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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.

Thai Basil Beef and Lemongrass Rice Bowls |

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!

Thai Basil Beef and Lemongrass Rice Bowls |

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.

Thai Basil Beef and Lemongrass Rice Bowls |

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!

Thai Basil Beef and Lemongrass Rice Bowls |

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.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings: 4
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. 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!

Lemongrass Rice

  • 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.


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. 
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Thai Basil Beef and Lemongrass Rice Bowls |

(had to leave one of these original photos, for memories!!)

20 Minute Thai Basil Beef and Lemongrass Rice Bowls | @hbharvest

See, even my picky littlest brother, Red, was all over this one. Now that is rare.

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  1. I used vegan mince for this and agave instead of honey and it turned out incredible! Super quick and easy to do. This will definitely turn into a staple weekday meal.

    1. Hey Heather,
      Awesome!! Thanks so much for making this recipe, I love to hear that it turned out well for you:) Thanks for sharing which products you used! xT

  2. 3 stars
    There’s a typo on the recipe for the lemongrass rice. Currently it’s posted as “Add 1 can coconut milk and 1/3 water to a medium-sized pot”. 1/3 WHAT of water, 1/3 part (ratio) or 1/3 cup or 1/3 can? I found another recipe online for Lemongrass Coconut Rice, and it called for the same amount water as coconut milk.

    Also, oddly, the ingredients for the rice mix is not in the list of ingredients. Probably an oversight on both parts. Likely written before morning coffee.

    With my adjustments, the recipe is a 5/5, but the webpage above needs to be corrected.

    1. Hi Chrissie,
      Thanks for giving this recipe a try and sharing your feedback! It’s 1/3 cup of water. I didn’t include the rice ingredients with the recipe ingredients because that part is really optional:) I hope this helps! xx

  3. 5 stars
    One of my favorite dishes! So delicious and so many flavors. The rice is a must for this dish. I didn’t have lemongrass paste so I made my own in a blender with a lemongrass stalk, a little bit of ginger and water until it formed a paste. I liked the sauce for the veggies but it’d definitely be better if they marinated overnight. 100% recommend this recipe!

  4. 5 stars
    This was so quick and easy to make and packed with delicious flavor! Plus healthy 😉

    I couldn’t find lemongrass paste anywhere without making a special trip to our Asian market, so I just bought the coconut ginger rice in the gold package that starts with a V at the store. Delicious!!!

    1. Hey Natalie,
      Happy Wednesday!!❄️ So glad to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks so much for making it and sharing your feedback! xT

  5. 5 stars
    Super tasty! It made quite a bit even enough for lunch the next day! Was even better the next day. The salad marinated for a few hours and is a great side for this, and the lemongrass rice, OMG! So yummy!

    1. Hey Rebecca,
      Happy Friday!!❄️🧑‍🎄 I appreciate you making this recipe and sharing your review, so glad to hear it turned out well for you! xx

  6. I have lemongrass in my garden. Is there a way for me to use it in the rice recipe? And if so- how? Haha! I haven’t used it in anything yet do not sure. Thank you!

    1. Hey Misti,
      Sorry, I’m not sure exactly how you would use the fresh lemongrass, I think the paste is best to use here. Please let me know if you give the recipe a try, I hope you love it! xx

  7. This was delicious !! I had some extra basil after making some
    Thai chicken and thought I’d make some of this, the lemongrass rice is just beautiful with it !!

    1. Hey Faz,
      Fantastic!! So glad to hear that this recipe turned out well for you, thanks a bunch for giving it a try! xx

  8. In the directions for cooking the rice it says “Add 1 can coconut milk and 1/3 water to a medium-sized pot.” In reference to the 1/3 water, is that 1/3 of a cup of water, or? Thank you for clarification.

    1. Hi Emily,
      Sorry for any confusion, yes you will want to use 1/3 cup of water. Please let me know if you have any other questions, I hope this recipe turns out well for you! xx

      1. For the home made chili sauce- did you mean chili oil? As it says to add 1-2T chili sauce but it is a chili sauce and the ones I look up are full of not so hot ingredients as you mentioned. Could you clarify and suggest a brand that you like?

        Thanks so much!

        1. Hi Jennifer,
          Nope, you will want to use Thai chili sauce for the homemade recipe, it’s going to be sweet and should not be super hot. Thai Kitchen Brand makes one that I like! I hope this helps! xT

  9. This is on constant repeat in our home. Love love love love the sauce. We keep it in the fridge constantly! Thanks for keeping all the recipes interesting and so flavourful!

    1. Hey Leny,
      Wonderful!! Thanks so much for making this recipe so often, I love to hear that it is always enjoyed!! Happy Thanksgiving! 🦃

    1. Hey Julie,
      Regular basil will be just fine for you to use:) I hope this recipe turns out well for you, please let me know if you give it a try! xx

  10. 5 stars
    This was insanely good. I had extra ground beef and I did not know how to cook it. This came out so good. The flavors of the crisp cold salad paired with the beef which had incredible layers of flavors. The lime, the lemongrass, the ginger! Perfect. I only had low sodium soy so I used that. I used Penzy’s dried lemongrass since that is what I had. Used about 3/4 tbl of that in the rice. That homemade Thai Chili sauce is just crazy good!!! It does take a lot of prep time but such a great meal for a big gathering since you can prep it in advance. I am making this for a big group in December!

    1. Hey Lee,
      Happy Friday!!🌻 I am so glad to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks so much for trying it and sharing your review:) xT

    1. Hi Shannon,
      So sorry, I’m not really sure how to answer your question than just follow the recipe as written:) Should turn out just fine! Please let me know if you have any other questions! xT

  11. I made this for lunch today. I purchased gr beef 5 lbs at a time, cook it, then bag and freeze it 1lb each so it was a very quick recipe. Flavorful but not hot, love all your books.

    1. Hi Glynnis,
      Happy Friday!! I am thrilled to hear that this recipe was a winner, thanks a bunch for making it! 👻