This Easy Thai Basil Pork (also called pad kra pao, or holy basil stir fry) really lives up to it’s name! Packed with incredible Thai flavors, but so simple to make, this amazing dish will be on your table in (way) less than 30 minutes!
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Thai food….what would I do without you?! One of my favorite things about Thai food are the deep, rich flavors of the dishes, yet the balance of “lightness” they have–do you notice that??!
I think it’s the lime or the fresh herbs that make it seem so much more healthy than other Asian takeout!
When I get a craving for Thai food, I get the craving HARD! Like, I need it RIGHT NOW! This Thai basil pork has been a lifesaver because I can literally whip it up in about 15 minutes….I am usually waiting for the rice to cook!
This dish has all the Thai flavors you love, without any fuss. It might not be 100% “authentic” (sometimes Thai red chilis are too much for me to handle and I can’t often find true Thai basil!), but I think you will absolutely love the flavors!
Plus, you have the options to customize the heat and add even more flavors with fun (optional) garnishes!
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE
- It’s full of delicious, fresh Thai flavors from basil, lime and garlic.
- It’s super quick and simple to make!
- You can “customize” your heat and add even more flavor with fun garnishes!
- Stores well in the fridge and makes a great meal prep.
You’ll need the following ingredients to make this delicious basil pork recipe:
Ground Pork: Be sure to get plain ground pork and not pork SAUSAGE (the packaging can look the same!). I look for lean ground pork (10% fat or less). If I can’t find lean pork, I usually opt for ground chicken which is a great substitute!
Basil: True, authentic Thai dishes use Thai basil or holy basil, which most Asian markets carry. If you have an Asian supermarket near you, grab some Thai basil! It’s delish! However, regular Italian basil is JUST fine! This is what I end up using 90% of the time.
Fish Sauce: Ok, hear me out! You may HATE fish sauce and gag at the thought but you have to know the SECRET! The secret of fish sauce is using sugar and/or acid (like lime juice) to offset the “fishy” taste. If you do this, you will be left with the deep rich, salty “Thai” flavor of the fish sauce without the yuckiness. TRY IT! I promise you won’t be sorry–it’s a must in Thai dishes!
If you absolutely cannot stand it, leave it out or substitute oyster sauce which has a similar flavor profile.
Hoisin: Hoisin is a thick, slightly sweet, slightly salty asian sauce. You can find hoisin sauce in most major grocery stores (and even Target!) in the Asian aisle.
HOW TO MAKE THAI BASIL PORK STIR FRY: STEP BY STEP
Here are some quick visual instructions. Remember that full instructions with exact ingredients will be in the recipe card below!
Step 1: Brown up your meat (I love using a potato masher to get my meat nice and crumbly!) with some garlic.
Step 2: Add sauce to the meat a simmer for a few minutes.
Step 3: Add basil.
Step 4: Garnish with Thai chilis, peanuts and lime juice (optional) and serve over rice.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Ok, hear me out! You may HATE fish sauce and gag at the thought but you have to know the SECRET! The secret of fish sauce is using sugar and/or acid (like lime juice) to offset the “fishy” taste. If you do this, you will be left with the deep rich, salty “Thai” flavor of the fish sauce without the yuckiness. TRY IT! I promise you won’t be sorry–it’s a must in Thai dishes!
If you just can’t stand the thought of it, you can leave it out or substitute oyster sauce, which also has a similar flavor profile.
This dish is so versatile in terms of meat and protein. Ground chicken, turkey and even beef would be fine to substitute. You can also chop chicken thighs or breasts in tiny pieces–that’s delish as well!
As far as non meat substitutes, extra firm tofu works great.
Of course! You will have to skip the fish sauce and use tofu or a meat substitute, but it’s definitely doable (and delish!).
In an ideal world, we would all have access to delicious Thai basil. Thai basil has a deeper, richer more “licoricey” taste vs. the mild, light, sweet Italian basil. However, either basil works just fine in this dish! I usually use Italian basil unless I make a trip to the Asian grocery store.
This dish stores very well in the fridge for up to 4-5 days. The pork with absorb most of the sauce as it sits, but it is still delish! Store in airtight meal prep containers like these for quick and easy lunches all week.
RECIPE TIPS & TRICKS
- This recipe calls for lots of chopped garlic and guess what? I HATE chopping garlic!! Enter my Amazing Garlic Chopper Thingy my mom bought me that makes garlic chopping a cinch! I could not live without this kitchen tool. It’s dishwasher safe, too so I just throw it in the dishwasher when I’m done!
- TRY the fish sauce using my Fish Sauce Secret! The secret to getting the “yuck” out of fish sauce (but leaving the amazing, deep flavor) is by using sugar and/or acid to balance out the fishiness. This recipe uses brown sugar and balances it out perfectly–no fishy taste, I promise! Be bold, friends!
- Use a potato masher to get your meat super crumbly! It’s one of the kitchen “tricks” I use the most!!
- If you are using the Thai red chilis, be careful!! These little guys pack EXTREME heat! I LOVE spicy food and sometimes they are too spicy even for me, even with the seeds removed. This is why I didn’t write the recipe to includes the Thai chilis IN the dish! Slice a few up and stir them in more as a garnish if you want (lots of) HEAT. The flavor is awesome, but MAN, THEY ARE HOTTTT!!!! Sriracha is a good option if the chilis are too hot for you to handle!
OTHER RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- INDIAN SPICED COCONUT CURRY
- CHOPPED THAI SALAD WITH SPICY PEANUT VINAIGRETTE
- VIETNAMESE SUMMER ROLL NOODLE BOWL
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Easy Thai Basil Pork
- 1 lb ground pork See Note 1
- 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 cup Thai basil leaves, roughly chopped regular "Italian" basil leaves are fine, too!
For the sauce
- 4 tbsp soy sauce low sodium works best
- 3 tsp fish sauce See Note 2
- 4 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp hoisin sauce See Note 3
- 4 tbsp warm water See Note 4
- rice any kind!
- peanuts, chopped (optional)
- Thai red chili peppers (optional)
- lime (optional)
- Whisk together sauce ingredients: soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, hoisin sauce and warm water. Set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium high heat, brown pork for 2-3 minutes, breaking it up so it's nice and crumbly. Pro tip: A potato masher works GREAT for breaking up the meat!
- Add garlic and cook one minute more. Then, add sauce and cook 1-2 minutes more, stirring as it cooks. You want the pork to be completely coated with the sauce.
- Stir in basil and cook one 1 minute more until the basil is wilted.
- Serve immediately over steamed jasmine rice. Garnish with a squeeze of lime juice, peanuts and chilis, if you like!