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.
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- 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.
Rice didn’t cook at all 🙁
It was still hard and drenched in liquid. Any reccos? Is there a way to make it in the instant pot, for e.g.?
Thanks for giving this recipe a try, so sorry to hear about your rice. What kind of rice did you use? Was there anything you adjusted in the recipe? Let me know how I can help! xT
This is a new favorite in our house! It’s super easy and absolutely delicious, we’ll definitely be making it again!
Happy Monday!🎃 I am thrilled to hear that this recipe was tasty for you, thanks a bunch for making it! xx
Hi! This might have already been mentioned in the comments, but you don’t list any of the ingredients for the Lemongrass Rice part in the ingredients section. Would be worth an update since you need specific rice, coconut milk and lemongrass paste. I made the mistake of going off the ingredients list for grocery shopping and will have to go back to the store again now. :/
Thanks for the recipe. Excited to try it.
Thanks for sharing your feedback! The lemongrass rice is optional which is why it’s listed in the notes:) I hope you love this recipe! xx
Hello! Looking forward to trying this recipe. 🙂 How long would the homemade sweet Thai chili sauce last in the fridge?
Thanks so much Natalie!! You can keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. I hope you love the recipe! xx
This is one of my favorite recipes. Easy to make and delicious. I sometimes make extra and will freeze in bentos for a quick lunch during the week.
Happy Friday🍁 I appreciate you making this recipe and love to hear that it turned out well for you! xT
This is insanely delicious and easy. It’s a staple for my partner and I now and always has leftovers for lunch the next day (somehow it only gets better). We use jasmine rice in our rice cooker and usually add in whatever we have on hand (lemongrass, bay leaves, sesame oil, etc.). THANK YOU!
Amazing!! Thanks for making this recipe so often, I love to hear that it is always enjoyed! xx
Perfect weeknight dinner – so simple and delicious! I went with the store-bought sweet chili sauce, and just did regular rice since I didnt have coconut milk/lemongrass on hand. SO good!
Awesome!! I love to hear that this recipe turned out well for you, thanks for making it! xx
Fantastic recipe, my whole family loved it! Question about the homemade sweet Thai chili sauce – in the ingredients you list “1-2 tablespoons chili sauce” but in your text you write “I use a mix of honey, chili paste, a touch of ketchup…””. Just wondering if it’s chili sauce (Heinz 57?) or chili paste (like Sambal Olek). Thanks again for the terrific recipe!
Awesome!! I love to hear that this recipe turned out well for you, thanks for making it! That is referring to the notes section if you want to make it homemade you will use something like sambal olek! xx
Quick question: What kitchen gadget do you use to make your shredded carrots? Anxious to try recipe!
Here is the link for the veggie peeler that I use:
Please let me know if you have any other questions! xT
Do you have the nutrition break down for this?
So sorry I don’t, just the estimated calorie count:) xx
This is our favorite recipe! It is on rotation for us at least once a month. My partner and I love how the three elements work together with the salad bringing freshness to even out the richness of the meat. And I love making the chili sauce myself, anything to skip out on additives in store bought! Just wanted to say thank you for all the wonderful recipes. You’ve made me love cooking!
Happy Monday!!☃️ I truly appreciate you making this recipe and sharing your review, so glad it was enjoyed! xT
Absolutely delicious! I used ground chicken. The Thai basil definitely makes this dish but I will try using regular basil from my garden when I can’t find the Thai variety. I also prepared the homemade sweet Thai chile sauce…the bomb! Thanks for yet another hit! My family swooned.
Very simple, yet super satisfying! Made this for a weekday lunch and it came together easily. I Substituted the beef with Impossible Burger – worked great! Did not make lemongrass rice as I was short on time and didn’t want the extra fat from the coconut milk, but curious to try in the future 🙂
I am so glad to hear that this recipe was tasty for you and appreciate you giving it a try! xxT
I just made this with plain rice and used an already made sweet Thai chili (got it from local HMart) and this turned out amazing! Followed the recipe to a T otherwise!
Awesome!! I love to hear that this recipe turned out well for you, thanks for making it! xx
Yummy yummy — I used brown rice, both short and long grain, and it still was very flavorful. I never have lemongrass or lemongrass paste, but find that 3 drops of lemongrass oil is just as good.
Perfect!! I appreciate you giving this recipe a try, I love to hear that it was a winner! xTieghan
Can you do this with Brown rice?
Brown rice is not going to cook the same at the basmati or jasmine, but you can certainly use it and follow the box instructions:) I hope you love the recipe! xT
I am confused how much water to put in the lemongrass rice 1/3 of a cup or a 1/3 of a can or a 1/3 of a whiskey barrel? 1. Add 1 can coconut milk and 1/3 water to a medium-sized pot.
Sorry for any confusion, you will want to use 1 can of coconut milk and 1/3 cup of water. I hope you love this recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xx
I’m very confused because the lemongrass paste (or a recipe on how to make it) was not in the ingredient list. Am I going crazy?
It’s in the recipe notes for the rice:) Please let me know if you have any other questions, I hope you love this recipe! xx
Hi- I only see a recipe for homemade sweet Thai chili sauce. How do you make the lemongrass paste? Or where do you purchase? Thank you?
I usually am able to find the lemongrass paste at my local grocery store, if not I just order from Amazon. Please let me know if you give this recipe a try, I hope you love it! xx