What is Thai basil chicken or pad krapow gai?

A popular street food in Thailand, Thai Basil Chicken (or pad krapow gai) is finely chopped chicken quickly cooked in a spicy and savory sauce and topped with a crispy fried egg. It’s also become a favorite stir-fry dish served at Thai restaurants here in the States, where folks chow it down with jasmine rice. Although the traditional version is delicious, it’s not on the menu if you’re paleo, gluten-free, keto, or doing a Whole30 because it contains gluten, soy, and sugar. Boo!

A skillet filled with Thai Basil Chicken is next to two bowls of it topped with fried eggs

Good thing this version is keto, paleo, Whole30, and gluten-free!

But don’t worry, Nomsters—I put on my testing apron and my thinking cap and came up with a nomtastic version of this street food classic that tastes pretty freakin’ close to the authentic version. It’s perfect for us special-diet eaters—and it’s just as delicious as the original, so even your non-paleo friends and family will ask for seconds. No need for a wok, either!

An overhead shot of a skillet filled with Thai Basil chicken

Ingredients

The key to getting any stir-fry on the table quickly is to prep all your ingredients ahead of time. If you’ve got your mise en place, the actual cooking time will be less than 10 minutes!

An overhead shot of the raw ingredients for paleo, Whole30, and keto Thai basil chicken
  • Coconut aminos: I use this as a substitute for the soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar in the sauce.
  • Red Boat fish sauce: This Thai Basil chicken won’t taste quite right if you leave out this umami-rich condiment!
  • Avocado oil: Instead of vegetable oil, I always use avocado oil for stir-fries and other high-temperature dishes.
  • Shallots: I love thinly sliced shallots in this dish, but you can substitute red onion in a pinch.
  • Garlic: The more the better!
  • Thai chili peppers: This dish is supposed to be spicy and I love using Thai bird chilies in this recipe. If you’re not into spicy dishes, you can leave them out or use less. No Thai chilies? Substitute some red pepper flakes to taste!
  • Ground chicken thighs: I prefer ground chicken thighs in this recipe. Seriously, people: it tastes better than ground chicken breast. Still, any ground meat will do!
  • Green beans: The traditional recipe uses long beans, but we gotta work with what’s readily available! Besides, I love me some green beans.
  • Basil leaves: Copious amounts of fresh basil are a key ingredient that lends a distinctively fragrant flavor to this dish. In the traditional version, Thai holy basil is the preferred variety but if you can’t find it at your local South East Asian market, you can use Thai basil leaves or Italian basil.
  • Eggs: Sunny-side up fried eggs with crispy whites and gooey yolks are the perfect topper for this dish. And yes, the whites should be browned and crispy!
  • Diamond Crystal kosher salt

How to make Thai Basil Chicken

Make the sauce

The sauce is super simple to make—just stir together the coconut aminos and fish sauce in a small bowl and set it aside.

A person in an off-white apron is mixing the sauce for Thai Basil Chicken

Fry the aromatics

Next, heat a large skillet over high heat. When the pan is hot, add some oil and the shallots. Cook, stirring frequently, until the shallots soften, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Sauteing sliced shallots in a large cast iron skillet for Thai Basil chicken

Add the garlic and chili peppers and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Be careful not to burn the garlic!

A red spatula is adding sliced garlic and thinly sliced Thai red peppers into a skillet with sautéed shallots.

Add the chicken

Time to add the ground chicken! Cook, stirring frequently, until no longer pink—about 3 minutes.

A red spatula is breaking up ground chicken into a skillet to make Thai Basil Chicken

Add the green beans and sauce

Toss in the green beans and the reserved sauce and cook, stirring, until the beans are tender-crisp and the chicken is fully cooked, about 2 minutes.

Pouring sauce into a skillet with ground chicken and green beans to make Thai Basil chicken

Finish with the fresh basil

Take the pan off the heat and stir in the basil leaves until wilted. Set aside.

A red spatula is scooping up Thai Basil chicken from a skillet

Fry up the crispy eggs!

Heat a small cast iron skillet over high heat. When the pan is hot, add enough avocado oil to reach ¼-inch up the sides.  Crack an egg in the pan and baste the whites and yolk with some hot oil. (Here’s a recipe and video of how I like to fry crispy eggs with frizzled edges.)

A spoon is basting a fried egg in a small cast iron skillet with hot oil.

When the whites are golden brown on the edges and the yolks are done to your desired consistency, transfer the fried egg to a plate with a slotted fish spatula. Season the egg with some salt. Fry the rest of the eggs, adding more oil if necessary.

A SUNNYSIDE egg on a plate with crispy edges on the whites

Time to eat!

Serve the Thai Basil Chicken stir-fry over cauliflower rice and top each bowl with a crispy fried egg. When you eat it, break the yolk and let it ooze over the spicy stir-fry. It’s the perfect combination!

Two bowls with Thai Basil Chicken topped with crispy fried egg

Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes in my cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2013), Ready or Not! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2017), and Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2022)


PRINTER-FRIENDLY RECIPE CARD

Thai Basil Chicken (Paleo, Whole30, Keto)

4.85 from 44 votes
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Servings 4
This Whole30, paleo, keto, and gluten-free spin on Thai Basil Chicken can be on your table faster than it takes to pick up take-out. It’ll take less than 30 minutes to make this deliciously spicy protein-packed chicken stir-fry!

Ingredients  

  • 2 tablespoons coconut aminos
  • tablespoons Red Boat fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Avocado oil and more for frying the eggs
  • 2 large shallots thinly sliced
  • 4 large garlic cloves peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 Thai chili peppers finely chopped
  • pounds ground chicken thighs
  • ½ pound green beans cut into ½-inch pieces
  • cups holy, Thai, or Italian basil leaves loosely packed
  • 4 large eggs
  • Diamond Crystal kosher salt

Instructions 

  • In a small bowl, mix together coconut aminos and fish sauce. Set aside.
  • Heat a large skillet over high heat. When the pan is hot, add 2 tablespoons of avocado oil and the shallots. Cook, stirring frequently, until the shallots soften, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and chili peppers and stir fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Don’t burn the garlic!
  • Time to add the ground chicken! Cook, stirring frequently, until no longer pink—about 3 minutes.
  • Toss in the green beans and the reserved sauce and cook, stirring, until the beans are tender-crisp and the chicken is fully cooked, about 2 minutes.
  • Take the pan off the heat and stir in the basil leaves until wilted. Set aside.
  • Heat a small cast iron skillet over high heat. When the pan is hot, add enough avocado oil to reach ¼-inch up the sides.
  • Crack an egg in the pan and baste the whites and yolk with some hot oil. When the whites are golden brown on the edges and the yolks are done to your desired consistency, transfer the fried egg to a plate with a slotted fish spatula. Season the eggs with some salt. Fry the rest of the eggs the same way.
  • Serve the Thai Basil Chicken stir-fry over cauliflower rice and top each bowl with a crispy fried egg. When you eat it, break the yolk and let it ooze over the spicy stir-fry. It’s the perfect combination!

Video

Notes

You can make this dish ahead and keep it in the fridge for 4 days in a sealed container. You can top the reheated leftovers with a freshly fried crispy egg!

Nutrition

Calories: 427kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 27g | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Like this? Leave a comment below!

About Michelle Tam

Hello! My name is Michelle Tam, and I love to eat. I think about food all the time. It borders on obsession. I’ve always loved the sights and smells of the kitchen. My mother was (and is) an excellent cook, and as a kid, I was her little shadow as she prepared supper each night. From her, I gained a deep, abiding love for magically transforming pantry items into mouth-watering family meals.

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22 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I just made this for my family and it was a big hit!! They loved it. It was perfectly spiced. Nice and warm. Not too hot. Thank you, Michelle, for another great recipe!

        1. Nope! I buy ground chicken thighs at my neighborhood Japanese market. Also, Mary’s brand has 93% lean ground chicken which I think is a mix of breast and thigh.

  2. 5 stars
    We enjoyed this so much – substituted a Fresno chili since I couldn’t get Thai chilies. Better than take out; quick and easy.