This easy Thai basil chicken recipe is based on the classic Thai Krapow Gai Kai Dow dish. It’s hot, pungent, salty and smoky. Squeeze a little fresh lime juice on top and your taste buds will be dancing in no time!
Thai Basil Chicken Recipe
Hey guys! I’m Ben – Caroline’s other half. I’m the guy who gets to try out all of the amazing stuff Caroline makes in the Pickled Plum kitchen (and I love it). Believe it or not, sometimes it’s actually my turn to make dinner (the injustice, right?!) – and 9 times out of 10 I end up making this Thai Basil Chicken recipe. It’s a perfect recipe for a guy like me – who has super limited prowess in the kitchen – but still doesn’t want to dial it in completely and serve a microwaved plain chicken breast over minute-rice. Disclaimer: While I love Thai food – I know this preparation is probably not entirely authentic. It’s close enough for me, though – and I really hope you enjoy it!
Anytime I make this Thai Basil Chicken recipe, I’m instantly transported to an epic trip I took some years ago. A trip that included dodgy moped rentals in equatorial, jungle heat and more meals ingested per day than is even remotely reasonable. Those meals, mostly eaten in dark alley open-air food-stalls while sitting on tiny molded plastic stools surrounded by smiling strangers, cemented my love for fish sauce and chili, and the tasty interplay of fresh herbs. This Thai basil chicken dish has those ingredients in spades.
Krapow Gai Kai Dow (meaning: Thai basil chicken with a fried egg on top) were pretty much the first Thai words I bothered to learn other than the ubiquitous hello and thank-you you’re sure to hear foreigners using when visiting Thailand. It is a super common dish in the land of smiles – and one version or another is probably on the menu at your local Thai joint in your neighborhood. If you’re not big on chicken, it can be made instead with ground beef, lamb, vegetable protein, etc. The savory and spicy flavors are offset by the herbaceous kick from liberal use of basil and cilantro. If you can find real Thai-basil at a shop near you, snap it up and use it for this recipe. It’ll have purple stems and dark green leaves. If not, no sweat – the stuff at your local supermarket will do quite nicely as well.
Nam pla (meaning: fish sauce) was added to my limited Thai vocabulary pretty quickly as well. This whiskey colored liquid is pretty much the table salt of Southeast Asia. The pungent, almost smoky properties of a good fish sauce add an unreal depth of flavor to this Thai basil chicken dish – so I definitely recommend adding a bottle to your kitchen shelves. Tiparos, Golden Boy and Red Boat (which is gluten free) are a few good ones to try. Not only is it fantastic to use as an ingredient, it becomes a salty, fiery condiment if you add a few sliced Thai chilies and spoon it over your food.
Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of spicy though. You can still make this Thai basil chicken recipe. Just leave out the chilies and use the sriracha sparingly. If you’re a heat junky like me, you can really go to town and up the chili quotient. No matter how you feel about spice, though – I really hope you try this simple, delicious recipe when it’s your turn to cook dinner at your house. And maybe one day soon you’ll find yourself feverishly negotiating a monthly moped rental – and learning how to ride it on the left-hand side of the road towards your next culinary adventure!
Did you like this Thai Basil Chicken Recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!
Serve this recipe with a side of Japanese rice. Watch our video on How To Make Japanese Rice the stove top or rice cooker method!
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil (or other neutral oil)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 thumb sized ginger, minced
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1-2 Thai chilies, finely chopped (optional)
- ½ red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 lb ground chicken
- 10-15 basil leaves, roughly chopped or hand torn
- 1-2 limes, cut in wedges
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves
- For the sauce:
- 4 tbsp water
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp sriracha sauce
- Put all the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl and mix well. Set aside.
- In a medium sized pan over med-high heat, add vegetable oil.
- Add the garlic, onions, ginger and Thai chilis. Cook for 5-6 minutes until the onions start to brown.
- Add red bell pepper and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add ground chicken and cook for 4 minutes, or until chicken is half cooked.
- Add sauce and basil leaves and cook for 5-7 minutes, until the sauce has reduced by half.
- Turn the heat off, add cilantro leaves and stir well.
- Serve the Thai basil chicken over rice with lime wedges and nam pla prik
- Finely slice two Thai chilies and mix with 1 tbsp fish sauce. Serve on the side for diners to adjust the flavor to their liking.
- A fried egg on top is about the best thing in the world. The key is to get the bottom and edges of the egg-white browned and crispy, while keeping the yolk reasonably runny. Add 1 tbsp vegetable oil to a small pan and get it hot enough that it is just shy of smoking.
- Crack your egg, keeping the yolk intact. The egg white will start bubbling pretty aggressively as soon as it hits. That’s a good thing.
- Once the bottom is set, keep your egg moving around the pan so it doesn’t get stuck. It is ready when the egg-white is crispy and browned around the edges and mostly set on top.
- Add to the top of your Thai basil chicken and rice, break the yolk and dive in!
High in niacin
High in selenium
High in vitamin B6
High in vitamin C