Thai Basil Chicken

Quick, easy, and endlessly enjoyable to eat, Thai Basil Chicken is a beloved Thai dish that deserves a permanent place in your recipes collection.

Serves: 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes – Cooking Time: 15 minutes – Total Time: 20 minutes

Helpful equipment

  • Mortar and pestle or coffee grinder 


  • 1 lb. ground meat (chicken, turkey, pork)
  • 1 bunch basil with stems removed
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • ¼ tsp ground white pepper

Garlic and chili mixture:
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 5 chilies

Sauce mixture:
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tsp coconut sugar or other sugar


Step 1
Grind garlic and chilies using a mortar and pestle, coffee grinder, or mince by hand.

Step 2
Prepare the sauce. In a small bowl, combine oyster sauce, fish sauce, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and sugar.

Step 3
Heat a pan over medium heat with oil. Add the ground garlic and chilies, and cook until fragrant and sizzling.

Step 4
Add the ground meat to the pan and break it up. At the same time, incorporate the fried garlic and chili mixture into the meat.

Step 5
Pour the sauce into the pan and toss to coat meat. Sprinkle white pepper and toss again. If necessary, add 1-2 tablespoons of water to prevent the pan from drying out.

Step 6
Add the basil and toss with the meat. Cook for about 30 seconds further, then remove from heat. Serve over a bed of jasmine rice or preferred choice of starch, accompanied by a fried egg.


  • Protein – Although minced chicken is the traditional choice, minced turkey, minced pork, and firm tofu as a vegan option are possible substitutes.
  • Basil – Any variety of basil can be used, but Thai holy basil -- not to be confused with Thai basil -- is recommended. Thai holy basil has a "sweet taste and a clove aroma, with mild hints of black pepper, lemon, and even peppermint”, whereas Thai basil has a “licorice or anise flavor, a hint of cinnamon, and a mild spicy taste” (source: evergreenseeds).
  • Thai chili peppers – Thai chili peppers come in several varieties, offering a range of heat levels from mild to extremely spicy. Opt for either rehydrated dried or fresh Thai chili peppers. Alternatively, a blend of mild Sichuan peppers paired with small, sweet bell peppers serves as a mild substitute. 
  • Below are some common types of Thai chili peppers (source: Thai Food Online). The SHU (Scoville Heat Units) scale indicates the level of capsaicin present in chilies, which is the compound responsible for their spiciness. A higher SHU measurement indicates a hotter chili.
    • Thai Spur Chili Pepper (Prik Chee Fah) / Large Red Thai Chilies — SHU Scale: 1,000 (LOW HEAT). These red chilies are typically 5-12 cm in length and provide a mild kick, making them ideal for dishes like Thai Basil Chicken.
    • Large Green Thai Chilies — SHU Scale: 1,500 (LOW HEAT). Similar in appearance to spur chilies but provide slightly more heat.
    • Thai Jinda Pepper (Prik Jinda) — SHU Scale: 75,000 (MEDIUM-HIGH HEAT). Similar in shape but smaller than spur chilies, jinda peppers are very spicy. 
    • Thai Bird’s Eye Chillies (Prik Kee Nu) — SHU Scale: 90,000 (HIGH HEAT). Very widely recognized, these small chilies are extremely spicy.
    • Small Thai Red Chillies (Prik Kee Noo) — SHU Scale: 110,000 (VERY HIGH HEAT). Even smaller than Thai bird’s eye chilies, these are the hottest of all Thai chilies.

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