Thai Basil Beef

Thai Basil Beef

When our friends Thomas and Leah showed up at the house a weeks ago, the first thing they said was they had been thinking about getting Thai food for dinner. This was accepted with a round of “Oo, great idea!” and “Yesss,” comments, until someone remembered it was Sunday: our favorite Thai restaurant is closed on Sundays. This is something we typically remember when we are already halfway there.  

But it was settled, in my mind at least: we would have Thai for dinner. I would just have to make it myself. I’m no stranger to making Thai Curry — we have it at home all the time. But for this dinner I wanted to 1) use up some ingredients already in the fridge and 2) learn to make something new.

I came up with a list of four options and then made everyone vote. My mom always said I was “very diplomatic.” 👩🏻‍⚖️ When the votes were in, I got to work: garlic, Thai basil, and even a few Thai chilies. 

Thai Basil Beef
Thai Basil Beef

The one place I cut corners when making Thai food is the fish sauce: it’s just not an ingredient I have in the house, and as someone who didn’t grow up on it, I don’t miss the fishy notes when they’re not there. That’s just me— feel free to use fish sauce in place of the Worcestershire sauce in this recipe for a more traditional experience. 

Besides, my favorite part is the basil. Plenty of basil, and I’m all smiles. This summer I’ll be growing a BUNCH of Thai basil. I just love how fresh, sweet, and complex the flavor is.

Serve this Thai Basil Beef over the Instant Pot Coconut Rice published in the blog last week!

Thai Basil Beef
Thai Basil Beef

Thai Basil Beef

Published April 24, 2018 by
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Serves: 4   |    Total Time: 20 minutes


  • 1 pound ground beef, 90% preferred, but 80% will work
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1/4 yellow onion, diced small
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce OR 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 2-5 Thai chilies, depending on spice tolerance, minced (if you really don’t like spicy food, skip these all together)
  • 1 cup loosely packed Thai basil leaves 
  • Lime wedges, for serving 
  • Green onions for garnish
  • 2 cups coconut rice for serving


  1. Heat coconut oil over medium heat until it glistens. Add onion and garlic to the pan, and sauté until onion is transparent. Then, add beef to the pan. Cook beef, breaking it into crumbles with a wooden spatula, until browned evenly.
  2. NOTE: If you are your 80%/20% or other high-fat percentage beef, you may want to pour off the excess fat at this time, as it does not emulsify with the sauce super well.
  3. Add soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce or fish sauce, and maple syrup, and stir. Then, add minced Thai chilies. Cook for 1 more minute, and then add basil, allowing basil to wilt. Stir into beef mixture.
  4. Serve hot over coconut rice, garnished with sliced green onions and lime wedges.