15 Minute Thai Basil Chicken. When it comes to Thai recipes, this stir fry is one of the most popular and easiest to make. It’s flavorful, fast, and is going to become one of your favorite quick dinners.
If you ask my old college roommate, Jackie, whether or not she would personally make a recipe (as I tend to do when floating ideas for the blog), her answer is pretty much always the same: “Does it have under 5 ingredients and take less than 20 minutes to make?” And the answer to that is pretty much always a frustrated “no”, because truthfully, there aren’t a whole lot of appetizing meals out there that fit that bill.
I was the same way in college, as a novice cook who really didn’t know my way around a kitchen, nor have the money to buy tons of ingredients for every meal, nor the time to spend hours cooking and then cleaning every day when there were classes, studying, meetings, and social events to attend to. Sometimes I made pasta. Sometimes I had grilled chicken with one of those prepackaged side dishes. But most of the time, I simply walked up the stairs and rounded up my housemates for a quick drive to a hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant. Every one of us would order Thai Basil Chicken (AKA Pad Krapow Gai) and eat our entire plates with no leftovers (and with several refills of jasmine rice).
In fact, we did that at least twice a week. It was my favorite meal in college, despite the countless number of pizza and sandwich shops within walking distance, and the fact that driving anywhere meant spending a minimum of 45 minutes trying to find a parking spot upon your return. Thai Basil Chicken was worth it.
It wasn’t until long after I’d graduated and moved away from New Brunswick, and still long after I started cooking on my own, that I realized that I could have been making Thai Basil Chicken at home the whole time, saving myself a ton of money in both the cost of eating out and parking tickets.
And while this 15 Minute Thai Basil Chicken doesn’t quite fit Jackie’s “5 ingredient” criteria, it comes in pretty close, especially when you consider that many of the ingredients are pantry staples, and that, like with any great stir fry, you can substitute in whatever vegetables you happen to have in the fridge if you’d like. I did ask Jackie if she would make this recipe (after she tried a big bowl when visiting last week) and she said, possibly for the first time ever, yes. “Yep. Believe it or not, I would.”
I know that a lot of recipes claim to take just minutes to make, but when you actually get down to it, you find yourself spending hours in the kitchen and scratching your head wondering what kind of black magic BS the recipe creator is peddling when they say you can get it done in a quarter of the time. But this recipe– this 15 Minute Thai Basil Chicken– it really does only take 15 minutes to make.
Allow me to break it down for you.
It’s going to take about 6 minutes to add oil to your wok and do all of the chopping, assuming you, like me, are not some sort of slicing master and you chop at a normal human pace. This includes chopping up your red bell pepper, slicing the shallots, mincing the garlic and the Thai chilies, slicing the basil, and chopping up the chicken thighs.
Then, it will take you a minute to make the sauce by whisking together oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, and sugar.
Next, you will add the bell pepper and green beans to your super-hot wok. Stir fry those for a minute.
Now you add in the chicken and break it apart, stir-frying until it’s beginning to brown. Thanks to the high heat, this will only take 2 minutes.
At that point, it’s time for the chilies, garlic and shallots you spent the bulk of your time chopping. Throw those bad boys in to get some serious flavor in your dish. Stir fry ’em for a minute.
And we can’t forget that sauce. Pour it all over your stir fry and let the heat work its magic. After 2 more minutes, it will start to cling to the chicken and you will be convinced that if your wok wasn’t as hot as your stove could possibly manage, you’d dive into that 15 Minute Thai Basil Chicken face first.
Of course, you need to add the basil in before it’s actually “Thai Basil Chicken”. Do that now, and stir fry for another minute, until the basil is wilted and the liquid has cooked off.
That is how you make my favorite dinner in 15 minutes.
A brief note about the chicken thighs: you absolutely can substitute in ground chicken if you prefer. However, chopping the chicken thighs yourself is going to result in better texture and flavor, and it takes, at the most, 2 minutes. Just wack away at that chicken with a cleaver and it will take even less time and allow you to get out all of your frustrations. I imagine that this is what people have in mind when they say that cooking is therapeutic.
Also, if you have a hard time finding thai basil or thai chilies (also called birds eye chilies), you can substitute there as well. You should be able to find them at your local Asian market (and if you google it, you’ll likely find that there is one relatively close to you) but if you don’t have one nearby, sub in a different hot chili and regular Italian basil. It is absolutely worth the effort to get the real thing because it is different, but in a pinch, those substitutions will do.
The point is, there’s no excuse not to make this dish at home. It’s so forgiving, so simple, and once you get the sauces, you will only have to remember a few ingredients on your next shopping trip so you can make it again. And trust me, you will wind up making this 15 Minute Thai Basil Chicken again.Print
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 8 ounces green beans
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, coarsely chopped
- 4 sliced shallots
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 minced Thai chilies, or to taste
- 1 cup very thinly sliced fresh Thai basil leaves
- Jasmine rice, to serve
- Heat the oil in a wok or heavy, high-walled skillet over high heat. As the wok is heating up, whisk together the oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, and sugar until well-combined. Set aside.
- Add the bell pepper and green beans to the hot wok. Stir-fry for one minute. Add in the chicken and stir-fry, breaking apart as you go, until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes.
- Stir in the shallots, garlic, and Thai chilies. Cook until fragrant, about 1 more minute. Then, pour in the prepared sauce. Continue to cook until the sauce begins to glaze onto the meat, about 1-2 more minutes.
- Stir in the Thai basil leaves and cook until the chicken is completely cooked through, the basil is wilted, and the liquid has mostly evaporated. Serve warm with rice.