These colorful Thai Basil Beef and Lemongrass Rice Bowls are full of Thai flavors and made so simply. The beef (or use chicken) is cooked in a sweet Thai basil chili sauce until caramelized around the edges, then added to bowls of lemongrass rice. A fresh, bright, carrot and pepper salad is spooned overtop. The bowl is then finished with flavorful Thai basil, sesame seeds, and peanuts for a balance of spicy, sweet, and savory flavor. Altogether, these bowls are so delicious, plus quick to make.
I’m back at it with another summer bowl recipe, and this one is extra special. This is a recipe I made back in 2014, but I’ve continued to make it on repeat. At this point, it’s such a Gerard family staple, we all love it!
Anytime my brothers are home visiting I end up making this at least once. They love that it’s kind of like take-out, but healthier. And I always make it just spicy enough for their tastes, but with a kick of sweetness too.
Honestly, I mostly love this recipe because it’s so darn easy! If I have all the vegetables prepped, it takes 20 minutes from start to finish.
I make this year-round, but it’s on weekly rotation throughout the summer since we grow so much sweet Thai basil and peppers!
Make the rice
The first thing I make is the rice since it actually takes the longest to cook. For this dish, I love to use lemongrass. Lemongrass is such a star ingredient that’s so underused. When cooked, it has a subtle citrusy, lemony flavor with a little mintiness in there too.
It’s a very light refreshing flavor and I love cooking it into the rice. The lemongrass really complements the basil.
I cook the rice in coconut milk for a creamy, coconut flavor along with lemongrass paste and Thai jasmine rice. Simply let the rice steam while you prepare the beef.
Make the salad and beef
To add color and extra flavor, I made a quick salad with carrots, peppers, and lots of fresh green onions. I kept the dressing simple with a bit of fish sauce, lime, and honey. Then I tossed it all together and let the dressing soak into the veggies, almost like pickling them.
For the beef, I used ground beef, garlic, and ginger cooked together with lots of sweet Thai chili sauce and Thai basil. You can easily use whatever you enjoy here, chicken, pork or even tofu would be great.
If you’re having trouble finding Thai basil, traditional Italian basil works in a pinch!
Since most store-bought sweet Thai chili sauce is full of sugar, I like to make my own chili sauce. I use a mix of honey, chili paste, a touch of ketchup, and then some garlic, ginger, and lime!! It’s really easy to mix up if you’re looking for a healthier sauce option.
Then just put everything together. Load the bowls with rice, beef, lots of salad, roasted peanuts, toasted sesame seeds, and plenty of garden-fresh Thai basil.
These bowls come together so quickly and have so much flavor, which you know we love! And I really appreciate all the color – best kind of recipe!
Looking for other quick weeknight dinners? Here are some favorites:
Chili Crisp Chicken Mango Cucumber Rice Bowl
30 Minute Caramelized Shallot Beef Ramen Noodles
Healthier Homemade One Pot Hamburger Helper
Coconut Popcorn Chicken with Sweet Thai Chili Lime Sauce
30 Minute Sticky Thai Meatballs with Sesame Noodles
Better Than Takeout Sweet Thai Basil Chicken
Spicy Chipotle Honey Salmon Bowls
Lastly, if you make these Thai Basil Beef and Lemongrass Rice Bowls, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!
20 Minute Thai Basil Beef and Lemongrass Rice Bowls.
Calories Per Serving: 494 kcal
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1 bell pepper, sliced
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce or tamari
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 pound lean ground beef (or chicken or pork)
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
- black pepper
- 1/3 cup tamari or soy sauce
- 1/3 cup sweet Thai chili sauce (homemade in notes)
- 2 cups Thai or sweet Italian basil, chopped
- sesame seeds and peanuts, for serving
- 1. To make the salad. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Toss well and set aside.2. To make the beef. In a large skillet, cook the beef with black pepper over medium heat, breaking up the meat as it cooks until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook another minute. Add the tamari, sweet Thai chili sauce, and 1 cup of fresh basil. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until the sauce coats the beef, 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining basil. 3. Divide the rice and beef between bowls. Add the salad to the bowl. Top with peanuts, sesame seeds, and fresh basil. Enjoy!
- 1. Add 1 can coconut milk and 1/3 water to a medium-sized pot. Bring to a low boil. Add in 1 1/2 cups jasmine rice and 1 tablespoon lemongrass paste. Stir to combine. Place the lid on the pot and turn the heat down to the lowest setting possible. Allow the rice to cook ten minutes on low and then turn the heat off completely. Let the rice sit on the stove, covered, for another 15-20 minutes (don't take any peeks inside!). 2. After 15-20 minutes remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork. Note that rice can cook differently for everyone, this is just what works for me.
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Homemade Sweet Thai Chili Sauce: Mix 1/3 cup honey, 2 tablespoons ketchup, 1-2 tablespoons chili sauce, 2 teaspoons lime zest, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, 2 teaspoons tamari or soy sauce, 1 tablespoon grated ginger, and 1 clove grated garlic in a glass jar. Shake or stir well. Use as directed.
(had to leave one of these original photos, for memories!!)
See, even my picky littlest brother, Red, was all over this one. Now that is rare.
My husband said “This was so good. No, this was restaurant quality. This was so good you should make a blog post 🤣.”
Lol thanks so much Ann!! Love to hear that this recipe was a hit and I appreciate you making it:) xT
So so good! Added to my regular rotation. Made with ground chicken, and used up some leftover cucumber instead of tomato in the salad. Really hit the spot. Thank you Tieghan!
Happy Wednesday! ⛅️🌈 I’m so glad to hear that this recipe worked well for you and I appreciate you giving it a try! xx
Another winner! I skipped the rice and doubled the salad, plus I already had sweet Thai chili sauce in the fridge, but I ended up using sliced chicken breast for the meat. I loved the spice and would totally make again! Thanks Tieghan!
Wonderful!! Thanks so much for making this recipe and sharing your feedback, so glad to hear that it was a hit! xx
As always love your recipe!!
I made the Sweet Thai Chili sauce from scratch but wondering your Chile sauce brand of choice???
I had was only chili paste to use…seemed good?!?
Thanks so much!! Thai Kitchen is a good one to use in case you don’t want to make it homemade! I hope this helps for next time! xx
Made this last night and it is amazing ! Couldn’t find lemongrass paste for the rice so substituted by making a “paste” of sorts from 2 teaspoons chopped cilantro stalks and 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger and tasted delicious 🙂
Amazing!! So glad to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks for making it!! Have a great weekend! xx
Would it work to use fresh lemongrass instead of lemongrass paste in the rice?
Sure, I don’t see why not!! Let me know if you give this recipe a try, I hope it turns out well for you! xx
Made this several times now. A winner every time. I have added several other salad ingredients like shredded diakon radish, red cabbage, chocolate mint and with the dressing it all tastes great. Need to make the lemon grass paste ahead of time for the coconut rice. There is an online recipe for lemon grass paste. Keeps in a jar for several months.
Fantastic!!🌺 I love to hear that this recipe turned out well for you and thanks so much for making it! xT
Good weeknight meal. The salad was a perfect complement to the beef. I didn’t have any lemongrass, so I served this with plain jasmine rice.
Happy Monday!! 💘 Thanks so much for making this recipe, I love to hear that it turned out well for you! xx