Easy Pad Kra Pao Thai Basil Stir-Fry Recipe

Pad Kra Pao is our favourite quick & easy Thai minced pork recipe to serve at dinner.

Pad Kra Pao, also known as Phat Kaphroa, Pad Krapow, Kaprao and Thai Basil Stir-Fry, is a traditional Thai street food dish featuring ground pork, fish sauce, soy sauce, garlic, spicy red chili and fresh basil.

We’ve traveled extensively through Thailand and eaten at all of the best Thai restaurants in Toronto. We’ve taken Thai cooking classes in Chang Mai and learned expert cooking techniques courtesy of the executive chef at JW Marriott Phuket Resort.

Cooking Thai food at home is quick and easy. Our flavourful Thai Basil Stir-Fry recipe takes under 20 minutes to prepare and keeps in the fridge for several days. You’ll love loitering over these spicy Thai leftovers!

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Save our Pad Kra Pao recipe to Pinterest!

Travel to Thailand by Making Pad Kra Pao at Home

I love traveling through Asia. My first visit had me living in South Korea for a year as a teacher and it’s where I was first introduced to fermented vegetables like kimchi.

After my contract ended in Seoul I travelled throughout southeast Asia for 6 months, visiting the PhilippinesIndonesiaMalaysiaSingaporeCambodia, MyanmarThailandVietnam and Laos.

On my first visit I spent over a month backpacking through Thailand. I’ve revisited Thailand two times since as a food and travel journalist and always love to discover new regional dishes. Over the years I’ve explored Thai destinations such as Ko Phi Phi, Krabi, Chiang Khong, Chang Mai, Sukothai and Bangkok.

What I found most fascinating is Thailand’s distinct regional food cultures. Much like the regional cuisines found in GermanyItaly or Spain, each town in Thailand had its own local speciality.

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Ingredients you'll need to make Pad Kra Pao.
Ingredients you’ll need to make Pad Kra Pao.

Where To Eat Thai Basil Stir-Fry

If you live in a large city in Canada or America you’ll likely have access to a local Thai restaurant that serves traditional Pad Kra Pao.

Haven’t traveled to Thailand before? It may be helpful to first sample Pad Kra Pao at a local Thai restaurant to better understand how the dish is served. You can also assess the variety of ingredients used and sample the correct texture before trying to make Minced Pork Thai Basil Stir-Fry at home from scratch

I spent months researching the best Thai restaurants in Toronto, visiting popular restaurants that serve authentic Thai dishes such as Sabai Sabai, Sukothai, Khao San Road, Pai, Kiin, Bangkok Garden, Mengrai Thai and Favorites Thai BBQ. If you’re looking to sample traditional Pad Kra Pao in Toronto try visiting one of these award-winning restaurants.

Fry oil, onions and garlic in a skillet. Chop Thai basil and spicy red chilies.
Fry oil, onions and garlic in a skillet. Chop Thai basil and spicy red chilies.

What Is Pad Kra Pao?

Pad Kra Pao, also known as Thai Basil Stir-Fry, is a popular authentic Thai street food dish. It’s often likened to Thailand’s take on “fast food,” as it’s affordable and takes just seconds to prepare.

The history of the dish dates back to Prime Minister Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram’s Thai cultural mandates during WWII. Pad Kra Pao and Pad Thai were some of the government promoted dishes in local Thai food contests.

The dish was inspired by stir-frying, the cooking process borrowed from the Chinese wok tradition.

In more recent times, Pad Kra Pao was made famous when the first survivors of the Tham Luang Cave Rescue asked for the popular meal after two weeks of being trapped underground.

The dish is traditionally prepared with minced pork but can also be substituted for ground chicken, turkey or beef. The Thai pork stir-fry features onion, garlic, spicy red chili, fish sauce, soy sauce and fragrant Thai holy basil.

The dish is often served over rice and topped with a fried egg. Pad Kra Pao has evolved to incorporate additional ingredients such as baby corn, carrots, banana peppers, mushrooms and bamboo shoots. To in-the-know street food locals, the addition of vegetables to the basil stir-fry dish is seen as an effort to reduce the cost of meat and increase profit margins.

Pad Kra Pao is traditionally made in Thailand with minced pork.
Pad Kra Pao is traditionally made in Thailand with minced pork.

What Meat To Use in Pad Kra Pao

Authentic Pad Kra Pao is traditionally prepared using freshly minced pork. You will also find the popular Thai dish served with ground chicken, turkey, beef and even seafood.

If it’s your first time cooking Pad Kra Pao we suggest using ground pork so you can appreciate the desired taste and texture. If you’re vegan or vegetarian you might want to try making the dish with finely minced mushrooms.

Variations of Pork Pad Kra Pao that you may find on local Thai menus include:

  • Phat kaphrao kai (ผัดกะเพราไก่) – stir-fried holy basil with chicken
  • Phat kaphrao mu krop (ผัดกะเพราหมูกรอบ) – stir-fried holy basil with crispy pork belly
  • Phat kaphrao nuea (ผัดกะเพราเนื้อ) – stir-fried holy basil with beef
  • Phat kaphrao lukchin (ผัดกะเพราลูกชิ้น) – stir-fried holy basil with meatballs
  • Phat kaphrao kung (ผัดกะเพรากุ้ง) – stir-fried holy basil with prawns
  • Phat kaphrao ruam mit thale (ผัดกะเพรารวมมิตรทะเล) – stir-fried holy basil with seafood
  • Phat kaphrao khai yiao ma (ผัดกะเพราไข่เยี่ยวม้า) – stir-fried holy basil with Chinese century eggs
  • Phat kaphrao het (ผัดกะเพราเห็ด) – stir-fried holy basil with mushrooms
Once the minced pork is cooked with the with sauce add Thai basil leaves.
Once the minced pork is cooked with the with sauce add Thai basil leaves.

Tips for Making Pad Kra Pao

If it’s your first time making Minced Pork Holy Basil Thai Stir-Fry we suggest you start by reading the ingredients list and recipe directions below.

Pad Kra Pao is the perfect quick & easy Thai dish too make when you’ve got a busy week and find yourself unable to cook for hours on end. From start to finish it only takes 20 minutes to cook Pad Kra Pao at home in your kitchen.

We suggest cooking the recipe in a large wok or non-stick skillet, stirring with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.

When slicing the spicy red chilies, be sure to wear gloves and avoid touching the seeds as they contain oil that will irritate your eyes and skin. I once forgot to wear gloves when slicing a mountain of birds eye chilies and spent hours suffering the sting of burning hands. If you do find yourself with swollen and irritated skin from chili oil exposure, soak your irritated skin in cold milk or yogurt.

If you’re a lover of spicy food feel free to add additional chilies. You can also increase the heat of the dish by adding the chili seeds into the stir fry rather than disposing of them. If you have a low tolerance for spicy food we still suggest adding peppers as they offer an important flavour profile to the dish. Simply remove all of seeds to ensure the spice level is to your pallet’s preference.

Traditional Pad Kra Pao features Thai holy basil but if you can’t find it feel free to use whatever fresh basil variety is available at your grocery store or herb garden.

If you don’t have access to cooking onions you can always substitute for shallots. The dish is traditionally prepared with palm sugar in Thailand but we’ve suggested brown sugar as it’s more readily available in North American grocery stores.

If you love fishy flavours, feel free to add a teaspoon of Thai shrimp paste to the stir-fry.

Pad Kra Pao is finished cooking once the basil has wilted in the skillet.
Pad Kra Pao is finished cooking once the basil has wilted in the skillet.

What To Serve with Thai Pork Basil Stir-Fry

This popular basil stir-fry from Thailand is typically enjoyed as a main course alongside creamy curries like Thai Beef and Pumpkin Curry and Thai Red Prawn Curry.

It keeps well in the fridge for 2-3 days so store it in an airtight container and enjoy leftovers as a quick and easy lunch at work.

If you’re hosting a large dinner party, pair homemade Pad Kra Pao with steamed rice, stir fried noodles, papaya salad, curry, Indian Chickpea Crepes or Banh Xeo.

Serve authentic Pad Kra Pao topped with a spicy Thai red chili.
Serve authentic Pad Kra Pao topped with a spicy Thai red chili.
Serve our traditional Thai minced pork basil stir fry with turmeric rice and green papaya salad.
Serve our traditional Thai minced pork basil stir fry with turmeric rice and green papaya salad.

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Store leftover Pad Kra Pao in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Store leftover Pad Kra Pao in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Pad Kra Pao is our favourite quick and easy Thai recipe to serve at dinner.
Pad Kra Pao is our favourite quick and easy Thai recipe to serve at dinner.

Best Thai Pork Pad Kra Pao Recipe

Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Pad Kra Pao Recipe

Looking to learn how to make the best Pad Kra Pao? Our authentic Thai basil stir-fry recipe is made with minced pork, fish sauce and spicy chili.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian, Thai
Keyword: Pad Kra Pao, Pad Kra Pao Recipe, pork stir fry, thai minced pork stir fry
Servings: 6
Calories: 171kcal

Equipment

  • Wok
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • stove
  • Wooden spoon

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 Small onion thinly sliced
  • 8 Garlic cloves thinly sliced
  • 2 Thai red chilis de-seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 lb Ground pork
  • 1 tsp Brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp Fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 2 tsp Oyster Sauce
  • 1/3 cup Chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups Holy Basil packed and sliced

Instructions

  • In a large wok over medium high heat, add the oil, shallots and garlic, and fry for 3 minutes.
  • Stir in the chilies and cook for another minute. Increase the heat to high, and add the ground pork, breaking it up with a wooden spoon into small pieces.
  • Add the sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce and oyster sauce. Stir-fry for another minute and deglaze the pan with broth.
  • Add the basil, and stir-fry until wilted. Serve over jasmine rice.

Nutrition

Calories: 171kcal | Carbohydrates: 4.8g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 7.4g | Saturated Fat: 1.8g | Cholesterol: 55mg | Sodium: 483mg | Potassium: 434mg | Fiber: 0.7g | Sugar: 2g | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 1mg

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