This Easy Thai Basil Pork Stir Fry (also called pad kra pao, or holy basil stir fry) is a delicious meal that’s packed with incredible Thai flavors, but is so simple to make! This flavorful dish will be on your table in (way) less than 30 minutes making it a quick weeknight dinner!
Thai food….what would I do without you?! One of my favorite things about Thai food is 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 options!
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 “Pad Kra Pao” (Translation: Thai Holy Basil Stir Fry) that you will find at a true Thai restaurant, but I think you will absolutely love the flavors…and how easy it is to make!
Plus, you have the option 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 Thai 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.
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!!
🌟CONFIDENCE TIP 🌟
This Thai stir-fry dish is perfect for meal preps! Place rice and basil pork in meal prep containers and reheat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes for a quick and easy lunch!
STORAGE & REHEATING
- Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days. The pork absorbs most of the sauce as it sits, but it is still delish! This dish works great for meal preps!
- Reheating: Reheat this stir fry in the microwave or in a skillet over the stove. You can add a splash of soy sauce or a splash of chicken broth to loosen up the sauce a bit if needed.
ADDITIONS & SUBSTITUTIONS
Meat/Protein: This dish is so versatile in terms of meat and protein. Ground chicken, turkey, and even ground 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.
Thai Basil: Ideally, use Thai Basil or Thai Holy Basil. However, if you don’t have a local Asian grocery store, this will be a problem! NO WORRIES. Regular sweet basil that you find in the regular grocery store is just fine, too!
Fried Egg: One of our favorite things to do is fry an egg (runny yolk!) and place it on top of the rice you serve alongside this dish. The rice, egg, and basil pork are SUCHHHH a divine combo!
Veggies: Although not traditional, I love adding veggies to this stir fry! Red peppers, onions, and sugar snap peas are my faves.
Spice: Thai red chilis are a great way to spice up this dish, but be careful!! These little guys pack EXTREME heat! 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!
YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
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 and provides the perfect balance of flavors. You will be left with the deep rich, salty “Thai” flavor of the fish sauce without the yuckiness.
It’s a key ingredient! 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.
In an ideal world, we would all have access to delicious Thai basil. Or better yet, Thai holy basil. Thai basil has a distinct flavor–it’s deeper, and more peppery flavor vs. the mild, light, Italian sweet 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.
The most traditional way to serve it is over hot steamed white rice. However, it’s also excellent over noodles, too! Make a side of these sweet, sticky Chinese green beans to go alongside it, too 🙂
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TOOLS FOR THIS RECIPE
OTHER RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
Easy Thai Basil Pork
- 1 lb ground pork See Note 1
- 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped the best garlic chopper
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped Thai basil is ideal but 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)
- Make the Sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together sauce ingredients: soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, hoisin sauce, and warm water. Set aside.
- Cook Pork: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown pork for 2-3 minutes, breaking it up with a wooden spoon so it's nice and crumbly. Pro tip: A potato masher also works GREAT for breaking up the meat!
- Add: 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.
- Finish: Stir in basil and cook one 1 minute more until the basil is wilted.
- Serve: Serve immediately over steamed jasmine rice. Garnish with a squeeze of lime juice, peanuts, and Thai chilis, if you like!