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This Thai basil shrimp stir fry is full of flavor, making the most of the aromatic anise flavor of this fresh herb!

Thai basil shrimp

Got Thai basil? This fresh herb brings a touch of aromatic anise flavor to anything it touches. It’s stellar in curries and fried rice, and but one of our favorite ways to use it? This Thai Basil Shrimp Stir Fry! It’s flavored with garlic, fresh ginger and soy sauce, with a light black licorice nuance on the finish. It tastes totally gourmet: whipped up in just a few minutes on the stovetop. Inspired by a local restaurant (hi Bodhi!), it’s one of our favorite quick weeknight meals to date.

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. You’ll see it often in Southeast Asian cuisine, including Thai, Cambodian, Lao, and Vietnamese recipes. There are so many ways to use this aromatic herb, in curries, stir fries, fried rice, spring rolls, and more.

Thai basil

Ingredients for Thai basil shrimp

This year we’ve got loads of Thai basil in our garden, so we’ve been looking for ways to use it. We recently tasted it in a shrimp stir fry at a local restaurant, Bodhi, that’s run by three generations of amazing Thai women. The way this fresh herb infuses massive flavor into savory dishes is absolutely irresistible. Here’s what you’ll need for this Thai basil shrimp stir fry:

  • Shrimp
  • Garlic
  • Fresh ginger
  • Soy sauce
  • Sesame oil
  • Onion powder
  • Salt
  • Thai basil
Thai basil shrimp

What to look for when buying shrimp

What’s the best shrimp to buy for Thai basil shrimp? With so many options at the store, the options can be overwhelming. Here are a few things we like to look for:

  • Wild caught. Fish that is wild caught in your country is usually a sustainable choice. There are also quality options in well-regulated farms; see Seafood Watch Consumer Guide.
  • Find medium shrimp (or large). Medium shrimp is our favorite, because it’s just the right size for a bite, but large works too! Medium is labeled as 41 to 50 count, and Large as 31 to 40 count (the number of shrimp per pound).
  • Use tail on or peeled. Tail on looks nice, but you do have to remove the tails with your hands as you eat them! Peeled is nice, especially when serving kids.
  • Fresh or frozen. Both have essentially the same freshness because most shrimp are immediately flash frozen. Just make sure to thaw the shrimp in advance.

Add vegetables for a more filling meal

Want to turn this into a Thai basil shrimp stir fry with veggies? Simply add your favorite stir fry vegetables to the mix! Here are the types of vegetables we’d recommend and how to cook them:

  • Broccoli (1 pound)
  • Bell peppers (1 or 2)
  • Onion
  • Mushrooms (about 4 ounces)

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons sesame or olive oil over medium high heat. Add the vegetables and 2 pinches kosher salt and cook 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until crisp tender. Remove the vegetables to bowl. Proceed with the recipe for the shrimp below, then add in the vegetables at the end.

Thai basil shrimp

What to serve with Thai basil shrimp

How to turn this Thai basil shrimp into a meal? Here are a few simple ways to accessorize it:

This Thai basil fried rice recipe is…

Gluten-free and pescatarian.

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Thai basil shrimp

Thai Basil Shrimp

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


This Thai basil shrimp stir fry is full of flavor, making the most of the aromatic anise flavor of this fresh herb!


  • 1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, deveined (tail on or peeled)
  • 2 medium garlic cloves
  • 1-inch nub ginger, peeled and minced (or ½ teaspoon ground dried ginger)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup Thai basil leaves, loosely packed


  1. Thaw the shrimp, if frozen. Pat the shrimp dry and add it to a large bowl.
  2. Mince the garlic. Peel and mince the ginger. In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil with the garlic, ginger, onion powder, and kosher salt. Toss the mixture with the shrimp.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon sesame oil on medium high heat. Add the shrimp and cook for 1 minute, then flip and cook additional 30 seconds. Add the Thai basil and turn continuously until basil is wilted and shrimp is fully cooked and opaque, about another 1 minute. Garnish with additional Thai basil leaves, if desired.
  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Thai inspired
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Thai basil shrimp

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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  1. I made this recipe tonight for dinner and hubby and I loved all the flavors. This is a simple and delicious recipe.

  2. We tried this tonight and it was excellent. We tossed 2 lbs of shrimp into the mixture and let it sit for 10 minutes while we sautéed a medium onion, red bell pepper, about 10 oz of sliced mushrooms and 3 hot red peppers. Then we set aside the sautéed veggies and cooked the shrimp with holy basil (we used a little more basil because our garden is almost done for the fall) and added in the veggies at the end. It had a great flavor – the shrimp were very tasty and the hot peppers gave it a great kick. Thanks for posting!

  3. Very simple, quick and tasty recipe. Slightly salty to my taste but that can be easily modified next time.