Thai Chicken with Basil


An abundance of whole basil leaves joins chicken and fiery red chiles for a quick, delicious, and decidedly spicy stir-fry.

Thai Chicken with Basil
Photo: © Ben Dearnley
Total Time:
20 mins
4 servings

Holy basil is the most authentic choice, but any variety will do. 


  • 1 1/3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4), cut into 1-by-2-inch pieces

  • 2 tablespoons nam pla or nuoc mam (Asian fish sauce)

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon water

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil

  • 1 large onion, cut into thin slices

  • 3 fresh red chiles, seeds and ribs removed, cut into thin slices, or 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 1/2 cups lightly packed basil leaves, divided


  1. In a medium bowl, combine the chicken with the fish sauce, soy sauce, water, and sugar. In a large nonstick frying pan or a wok, heat the oil over moderately high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in the chiles and garlic; cook, stirring, 30 seconds longer.

  2. Remove the chicken from the marinade with a slotted spoon and add it to the hot pan. Cook until almost done, stirring, about 3 minutes. Add the marinade and cook 30 seconds longer. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 cup of the basil. Serve topped with the remaining 1/2 cup basil.

Suggested pairing

Look for a rich but dry white wine, such as a Pinot Gris from the Alsace region in France.

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