This spicy Thai fried rice (Khao Pad) is super easy to make and comes together in under 30 minutes. Try this authentic recipe and serve it as a side dish or main course.
About This Recipe
Thai Fried Rice popularly called ‘Khao Pad’ in the local language is a stir-fried rice recipe with lots of Thai basil, bird’s eye chilies, veggies, and sauces. It is a great one-pot dish to serve for lunch or dinner. This Thai rice dish has a beautiful balance of sweet, salty, acidic, and spicy flavors that are important in Thai cuisine.
Thai basil fried rice comes together in under 30 minutes from start to finish and you can choose to make it vegetarian with lots of veggies or add meat of your choice like shrimp, chicken, pork, beef, etc to make a non-vegetarian version.
The tantalizing aroma of Khao Pad lingers in the streets of Thailand as this traditional dish is very common amongst street hawkers and restaurants. Not only in Thailand, nowadays you will find this easy and delicious Thai version of fried rice on the menu of almost every Thai restaurant all over the world.
Rice – In Thailand, Jasmine rice is the ideal choice as it has a unique sweet flavor and is the most preferred rice amongst Asians. However, feel free to use any short grain rice to make this recipe.
You can replace rice with quinoa, couscous, or cauliflower rice to give this dish a healthy twist.
Basil – Try to get Thai basil for that authentic taste. If it’s not available easily, use the regular basil instead.
Sauces – You will need fish sauce, soy sauce, and oyster sauce. To make this dish vegetarian, skip adding fish sauce and use vegetarian oyster sauce in place of regular oyster sauce.
Thai bird’s eye chilies – Thai bird’s eye chilies give this dish a spicy kick. You can use any hot red chili if these chilies are not available.
Shrimp – Use fresh or frozen shrimp. Make sure to clean and devein them if they are already not.
Other Ingredients – Apart from these ingredients, you will need garlic, green onions, brown sugar, onions, salt, and pepper.
How To Make Thai Fried Rice
Start by gathering all the ingredients. Making this fried rice hardly takes any time, but you need to be quick while stir-frying it. To make the process quick and smooth, make sure all the ingredients required are prepared and kept next to the cooking counter.
Make sure the rice is already cooked and cooled well. It is important to use cooled rice to keep the grains separate. If the rice is freshly cooked, the fried rice will turn out mushy. Check out my instant pot Jasmine rice recipe to cook perfect rice.
Prepare the shrimp. If using frozen shrimp, thaw them to room temperature. Wash them and pat them dry using a kitchen towel. If using fresh shrimp, remove the head and tail. Remove the vein using a sharp paring knife. Wash the shrimp well and pat dry.
If making a vegetarian version, chop the veggies and keep them ready.
Make The Sauce
Mix the ingredients for the sauce that are 3 teaspoon soy sauce, 2 teaspoon oyster sauce, 2 teaspoon fish sauce, and ½ teaspoon brown sugar in a small mixing bowl and keep aside.
Note – For the vegetarian version, skip adding fish sauce and oyster sauce. You can replace soy sauce with tamari for a gluten-free version.
Pound The Chilies and Garlic
Add 2-3 bird’s eye chilies, 3-4 peeled cloves of garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt to a mortar and pestle and pound to make a coarse paste.
Stir Fry the Rice
Heat 3 tablespoon vegetable oil in a wok or a large pan on high heat.
Once the oil is very hot, add the crushed garlic and red chilies and saute for 8-10 seconds.
Add ½ cup thinly sliced onion and fry for 4-5 seconds.
Add 10-12 shrimp and cook until they turn pink in color, 2-3 minutes.
Now add the sauce mixture and 3 cups of cooked and cooled rice and mix everything well.
Add salt and pepper to taste, ¼ cup chopped green onion, and 1 cup packed Thai basil (roughly torn), and mix well.
Serve hot with sliced tomato, cucumber, and lime wedges.
Frequently Asked Questions
Khao Pad literally translates to stir-fried rice and is a classic dish of Thailand. Unlike Chinese fried rice that contains a lot of vegetables, Thai rice is a blend of green onions, shrimps, green onion, and a few sauces that bring in tanginess in the recipe.
Fish sauce is the main ingredient that differentiates Thai from Chinese fried rice. Thai version also has lots of Thai basil added to it which adds a very unique taste.
Chinese fried rice is prepared using any short grain rice while Thai-style fried rice is mostly made using Jasmine rice.
For a vegan version, you can skip shrimp and add in vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, green onions, beans, mushrooms, etc. You can also use tofu instead of shrimp for the protein in the dish.
When it comes to fish sauce, you can use an equal amount of soy sauce instead. And you can opt for vegetarian oyster sauce, which is a little thinner than the regular oyster sauce.
No, this dish is a little high in fat content and calories, therefore it cannot be considered healthy. You can enjoy it once in a while for your cheat meals. To make it healthy-ish, you can substitute rice with quinoa or couscous.
Pro Tips By Neha
Use day-old rice. If you are cooking it fresh, then make sure you cool down the rice fully and then use it to make the dish.
You can also add vegetables along with shrimp to make it filling and wholesome.
Prep all the ingredients beforehand and then start this dish. As it is cooked on high heat, you will need ingredients one by one and there will be no time left to prep.
With Pineapple – Add ½ cup of cubed pineapple pieces in the rice while stir-frying. Check out my Thai Pineapple Fried Rice recipe here.
With Mango – Cut a ripe mango into small cubes and add it to the rice. Use firm mango for this recipe.
Cauliflower Rice – Use cauliflower rice in place of regular rice for a low carb Keto version of this dish.
With Sausages – Add chopped sausages in the rice.
With Chicken – Cut boneless chicken breast into thin slices against the grains. It’s easy to slice the chicken if you freeze it for a few hours. Then saute chicken slices until almost cooked before adding the remaining ingredients.
With Eggs – You can add scrambled eggs to this rice.
This Thai-style fried rice is full of flavor on its own and thus can be served as a weekday dinner. You can serve it along with some Thai curries such as Thai Red Chicken Curry, Thai Basil Chicken, or Thai Green Curry.
Sometimes I even like to serve a simple Thai flavored grilled chicken or fish on the side.
This rice recipe stays good in the refrigerator for about 2 days. Store it in an airtight container. Heat it in the pan or in the microwave for a few minutes, before serving.
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For the sauce
- 3 teaspoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- ½ teaspoon brown sugar
For the stir Fry
- 2-3 Thai bird's eye chilies
- 3-4 peeled whole garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- ½ cup thinly sliced onions
- 10-12 shrimp (cleaned and deveined)
- 3 cups cooked Jasmine rice (cooled completely)
- ¼ cup chopped green onions
- salt & pepper (to taste)
- 1 cup packed Thai basil (roughly torn)
Make The Sauce
- Mix soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, and brown sugar in a small mixing bowl and keep aside.
Pound the Chilies and Garlic
- Add bird’s eye chilies, garlic cloves, and salt to a mortar and pestle and pound to make a coarse paste.
Stir Fry The Rice
- Heat vegetable oil in a wok or a large pan over high heat.
- Once the oil is very hot, add the crushed garlic and red chilies and saute for 8-10 seconds.
- Add onions and fry for 4-5 seconds.
- Add shrimp and cook until they turn pink in color, 2-3 minutes.
- Now add the sauce mixture and cooked rice and mix everything well.
- Add salt and pepper, green onions, and Thai basil and mix well.
- Serve hot with sliced tomato, cucumber, and lime wedges.