I have a love-hate relationship with Instagram Reels. Let’s be honest. The ever-changing algorithm can be exhausting to keep up with, but if it’s how this recipe for Thai Basil Chicken came into my life, I will be forever grateful for the darn Reels function.
Thai Basil Chicken served over brown rice with steamed broccoli.
The Secret Ingredient
It’s in the name, so it probably doesn’t surprise you that this dish’s most crucial part is the coveted Thai Basil. I actually had some extra in our fridge from the previous week’s over-purchasing of it for one of our other family favorites: Thai Style Green Curry. I was trying to figure out how to use it up when I opened up IG and saw my friend making this amazing Thai Basil Chicken in her Reels. And my mouth started watering immediately.
Recipe-follower or Dump Cook?
During quarantine, our family has genuinely embraced cooking together. We were already big fans of some Food Network shows, but it wasn’t until we were all forced to stay home together that everyone got in on the meal-planning. BC (Before Covid), I was our family’s meal planner. And I’m a recipe follower. I would go through my cookbooks, look at what looked good or what we hadn’t made in a while, and set off to buy the necessary ingredients. Once we were stuck at home, trying not to go to the store too much, we did our best to use up what we had lying around.
This is where my husband shines!
It may have taken a year, but I am finally embracing the term Dump Cook (we heard a contestant in a cooking competition refer to herself this way, and both of my girls immediately said “Oh! Like Dad!”) and wearing it like a badge of honor.
So, I saw my friend’s reel, I saw the ingredients she used and thought, “We have those, and I can think of a few others I’d add,” and set off to make that night’s dinner.
3 Reasons to make Thai Basil Chicken tonight
- It’s super quick to come together (especially if you have rice already prepared in your fridge).
- Everyone will love it.
- It’s flexible with the protein. You can easily swap the chicken for tofu if you want to make this vegetarian or vegan.
[BONUS: IT’S GLUTEN-FREE AND DAIRY-FREE!]
Thai Basil Chicken: Ingredients Needed
In full transparency, these amounts are estimates – start here and adjust as needed. If you’re a huge spice fan (like my husband), add more crushed red pepper. I used more than I meant to (a hazard of being a “dump cook”), and this wasn’t too spicy for my kids at all or me. Similarly, I probably had a little over 1/2 c Thai Basil, which reduces down quite a bit. Feel free to use more if you have it, but this was still very flavorful.
- 1-2 T Coconut oil
- 2 Garlic bulbs, or more to taste
- 1/4 – 1 t Crushed red pepper flakes, depending on your tolerance for heat
- 1 small Onion or 2-3 shallots
- 6-8 Chicken thighs (pastured, organic if possible) or 1 block of organic tofu, cut into cubes
- 3/4 – 1 c Coconut aminos (keeps it Gluten-free and adds fantastic flavor.) You could also use tamari or soy sauce.
- 1/2 – 1 c Thai basil
- 1″ Fresh ginger, or to taste
Thai Basil Chicken: The Recipe
- Heat the coconut oil in a stainless steel or enamel-coated pan.
- When it’s melted and hot, add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir constantly for about 30 seconds. Be sure not to let the garlic burn.
- Add your onions or shallots. Mix well, and allow the onions to soften and become transparent. (Your kitchen will smell amazing at this point.)
- Add your cubed chicken thighs or tofu, and allow to cook for a minute or two.
- Cover the chicken or tofu with your coconut aminos (or tamari or soy sauce, if that’s what you’re using). Toss to coat.
- Cook the chicken or tofu for a few minutes before adding the Thai basil.
- Stir everything together, and bring to simmer.
- When the chicken is fully cooked, and the sauce has reduced down to the consistency you like, grate the ginger into the dish and mix thoroughly.
- If you have green onions (I didn’t), they would be a perfect garnish.
Serve this dish with steamed broccoli for extra vitamins and nutrients and a beautiful pop of color. Serve over brown jasmine rice or riced cauliflower.