Thai basil fried rice is a delicious way to use this fragrant herb! Thai basil infuses a delicate anise flavor into this satisfying dish.
Got Thai basil? Here’s a great way to use it: Thai Basil Fried Rice! We have an abundant Thai basil plant in our garden, along with our Italian sweet basil. It’s got purple stems and a delicate black licorice flavor that’s absolutely irresistible. Add it to fried rice, and it infuses an irresistible aroma that makes it impossible not to take another bite. It’s a great way to use this herb if you have it on hand! We could not stop sneaking bites of this one.
What is Thai basil?
Thai basil is a type of basil with an anise or black licorice flavor that’s native to Southeast Asia. It has a purple stem, purple flowers, and thin, dark green leaves. It’s used in Southeast Asian cuisine, including Thai, Cambodian, Lao, and Vietnamese recipes.
How to use Thai basil in recipes? Try it in this Thai Basil Noodle Bowl, a spin on a spring roll in bowl form, in Fresh Spring Rolls, or to garnish Coconut Shrimp Curry. But one of our favorite ways? In this Thai basil fried rice.
Ingredients in Thai basil fried rice
Thai basil fried rice is a delicious way to use fresh Thai basil. The dish itself is a popular mix of cooked rice, egg and vegetables that you’ll find in many Asian cuisines: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Cambodian, Indonesian, and more. This recipe is a spin on our basic fried rice that adds fresh Thai basil (it’s not a traditional Thai-style fried rice). Here fish sauce adds big savory flavor and pairs well with the Thai basil. You can omit it if you prefer to keep it vegetarian, but it adds a distinct savory flavor. Here’s what you need for this fried rice:
- Veggies: onion, garlic, ginger, carrots, peas
- Sesame oil
- Jasmine rice
- Soy sauce
- Fish sauce
- Thai basil
Start with day old rice
The most basic adage when you’re making fried rice? Use day old rice. What’s the purpose of this:
- Freshly cooked rice has a lot of moisture. Try using fresh rice in fried rice, it clumps together and turns out soggy.
- Day old rice is dried out. The grains stay separate and form that signature fried rice texture. Use leftover rice stored up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
- What if you don’t have day old rice? Well, we usually forget to cook it in advance. Here’s a trick…
Shortcut: freeze the rice 10 minutes!
Often when we’re craving fried rice, we don’t have leftover rice on hand. Here’s a little shortcut if you want to make up a fresh pot for this Thai basil fried rice:
- Make the rice. Here’s How to Make Jasmine Rice (or make it in an Instant Pot).
- Spread on a tray and freeze 10 minutes: Spread the freshly cooked, steaming rice onto a rimmed sheet pan or tray. Place the tray in the freezer and freeze for about 10 minutes until the grains become cool to the touch. Some might even become frozen: that’s ok! They’ll heat right back up once they hit the pan.
Want to make Thai basil fried rice but want it to be plant based? You can substitute a tofu scramble for the egg! Simply make this Easy Tofu Scramble before you make the rice, making the pieces of tofu very small. Then make the rice without the egg, and add the tofu crumbles in the very last step.
Make it a meal: how to serve Thai basil fried rice
Once you’ve made up this batch of Thai basil fried rice, how to make it into a meal? Here are a couple ways to round it out:
- Shrimp: Add shrimp to this recipe (instructions below!).
- Edamame: Try this Easy Edamame or Spicy Edamame alongside
- Tofu: Add a side of Pan Fried Tofu or Easy Marinated Tofu add a hit of plant-based protein
- Broccoli: Try Simple Sauteed Broccoli or Pan Fried Broccoli with soy sauce
- Spring rolls: Add some frozen spring rolls for a delicious crunch
This Thai basil fried rice recipe is…
Vegetarian and gluten-free.
- 1/2 yellow or white onion
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger (about 1 inch nub)
- 2 large carrots
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
- 4 eggs
- ½ cup frozen peas
- 4 cups cooked jasmine rice, at least 1 day old or cooled using the shortcut below*
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- ⅓ cup Thai basil leaves
- Optional: 1 pound medium small shrimp (size 51 to 60), shelled and deveined, frozen or fresh**
- Mince the onion. Mince the garlic. Mince the ginger. Peel the carrots, then dice them.
- In a large skillet or wok, heat 2 tablespoons of the sesame oil medium high. Sauté the carrots and onion for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in the rice, peas and salt for 1 minute.
- Push the rice to the side. Add 1 tablespoon more oil. Add the eggs and pinch of salt, and scramble them in for 1 to 2 minutes until cooked through.
- Add the soy sauce and fish sauce, if using. Taste and add additional soy sauce if necessary. Heat for a minute or two, stirring, until all rice is coated. Add the Thai basil and turn off the heat, stirring until it wilts. Serve hot.
*Trick: If you don’t have day old rice, here’s a shortcut. Make the rice. Then spread it onto a rimmed sheet pan and put it into the freezer. Freeze for about 10 minutes until the grains become cool to the touch. Some might even become frozen: that’s ok! They’ll heat right back up once they hit the pan.
**If serving with shrimp, sauté the shrimp before making the rice: Pat the shrimp dry. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil on medium high heat. Add the shrimp and cook about 1 minute per side until just opaque cooked through, turning them with tongs. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt. Remove to a bowl and set aside while you cook the rice, then add them to the rice when it’s done.
- Category: Main dish
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Asian inspired
Keywords: Thai basil fried rice