There are a select few really good meals in this world that take just 10 minutes to prepare from start to finish. This Thai Basil Chicken (Gai Pad Krapow) is one of them.
And it isn’t one of those rush jobs either. This isn’t an episode of 30 Minute Meals, where Rachel Ray comes up with an ambitious 3-part menu and screeches into the finish line at the end, unceremoniously dumping all of her dishes into serving bowls and delivering her end-of-show sign-off with a sense of tired relief.
This is going to be a relaxed 10 minutes of cooking.
To prove it to you, I will proceed to outline how each one of those minutes is going to be spent.
Making Thai Basil Chicken in 10 Minutes
Minute 1: You’re going to walk leisurely over to your fridge and pull out a pack of ground chicken. Then you’re going to chop up 3 chilies. They don’t have to be pretty.
Minute 2: You’re going to peel and slice 3 shallots. My trick? Cutting off both ends, sweeping my knife lengthwise across the shallot, and peeling off the outside in one fell swoop before slicing. Oh, and if you can’t find shallots, a red onion will do just fine.
Minute 3: Following the same pattern from the previous step, you’re going to slice 5 cloves of garlic. Hint: smashing them with the side of your knife makes ’em a lot easier to peel. Yay garlic!
Minute 4: You’re going to heat a wok over high heat (not medium high. HIGH.), and then add a few tablespoons of oil, along with your prepared chilies, shallots, and garlic.
Minute 5: You will allow said oil, chilis, shallots, and garlic to do their work in said wok, stirring occasionally to help them along a bit.
Minute 6: You’ll add the ground chicken and start breaking it up.
Minute 7: You will continue cooking the ground chicken until browned. How is this happening so quickly? Answer: your stove is cranked up as high as it will go.
Minute 8: You’ll throw in some sugar, soy sauce and fish sauce, and stir-fry everything together. You are a kitchen genius.
Minute 9: You’ll deglaze the pan (which is just a fancy way of saying “scrape up all the brown bits”) with broth, and toss in a bunch of holy basil or Thai basil leaves. (YES, we know this dish is traditionally made with holy basil, but it can be difficult to access in the states, so Thai basil is fine to use!)
Minute 10: You’re almost home free. Just continue stir-frying over high heat until most of the liquid is cooked off and the basil is wilted.
And that, my friends, is dinner. 10 ingredients, 10 minutes. All you need is a bowl of rice to serve it with.
Read on for a much shorter version of the Thai Basil Chicken (Gai Pad Krapow) recipe instructions, this time with visual aids!
A note on basil:
Pad krapow is actually made with a specific type of basil called holy basil. If you can find it in your local Asian grocery store, by all means use it!
It is hard to find, however, which is why we grow it in our garden or substitute store-bought Thai basil. Even regular Italian basil can work for this dish. Yes, if using Thai or Italian basil, the authenticity police (see comments below) won’t let you call it pad krapow (which literally means, “stir-fried with holy basil”). You can just call it, “TASTY 10-MINUTE CHICKEN THING WITH BASIL, YAY.” 🥳
Thai Basil Chicken: Recipe Instructions
In a wok over high heat, add the oil, chilies, shallots and garlic, and fry for 1-2 minutes, until softened and just starting to brown at the edges.
Add the ground chicken and stir-fry for 2 minutes, breaking up the chicken into small bits.
Add the sugar, soy sauce, and fish sauce. Stir-fry for another minute and deglaze the pan with the broth. Because your pan is over high heat, the liquid should cook off very quickly. Add the basil, and stir-fry until wilted.
Serve your Thai Basil Chicken (Gai Pad Krapow) over white rice (or brown rice).
Thai Basil Chicken (Easy Gai Pad Krapow)
- 3 to 4 tablespoons oil
- 3 Thai bird chilies or holland chilies (de-seeded if desired and thinly sliced)
- 3 shallots (thinly sliced)
- 5 cloves garlic (sliced)
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 2 teaspoons sugar (or honey)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1/3 cup low sodium chicken broth (or water)
- 1 bunch holy or Thai basil leaves
- In a wok over high heat, add the oil, chilies, shallots and garlic, and fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the ground chicken and stir-fry for 2 minutes, breaking up the chicken into small bits.
- Add the sugar, soy sauce, and fish sauce. Stir-fry for another minute and deglaze the pan with the broth. Because your pan is over high heat, the liquid should cook off very quickly.
- Add the basil, and stir-fry until wilted. Serve over rice.