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
  • (9)
  • 15 M
  • 15 M
  • Serves 4 to 6
4.9/5 - 9 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

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    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.


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    1. This is a really tasty dish. At my favorite Thai restaurant they served a version that is topped with a fried, over-easy egg. The runny egg yolk mixed with the other components of this recipe takes it to a whole new place. Very rich, super tasty

      1. Love the suggestion of the fried egg on top, Brian! Will definitely have to try that.

    2. 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!

    3. 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.

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