Thai Basil Pork

This Thai basil pork recipe is easy and slightly spicy and made with ground pork, fish sauce, soy sauce, garlic, shallots, Thai chiles, and basil. A quick weeknight dinner that’s cheaper and better than takeout.

A rectangular serving dish filled with Thai basil pork, red chiles, and white rice with a serving spoon beside the dish.

Known in its native land as Pad Gkaprow Mu, Thai basil pork is a near constant on the table in its native country, whether at breakfast or dinner. Once you experience the slightly spicy, salty, sweet for yourself, and realize how easy it is to make, you’ll understand why it’s a classic. Originally published December 1, 2009.Renee Schettler Rossi

*Buying Basil

As the author explains, Thai basil pork is traditionally made with the jagged leaves of holy basil (bai gkaprow), which is native to Asia. However, Thai sweet basil (bai horapa) tends to be easier to find in Asian markets in the United States and makes a laudable stand-in. But if you can’t get your hands on either, no worries. You can always substitute any variety of basil you can get your hands on or, even better, a mix of basil and mint.

Thai Pork

  • Quick Glance
  • (8)
  • 15 M
  • 15 M
  • 4 to 6 servings
4.9/5 - 8 reviews
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Heat a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Carefully swirl in the oil and heat until it becomes runny and starts to shimmer but doesn’t begin to smoke. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the garlic and shallots and cook, stirring, until the garlic is lightly golden and fragrant, 15 to 30 seconds.

Increase the heat to medium-high and stir in the pork, using the edge of your spoon or spatula to break up the clumps. Stir and cook until the meat has just lost its blush of pink, 1 to 2 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium and toss in the chiles. Add the oyster sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, and sugar and stir to coat the meat evenly. Stir in the basil and cook until the basil is wilted and the pork is cooked through, another 30 to 60 seconds.

Transfer to a serving dish and, if desired, sprinkle with a pinch of black pepper. Serve hot with freshly steamed rice.

Print RecipeBuy the The Asian Grandmother's Cookbook cookbook

Want it? Click it.

    Thai Basil Pork Variations

    • Instead of pork, you can opt for ground chicken or turkey or virtually any fresh seafood, including shrimp, scallops, mussels, or firm-flesh fish like halibut or salmon.

    Recipe Testers Reviews

    This recipe is our family’s go-to weeknight winner. The first time I made it, I followed the recipe to a T, but after that? Let the variations begin! I’ve used ground beef, chicken, turkey, and even venison.

    Depending on what I’ve got on hand, I may substitute regular basil for Thai basil, any pepper (even dried crushed red peppers) for the Thai chilies, and green onions for the shallots.

    The most important element is the combination of soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and brown sugar. Once you have that, let the experimentation begin.

    This Thai basil pork recipe filled my house with fragrance and tasted every bit as good as it smelled. I would encourage use of a quality soy sauce and fish sauce to prevent the recipe from becoming too salty. It is also very quick to make and will become a permanent addition to my list of quick weekday meals.

    If you’re craving Thai food, I highly recommend this simple and tasty basil pork dish. The flavor is sweet and salty at first bite, and then the hit of spiciness comes through. The flavors blend beautifully, creating a restaurant-quality dish that is easy for a home cook.

    I think a lot of people are intimidated by wok cooking, but it’s very easy. This pork dish had an interesting mix of flavors from hot pepper and garlic to brown sugar and the fish and oyster sauces gave extra layers of flavor. For such a simple dish you get a wonderful mixture of flavor levels. I also like Sriracha sauce as a side for extra heat.

    This Thai basil pork is a spicy dish not for the faint of heart, but what a reward for the brave souls who dare eat it! It’s a full-bodied, flavorful dish with a kick of Thai chiles to cut the fullness and a touch of bright basil to level it out.

    The ingredients may be a little hard to find in certain areas, but the dish is well worth the search. It’s a quick and flavorful must for households on the go.

    The combined texture and flavor go well with the rice suggested in the recipe, but I suspect it would also blend well with pasta.

    I’m a huge fan of simple, healthful, delicious meals, and this fits the bill. Because the ingredient list is relatively short, you want to use the best-quality ingredients. I decided to grind my own pork from some boneless pork chops I had on hand, which lent a beautifully light texture to the dish. We served this with cellophane (mung bean) noodles. It was a huge hit with the entire family!

    This Thai basil pork recipe arrived just as I started Asia night at home. Once a week, I cook a meal inspired by an Asian country. This recipe was quick, allowed me to have fun wandering in our local Asian grocery store, and tasted complex thanks to the genius of fish, soy, and oyster sauces. Our six-year old liked it, although it was a bit hot for her. White rice was fine, but sticky rice would have been better. Next time.


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    1. So good!!! I increased the sauce ingredients by half to give it more flavor and used white pepper powder for a more authentic Asian taste. I’ve made this at least 10 times now! Easy weeknight dinner and comes together in no time. Just make sure you have all the prep work done and in less than 20 mins you have a great dinner. I serve it with white rice and homemade egg rolls!

    2. I cooked it with sliced pork instead of mince. It was delicious. I’d add a bit more fish sauce next time but overall, quite enjoyable.

    3. I made this dish last night for my husband who loves a local Chinese restaurant’s Shredded Pork with Basil. I followed the recipe pretty closely. Used a few more green chilies than I should have probably (but we like spice). Used regular shallots as I could not find Asian shallots. One tip: I couldn’t find holy basil, which after research found that it has a slight licorice taste. So, I purchased regular sweet basil and added a tsp of anise flavoring (found by the vanilla extract). Came out great! Would definitely make again.

    4. It was the simplicity of this recipe first got my attention. A recipe this simple will either be disappointing or memorable. This is a clear, spunky dish. It plays tricks with your tongue. My dinner guest gasped.

            1. review update: I froze half when I made it. Last evening, I pulled it out, reheated and served over rice with fresh red cabbage, yellow bell pepper, green onions and more basil from the garden…OMG…it was AMAZING.

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