Pad Kra Pao (Thai Basil Beef)

Pad Kra Pao translated mean basil stir fry. It is very common to use ground pork, but I love to use ground beef the most. It is an extremely fragrant ground meat stir fry dish that can be made in 20 minutes. Next time you’re short on time for dinner, give this a try!

What type of basil to use for Pad Kra Pao?

Traditionally, holy basil is used, however, holy basil is much harder to find than Thai basil. I substitute this for Thai basil and I find it works really well. The Thai basil is slightly sweet and extremely fragrant. The measurement I use in the recipe is a “large handful” so please be generous with the basil as it will only make the dish more flavorful and fragrant. This is what Thai basil looks like and I only use the leaves:

What type of meat to use?

Ground pork is most commonly used for this recipe, but any type of ground meat works well. This could be chicken, turkey, or beef. I decided to use lean ground beef because I think the flavor of the basil works best with beef. Recently, I have been buying the lean ground beef packs from Costco which comes in the perfect serving size of 600g.

Costco lean ground beef

What type of chilies in Pad Kra Pao?

Thai chilies are the most commonly used ones however, any spicy chilies will work. I used birds eye chilies because they pack a punch and I have a ton of them in the freezer. If you end up using birds eye chilies and are afraid of the heat, just remove the seeds. A pro tip: If you keep your chilies in the freezer, they will last longer and be easier to cut when needed.

Birds eye chili

Dark soy sauce

Dark soy sauce is one of my must have pantry items especially if you love Asian cooking. It is not as salty as regular soy sauce but is much darker. It is mainly added to savory dishes to add color and umami. The only brand of dark soy sauce I use is pearl river bridge.

Dark soy sauce

Pad Kra Pao

Pad Kra Pao is an extremely easy stir fry dish that will blow your mind with the flavor of basil.
4.72 from 7 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine asian, thai


  • 600 g lean ground beef
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 birds eye chilies
  • 1 tbsp regular soy sauce
  • ½ tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • ¾ tbsp fish sauce
  • ¾ tbsp sugar
  • 1 large handful Thai basil leaves
  • 1 large egg


  • Peel Thai basil leaves, rinse them, dry with paper towel, and set aside for later.
    1 large handful Thai basil leaves
  • Fine chop shallots, garlic, and chilies.
    8 cloves garlic, 2 shallots, 2 birds eye chilies
  • Heat up a wok over high heat with oil then add the chopped shallots, garlic, and chilies. Stir for 30 seconds.
    8 cloves garlic, 2 shallots, 2 birds eye chilies, 2 tbsp oil
  • Add lean ground beef. Continue to cook and break it apart until 80% cooked through. about 3-5 minutes.
    600 g lean ground beef
  • Add soy sauce, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, and sugar. Mix to combine.
    1 tbsp regular soy sauce, ½ tbsp dark soy sauce, 1 tbsp oyster sauce, ¾ tbsp fish sauce, ¾ tbsp sugar
  • Add your large handful of basil leaves, then stir for 1 minute. Serve on top of white rice and top with a crispy fried egg.
    1 large handful Thai basil leaves, 1 large egg
Keyword asian recipes, beef, beef bowl, easy recipes, ground beef, ground meat, rice, stir fry, thai

If you enjoyed that recipe, check out some more easy dishes here:


  1. This looks amazing. I’m wondering would it work if I put it a slow cooker for a few hours? Could it deepen the flavour or ruin in?

    • No need to slow cook it! The flavors are already very deep and basil is best when fresh.

  2. Can’t wait to make it! Just wondering if there is a specific basil to use? I have hot Thai basil – would that be the right one? My local store also has sweet Thai basil so wanted to double check. Thanks!

  3. 5 stars
    I tried it out today it was really good! Pretty easy to make. I didn’t have shallot so I replaced it with a red onion. I would definitely make it again. Goes great with rice.

  4. 5 stars
    Awesome! I didn’t have ground beef so I diced up some chicken thighs. Tasted great. Excited to try other recipes. Thanks

  5. 4 stars
    I made this recipe this evening and it was delicious. The only thing I’d add is some salt and pepper to the beef before the sauces go in. Great recipe!

  6. 4 stars
    Delicious and easy. What could be better?
    I loved the way you put the quantities under the directions so I didn’t have to scroll back with my greasy fingers. I’ll be trying more of your recipes.

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