Thai Basil Fried Rice has so much flavor from the Thai basil, and is the perfect balance of spicy, savory, and sweet!
Rice and comfort food go hand-in-hand for me. Thai flavors are always a winner in my book. This easy, delicious, super fragrant basil fried rice is definitely up there with my favorite Asian Recipes of all time.
How is Thai fried rice different?
Thai basil fried rice is different from other fried rice versions. It is made with Thai basil as a flavoring ingredient. Unlike regular basil, Thai basil has a wonderful aroma, sweet flavor, and purple-colored stems.
This recipe is made usually with day-old Jasmine rice and is a great way to use up leftover rice - and the best part is that it comes together in under 20 minutes. I often make extra portions of Jasmine Rice to store in the fridge for later, and when I'm short on time, I'll quickly whip up a batch of this Thai Basil fried rice.
Why this recipe works
- Can be made with day-old rice, a great recipe to use up leftovers!
- Authentic Thai fried rice flavors from the Thai basil
- Made in under 20 minutes
- Easy to customize - add your favorite meat protein (shrimps, pork or chicken)
Rice - Use chilled - preferably day-old- cooked rice. Jasmine rice is the best kind of rice for this recipe, but you can also use any white rice or brown rice prefer. Basmati rice is a good substitute for Jasmine rice. The rice has to be chilled for the best results.
Thai Basil - This is the magic ingredient that adds so much authentic Thai flavor to the recipe. Try not to skip Thai basil or substitute it with sweet basil, as the taste will be altered! Get Thai basil from your local Asian store.
Sauces - Use a mix of Oyster sauce, Fish Sauce, Rice Vinegar, Soy Sauce, and your preferred hot sauce (I like using Sriracha or Gochujang paste). For a vegan option, substitute oyster sauce with vegetarian oyster sauce and skip the fish sauce.
Eggs - A necessary ingredient for fried rice! However, if you want to make this vegan, you can substitute it with a slurry made with corn starch and cold water.
Brown Sugar - Sugar is essential to balance out the sauces, and round off the dish. Use either palm sugar, brown sugar, white sugar, or coconut sugar. I like using brown sugar for this recipe.
Sesame oil - I make most of my Asian dishes with sesame oil, for a nice kick of flavor.
Step-by-step Recipe Instructions
Heat the wok on high heat. Once hot, add the sesame oil and ginger, and garlic. Saute until the garlic is aromatic and starts to turn brown. Add in the chopped bell peppers. Stir, and continue to saute on high heat, until the bell peppers are tender.
Add the Thai basil leaves and toss. Move all the ingredients towards the sides, making space for the eggs. Add in the beaten eggs and quickly scramble.
Add in the sauces, brown sugar, and mix together. Add in the cold Jasmine rice. Reduce the heat to medium.
Mix all the ingredients well, such that the rice is well coated with the sauces. Turn off the heat.
Use cold Jasmine rice: Jasmine rice is the best kind of rice for this recipe. A close substitute is Basmati rice, but Jasmine rice is definitely my top choice. The best kind of basil fried rice is made with Jasmine rice that is chilled thoroughly. If you are making jasmine rice the same day, cool it to room temperature, spread it out on a kitchen towel until completely cooled, and chill it for an hour or keep it in the freezer for 10 minutes before using. I strongly recommend cooking it a day or two in advance and chilling it. Do not use jasmine rice that is warm or hot – the rice will clump up and become sticky.
Use Thai basil: Thai basil is very different from regular sweet basil and gives it a delicious authentic flavor. Try not to skip this or substitute it with regular sweet basil!
Wok and high heat: Classic fried rice is made on the wok on high heat, and the ingredients are stirred regularly – the high heat will prevent the veggies from getting soggy and will help retail the crunch and texture of the veggies, protein (if using) and rice.
Make your own spin on the classic basil fried rice recipe with these add-ins:
Make it Vegan: For a vegan version, replace eggs with a slurry made with cornstarch and cold water, skip the fish sauce – you could also add an extra tablespoon of light soy sauce, replace the oyster sauce with vegetarian oyster sauce (made with mushrooms). Add tofu for that extra dose of protein.
Add protein of your choice: This is such a customizable recipe, that you can pretty much add any choice or protein you like. Add shredded rotisserie chicken, or sausages, minced pork, shrimp (my favorite!), or any meat of your choice. Cook it on high heat along with the rest of the veggies before adding the rice.
Add your choice of veggies: Use your favorite combination of veggies that are used in a stir-fry – my top picks are diced carrots, onions, mushrooms, celery, peas, broccoli, and cabbage. You can also add fresh chopped-up pineapple pieces or kimchi if you prefer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Thai basil is different from regular basil and adds a distinct aniseed and clove flavor to curries such as Thai curry and fried rice. Thai basil has purple stems, and its leaves are narrower than regular basil.
There are several differences between the two types of fried rice, just as there are many differences between Chinese and Thai cooking. Thai fried rice uses fish sauce which is not used in Chinese fried rice. Thai basil is also not common to Chinese fried rice. Chinese fried rice does not use sugar, however, Thai fried rice uses palm sugar.
More Asian Recipes
Here are some of my favorite Asian recipes that you can make easily at home!
Basil Fried Rice
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 4-5 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1- inch piece ginger finely chopped
- 1 cup Chopped bell pepper I used red and green bell pepper
- 1 cup Thai Basil roughly chopped or whole
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp Oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
- 1 Tbsp Fish Sauce
- 1 tbsp hot sauce Preferably use Sriracha
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 3 cups cooked jasmine rice cold or at room temperature
- Cook the jasmine rice in advance and keep it in the refrigerator to cool for at least 1 hour. You could make it a day ahead and refrigerate as well. Make sure the rice is chilled before using.
- Add all the sauces to a bowl, mix together and keep aside for later.
- Break the eggs in a small bowl, whisk and keep aside.
- Heat the wok on the stovetop until it is very hot. Add the sesame oil, followed by the garlic and ginger. Saute on high heat for a couple of minutes, stirring regularly.
- Add the chopped bell pepper and saute on high heat for a couple of minutes. If adding additional ingredients such as shrimp or meat, add it now and cook on high heat for a few minutes.
- Add the Thai Basil leaves and immediately move all the ingredients to the side. Add the eggs and stir to scramble them.
- As soon as the eggs are cooked, add the sauces and mix.
- Lower the heat to medium and add the cooked and cooled Jasmine rice. Mix well to combine. The rice should be well coated with the rest of the ingredients.
- Garnish with chopped green onions, more basil leaves and optionally, sesame seeds. Serve hot.
- For a vegan version, replace eggs with a slurry made with cornstarch and cold water, skip fish sauce, replace oyster sauce with vegetarian oyster sauce (made with mushrooms)
- You can add more protein of your choice such as shrimp, shredded chicken, tofu – as per your preference Thai basil is an essential ingredient for making authentic Thai-takeout style fried rice.
- You can replace it with regular basil but the taste will not be the same