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Thai-Style Stir-Fried Chicken and Basil

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Serves 2-3

  • by Lori Longbotham from Fine Cooking
    Issue 98

Craving your favorite Thai dish, but want to stay in tonight? No problem. This stir-fry is simple to make, quick, and delicious, so it won't disappoint. If you like, finish the dish with a mix of fresh cilantro and mint instead of basil. 

Video:  Watch the Homegrown/Homemade team demonstrate how to make this recipe

  • 2 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 4 medium shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb. chicken breast cutlets (about 1/4 inch thick), cut crosswise into 1-inch-wide strips
  • 1 Tbs. fish sauce
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp. packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves

Heat the oil in a well-seasoned wok or a heavy-duty 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Add the shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes; cook, stirring frequently, until the shallots start to soften but not brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chicken and cook, stirring, until it’s no longer pink and the shallots are beginning to brown, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and 1/4 cup water. Cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is just cooked through and the liquid reduces to a saucy consistency, 2 to 3 minutes. (If the sauce reduces before the chicken is cooked through, add water, 1 Tbs. at a time.) Remove from the heat, add the basil, and stir to wilt it.

Serving Suggestions

Serve over Steamed Jasmine Rice.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 280; Fat (g): 13; Fat Calories (kcal): 110; Saturated Fat (g): 2; Protein (g): 32; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 5; Carbohydrates (g): 8; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 5; Sodium (mg): 540; Cholesterol (mg): 85; Fiber (g): 0;

Photo: Scott Phillips

no stars. This recipe doesn't even resemble the real thing. People seem to think putting lime or p-nut in a recipe makes it Thai, it does not. As an American married to a Thai and cooking Thai food for over 30 years and living in Thailand for almost 9 years, I can say this isn't even close. First off you should be using Holy Basil (hot basil,either white, or red leafed)If you use any other variety of basil it won't be the same dish. If you use sweet basil it's another recipe, but still absolutely no lime and no shallots, and no sugar with sweet basil. To do it correctly, pound thai bird chilis, and garlic in a mortar & pestle. slice chicken....dark meat works best, but you can use breast meat. Brown it well in a hot wok with a light oil, when done and a bit crispy, push to side of wok and brown the chili garlic mixture in the remaining oil, add some thick sweet soy (available even in western super markets) and some fish sauce. Add the holy basil leaves, quite a lot, and stir fry together. it should be moist but not saucy. Serve over hom mali rice (jasmine rice) and top with a crispy fried egg. Seasoning depends on how much chicken you use. Since holy basil is already spicy I'd say no more than 5-8 chilis for western taste to begin with.

I agree with other reviewers that you need to punch up the recipe a little. Made as is, I would give it 2-1/2 stars. However, if you increase all the ingredients except for the meat by about 25%, then the dish has great flavor and heat. I used ground turkey tonight b/c I had no chicken breasts and it was delicious (and of course cheaper then buying boneless breasts). I used 2 fresh Serrano peppers and one habanero, minced, and sauteed them along with the garlic and shallots and a few Tbls of chopped cilantro. At the end I added Thai basil leaves (grow it in your garden during the summer). Finally, while the basmati rice was cooking I sauteed several generous handfuls of chopped shitakes, a small sliced shallot, a little chopped cilantro, and a pinch of salt in a bit of oil. I added this to the cooked rice alond with an additional 2 Tbls of chopped cilantro. The combo with the chicken was wonderful.

I give it 3 stars because after reading all the reviews I also made changes to the recipe. I kept the amount of shallots and garlic the same but swapped in bird chilli and real Thai basil and omitted mint. I seasoned according to my liking. I might have added a bit of rice vinegar but didn't have on hand. Next time I think I will. Also I did add corn starch to thicken the sauce. After all the changes it was a very good quick dish.

This is a great recipe that's super easy to make and tastes delicious. A nice bottle of Chardonnay goes well with this dish.

This is an easy quick weeknight recipe, but I agree with the other reviewers that it is fairly bland. I added Tamari soy sauce when eating it in order to give it more flavor.

This was a bit bland on the first try, so I made it again but really changed it according to my taste. I substituted peanut oil for the vegetable oil. Added about 10 cloves of chopped garlic, 3 shallots, 10 Thai chilies, 2 teaspoons of soy sauce, left fish sauce the same, couple kaffir (lime leaves), 1 tsp brown sugar, and then Holy basil (Thai basil would be fine, too). Cooked the same as the directions mentioned. It was wonderful!

We are lucky enough to live near some great thai restaurants but i thought i'd try this as a quick meal at home. I usually love the recipes in my fine cooking but i have to say this was horrible. Bland and nothing similar to thai basil chicken at all. Big disappointment!

This was really good! It was quick and easy! Next time I will had more red pepper flakes for more heat.

WOW! I don't know what to say - all of these 5 star reviews and my 1 star! Thai Basil chicken is one of my favorite dishes and this recipe in no way resembles the Thai Basil Chicken that I love so much. This was totally bland and according to my husband "tastes like nothing".

A simple meal that satisfies EVERYONE!!! We added a bit more red-pepper flakes to create an extra spice kick.

Incredible! This was not only super easy and fast to make but the flavour was sensational. Followed the recipe to a T and served this over brown rice. This is a great recipe for a weeknight dinner or for a student to whip up. This served 3 generous portions but could easily do 4 if you had a salad or other food to serve alongside.

This is an excellent, quick stir-fry. My husband requests this dish quite often. The only change I make is to dissolve a 1/2 tsp cornstarch to the water, as I like my sauce to be a little thicker. I serve it with brown basmati rice.

We liked this a LOT. Very easy and tasty- had cilantro on hand, so used that alone (not with mint) and think I will keep it that way! Thought it might also work with pork..maybe will try that next time. A keeper to be sure.

A very simple and quick recipe. Perfect for a week night. I added cashews and sliced carrots at the same time as the chicken for a bit more color and texture. The flavors aren't big and the sauce is sparse so I served it over coconut basmati rice. Just cook rice as directed, but replace 1/2 the liquid with coconut milk.

I've only had Thai food twice in my life so I'm not an expert in what it is supposed to taste like. But because I'm a big fan of basil, I thought I'd give this recipe a try. It was quick and easy and had a really nice blend of flavors. And the crushed peppers gives it a little kick! I'll definitely be making this recipe often. Since I also love cilantro and mint next time I make it I might try using that as suggested.

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