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 tablespoon coconut oil
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 shallots minced
- 3 to 4 dried Thai chiles, crushed OR ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 ½ lb boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into ½ inch pieces
- ½ medium red pepper chopped
- 2 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon tamari or soy sauce
- ¼ cup Thai basil leaves packed
- ¼ teaspoon 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.
Love this! I used shredded Brussels sprout (steamed but still crunchy) cuz I don’t care for cauliflower rice. It was so good!
Nesja Krigbaum says
Hello Carolyn, just looking over this recipe. I’m wondering what happened to the peanut butter that is shown as one of the ingredients, but the recipe isn’t mentioning it?? Help? I’d like to try it. Also you mention some dark roast peanut butter from Santa Cruz which would be what?? Thank You
I am not sure where you are seeing peanut butter, as it’s never been part of Thai Basil Chicken and isn’t mentioned at all. Where is it shown as an ingredient?
This was the first recipe I made from Carolyn and it’s a huge hit with my husband and our little grandson! It tastes like the Thai Chicken and Basil dish that we used to order from our favorite Thai restaurant! I say “used to order” because when we crave it I can now make this and know it’s healthier for us! Thanks so much for such a great recipe!
Diane Price says
Excellent recipe. I’m half Thai and my family was impressed with this keto version. I added broccoli and onions but the seasonings are on point. Thank you for all of your hard work.
Wow… now I feel extra good about this recipe!
I’ve been following your recipes for quite some time, so I was really excited to find this Thai Basil Chicken. My husband and I have gone out to several Thai restaurants to enjoy a cheat meal, only to leave disappointed. This recipe was absolutely delicious; it did not disappoint – even considering I made it with Cauliflower rice vs jasmine! Truly one of the best ones and easy to make. This will become a staple at our dinner table!
So glad it was a hit!
I finally found Thai basil so I tried this recipe. It was very delicious according to my son and husband. No red peppers to be found so I added a whole yellow and an orange bell pepper. I used 1 and a half pounds of Costco’s packaged rotisserie chicken breast and added it after the bell peppers cooked a bit, which makes this quick dinner even quicker. I was pleasantly surprised that the small amount of liquid seasonings flavored the whole pan of chicken and peppers. Thanks!
This was the perfect dinner the other night! Such a great and easy dinner recipe that we absolutely enjoyed! Great flavor and I can’t believe it’s keto. Very delicious; so excited to make this again!
Healthy, hearty, & so tasty!! Love basil & chicken! I love making a bunch of this & meal prepping & this is one of those meals that is perfect for it!
This was so good, I loved all the flavor in it! I prepared it for dinner and we could not get enough!
I’m out the door with my shopping list for the Thai Basil Chicken! Can’t wait to try it!!
This was fab!! I had chicken breast on hand, so used that. I brined the cut up chicken for 30 minutes prior to cooking, and it stayed moist and tender. Next time, I’m adding more heat, but wouldn’t change a thing otherwise! Thank you for such a quick, delicious meal.
I served this with cilantro lime rice and it was delicious!
I love Thai Basil Chicken! Thank you so much for this recipe. I am giving it 5 stars because I know it will be delicious.
Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie says
I haven’t had or made lettuce wraps in a long time, and I love thai basil anything!
Arthur in the Garden! says
Yum! Must try these!
These sound great! Am always looking for recipes for summer that don’t heat up the house too much. This one will also help to give us our 2 cups of leafy greens a day. Just harvested the last of the lettuce for the season but my garden is FULL of basil. Thanks for all your work!