Like most Thai stir-fries, Thai Chicken with Basil is a really quick and easy recipe to make. In about the time it takes to open a can of baked beans, heat them up, make the toast, butter and eat it you can cook this Pad Krapow which is so much tastier!
If you have 15 minutes, want a meal that won’t break your budget, that is still tasty and healthy and not too heavy on calories then make this spicy Thai basil chicken recipe!
Let's do some stir-fry – I promise you won’t be disappointed!!
Ingredients for Spicy Thai Basil Chicken Recipe
- Chicken Breast
- Spur Chili
- Thai Jinda Chili
- Mushroom Sauce
- Black Soy Sauce
- Brown Sugar
- Olive Oil
- Holy Basil
Video on How to Make Delicious Spicy Thai Basil Chicken
- Ingredients for Spicy Thai Basil Chicken Recipe
- Video on How to Make Delicious Spicy Thai Basil Chicken
- Why You Want to Make this Authentic Thai Basil Chicken at Home
- What to Eat With Thai Basil Chicken Stir Fry
- How to Order Thai Chicken with Basil at a Thai Restaurant
- What to Know about Thai Basil in Pad Krapow
- What to Know About the Chiles in Pad Krapow
- Getting Ready to Cook Pad Krapow Gai with Fried Egg
- Cooking Thai Basil Chicken for Children
- Making Pad Krapow Gai with Fried Egg – Step by Step
- The One Problem with Pad Grapow
- Authentic & Best Thai Basil Chicken Recipe – Pad Krapow Gai
Why You Want to Make this Authentic Thai Basil Chicken at Home
- So Quick and Easy to Make
- Easy to switch up the protein – try beef, pork or seafood
- Easy to Adjust Spiciness
- Adaptable Comfort Food which fills you up
- Awesome Flavor
What to Eat With Thai Basil Chicken Stir Fry
Let’s face it, Pad Krapow Gai is Thai Street Food at its best.
Super quick to make, tastes delicious, served on a single plate with some cucumber and Chinese cabbage on ice if you are lucky.
Thais know a thing or two about street food because so many eat on their way to work, grabbing a bite at lunchtime or stopping off roadside on the way home.
Eating food is one of the main pastimes for Thais in so far as eating often is as essential as breathing to a Thai. But that does not mean they are lazy, taking hours over lunch or dinner. Oh no, you can fill your mouth with taste, your tummy with delicious filling food in a jiffy at a Thai street food stall.
So the fact that this dish is always served with white rice and almost always a fried egg should be your pointer to copy.
You will find this at roadside food vendors all over Thailand and also in the Food Courts where you can eat really cheap, tasty food in an air-conditioned environment. If you know how hot Thailand can be you’ll understand why they are popular.
You are even going to improve on the taste, because I hope you will be cooking top-quality rice to eat with your stir-fried Thai Basil Chicken – that will greatly enhance the taste and smell.
Believe me when I say Thai Jasmine Rice (hom mali) smells great – that’s why Thais call Jasmine rice “Hom Mali”, where the word “Hom” means smells nice!
As for the fried egg, don’t overcook it because that runny yolk is a wonderful calming influence on the chili spice and deliciously marries the rice.
How to Order Thai Chicken with Basil at a Thai Restaurant
It is actually quite a bit easier to order than it is to find it on the menu.
That is because Thai language is quite hard to transliterate and even harder to try to read – ผัดกระเพราไก่. Told you!
In sounds you have:-
‘pad’ – sounds like the pad in a landing pad and means stir-fry,
‘gra’ like grab without the ‘b’ at the end together with ‘pao’ like the comic “POW!” where the grapao is the name for Thai Holy Basil, and
‘gai’ like the sound made by ‘gui’ at the beginning of the word “guide” which means chicken
Put it all together for pad-grapao-gai – say that and you’ll get this!
But wait! What about the fried egg and rice?
Ok – ‘kai dao’ said ‘kai’ like the ‘ki’ sound in “kite” which means ‘egg’ (don’t confuse your chickens and eggs though – gai and kai are not the same) – together with ‘dao’ like the beginning of the word ‘down’ which together means fried egg.
And for rice that’s ‘lad khao’ where the lad is said like the word ‘lard’ but very short and the khao is a bit like the word ‘couch’ without the ‘ch’ and with a rising sound at the end.
So the complete dish is “pad-gra-pow-gai-kai-dow-lad-khao”. It is written in many different ways as well so pretty confusing.
Well lucky the recipe is easy right?
What to Know about Thai Basil in Pad Krapow
Basil first – Thai Basil is actually a variant of Holy Basil and you will find it called that in the local markets in Thailand.
There are loads of different varieties of the basil herb and there is quite some difference between them.
Although there is a similarity in the base smell it is very variable. Sweet Basil is sometimes called Hoary Basil and then there’s Hairy Basil and Holy Basil and I promise you, a list longer than your arm.
The basil in this dish is essential to the taste because Thai Basil is Holy Basil which should have an anise smell and taste if you rub the leaves between your fingers. It also has a slight tinge of bitter to it.
Sweet Basil does not have the anise or the bitterness but just the basic basil smell which I am not even going to begin to try to describe.
Reading some of the top recipes, you would think it doesn’t matter much which basil you use. It absolutely does matter! You need the anise tasting basil for a great Thai basil chicken recipe.
You CAN make it with a different kind of basil of course, and I am not saying you should not try, but it will not be pad krapao gai but actually a different dish with a different taste.
What to Know About the Chiles in Pad Krapow
Let’s talk about chilies.
I see some recipes on the internet say to use Bird’s Eye Chilies. These are the tiny squat little chilies and the Thai version is known as Prik Kee Noo (Mouse Dropping Chili – charming name!) that are like mini nuclear bombs to an unsuspecting palate. Unless you know exactly what you are doing, do NOT use those. Similar to piri-piri chiles and sometimes called Thai chilies.
Yes, I know some roadside vendors may use them, but they are not in the majority! You may find them used in some soups but less often in stir fry unless you are a person who wants the spiciest food.
You should look out for Thai chilies which are bigger, less spicy than the miniature Prik Kee Noo chiles (but still very spicy). They look more like a child’s or svelte lady’s finger and a little bit shiny. Use these in moderation too (but at least you’ll be able to see them!).
These chilis, which are called Thai Chilis in Thailand, I know because that is what every market stall holder will give me if I ask for Thai chilies. They are spicy and properly called prik jinda daeng or prik daeng jinda and are the most commonly used chilis in Thai cooking to create spiciness.
If you are in the US though beware because you will end up with Bird's Eye Chilies instead. If you can't find the longer thinner variety locally then use Fresno Chili as a substitute or maybe Cayenne Chili.
The third type of red chilli is Chili Spur which are called Prik Chee Fah in Thai (point at the sky chili because they grow with their pointed ends facing the sky). They are widely used in Thai cooking to add color and are quite mildly spiced even with the seeds in.
You will often find dishes made with Prik Jinda Daeng and garnished with Prik Chee Fah so don’t be fooled into thinking a dish is not spicy just because it has some pretty sliced chili spur on the top.
The next thing to know about chilies is that taking the seeds out considerably reduces the spiciness. You can also reduce spiciness by just using fewer chilies or using less spicy chilies like spur chiles.
So there you have several options to experiment with. I would go with reducing the number of chilies before resorting to taking the seeds out simply because you also change the taste slightly if you remove the seeds.
If you use spur chiles don’t bother taking the seeds out because they are really not spicy much.
Getting Ready to Cook Pad Krapow Gai with Fried Egg
You should know I am itching to get to the making of this really easy and delicious dish but I must cover one more thing – it’s a tip really.
Getting prepared is key to maximum enjoyment!
Assuming you will be eating with Jasmine Rice, get that in the rice cooker (or saucepan) and cooking before you start this. It takes about 15 minutes to cook rice which is just about how long you’ll need to cook the stir-fried chicken with basil.
Get all the ingredients handy as well as a wok or large curved sided frying pan – so much easier to turn over the ingredients to cook – and a frying pan with oil at the ready for cooking the egg.
Then get chopping, pounding and stir-frying and it will all come together nice and hot.
Cooking Thai Basil Chicken for Children
If you have small children who don’t like the taste of basil then you can leave it out along with the chilies unless they are spice tolerant in which case go easy on the chiles.
Get everything prepped and stir fry their portion first.
Children are usually not too fussed about scalding hot food either so theirs will have a little chance to cool down while you are cooking yours.
The stir-frying bit only takes about 5 minutes anyway so splitting the portions up makes sense.
Another good Thai recipe for children is Egg Fried Rice which is delicious when cooked right.
Making Pad Krapow Gai with Fried Egg – Step by Step
Step 1 – Slicing the Chicken
You have got your Jasmine Rice cooking already right?
Unless you adore ground chicken, my suggestion is to use sliced chicken instead because it cooks just as quickly and has a better feel in your mouth – at least that’s how I feel about it.
It takes about 1 minute to slice up a couple of chicken breasts so that is what to do. Slice them thinly so they cook quickly – about as thin as one biscuit part of an oreo, or a medium knitting needle, or a mini-disc (do they still exist?), or the thickness of the end of your USB – food bloggers will understand me!
You can use chicken thighs if you’d rather. They have a deeper taste than breasts but you do need to cut around the bone!
Step 2 – Melding the Chili & Garlic
This step involves bruising out the juices from the chili and garlic so they can mix together and be happy.
You can chop the chilis and garlic by hand or chop them in a mini food chopper like this but you will get the best results using a mortar and pestle.
You should invest in a small-medium and larger sized mortar and pestle anyway because you get a much better flavor using this manual method. All that pounding and grinding is therapeutic too!
I like this medium mortar & pestle because you can get replacement pestles; it’s great for this job and you can use it to grind your spices and making small quantities fo curry paste if you are so inclined. I highly recommend at least crushing your own spices for taste.
Drop the chilis and garlic in the mortar and crush them together with medium force pounding alternating with pushing the bruised chili and garlic together against the sides of the mortar.
This action mixes together the oils from the chili and garlic to create a fantastic taste. You just cannot replicate it with an electric chopper nor my simply chopping and slicing away either.
Step 3 – Ready the Holy Basil Leaves & Spur Chili
This easy step is just giving the Thai basil leaves a wash under the tap to remove any contaminants from the surfaces of the leaves and then to pick the leaves off the stems.
Set them aside for adding at the last moment so they wilt and give a beautiful aroma to the dish turning an ordinary stir-fry into this great recipe.
Wash and slice your chili spur into medium-thin slices for garnish and color.
Step 4 – Cooking the Pad Krapow
The main cooking for this Thai dish happens here and takes just a few minutes. At the same time turn on the heat under the pan with the oil for cooking the egg and put your hot cooked rice on a place ready to receive it’s friends shortly – the egg and cooked Pad Krapow I mean.
Add a little vegetable oil to your pan and get it very hot (just before the smoke point). Scrape in your pounded chili and garlic blend and stir around. You’ll start to cough soon but it is transitory (smile), and tells you it’s time to add the sliced chicken.
Add the sliced chicken and stir around to thoroughly coat the chicken as it cooks. It will look pale at this point but worry not.
When the chicken is almost cooked add your seasoning comprising thick oyster sauce, thicker dark soy sauce, palm sugar, brown sugar, and fish sauce and most of the chili spur, leaving some for garnish.
If you are a fan of Oyster Sauce then check out our Chinese Kale with Prawns in Oyster Sauce Recipe
Now stir for another minute to mix together and incorporate all those ingredients, thoroughly coating the chicken which will be almost cooked at this point.
Step 5 – Adding the Basil Leaves
This incredibly important step is done right at the end of the cooking process. Before adding the Basil leaves make sure that there is only a little liquid sauce in the pan – if there is quite a lot then cook longer to boil it off.
Once the ingredients are only a little wet, throw in the Thai holy basil and stir around watching them wilt. It sounds cruel but at least you are not going to cook them to death.
About 30-45 seconds is enough cooking but do mix in thoroughly and tip out before the leaves get too soft.
Tip your cooked pad krapow gai out to the side of your expectant hot cooked jasmine rice you set out in step 4.
Step 6 – Frying the Egg
Crack an egg into the hot oil you started heating in Step 4.
Fry at high heat until the egg white has gone white and use a slotted slice to gently splash the upper surface of the egg with hot oil.
Before the yolk starts to set you must remove the egg and place it on top of the pad grapow or the rice according to your artistic desires. Place a couple of slices of the reserved sliced chili spur and maybe a couple of leftover fresh basil leaves to garnish.
Don’t waste time – eat and enjoy.
The One Problem with Pad Grapow
The issue I have with pad krapow gai served with fried egg is that it really needs to be cooked one or two portions at a time.
A bit like pancakes, someone has to be cooking while the diners eat and the cook gets served last – unless of course, you run a cook rotation system.
Thais are completely unperturbed eating their food half cold or stone-cold, probably a habit formed out of necessity as street food is often partly prepared in advance.
If you order from the street vendor you will most likely get a half hard yolked cold egg fried sometime earlier and most Thais will accept that. You don’t have to.
Authentic & Best Thai Basil Chicken Recipe – Pad Krapow Gai
Thai Basil Chicken – Pad Kra Prao Gai with Fried EggPin Recipe
- 1 lb Chicken Breast Minced or Sliced
- 10 cloves Thai Garlic or 3-4 Cloves of larger Western Garlic
- 2 Spur Chili Used to add color to the dish and mild tasting.
- 5 Hot Chilis (Thai Chili) (Medium Sized spicy Thai Chili called Prik Jinda)
- 2 tbsp Mushroom sauce or oyster sauce Slightly different taste result – Oyster Sauce more common
- 1 tbsp Black soy sauce Thick, Dark Soy Sauce Variety
- 1 tbsp Brown sugar
- 1 tbsp Olive oil
- 1 bunch Holy Basil / Thai Basil This is the variety with an anise taste. One handful of leaves
- 1 Fried egg
- Slice chicken thinly and set aside (See my VDO)
- Remove the tops from the chilis and skins from the garlic and pound in a mortar & pestle
- Slice two chili spur, remove basil leaves from the stems and set aside
- Add olive oil, garlic, and chili into cooking pan on high heat stir fry for few minutes until fragrant then add chicken and fry until 80% cook
- Season with oyster sauce, black soy sauce, palm sugar, brown sugar, fish sauce, chili spur and stir to mix, taste it if it get in the right taste then add basil and stir to mix
- Fry egg in a hot pan with oil, set aside.
- Put fried egg on the rice, phad kra prao on the side and garnish with vegetables.
Planning on Making this Recipe?
It would be great if you could take a picture of your finished creation and share it out on Instagram. Tag me with #TASTYTHAIEATS – I love to see your ideas!
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I am a Thai mum and love cooking for my children. Over the years, I have taken my family recipes as well as ones borrowed from friends and adapted them to make them even tastier. I publish my authentic Thai Food Recipes here for all to enjoy around the world. When I get a chance to travel I publish information to help others visiting Thailand.