If you find yourself craving the bold, spicy flavors of Asian cuisine, give this easy, one-skillet Thai basil beef recipe a try. This dish is loaded with juicy ground beef, crispy stir-fried veggies, and a flavorful dark sauce. You’ll be amazed at how simple it is to bring Thai cuisine to your table, whether it’s for a crowd or just a regular weeknight dinner.
What Is Thai Basil Beef?
Thai basil beef, also known as Pad Gra Prow to the locals, is a popular street food item in Thailand. In its authentic form, ground meat or sliced steak is stir-fried with Thai basil, bird’s eye chili, peppers, aromatic spices, and a spicy-sweet dark sauce.
1. How Does It Taste?
This Thai basil beef comes with a deep, rich flavor from the lean ground beef and the savory dark sauce. Additionally, garlic, onion, Thai basil leaves, and the combination of soy sauce, oyster sauce, and fish sauce, create a gorgeous aroma that’s only possible with these unique Asian flavors.
2. Thai Basil vs Basil
Thai basil (also called holy basil) has a minty, licorice flavor — quite different from the mild sweet taste we’ve become accustomed to with regular sweet basil. It’s a common ingredient in many Thai curries and stir-fried dishes, and is available at many Asian grocery stores in the States.
If you can’t find Thai holy basil where you live, regular sweet basil can work great as a substitute in this recipe. You probably won’t get the same pungent taste of Thai basil, but it will still be delicious.
Is Thai Basil Beef Healthy?
Yes, it is.
We chose to use 85% lean ground beef for this recipe to create a juicy and tender beef stir-fry without being too greasy. Besides beef, the other ingredients are also well-balanced in terms of nutrients.
In this Thai basil beef recipe, the amount of each ingredient can vary based on individual preference.
1. Ground Beef
Ground beef is the easiest route for a quick Thai basil beef on weeknights. Not only is it economical and easy to prepare, but it also cooks fast and soaks up the seasonings marvelously.
If you have a little more time, you could purchase a whole steak and mince it yourself. Chuck steak, round steak, and flank steak are all delicious choices for this dish.
If grinding a large beef cut takes too much of your time (or you don’t have the equipment), slicing it (against the grain) into thin strips or small cubes will also work for this recipe. It may even be your preference if you prefer bigger bites of beef.
2. Thai Basil Leaves
Thai basil leaves easily wilt on heat, so it’s best to fold them into the dish last. Once they wilt, the herby freshness will no longer be present.
3. The Savory Dark Sauce
This thick and savory dark sauce ties all the ingredients together and soaks into the rice, making the whole dish brim with unique Thai flavors. Though it initially looks quite complicated, it’s very easy to customize to your spice level.
This sauce could not be without it’s fantastic combination of ingredients:
Fish sauce: One of the primary ingredients in all kinds of Asian cuisine. The addition of fish sauce lends a fermented sweetness and umami flavor to any stir-fry dish.
Soy sauce and oyster sauce: To add a bit of saltiness and richness to our dish, as well as help bind the ground beef together while keeping it juicy tender. They also make the dish look and smell more appetizing.
Brown sugar: To add a caramelized sweetness to this Thai basil beef recipe and balance the saltiness from the other ingredients.
Cornstarch: Helps thicken up the sauce.
Lime juice and sriracha: To round off the overall flavor by adding an extra kick of tang and heat.
4. Other Ingredients and Their Substitutes
Red bell pepper and shredded carrots: Feel free to incorporate more of your favorite vegetables to add more fun colors to the dish (as well as more nutrients). Some of the go-to choices are water chestnuts, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and thinly sliced zucchini.
Neutral-tasting oil such as vegetable oil or canola oil (our choice in this recipe) will work best for stir-fries.
Garlic and bird’s eye chili: Although bird’s eye chili is small and is used for garnishing only, note that it’s very spicy. If you love the heat, consider using a mortar and pestle to grind the chili and garlic to bring out more of their flavors. Don’t hesitate to adjust the amounts based on your taste preference and spice level.
How to Store and Reheat Leftover Thai Basil Beef
Leftover Thai basil beef can be kept in an airtight container and stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. If moved to the freezer, it can last for up to 4 months.
When you’re ready to finish the leftover portions, first thaw them completely, then pop them in a pan and bring them back to the stove. Turn on medium heat, and stir quickly until warmed through.
Basil doesn’t stay fresh for very long — only a couple of days in the fridge — so if you want to prepare this Thai basil beef ahead of time, you’ll need a few tricks up your sleeve. Learn how to store basil to keep a ready supply of it so it can be incorporated into your meals anytime you need it.
What to Serve With Thai Basil Beef
Thai basil beef is a versatile dish. It can be served over noodles or plain white rice, sometimes with additional toppings of choice.
1. Thai Mango Salad
This easy spicy-sweet-sour Thai mango salad takes so little time and effort to make, yet produces a delicious, vibrant salad that’s jam-packed with mouth-watering flavors. When combined, it will perfectly complement today’s Thai basil beef with its refreshing taste and colorful look.
2. Fresh Lime Juice
Calling for simple ingredients, readily available cooking tools, and just 10 minutes in the kitchen, this fresh lime juice is an ideal beverage to combine with today’s meal. Not only is it so refreshing, but it’s also packs a nutritional punch with essential vitamins and minerals!
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Satisfy your cravings for bold flavors with this Mongolian beef recipe. Thinly sliced beef is stir-fried with scallions and tossed in a sweet and savory sauce that's sure to become a new favorite.
If you find yourself craving the bold, spicy flavors of Asian cuisine, give this easy, one-skillet Thai basil beef recipe a try. This dish is loaded with juicy ground beef, crispy stir-fried veggies, and a flavorful dark sauce. You'll be amazed at how simple it is to bring Thai cuisine to your table, whether it's for a crowd or just a regular weeknight dinner.
Heat your frying wok/skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp canola oil and 1 tbsp minced garlic, sauté until golden and fragrant.
Add in 4 oz sliced onion and 4 oz sliced red bell pepper, and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
Add 12 oz ground beef to brown with 1 tsp fish sauce, 1 tbsp oyster sauce, 2 tsp soy sauce, 2 tsp brown sugar, 2 tsp cornstarch, 1 tbsp lime juice, and 2 tsp sriracha for 7 minutes. Stir constantly until caramelized.
Fold in 1 oz Thai basil leaves and 0.5 oz chopped coriander, toss quickly for 30 seconds and remove from heat.
Garnish with 0.5 oz bird's eye chili and 4 oz shredded carrots. Serve hot with 3 cups cooked medium-grain white rice.
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories 457Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 6g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Vitamin A 6281IU
Vitamin C 53mg
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tuyet Pham is an award-winning Saigonese chef who believes that joy is the secret ingredient to delicious food. At Healthy Recipes 101, Tuyet personally tests and simplifies every recipe, ensuring maximum flavor with minimal effort. With a background at prestigious French restaurants P’TI Saigon and Le Corto, Tuyet knows how to make every dish exceptional.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.
Lizzie Streit is a Minneapolis-based dietitian and founder of It’s a Veg World After All. She completed her MS in Human Nutrition from Drexel University, and is an expert in culinary nutrition, recipe development, and nutrition communications. Lizzie’s philosophy is centered around making nutrition recommendations, and especially the advice to eat more vegetables, approachable and realistic. She is excited to be working with the team at Healthy Recipes 101 to ensure that their recipes are both nutritious and delicious.
Thai Basil Beef Recipe
Made this and followed the recipe as written, easy & tasty.