, it’s a recipe that invites cooks to explore the depths of Thai cuisine. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or new to Thai cooking, this dish offers an accessible way to bring a taste of Thailand into your kitchen. Experiment with ingredients, adjust flavors to suit your palate, and most importantly, enjoy the process of creating something delicious. Remember, the best dishes are made with passion, creativity, and a willingness to explore.

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Spicy Thai Basil Chicken

  • Author: recipstep
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free


Spicy Thai Basil Chicken, also known as Pad Krapow Gai, is a classic Thai dish beloved for its robust flavors. This recipe combines ground chicken with the spicy heat of Thai chilies and the aromatic presence of Thai basil, all stir-fried together in a savory sauce. It’s a quick and satisfying meal that’s perfect for any day of the week.



⅓ cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce, or as needed
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, coarsely chopped
¼ cup sliced shallots
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced Thai chilies, Serrano, or other hot pepper
1 cup very thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
2 cups hot cooked rice


Gather Ingredients:

Make sure you have all the ingredients ready.
Prepare Sauce:

Whisk chicken broth, oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, white sugar, and brown sugar together in a bowl until well blended.
Cook Chicken:

Heat a large skillet over high heat.
Drizzle in vegetable oil.
Add chicken and stir-fry until it loses its raw color, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Add Aromatics:

Stir in shallots, garlic, and sliced chilies.
Continue cooking on high heat until some of the juices start to caramelize in the bottom of the pan, about 2 or 3 more minutes.
Caramelize Sauce:

Add about a tablespoon of the sauce mixture to the skillet; cook and stir until the sauce begins to caramelize, about 1 minute.
Deglaze Pan:

Pour in the rest of the sauce.
Cook and stir until the sauce has deglazed the bottom of the pan.
Continue to cook until the sauce glazes onto the meat, 1 or 2 more minutes.
Remove from heat.
Add Basil:

Stir in basil.
Cook and stir until basil is wilted, about 20 seconds.

Serve hot with hot cooked rice.

Serve hot and enjoy your Spicy Thai Basil Chicken!
Enjoy your delicious Spicy Thai Basil Chicken (Pad Krapow Gai)! 🍴


  • Adjust the number of chilies to suit your spice preference.
  • Thai basil has a unique flavor, but if unavailable, substitute with sweet basil for a different taste.
  • Can be adapted for gluten-free by using gluten-free soy sauce.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Stir-frying
  • Cuisine: Thai


  • Calories: ~320
  • Sugar: 3g
  • Sodium: ~1200mg
  • Fat: 18g
  • Saturated Fat: 4g
  • Carbohydrates: 6g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 34g
  • Cholesterol: 98mg

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