Spicy Holy Basil Chicken (Pad Krapow Gai) is a delicious dish of minced chicken with spicy Thai chili peppers and Thai Holy Basil served with Jasmine rice.
You are just going to love this Thai Street food favorite made with just a handful of ingredients and whips together in under 15 minutes.
Have you ever been to Thailand? If you’re a foodie, then you best get this destination on your bucket list. Some of the best street food you will ever eat! Spicy Holy Basil Chicken (Pad Krapow Gai) is a very commonly made street food item. It is made Fast, EXTRA Spicy and delicious, just like our Healthy Chicken Lettuce Wraps!
Make Spicy or Mild
The best part of making your own Pad Krawpow Gai is you can make just the way you like it.
- EXTRA THAI KILLER HOT Spicy (could peel paint off cars spicy)
- Standard run of the mill killer hot and spicy (mouth is on fire, bead of sweat on your brow, but a good burn)
- Medium with a good kick
- Mild and Delicious
- Extra mild and cannot detect the addition of chili
We would like to delineate there is a BIG difference between Western Spicy and Thai Spicy. We kid you not, Thai’s put chili on everything. Once you go spicy and love it they might lose a few taste buds along the way, so they must increase the amount of chilis. If you like more of a mild heat, you may like to try our Air Fried Crispy Curry Chicken Legs made with a mild Massaman curry. It is more savory than spicy.
We are not talking mild jalapeno peppers we are talking “fire breathing” Thai bird chili. They are small but they are mighty! If you are a chili head, you are going to love our Thai Shrimp Mango Salad. You can make this recipe as mild or as spicy as you like it too.
Spicy Holy Basil Chicken (Pad Krapow Gai) is also known as Thai Basil Chicken and Gai Pad Krapow or just Pad Krapow. Pad Krapow means stir fried holy basil. Sometimes you may see Pad Krapow made with beef or pork or even seafood.
Thai Holy Basil
Thai Holy Basil (also known as Hot Sacred Basil) is a very special kind of basil that is often difficult to find outside of Asia. It is a little spicy, flavorful and makes our Spicy Holy Basil Chicken (Pad Krapow Gai) delicious. The leaves on our Holy basil are jagged. Holy Basil is spicy and not sweet and a perfect fit for our Grilled Flank Steak with Thai Style Chimichurri. There are two varieties a light green and a red which is purple around the stems.
However, at the end of the day, you should be able to cook a meal with the ingredients you can find at the markets near you. Feel free to substitute with Mediterranean (Italian) basil or even Thai Sweet Basil. The secret is to get the flavors balanced to achieve the spicy peppery balance and savory.
How to Chop Chicken?
We like to finely chop our chicken with two Chinese cleavers. Yes, you got it some major chopping action going on with both hands. You may also use Minced/ground chicken if you like. The rationale behind this is to be able to get all the flavors throughout the chicken, just like in our recipe for Phat Kra-Prao Kai: Stir Fried Chicken with Holy Basil.
If you cut your chicken into slices or bigger pieces, the flavor will not be throughout evenly. If you would rather cook out on a beautiful day, try our Thai Grilled Chicken Tenderloins with all the Thai flavors.
Frequent Asked Questions
Yes, you certainly can use Italian basil instead of Thai Basil in Pad Krapow Gai . Thai basil has a little more anise flavor compared to Italian basil. Therefore, sometimes we add a couple of sprigs of mint to give it that extra boost of flavor.
Indeed, you can. We like to use Red Boat Fish sauce as it is gluten-free. In addition, Lee Kum Lee Panda brand has a green label gluten-free oyster sauce.
You sure can. Adjust the amount of Thai Bird Chilis to your liking or leave them out completely. In addition, if you do not have Thai Bird Chilis at home, you can add a little bit of sriracha sauce to your desired spice level.
More Delicious Thai Recipes
If you are looking for a few Thai dishes to accompany your meal, be sure to try our Springtime Thai Beef Buddha Bowls , Authentic Thai Fish Salad , Blue Elephant Chili cocktail to get the evening started. . Be sure to check out our Thai Recipe Collection for more inspiration.
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Spicy Holy Basil Chicken (Pad Krapow Gai)
- 2 tablespoon Oil
- 5 cloves Garlic
peeled and minced
- 4 Thai Bird Chili Peppers or so lightly crushed and 1 chopped finely or per your desired heat level.
- 1 pound Chicken (minced with cleavers or minced chicken)
- 2 tablespoon Oyster Sauce
- 1 tablespoon Fish sauce
- 2 tablespoon Water
- ½ teaspoon Sugar
or sugar alternative of choice
- 1.5 cups Thai Holy Basil
(stems removed and leaves whole)- if cannot find Holy basil substitute with a basil you can find at your market and adjust the spices accordingly.
- 4 cups Jasmine rice cooked
- In a wok/ frying pan, add your oil, garlic and chili peppers and stir fry until aromatic. Add your minced chicken and fry until no longer pink and golden.
- Mix your oyster sauce, fish sauce, water and sugar or sugar alternative in a bowl and add to your chicken mixture in the wok, add your 1 chopped Thai bird chili and chopped onion and stir fry for 1 minute.
- Add whole Thai Holy basil to the chicken mixture and stirfry just until it begins to wilt. (You can also reserve a few Thai Holy Basil Leaves and deep fry them if you wish- not required)
- Serve Spicy Holy Basil Chicken (Pad Krapow Gai) with cooked Jasmine Rice. Garnish with extra basil leaves and chili, if desired.
Thai hot !!!! Oh boy ! Remember ! First time in Bangkok, newly married, 23 years old. By the look of it pretty enough for the waiters to take note - must have fun, right !!! How did I want my chicken . . . mmh ? Medium-hot I thought it wise to say - in Australia it was 'hot' but there ? I can still feel the heat . . . and I saw the blooming waiters standing on the side GRINNING !!! Any idea how hard it was to pretend . . . but, I did with darling husband whispering 'spill the plate or something' Nope ! And grins did turn into bows and smiles !!! All of that said - wonderful dish which must go into rotation again . . . probably ordinary basil at the moment . . . and shall cut my own chicken with no cleavers but just the one butcher's knife . . . no hospital visits needed just now . . .
HWC Magazine says
Hi there Eha! Yes, Thai medium is a whole new level of pain. Thai bird chilis may be little but they are mighty. They carry a punch of spice. Even if you say no chili or mild, it will still be fire hot in BKK. LOL Regular basil works great especially as it can be difficult to find Thai basil. Keeping all 10 fingers is something we treasure. Do be careful with cleavers if this is not your weapon of choice in the kitchen. Stay well and take care
my favorite dish from Thailand