Spicy Thai Basil Chicken

Spicy Thai Basil Chicken, also known as “Pad Krapow Gai,” is a beloved Thai dish that showcases the vibrant and aromatic flavors of Thai cuisine. This quick and easy stir-fry combines tender chicken, fragrant herbs, and a spicy kick to create a mouthwatering dish that will transport your taste buds to the streets of Thailand. The combination of tender chicken, aromatic basil, and the perfect balance of sweet, salty, and spicy flavors makes this recipe a go-to favorite for Thai food enthusiasts. In this recipe, we will guide you through the steps to create an authentic and delicious Spicy Thai Basil Chicken right in your own kitchen.


  • 1 lb (450g) boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 Thai bird’s eye chilies, thinly sliced (adjust according to your spice preference)
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh Thai basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Steamed jasmine rice, for serving


  1. Start by preparing the ingredients. Thinly slice the chicken breasts or thighs, mince the garlic, thinly slice the shallots, Thai bird’s eye chilies, and red bell pepper. Measure out the oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, and sugar. Set aside a cup of fresh Thai basil leaves.
  2. Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil and heat it until shimmering.
  3. Add the minced garlic and sliced shallots to the hot oil. Stir-fry for about 1 minute until they become fragrant and begin to turn golden brown, releasing their aromatic flavors.
  4. Add the thinly sliced chicken to the pan and spread it out in a single layer. Allow it to cook undisturbed for a couple of minutes until it starts to brown.
  5. Stir-fry the chicken, breaking up any clumps, until it’s cooked through and no longer pink. This will take about 5-7 minutes. The chicken should be tender and juicy.
  6. Once the chicken is cooked, add the sliced Thai bird’s eye chilies and red bell pepper to the pan. Stir-fry for an additional 2-3 minutes until the vegetables start to soften and become slightly charred around the edges.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk together the oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, and sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the sauces are well combined. This mixture will add depth of flavor and a savory umami taste to the dish.
  8. Pour the sauce mixture over the chicken and vegetables in the pan. Stir-fry for another minute or two, ensuring that everything is evenly coated with the flavorful sauce. The sauce will thicken slightly and cling to the ingredients, creating a glossy glaze.
  9. Remove the pan from the heat and add the fresh Thai basil leaves. The heat of the dish will wilt the basil leaves slightly, releasing their aromatic oils and infusing the dish with their distinctive flavor. Stir everything together until the basil leaves are evenly distributed throughout the dish.
  10. Serve the Spicy Thai Basil Chicken over steamed jasmine rice, which will help to balance the heat and provide a neutral base for the flavors to shine. The fluffy rice will absorb the delicious sauce, creating a satisfying and comforting combination.

Variations and Tips:

  • Protein Options: While chicken is the traditional choice for this dish, you can experiment with other proteins such as beef, pork, shrimp, or tofu. Adjust the cooking time accordingly based on the protein you choose. For beef, slice it thinly against the grain to ensure tenderness.
  • Vegetarian/Vegan Version: To create a vegetarian or vegan version of this dish, substitute the chicken with tofu or your favorite meat substitute. Use a vegetarian oyster sauce or soy sauce alternative to maintain the umami flavor. You can also add a variety of vegetables like mushrooms, snap peas, or baby corn to enhance the texture and provide additional flavors.
  • Customize the Spice Level: Thai bird’s eye chilies provide the signature heat in this dish. Adjust the amount of chilies to your preferred spice level. If you prefer milder heat, remove the seeds from the chilies before slicing them. You can also add more chilies or even incorporate other types of chili peppers, like serrano or jalapeño, for a different heat profile.
  • Herb Substitution: If fresh Thai basil is not readily available, you can substitute it with sweet basil or even cilantro. While the flavor will be slightly different,the dish will still be delicious and aromatic.
  • Garnish Options: For added freshness and visual appeal, garnish your Spicy Thai Basil Chicken with chopped green onions, sliced red chilies, or a squeeze of fresh lime juice before serving. These garnishes will provide a pop of color and brightness to the dish, enhancing its overall presentation.
  • Meal Pairings: Spicy Thai Basil Chicken is a versatile dish that pairs well with a variety of side dishes. Consider serving it alongside steamed vegetables, such as broccoli or bok choy, to add a nutritious and vibrant element to your meal. Additionally, you can serve it with a side of fresh cucumber slices or a tangy Thai cucumber salad to provide a cooling contrast to the spice. Don’t forget to have some extra jasmine rice on hand to soak up all the delicious flavors.


Spicy Thai Basil Chicken is a delightful stir-fry that captures the essence of Thai cuisine with its bold flavors and aromatic ingredients. By following this recipe, you can easily recreate the authentic taste of this popular Thai dish in the comfort of your own kitchen. Whether you’re a fan of spicy food or simply looking to explore the vibrant world of Thai cuisine, this dish is sure to impress. Enjoy the aromatic blend of tender chicken, fragrant basil, and the perfect balance of sweet, salty, and spicy flavors. Serve it over steamed jasmine rice and savor each mouthwatering bite.

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