This Thai basil recipe is a spring roll—in bowl form! It’s an explosion of flavor: tangy lime, fresh herbs, and crisp veggies.

Thai basil recipe

When we say explosion of flavor, we mean it! This Thai basil recipe is everything that’s great about a spring roll…in bowl form. There’s the contrast of crisp veggies, tender noodles, and crunchy crushed peanuts. Add to that an herbaceous punch from fresh herbs: Thai basil, cilantro and mint. And a zingy Sweet Garlic Lime Sauce infuses a gingery, citrusy goodness throughout! This is our favorite way to use Thai basil…hands down.

What is Thai basil?

Thai basil is a type of basil that’s native to Southeast Asia. It has an anise or black licorice flavor. You can distinguish it from the common Italian sweet basil by its purple stem and smaller leaves. Thai basil is easy to grow at home, or you can find it at international grocery stores or Asian markets.

The best Thai basil recipes? Skip the basil pesto with Thai basil! It’s best used in Southeast Asian-style curry recipes or fresh spring rolls.

Thai basil

The best Thai basil recipe? A noodle bowl!

This Thai basil recipe is truly special: it tastes like your favorite spring rolls, in bowl form as a dinner recipe! While it takes about 45 minutes to prep, you can make almost all of the components ahead. This can drastically cut down on the prep time and makes it into a weeknight meal or even a lunch. Here are a few notes on this Thai basil noodle bowl!

Step 1: Pick a protein.

To make this noodle bowl a filling main dish, you’ll need some protein. We love this Marinated Tofu because it doesn’t even require cooking: you can easily marinate it while you’re preparing the rest of the meal. Or, try this Pan Fried Tofu.

If you’re not a tofu person, no worries! Any protein that you’d find in a spring roll works: cooked chicken would be natural. If you eat plant based but don’t love tofu, you could try tempeh or any other favorite plant-based protein sub.

Step 2: Find your favorite rice noodles!

There are lots of styles and shapes of rice noodles. For this noodle bowl we used a large, flat shaped rice noodle like you’d see in a pad Thai. (Some rice noodles are vermicelli, which are very very thin: we stayed away from that for this recipe.) There’s lots of variations even between brands of rice noodles, so you may need to experiment with a few brands before you find your favorite.

Are rice noodles gluten-free? Yes, most of them are! They are made with rice flour and water. Most of the dried rice noodles are gluten-free. However, some fresh rice noodles can contain wheat flour, so make sure to check the package.

Can I use other noodles here? Of course! This recipe works with any type of noodle you’d like: even spaghetti! Or if you’d like, go with zucchini noodles or squash noodles. The sauce brings such big flavor here that anything can work.

Step 3: Make the veggies & sauce (or do in advance)

It can take quite a while to cut all the veggies and make up a sauce, no matter how simple it is. If you make this noodle bowl all at once, you’ll do these steps while the tofu is marinading. However if you want to simplify weeknight prep, here’s what you can do:

  • Make the sauce and refrigerate it. You can refrigerate for up to 1 week.
  • Cut the veggies and store refrigerated in an airtight container. You can chop all the vegetables in advance and store them in an airtight container, refrigerated. We’d do this no more than 1 to 2 days in advance, because the vegetables can dry out. Bring them to room temperature before serving.
Spring roll noodle bowl

The inspiration behind the recipe

This Thai basil recipe comes courtesy of Becky Hostetter, the pioneering woman chef behind Duos. Becky has been serving plant-based, veggie forward food to Indianapolis since way before it was cool. Since then, Becky started Duos, which serves fresh, veggie-forward breakfasts and lunches with the motto “Slow food fast”. It’s since closed, but it was a mainstay in our city.

Becky’s inventive concepts and spot on flavors make her one of the best chefs in our city. Not to mention, Becky is one of the kindest, most generous people I know. Thank you, Becky, for your years of service in our city, and for letting us all taste your genius through this noodle bowl recipe!

More Thai basil recipes

Thai basil is perfect in Southeast Asian curries, spring rolls, and more! Here are a few other recipes to try after you’ve made this noodle bowl:

Spring roll noodle bowl

This Thai basil noodle bowl recipe is…

Vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free.

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Spring roll noodle bowl

Thai Basil Noodle Bowl


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 3 to 4 1x

Description

This Thai basil recipe is a spring roll—in bowl form! It’s an explosion of flavor: tangy lime, fresh herbs, and crisp veggies.


Ingredients

Scale

For the noodle bowl 

  • 1 recipe Marinated Tofu or Pan Fried Tofu (or substitute cooked chicken)
  • 7 ounces rice noodles (or your favorite noodles; we used large, flat noodles)
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 English cucumber, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded (using a handheld julienne shredder is helpful)
  • ½ cup chopped fresh Thai basil
  • ½ cup chopped fresh mint and cilantro
  • Crushed peanuts, for garnish

For the Sweet Garlic Lime Sauce (makes 1 ¼ cups)

  • ¼ cup grated carrot (1 medium)
  • ½ teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 1 small clove garlic, grated
  • ½ cup rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sambal olek

Instructions

  1. Make the protein: Make the Easy Marinated Tofu, Pan Fried Tofu, or your favorite cooked chicken recipe.
  2. Make the sauce: Grate the carrot. Peel and grate the ginger and garlic. In a medium bowl, combine the carrot, ginger and garlic with the rice vinegar, lime juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, and sambal olek.
  3. Cook the rice noodles according to the package instructions (you’ll likely pour boiling water over them and wait until they’re tender!). Rinse them under cool water when cooked.
  4. Prepare the vegetables: Dice the pepper. Dice the English cucumber. (If you use a normal cucumber, you may want to peel it first.) Shred the carrot.
  5. Serve: Toss the noodles with the tofu, veggies and the desired amount of sauce: we used about ¼ cup per serving. You can put the entire recipe in a large bowl, or make little individual servings and toss with the desired amount of sauce and veggies. Garnish with chopped peanuts on top.

Notes

*Make ahead instructions: Make the tofu in advance and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Make the sauce in advance and refrigerate up to 1 week. Cut the veggies in advance and refrigerate 1 to 2 days (they can dry out if you go any longer).

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Raw
  • Cuisine: Southeast Asian

Keywords: Thai Basil Recipe

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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