Spicy Thai Basil Dressing


My basil plants are rockin’ this year! I grow both Genovese basil and Thai basil. I somehow hit upon the right confluence of soil, care, and patio placement. It’s amazing what actually remembering to water your plants does for them.

Needless to say, to keep up with my harvest, I am using both kinds of basil everywhere I can, including making pestos and marinades. Last week, I stumbled upon a Thai basil dressing combination that goes with pretty much anything from salads to meats to seafood.

Thai basil is a member of the mint family and has a sweet flavor reminiscent of licorice and clove. It’s popular among the cuisines of Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. I started growing it solely so I could recreate the Thai Chicken + Basil dish from my local Thai restaurant.

It likes hot, humid weather so maybe that explains why it’s such a happy plant right now. The plants need about 6 hours of sun and weekly watering. Once I transplant them outside at the beginning of summer, I also give them a little nutrient boost with some organic fish emulsion. It looks and smells gross but I swear by the stuff. If you want to know any other herb growing tips, let me know. My brown thumb has definitely gotten greener over the years. Now I know enough to be dangerous.

I prefer to use Thai basil when it’s fresh. I’ve tried freezing and drying it like other herbs, but I think the flavor gets a bit lost. So, that’s why I love this dressing. I just grabbed some extra virgin oil from this month’s Degustabox and a bottle of rice wine vinegar to serve as the base. I added a touch of lime because I think citrus works well with the licorice taste and of course I used a little garlic and a dash of my home grown dried chili peppers. I normally don’t add sweetener to dressing, but in this case, I did use a touch of local honey to balance the spiciness and the acidity.

I used this dressing on some grilled chicken and Asian sweet potatoes over homegrown frisee lettuce. The next day I used it on some flounder and it was even better.

Spicy Thai Basil Dressing

Makes 8 servings


  • 1/2 cup fresh Thai basil leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed dried hot chili peppers
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Place all the ingredients into a blender, cover, and puree.
  2. Use on salads, grilled meats, vegetables or seafood.


Photos by Renato Ghio

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