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Thai basil fried rice is a delicious way to use this fragrant herb! Thai basil infuses a delicate anise flavor into this satisfying dish.

Thai basil fried rice

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.

Thai Basil

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
  • Eggs
  • Jasmine rice
  • Soy sauce
  • Fish sauce
  • Thai basil
Thai basil fried rice

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.

Vegan variation

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.

Thai basil fried rice

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:

This Thai basil fried rice recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free.

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Thai basil fried rice

Thai Basil Fried Rice

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


Thai basil fried rice is a delicious way to use this fragrant herb! Thai basil infuses a delicate anise flavor into this satisfying dish.


  • 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**


  1. Mince the onion. Mince the garlic. Mince the ginger. Peel the carrots, then dice them.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Thai basil fried rice

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Your recipe description at the beginning titles this dish as “vegetarian”. Scrolling down to the actual recipe and ingredient list, you clearly have “fish sauce” included. This immediately deems the dish no longer vegetarian!!! No dead animal derived ingredients are allowed in a vegetarian diet. Since when is a fish a vegetable? One needs to kill the fish in order to create the fish sauce… Cracks me up every time someone at a restaurant informs me that fish sauce only contains the fish flavoring (from an actual fish killed for the purpose), and that the dish ordered has no actual “pieces of fish”. Yup…..

  2. Umm you know Thai basil fried rice is not Thai basil fried rice without oyster sauce.

    Also Thai basil fried rice does NOT have ginger.

  3. Try a little more garlic, maybe 5 cloves, and no peas or carrots. You use chicken, pork or beef, sliced thin. In cooking Thai food fry the garlic till it starts turning brown, add the meat, onions, fish sauce and some of the soy sauce. Add the rice and the rest of the soy sauce and cook the egg as described in the recipe above. No peas or carrots, that makes it American fried rice. Also, fried rice with basil is normally hot, add some (maybe one or two) small Thai peppers. Unless you like really hot food, then add more. Remember you can always add peppers but you can’t take them out!