Spicy Thai Basil Chicken (Pad Krapow Gai)

My version of this classic Thai dish has spectacular taste even with regular basil instead of Thai or holy basil. The sauce actually acts like a glaze as the chicken mixture cooks over high heat. The recipe works best if you chop or grind your own chicken and have all ingredients prepped before you start cooking.

Allrecipes home cooks give a solid 5-star rating to Chef John’s easy-to-make version of Thai basil chicken (pad krapow gai), a popular Thai restaurant-worthy dish that’s ready in less than 30 minutes. In his easy and accessible style, Chef John walks you through the recipe ingredients and shows you how to build layers of flavor using simple cooking techniques.

“I don’t cook Thai food at home often, mostly because there are at least a dozen such restaurants within walking distance, but when I do, there’s nothing I enjoy more than this spicy Thai basil chicken,” says Chef John.

What Is Thai Basil Chicken

Thai basil chicken is a stir-fry dish made with finely chopped or ground chicken cooked with chile peppers, garlic, and shallots, and seasoned with a sweet and salty sauce and finished with fresh basil. It’s a classic dish in Thai cuisine and can be found in restaurants and as a popular street food.

Ingredients for Thai Basil Chicken

Chicken broth, oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, white sugar, and brown sugar are whisked together to make a sweet and salty mixture to flavor the recipe.

Chef John minces skinless, boneless chicken thigh until they’re very finely chopped. You could use packaged ground chicken to speed up the process, but chopping or grinding your own gives you superior flavor and texture.

Shallots and garlic
Sliced shallots and minced garlic add another layer of flavor.

Hot chile peppers
This is where the heat comes into play. Use Thai chile, serrano chile, or other hot pepper of your choice, and customize the amount to suit your tolerance for heat.

This recipe traditionally uses Thai basil or “holy” basil, which have their own distinctive flavors. Chef John uses sweet basil, which is more readily available in most grocery stores. In the recipe video, Chef John demonstrates how he stacks and rolls basil leaves like a cigar to quickly slice thin ribbons that cook faster and impart flavor throughout the dish.

“No, I didn’t use the real “holy” basil,” says Chef John. “But even with regular basil, this simple recipe is spectacular. Aromatic basil is the perfect herb for pairing with the slightly sweet, sort of salty, and possibly spicy, chopped meat.”

Are Thai Basil and Sweet Basil the Same?

There are more than 100 varieties of basil, all of which are members of the mint family, and each variety has its own flavor. Thai basil has a mildly spicy licorice or anise seed flavor. Sweet basil (also known as Italian basil) tastes sweet and peppery. Holy basil (also called Thai holy basil) tastes of pepper and cloves.

How to Make Thai Basil Chicken

Chef John recommends you prep all the ingredients before you start cooking because once you start the stir-fry, it all comes together very quickly. Prep takes about 15 minutes and cooking time is a speedy 10 minutes. If you want to serve the chicken with steamed rice, time your cooking accordingly.

To get started, you’ll add the oil and minced chicken to a smoking-hot skillet and cook the chicken briefly for a couple of minutes. Next, you’ll add the shallots, garlic, and sliced chilies, and cook for another couple of minutes. About a tablespoon of the sauce goes in next to cook for a minute with the chicken until it starts to caramelize on the skillet. Finally, you add the rest of the sauce, scraping up the caramelization and coating the chicken for another minute. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the basil until it’s wilted from the residual heat. Now your Thai Basil Chicken is ready to serve.

Allrecipes Community Tips and Praise

“Amazing taste and for sure cheaper than buying it in a Thai restaurant,” says Allrecipes home cook Seora Juarez. “As suggested, go to a local Asian market to get your basil. It’s a more authentic taste, but I’ve tried it with regular basil and it tastes good too. I like mine hot so I finely chop the peppers to make it spicy.”

“Amazing rendition of the classic Thai dish. I tend to use extra garlic and shallots. I use serrano chilies because traditional Thai chilies involve an extra grocery store. Otherwise make as directed. Perfect for family meals when I have the time to cook, and my kids love it,” says reviewer Blair Dunn.

Allrecipes community member outdoorsgirl says, “I love Thai food and do a lot of cooking. Kudos to Chef John for taking a Thai recipe and simplifying it so the average person can make a great dish! Substituting sweet soya instead of the regular soya and sugar works good too. The trick is a very hot wok ( hopefully) or skillet.”


  • ⅓ cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce, or as needed
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup sliced shallots
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced Thai chilies, Serrano, or other hot pepper
  • 1 cup very thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cups hot cooked rice


  1. Gather ingredients.

  2. Whisk chicken broth, oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, white sugar, and brown sugar together in a bowl until well blended.
  3. Heat large skillet over high heat. Drizzle in oil. Add chicken and stir fry until it loses its raw color, 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Stir in shallots, garlic, and sliced chilies. Continue cooking on high heat until some of the juices start to caramelize in the bottom of the pan, about 2 or 3 more minutes.
  5. Add about a tablespoon of the sauce mixture to the skillet; cook and stir until sauce begins to caramelize, about 1 minute.
  6. Pour in the rest of the sauce. Cook and stir until sauce has deglazed the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook until sauce glazes onto the meat, 1 or 2 more minutes. Remove from heat.
  7. Stir in basil. Cook and stir until basil is wilted, about 20 seconds. Serve with rice.

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