Fresh herbs wait for no one, which is a pressing issue when you’re prone to over-purchasing. Some can be preserved beautifully through drying or freezing, but others perish through the process. There’s a reason why dried basil and dill taste nothing like their original glory, aromatic and herbaceous, reduced down to straw-like hay at best. That’s why a treasure like Thai basil must be cherished immediately, given the opportunity.

What is Thai holy basil?

Distinct from Italian basil, Thai holy basil is more pungent and peppery, sharp and bright, unlike anything else on the market. Despite the misleading name, it’s in fact an entirely different plant, with no relation to other types of common basil. While you could substitute one for the other, you might as well use cilantro instead, since the taste would end up being equally disparate.

What’s the best way to use Thai basil?

Pad Krapao, AKA basil stir fry, is an ideal way to clean the excess fresh herb out of your fridge. It takes almost no prep, comes together in 10 minutes or less, and has an invigorating if not downright addictive flavor. The most common variety you’ll find is Pad Krapao Gai, made with ground chicken, but the beauty of this concept is its versatility. American restaurants tend to favor whole cuts, but you could easily use any protein you prefer.

What are some ideal protein substitutions?

Naturally, my chicken is plant-based. If you’re craving something lighter, heartier, or simply different, you have plenty of choices:

Want to veg out?

I like to keep this prep fast and streamlined, focusing on just one featured vegetable for the sake of simplicity. Go ahead and add a full rainbow to bulk up the meal, especially if you have a frozen stir fry vegetable blend you can effortlessly toss right in. My favorite vegetable additions or substitutions include:

  • Bell pepper strips
  • Snow seas or snap peas
  • Shredded carrots
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Baby corn
  • Sliced zucchini

If you should be so lucky to have access to fresh Thai holy basil, don’t let a single leaf go to waste. There will be no such thing as “too much” when you have this easy, crowd-pleasing recipe in your repertoire.

Yield: Makes 2 Servings

Vegan Thai Basil Chicken (Pad Krapao Gai)

Vegan Thai Basil Chicken Stir Fry

Make the most of fresh Thai holy basil with a simple vegan chicken stir fry. It takes almost no prep, comes together in 10 minutes or less, and has an invigorating if not downright addictive flavor.

Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 8 minutes


  • 1 Tablespoon Light Olive Oil or Neutral Vegetable Oil
  • 8 Ounces Vegan Chicken Strips, Soy Curls, or Sliced Tofu
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 - 2 Serrano or Jalapeño Peppers, Thinly Sliced
  • 1 Cup Green Beans, Trimmed
  • 3 Scallions, Cut into 1-Inch Strips
  • 2 Drops Lemongrass Essential Oil (Optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons Tamari or Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Lime Juice
  • 2/3 Cup Fresh Thai Basil, Packed
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Mint Leaves, Packed
  • Cooked Rice or Noodles, to Serve (Optional)


  1. Set a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add the oil and heat until it's shimmering. Add your plant-based protein, garlic, and peppers, quickly stirring to keep everything in constant motion.
  2. Stir fry for 3 - 4 minutes, until the protein is golden brown. Add the green beans and cook another 1 - 2 minutes, until bright green and tender.
  3. Mix in the scallions, tamari or soy sauce, lime juice, and lemongrass oil (if using). Saute for 1 minute to evaporate any excess liquid.
  4. Turn off the heat and toss in the whole basil and mint leaves last. Use the residual heat to wilt the herbs, continuing to cook for 30 seconds.
  5. Transfer to plates and serve right away, with cooked rice or noodles, if desired.


Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 - 7 days.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 389Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 34gCholesterol: 52mgSodium: 2367mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 7gSugar: 5gProtein: 38g

All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.

8 thoughts on “Unholy

    1. A window sill herb garden is always a wise investment! The weather is so changeable, and becoming increasingly extreme all over, it’s tough sustain anything remotely finicky outdoors at this point. Basil is very heat-sensitive and would never survive a Texas summer, that’s for sure.

      1. I am hoping to nurture a outdoor permanent herb garden this year on the allotments this Spring, I grow Thyme and Rosemary and Sage successfully… But the tender leaves are on the kitchen window sill :-)

  1. I don’t know why I don’t grow Thai basil – I just stick with the Genovese variety, which I turn into pesto, without the cheese, and freeze. I have made lemongrass and Thai basil pesto, and that was really good. Then, if you make pesto and freeze, of course, you don’t have to worry about preserving the basil leaves by drying. But I also will purposely use dried basil. I like the different flavor it gives off, especially in a red sauce.

    1. Great minds think alike- Thai pesto was my first idea! For long term storage, freezing that would definitely be the ticket.

  2. Love, love , love Thai holy basil. It can be difficult to come by but if you can grow your own we could eat it almost every day. Believe it or not we have not yet tried vegan chicken strips but might give your delicious recipe a go with tofu.

  3. Love this herb! great in Pho, Banh Mi and Summer Rolls, even stir fries, love its bright sharp taste that blends well with most Asian cuisines

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