Spicy Basil Chicken Stir Fry

This spicy basil chicken stir fry recipe is ready in 20 minutes and only 287 calories!

Spicy Basil Chicken Stir Fry (287 calories) - a fragrant and fresh Asian stir fry recipe that's ready in 20 minutes!

Write me off after I say this, but, it wasn’t until I moved to Seattle in 2010 that I truly started to understand the magic of basil in Asian cooking. I consider Thai basil the gateway drug.

Spicy Basil Chicken Stir Fry (287 calories) - a fragrant and fresh Asian stir fry recipe that's ready in 20 minutes!

Pho was really the first time I started mixing basil into anything other than Italian foods. God that’s sad, isn’t it? I should have put that in the book. Basil is worth adding to everything, because it’s sweet and mild, but Thai basil, which looks similar to fresh mint, is bolder, a little more refreshing, and has a licorice flavor when eaten raw. Cooked in Asian dishes, it comes across as sweet, herbal, and slightly spicy.

There are, I don’t know…hundreds?, of varieties of both sweet basil and Thai basil. I can’t imagine I don’t love all of them. But it’s not always easy to find Thai basil, so I decided to make this recipe with good ol’ sweet basil. The results are just delicious, but if your market carries Thai basil, I cannot recommend it enough and your taste buds will thank you.

The beauty of basil chicken is that it’s so much more unique than your average stir-fry. The sauce matters, of course, but the basil does most of the heavy lifting. Since that’s the flavor you come away with in every bite, don’t skimp; add more than you even think you’ll need because it wilts in the same way spinach wilts: down to nothing, in no time. I call for a full packed cup, but up to a cup and a half is just fine.

And speaking of that sauce, I like to use a little bit of chicken broth to cut down on the amount of soy and fish sauce I’ll need, but do note that fish sauce is essential here. If you’re like me, you’ve probably had a moment of, “What the heck is fish sauce and why would I ever want to buy it?” Right. Fish sauce is made from anchovies, salt, and water, and it’s one of those pantry staples you absolutely want to buy for your Asian recipes because it’s the difference between home stir-fry flavor and authentic restaurant flavor. But beware, a little bit goes a long way to pack a punch. Just a tablespoon here will impart enough of its rich, intense flavor. If you don’t have it, add an additional tablespoon of soy sauce in its place.

A note about stir-frying: the best thing about these one-pan-type meals is their speediness. But because of that, it’s so crucial that you get all of your ingredients prepped and ready before you start your cooking. Some of us are better at prepping than others. It wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine my mom starting to slice the chicken while her oil is smoking in the pan, with the phone pressed to her ear, asking me, “Andrea, how necessary is soy sauce, though?” Trust me, I get it. I’ve been the person who doesn’t read through the recipe first and then gets to the final stage of basil chicken and doesn’t have…basil.

Stir-fries taste best when the veggies are tender-crisp and the meat is just-browned. Prep is all it takes.

Friends, if you haven’t added basil to your Asian cooking, trust me and try it!


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5 from 1 vote

Spicy Basil Chicken Stir Fry

This spicy basil chicken stir fry recipe is fragrant and fresh, ready in 20 minutes, and only 287 calories!
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Course: Poultry
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: easy chicken stir fry, spicy basil chicken stir fry, spicy chicken stir fry
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 287kcal


  • 2 tablespoons chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce* see note if you don’t have fish sauce
  • 1.5 tsp teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1.5 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp hot chili sauce I strongly recommend Sambal Oelek
  • 3 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast cut into thin strips
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 lbs 1 pound asparagus tough ends trimmed and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1.5 packed fresh Thai basil or sweet basil


  • In a small bowl, whisk the chicken broth, soy sauce, fish sauce, cornstarch, sugar, and chili sauce.In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 ½ teaspoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat.
  • Add the chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until no longer pink, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate. Add the remaining 1 ½ teaspoons of oil to the skillet and swirl to coat. Add the onion and asparagus and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to soften, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and stir constantly until fragrant, 30 seconds. Return the chicken to the pan along with the soy sauce mixture.
  • Stir and let the sauce come to a simmer until it thickens enough to coat the chicken and vegetables. Stir in the basil until wilted and fragrant and serve.


*Fish sauce is essential, but if you don't have any, replace it with the same amount of soy sauce.


Calories: 287kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 8g | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g


28 thoughts on “Spicy Basil Chicken Stir Fry

  1. Christa

    I, too, have spent most of my life in the “basil-is-an-Italian-herb-only” camp. After marrying my Malaysian-born husband last year, my eyes have been opened to a whole new world of flavor combinations. Second to the Basil revelation, was the idea that cumin was anything but a Mexican food ingredient. Newsflash, people: CUMIN IS FOR INDIAN FOOD.
    One of the many ways my husband has rocked my world :)
    This stir fry looks amazing and can’t wait to try it. Thanks so much!

  2. Alexandra

    Oh this looks fabulous! i have all the ingrdients on hand except for the chili sauce. What can I use in place of. Would red pepper flakes or chili powder work? I hesitate to buy the chili sauce because I know I won’t use it often and it will just sit in the fridge.

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  4. Angela Lewis

    Ok, may sound like a dumb question, but does fish sauce taste fishey? This dish sounds yummy, but I’m curious about the fish sauce.

    1. Andie Mitchell Post author

      Yes, it does taste fishy if you were to…I don’t know…have a sip of it. But you’re never going to use enough of it by itself to really impart that outright fishy flavor. You’re just going to get that intense umami note, you know?

      1. Maureen

        I don’t have fish sauce either and I’m wondering if I could substitute a little ground crayfish. In Nigerian dishes it gives off a fish-seafood flavor.

  5. Hootie

    Andie, I have never had pho…oh no! Nor any kind of basil stir fry. I want to buy a wok pan for the stove. I have the electric kind but have it stored away and never use it- it used to be my moms and she cooked chicken for creole dishes with it. My stir fry/Asian food game is week…maybe because of the lack of fish sauce? My southern cooking game is strong but not good for the waistline. Need some yin in this yang. This looks delicious!

  6. Sarah

    Thanks for this, I’m going to have to make it soon! I don’t see the fish sauce in the steps, is it safe to assume it goes in the soy sauce mixture? :D

  7. Chelsea

    Just made this and eating it now! Its so good! I subbed sriracha for the oil and added cremini mushrooms. I’ll be making this again!

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  9. Carol Hansen

    Hey Andie!

    I made this for dinner last night and it was so yummy! The only thing I would do is increase the Thai Basil like you suggested:) I bought a dome of it at the grocery store and it was a loosely packed cup…I seriously think I will double the basil next time…I LOVED that flavor in this and was craving more! Again, super easy Thanks!!!

    Even though it is hot here in Texas I am going to make your sweet potato chili tonight…looks to good, I can’t wait lol!

  10. Melanie

    1.5 of what measurement of basil? A tablespoon? A cup? Am I the only one not seeing this? I know this is an older blog post but I’m in the midst of meal planning for this week and am hoping to incorporate some new-to-us recipes! Thanks!


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