Thai Basil Beef

5 from 4 votes
35 minutes
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No need for take-out when you can whip up this easy Thai Basil Beef stir-fry that comes together in about 30 minutes. With just the right amount of spice, using ground beef makes it easy, fresh crunchy vegetables make it healthy, and the bold sauce makes it crave-worthy!

Delicious! Made this and my family thoroughly enjoyed!

Thai Basil Beef in white bowl garnished with lime wedges, fresh basil and Fresno chiles.

Why This Recipe is a Keeper!

This Thai Basil Beef recipe is one of my favorites when the Thai food craving hits, but we don’t want to go out. With abundant basil, this easy and tasty Thai beef recipe is a summer favorite!

Although thinly sliced beef is more traditional and can be used, ground beef makes this Thai beef recipe easy. Purchased prepped vegetables like carrot shreds and snow peas add crunch and a healthy element, while a simple sauce with mostly pantry ingredients creates a deep, bold flavor. Serve with brown rice for a delicious, balanced meal!

This Thai Basil Beef recipe is:

  • Easy!
  • Delicious!
  • Ready in just over 30 minutes!
  • Healthy!
Thai Basil Beef in white bowl garnished with lime wedges, fresh basil and Fresno chiles with fork.

How to Make Thai Basil Beef:

Recipe Ingredients:

Here’s everything you’ll need to make this Thai Basil Beef recipe, along with how to prep the ingredients. See the recipe card below for the exact quantities.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions:

  • Ground Beef: In this Thai ground beef recipe, I like to use ground chuck, which is 80% lean meat and 20% fat content. Ground chuck comes from the shoulder area of the cow, which means it will have a higher fat content. That fat content contributes to taste, tenderness, and juiciness. If you want to cut the fat content, use a leaner 90/10 ratio but it may not be as tender.
  • Soy Sauce: You can also use tamari in this basil beef recipe. I always use reduced-sodium soy sauce and tamari because they have a smoother, lighter flavor. Tamari has little to no wheat, while conventional soy sauce typically has wheat. If you can’t have gluten, you already know to use one that’s wheat and gluten-free.
  • Fish Sauce: Thai fish sauce is called “nam pla” in Thai, which translates to “fish water.” It’s made from a fermented mixture of fish and salt, typically anchovies. It’s salty and adds unique umami to the Thai Basil Beef, so you don’t need additional salt.
  • Sriracha: Also known as “rooster sauce,” it has become as popular as Tabasco sauce. Sriracha was first produced by a Thai woman in Si Racha, Thailand. It’s made with chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt.
  • Snow Peas: Snow peas are edible pea pods that can be eaten raw. While they’re often sold ready to cook, I prefer to remove the stem end and the string so they’re easier to chew. Green beans would be a suitable substitute.
  • Fresno Chiles: Fresno chiles look very much like jalapeno peppers. They start green, but as they turn red, they turn hotter. Most of the heat in any chile pepper will be in the seeds and the white fleshy membrane. Remove that to cut down on the heat. Substitute red bell pepper or mini sweet peppers if you don’t care for heat.
  • Basil: If you have access to Thai basil, by all means, use it. Otherwise, conventional basil works just as well. I have both in my herb garden; they taste very similar to me. I used sweet basil in this Thai beef recipe because most people can find it.

Step-By-Step Instructions:

  • Gather and prep all the ingredients.
  • Combine the soy sauce, lime juice, water or broth, fish sauce, Sriracha, and brown sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.
Sauce for Thai Basil Beef in glass bowl.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, reduce heat to medium, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until beginning to soften.
Cooked onions in white enamel cast iron skillet.
  • Increase the heat back up to medium-high, crumble the ground beef into the skillet, stir in the onions (so they don’t burn in the following step), and cook, undisturbed, until slightly crisped and browned on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Stir the beef and cook until thoroughly cooked, 4 to 5 minutes, breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon.
Cooked ground beef in white enamel cast iron skillet.
  • Add the garlic and Fresno chiles and cook briefly for 25 to 30 seconds.
  • Drain off any excess fat in the skillet.
  • Add the soy sauce combination and bring to a boil.
  • Add the carrots and snow pea pods.
  • Cook, stirring often, for 2 to 3 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender and the pea pods are bright green.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the basil until just wilted.
  • Spoon over cooked brown rice, garnish with remaining scallions with lime wedges on the side.

Delish! Enjoy!

Two bowls of Thai Basil Beef.

Chef Tips and Tricks:

  • Most of the heat in any chile pepper will be in the seeds and the white fleshy membrane. Remove them to cut down on the heat. It’s a good idea to wear gloves when handling hot chile peppers and be careful not to touch any sensitive areas of your body–like your eyes.
  • Thai Basil Beef is a quick stir-fry dish, so have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go before you start cooking.
  • Basil is a delicate herb that wilts quickly. Add them to the stir-fry last to retain their freshness and aroma.
One bowl of Thai Basil Beef with brown rice.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I use regular basil in Beef Basil Stir-Fry?

Thai basil can be hard to find if you don’t have an international market in your area. While Thai basil adds a unique flavor to Thai food, you can use regular basil.

What is the difference between Thai basil and sweet basil?

Thai basil has an anise-like fragrance with a spicier flavor. Sweet basil exhibits the traditional aroma reminiscent of pesto with a clove-like undertone. I have both in my herb garden, tasted both before writing this Thai beef recipe post and could not taste a difference.

Can you make Thai Basil Beef ahead of time?

You can, but the basil loses flavor as it sits, and the snow peas will turn a drab green. Thai Basil Beef is best served fresh from the skillet.

Two bowls of Thai Basil Beef.

Storage:

  • Store any leftovers in the refrigerator. Reheat in the microwave or a small saucepan with some water added. Use within five days for the best flavor.

Serve with:

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Thai Basil Beef in white bowl garnished with lime wedges, fresh basil and Fresno chiles.

Thai Basil Beef

5 from 4 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
No need for take-out when you can whip up this easy Thai Basil Beef stir-fry that comes together in about 30 minutes. With just the right amount of spice, using ground beef makes it easy, fresh crunchy vegetables make it healthy, and the bold sauce makes it craveworthy!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Beef
Cuisine Thai
Servings 4
Calories 475 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce - preferably low-sodium, regular or gluten-free
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice - (from about 1 medium lime)
  • 2 tablespoons water - or beef, chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce - or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce - or to tolerance
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 medium onion - chopped
  • 1 1/4 pounds ground chuck
  • 4 cloves garlic - minced
  • 2 Fresno chiles - halved lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup julienned carrots
  • 1 cup snow peas - strings and stem ends removed, cut in half
  • 1 bunch small/thin scallions - white and light green parts only, thinly sliced diagonally, divided
  • 1 heaping cup fresh basil leaves - sweet or Thai
  • Cooked brown rice - for serving
  • Lime wedges - for serving

Instructions
 

  • Combine the soy sauce, lime juice, water or broth, fish sauce, Sriracha and brown sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, reduce heat to medium and cook for 3-4 minutes or until beginning to soften.
  • Increase the heat back up to medium-high, crumble the ground beef into the skillet, stir in the onions (so they don't burn in the following step), and cook, undisturbed, until slightly crisped and browned on the bottom, 2-3 minutes.
  • Stir the beef and cook until completely cooked, 4-5 minutes, breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon. Add the garlic and Fresno chiles and cook briefly for 25-30 seconds.
  • Drain off any excess fat in the skillet.
  • Add the soy sauce combination and bring to a boil.
  • Add the carrots and snow pea pods. Cook, stirring often for 2-3 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender and the pea pods are bright green.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the basil until just wilted.
  • Spoon over cooked brown rice, garnish with remaining scallions with lime wedges on the side.

Notes

Substitute red bell pepper or mini sweet peppers for the Fresno chiles if you don’t want it hot.  Also, cut back on the Sriracha.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 475kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 101mg | Sodium: 1359mg | Potassium: 595mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 3041IU | Vitamin C: 31mg | Calcium: 60mg | Iron: 4mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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