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Thai Basil Chicken Recipe

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Thai basil chicken stir fry can be prepared and cooked in less than 20 minutes!

This classic Thai basil chicken stir fry is one of my favourites. It’s a must when preparing a Thai feast. Not only is is quick and easy to make, it tastes amazing! You’ll find this Thai basil chicken chicken recipe to be perfect for anything from the largest Thai feast to a quick dish you can whip up, fuss free after work.

Try it on its own with some rice and/or Thai red curry, Thai green curry and a big plate of Pad Thai.

Thai Basil Chicken

Photo by Kris Kirkham for my cookbook ‘The Curry Guy Thai’.

About this Thai basil chicken recipe…

I learned this easy recipe in Phuket while on vacation there. Actually, it was a bit of a work/play stay as I was researching recipes at the time for my cookbook ‘The Curry Guy Thai’.

At the time, I wanted to ensure that only the most popular Thai recipes featured in the book and Thai basil chicken had to be one of them. I tried the Thai basil chicken at a pub across the road from where we were staying and though, this is it! This is the Thai basil chicken recipe I need!

I asked one of the chefs if I could watch him prepare his simply amazing Thai basil chicken and he invited me back to the kitchen. We weren’t able to speak much as his English wasn’t the best. It was far better than my Thai though! I watched him prepare and cook his Thai basil chicken in a flaming hot wok and photographed every ingredient and step. Needless to say, when you see the recipe ingredient list, this one is easy but the flavours are out of this world!

Fresh Thai holy basil is key to perfection but not the be all and end all!

The fact that this recipe is called Thai basil chicken might give you a clue that Thai basil is a key ingredient.

There are two types of Thai basil that will work perfectly for this recipe: Thai basil and Thai holy basil. The day I learned this Thai basil chicken, I wasn’t aware of this but the chef let me taste both varieties.

Traditionally, Thai holy basil is used.

What is the difference between Thai basil and Thai holi basil?

Both basils are different varieties. Thai holi basil has a more peppery flavour but still has a hint of the anise and sweet flavour of Thai basil.

They both taste like basil though so you can use either in this recipe.

Can I use western basil to make Thai basil chicken?

Yes. Again, this will give you that basil flavour but it will be missing the sharper, peppery flavour of Thai holi basil and the sweet, anise flavour of Thai basil. It will still taste amazing though.

I recommend using holy basil if you can get it. It’s available at most Thai grocers and online.

What is the difference between Thai basil chicken in Thailand and those served in the west?

If you’ve ever eaten Thai basil chicken at a western Thai restaurant, you might think it is quite saucy. In the west, we love our sauces so that makes a lot of sense.

In Thailand, this is much more of a stir fry. It has a smokier flavour because of the intense heat the ingredients are cooked over in the wok. 

This Thai basil chicken recipe is exactly as I learned it in Thailand. So it is dryer than you might be expecting but in my opinion, far superior in flavour. If you want to double the sauce ingredients, go for it. Just remember that it should never be soupy as I have seen it served at a few takeaways.

Working ahead…

If, like me, you are short of time but love a good Thai basil chicken, you’ll be glad to know that you can work ahead and then simply throw this amazing stir fry together later.

All of the sauce ingredients can be measure out. You can prepare the chicken too. I recommend not chopping the basil for your soon to be enjoyed Thai basil chicken until right before adding to your wok.

Can this Thai basil chicken recipe be adjusted to taste?

Most definitely yes! The recipe calls for red spur chilies, for example. These are quite mild. You could use more or less to taste or even add spicier chilies.

Add more of the sauce ingredients if you like. Taste as you go and adjust the flavours to your own personal taste preference. The best Thai basil chicken is the one you made exactly to your preference.

Useful kitchen equipment…

I cook a lot of Thai food and have a few things I can highly recommend getting if you don’t already have them.

  • A good carbon steel wok: It takes some practice to use a good wok but it is worth the effort. A good carbon steel wok will get much hotter than the popular non-stick options available these day. They are also easier to maintain and less expensive too. In my cookbook ‘The Curry Guy Thai‘, I go into depth about how to season, maintain and use a carbon steel wok and I’ll be sharing that information soon here on the blog.
  • A sharp chefs knife: Having a good quality knife to hand makes food preparation so much more enjoyable. Many people purchase knife sets. Of course there are excellent quality knife sets out there but most are more ornamental than useful. If you are thinking about investing in a knife/knives, you are much better off purchasing one good quality chefs knife than a selection of inferior knives.
  • A heavy cutting board: This doesn’t need to be expensive. You can pick up heavy restaurant style cutting boards that will last a lifetime.

You might also like to try some of these Thai takeaway and restaurant classics…

Looking for the perfect dish or dishes to go with your Thai basil chicken? Try some of these;

Thai red curry – Some people think this is the spiciest Thai curry but it usually isn’t. It’s made with dried bird’s eye chilies that aren’t as spicy as the fresh, green bird’s eye chilies used to make green curry. It is one of the most popular Thai curries out there!

Thai green curry – This is the spicy one and the perfect accompaniment for this Thai basil chicken recipe. If you like your curries spicy, this is on another level and so delicious too.

Pad Thai and peanut butter pad Thai – Whether you love this famous noodle dish the authentic way or you want to try it with the peanut butter sauce that is growing in popularity, I have them both for you here.

Still looking for inspiration? Why not check out my complete Thai section. I’m adding to it regularly.


Yield: 4

Thai Basil Chicken Recipe

Thai Basil Chicken
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • 8 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 5 red spur chillies, cut into thin rings
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 600g (1lb 5oz) skinless chicken thigh fillets, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce*
  • 1 tsp palm sugar, finely chopped (more or less to taste)
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce*
  • 1 1/2 tsp dark soy sauce*
  • Large handful of Thai holy basil leaves, finely or roughly chopped


  1. Place the garlic and chillies in a pestle and mortar and pound until chunky and small but not smooth (this can also be done with a knife or food processor). Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil over a high heat in a large wok or frying pan. When hot, add the shallots and fry for a couple of minutes until fragrant and softened. Stir in the garlic and chilli mixture and fry for about 30 seconds, being careful not to burn your garlic.
  3. Now stir in the chicken pieces and fry for about 4–5 minutes until cooked through. Be sure to stir continuously so that the aromatic ingredients don’t burn.
  4. With the chicken cooked through and nicely coated with the aromatic mixture, stir in the light soy sauce, sugar, oyster sauce and dark soy sauce. Taste it and add more chillies, sugar or light soy sauce to taste.
  5. Turn off the heat and then add the basil (it tastes much fresher if it is simply stirred into the chicken at the end of cooking). That’s it! Enjoy.


*Many soy and oyster sauces contain gluten but gluten-free brands are available.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 126Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 42mgSodium: 568mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 2gSugar: 6gProtein: 10g

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