Thai basil chicken is an easy chicken stir fry with a classic Thai flavor. Served it in lettuce wraps or over cauliflower rice, it’s one of our favorite easy keto dinner recipes. It takes only 20 minutes to make, start to finish!
I am a Thai food addict and I know I am not alone. It’s one of the most popular takeout cuisines and with good reason. Every dish simply explodes with that unique spicy umami flavor.
I have a number of Thai-inspired recipes, including keto pad thai, Thai chicken soup, and Thai Cucumber Salad. All of them are recipes we make again and again.
I actually created this recipe for keto Thai basil chicken back in 2014, and I served it in lettuce wraps. I hadn’t thought about it in quite some time but was recently inspired to make it again.
And then I had the classic reaction that I so often have: “Dang, this is so good, why don’t I make it more often???”. You’ll be asking yourself the very same thing!
What is Thai basil chicken?
Thai basil chicken is a classic dish that is served in many Thai restaurants. It’s quick to prepare and packs a spicy punch. It’s official name in Thai is pad kra pao gai.
The traditional version uses Thai holy basil, rather than the regular Italian-style basil we see in most grocery stores. But Thai holy basil isn’t always easy to come by, so many recipes substitute Thai sweet basil instead.
Since I am neither Thai nor that well versed in traditional Thai cuisine, I refer you to this article from Eating Thai Food, which explains the traditional method of preparing Thai Basil Chicken.
For this keto recipe, I modified the approach in several ways. I used whatever Thai basil my local store had, which was likely the sweet variety. I also used gluten-free tamari in place of the oyster sauce and soy sauce, and tossed in some chopped red pepper for color.
And I skipped the sugar altogether because this dish is so flavorful, it doesn’t need it!
How to make keto Thai basil chicken
- Prep your ingredients. Mince the garlic and shallots, crush the chilies (a mortar and pestle works well), and chop the chicken thighs. Stir fries like this cook quickly so you want all of your ingredients close at hand, ready to go.
- Heat the oil. Get it nice and hot!
- Add the seasonings. The garlic, shallot, and chilies go in first and are cooked only until fragrant.
- Stir fry the chicken. Making a stir fry means standing by, stirring almost constantly, so that the food cooks evenly. As long as you cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces, it will be done in less than 10 minutes.
- Add the sauces. Fish sauce is a staple of Thai cooking, as is soy sauce, and they give the recipe the umami flavor.
- Stir in the basil. Basil leaves cook very quickly so you want to add them at the very end, and cook until they are just wilted.
- Serve immediately. We like it in lettuce wraps but it’s delicious over cauliflower rice too.
Frequently Asked Questions
While it won’t be exactly the same, you can use conventional basil in this dish. I recommend chopping it, because the leaves are much larger than the Thai variety. Chopping it will give you better distribution.
Thai chiles, also known as bird’s eye chiles, are thin, red, and extremely spicy. I usually use the dried variety because they are easier to come by. If you can’t find any, try using one fresh jalapeno, finely minced, and red pepper flakes to taste.
Absolutely! I just don’t happen to own one and find that a large skillet works just as well.
You can, but I want to point out that coconut aminos actually has more carbs than soy sauce. It also lacks the strong umami flavor so the dish won’t be quite as good.
You could, but as with all stir fries, it’s going to be best made fresh. The leftovers do make a lovely lunch the next day, though.
More keto takeout favorites
- Easy Keto Chicken Fajitas
- Air Fryer Lamb Kofta
- Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef
- Keto Mexican Shredded Beef
- Copycat In-N-Out Burger
- Costco Chicken Bake
Keto Thai Basil Chicken
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 shallots minced
- 3 to 4 dried Thai chiles, crushed OR 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1/2 medium red pepper chopped
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp tamari or soy sauce
- 1/4 cup Thai basil leaves packed
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- Additional red pepper flakes to taste
- Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. When hot, add the garlic and shallots. Cook about 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the crushed chiles and cook another 30 seconds.
- Add chicken and red pepper, and stir-fry until the chicken is no longer pink, about 7 minutes. Stir in the fish sauce and tamari.
- Stir in the basil and toss to combine. Cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and sprinkle with pepper. Adjust other seasonings to taste.
- Serve in lettuce wraps or over cauliflower rice.