Chicken With Holy Basil

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This chicken With Holy Basil is our family favorite for a reason. We absolutely adore it! So much so that people often ask me for the recipe. Give it a try, you’ll love it too. Everyone seems to love Chicken Basil Recipe and for good reason, because it’s a delicious dish that’s full of healthy nutrients.

The flavors blend together perfectly, creating a scene of serenity and solemnity in your mouth. And hey, who doesn’t enjoy a hearty portion of THAI HOLY BASIL CHICKEN ? The health benefits of basil are numerous, which is one reason for the herb’s popularity. Basil is an aromatic plant in the family Lamiaceae, native to the Mediterranean region to India.

Chicken With Holy Basil

In this familiar Thai dish, chicken is stir-fried with chiles, Asian fish sauce, and copious amounts of garlic and holy basil; it’s served over jasmine rice.

Chicken Holy Basil

Ingredients

  • 10 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 fresh Thai chiles, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Asian fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 3 cups loosely packed fresh holy basil leaves, plus more for garnish
  • Sticky or steamed jasmine rice, for serving

Directions

  • Step 1Mash together garlic and chiles using a mortar and pestle or the flat side of a large knife. Heat oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until garlic is just golden, about 20 seconds.
  • Step 2Add chicken; cook, stirring often, until chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes. Stir in fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Add basil; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Season with more pepper, if desired. Serve over rice. Garnish with basil.

Chicken Basil Recipe

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Basil is serious business in Thai cooking, so much that there are three different cultivars used in distinct dishes. This Stir-Fried Chicken with Holy Basil from Bangkok Street Food by Tom Vandenberghe and Eva Verplaetse calls for bai krapao (holy basil), a favorite for stir-frying. Holy basil is heartier with a peppery nose that can stand up to the big flavors like the chiles, garlic, and fish sauce in this dish.

And aside from being spicy and fresh in a way that’s borderline habit-forming, this stir-fry is a great way to break into the world of Thai cooking. It’s really just a matter of stocking up on the basic pantry ingredients, getting comfortable with with high-heat stir-frying, and discovering the magical powers of fish sauce.

  • Active:15 mins
  • Total:15 mins
  • Serves:2 to 3 servings

Ingredient

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 8 ounces chicken breast, boned and chopped in small pieces
  • 2 big red chiles, chopped finely
  • 2 handfuls of holy basil (bai krapao)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water or chicken stock

Directions

  1. Heat the wok on a medium heat. Add oil and garlic, stir-fry fora few seconds. Turn on the heat and add the chicken. Add chilliand half of the basil. Stir-fry for 1 minute, add fish sauce, sugar andwater or stock. Turn down the heat on low. Add the rest of the basil,stir-fry for a few seconds and serve on rice.

THAI HOLY BASIL CHICKEN

This Thai Holy Basil Chicken is quick and easy to stir-fry on any given weeknight, incredibly delicious, and full of garlicky and spicy flavors! It’s also customizable with your choice of protein (pork, beef, tofu, etc.), can be made gluten-free, and ready to go in 25 minutes!

Close up of ground chicken Thai basil stir-fry with sliced baby corn in a large white serving bowl.

Calling all my Thai food lovers! I have an easy weeknight stir-fry that’s spicy, savory, sweet, and pure tasty magic to share with you today – this Thai Holy Basil Chicken! ❤️

It’s one of my all-time and beyond favorite Thai dishes, and it’s downright delicious over a bed of warm steamed white rice! 😋 You’ve probably seen it listed on Thai restaurant menus as Pad Kra Pow GaiPad Gaprow Gai or Pad Gaprao Gai, and possibly even tried it.

I know I’ve previously shared a Spicy Thai Basil Chicken recipe with you before. But that version isn’t entirely traditional as I add gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste) to kick things up a notch. I also use Thai sweet basil (‘horapha’) instead of holy basil (‘kra pow’) in it.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s still one of my favorite weeknight stir-fries and incredibly tasty with its Thai-style fried egg-yolky-goodness action going on! 😋 But I thought it was time to share a more traditional recipe with you for Thai basil chicken since I make it very often.

This dish is deliciously flavorful with its garlicky and spicy notes, and I absolutely adore its umami packed thin sauce. 😋

Best of all, it’s ready in just 25 minutes and is FAAAAAST. F.A.S.T. See what I did there to emphasize? It’s SUPER quick to make because you’re cooking over high heat. The prep takes more time than the actual stir-fry, which is a good thing because it means that your delicious dinner will be on the table in no time!

I truly think you guys are going to love this dish and appreciate how simple and easy it is to make at home.

So without further ado, let’s jump in and make some Thai Holy Basil Chicken! 🤗

Thai holy basil chicken stir-fry with baby corn in a large wok.

WHAT IS THAI HOLY BASIL CHICKEN?

It’s basically a ground (or sliced) chicken dish that is stir-fried with garlic, chilies, onion (or shallots) in a lovely umami packed salty and sweet sauce, and tossed with some Thai holy basil (‘kra pow’ or ‘krapow’ in Thai, and also known as spicy basil).

My recipe for this classic Thai dish was inspired by two cooking classes I took while in Bangkok on two separate holidays. But of course, I spiced and garlicked up my version of this popular Thai favorite. 😉 The result is a dish that’s exploding with flavor and spice! (But you can tone down the heat if you like of course.)

WHAT TO SERVE WITH THAI SWEET BASIL CHICKEN?

This dish is traditionally served with warm steamed rice and a Thai-style fried egg (‘kai dao’). A Thai-style fried egg is a deep fried egg in which the white part has set, but the yolk is still runny. It’s mega delicious with Thai Holy Basil Chicken, and often served as a side in Thailand. I go into detail about how to make it in my Spicy Thai Basil Chicken post. Feel free to check it out if you’re interested in making it to serve alongside this dish.

You can also serve this dish with some Prik Nam Pla – a sauce mixture that is commonly found on any Thai restaurant’s table. It’s made with fish sauce, chopped garlic and chilies, lime juice, and a bit of sugar to taste.

Or you could serve it with just chopped chilies and fish sauce like I did in the photos if you prefer. But these side sauces are totally optional.

Thai holy basil leaves.

INGREDIENTS

Here’s what you’ll need to make this easy stir-fry:

  • Garlic: I use a whopping twelve cloves in this dish and love the extra garlicky flavor!
  • Red and Green Chilies: Bird’s eye is preferred as it’s what they use in Thailand. These beautiful tiny chilies are HOT! So be sure to adjust the amount to taste. You could also deseed them to make this dish milder. If you can’t find bird’s eye chilies easily where you live, Holland chilies or any other small chilies will work fine.
  • Large Red Chili: This chili is more for color than heat as they are rather mild.
  • Onion: I used yellow onion, but red or white onion will work too. You could also use shallots instead if you like.
  • Veggies: Although veggies are not always added to this dish in Thailand, I like to add a few sliced baby corns for some crunch and natural sweetness. You could also add finely sliced green snake beans if you like, which is occasionally used in the dish in Thai restaurants.
  • Thai Holy Basil Leaves: This is what this dish is all about! Holy basil (also known as ‘kra pow’ in Thai or spicy basil) has a lovely peppery taste. It adds a whole lot of flavor and aroma to this dish! You can try finding it at your local Asian or Thai grocery store if you’re based in the US. In Asia, you can find this in the Thai stall at your local wet market during the summer. But if you can’t find holy basil easily, substitute with Thai sweet basil or Italian basil. The dish won’t be traditional as it’s normally made with holy basil. But I promise you that it’ll still be mighty delicious! In fact, I normally use Thai sweet basil in the winter here as my local wet market only carries holy basil during spring and summer.
  • Light Soy Sauce: Just your regular Asian light soy sauce.
  • Sweet Dark Soy Sauce: This is a thick and viscous type of soy sauce. It gives the dish a lovely color and adds just a tiny hint of sweetness.
  • Oyster Sauce: This umami packed sauce adds an incredible amount of flavor, and also helps to thicken the sauce.
  • White Sugar: To balance out the spicy and salty flavors. Feel free to use more or less to taste.
  • Ground Chicken: I used ground chicken, but you could also use ground pork or beef instead if you like.
  • Canola Oil: Or any other neutral flavored cooking oil.
  • Water (or chicken broth): To add moisture and help create a thin sauce.
  • To serve: Warm steamed white (or brown) rice, or quinoa, or any other grain you prefer. Thai-style fried egg (one for each person). Also Prik Nam Pla, or just chopped chilies and fish sauce (optional).

VARIATIONS

If you’d like to customize this Thai Holy Basil Chicken recipe, you can…

  • Make it gluten-free: Use Tamari, a gluten-free soy sauce, or coconut aminos in place of the light soy sauce. Also use a gluten-free sweet soy sauce such as a gluten-free kecap manis, as well as a gluten-free oyster sauce.
  • Use a different protein: Ground pork or beef would also taste great.
  • Use chicken thighs or breasts: If you don’t have ground chicken on hand, you can use sliced chicken thighs or breasts instead. I recommend thighs over breasts as they are more flavorful and juicy. You could also use your knife to hand mince the chicken thighs too.
  • Make it vegetarian/vegan: Swap the chicken for firm tofu instead, and use a vegetarian oyster sauce. I recommend crumbling the tofu first with your hands or a fork, then frying it the wok until it’s mostly dry. Then transfer to a clean bowl and set aside. Add it back to the stir-fry when you’d add the chicken, and follow the rest of the instructions as indicated. Alternatively, you could also use Omnipork® or Beyond Beef®.
  • Add more veggies: I kept it simple and used baby corn because I love its crunchy texture and subtle sweet taste. But you could also add finely sliced green beans such as snake beans, sliced mushrooms (any kind you like), bok choy, choy som, broccoli florets, etc.
  • Use a different basil: Since Thai holy basil can be difficult to find depending on where you live, you can use Thai sweet basil or regular Italian basil instead.
  • Toss with spaghetti: Instead of serving over rice, you can make an Italian and Thai fusion masterpiece by tossing spaghetti or capellini with the Thai Holy Basil Chicken stir-fry. I’m actually going to be sharing my incredibly tasty Thai Basil Chicken Spaghetti recipe soon, so be sure to check back in for it!

Health Benefits of Basil

Originally native to India, Asia, and Africa, basil was held to be a sacred and noble herb. In fact, the word “basil” comes from the ancient Greek “basilikhon” which means “royal”.

Today, Ocimum basilicum (the scientific name for basil) grows in many places around the world. Many people even grow basil in their kitchens or gardens. This fragrant herb is used as a seasoning in a variety of dishes, and plays a key role in Italian and Thai cuisine. 

There are more than 60 varieties of basil, with sweet basil being one of the most widely used. The herb has rounded leaves that are often pointed. It’s a bright green plant, although some varieties have hints of purple or red in their leaves. 

Sweet basil has a very strong smell and a recognizable flavor. Different varieties of basil offer slightly different flavors. For instance, lemon basil has a tangy lemon taste, while mint basil has a refreshing minty taste.  

Basil makes a colorful and flavorful addition to many different dishes. It can also provide some serious health benefits. 

Health Benefits

Basil contains many vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants such as lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin. Many of basil’s health benefits come from these antioxidants, as well as its essential oils. These compounds mostly disappear during the drying process, so opt for fresh basil whenever possible to gain the most benefits.

Health benefits of basil include:

Reduction of Oxidative Stress

Basil is full of antioxidants. Sweet basil contains a compound called eugenol, and lime and lemon basils have limonene. These antioxidants, along with others such as anthocyanins and beta-carotene, help to fight free radicals in the body that can otherwise lead to cell damage and increase your risk for a variety of health conditions, including cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes.

Cancer Prevention

Holy basil, also called tulsi, is a bit different from the sweet basil you use in your favorite recipes. Still, its phytochemicals can help to protect against different types of cancer, including lung cancer, liver cancer, oral cancer, and skin cancer.

Blood Sugar Regulation

Adding basil to your diet may help to reduce high blood sugar levels. In a study performed on rats with diabetes, basil extract helped to do just that. Basil may also be helpful in treating the long-term effects of high blood sugar.

Heart disease Prevention

The eugenol in basil can block calcium channels, which may help to lower blood pressure. The essential oils in the herb can help to lower your cholesterol and triglycerides. Basil also contains magnesium, which can help to improve blood flow by allowing muscles and blood vessels to relax. 

Improved Mental Health

Tulsi is a popular herb in Ayurvedic medicine. Research has shown that it has many benefits, including improving your mental health. It has compounds that can help to alleviate anxiety and depression, increase your ability to think clearly, and lower the risk for age-related memory loss.

ReducedInflammation

Essential oils in basil, including eugenol, linalool, and citronellol, can help to fight inflammation in the body. These anti-inflammatory properties can help to lower the risk of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. heart disease, and bowel issues.  

Protection Against Infections

Basil has antibacterial properties. The oils in the herb may help to fight bacteria in people with respiratory, urinary, abdominal, and skin infections.   

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