This vegan, spicy Thai basil eggplant recipe is inspired by the popular Thai dish and features stir fried eggplant, peppers and onions in a mouth-watering sweet and sticky sauce.

Overhead view into a wok of stir fried Thai basil eggplant with peppers and onions.

About the Recipe

Thai basil eggplant features stir fried eggplant tossed in a mouthwatering sauce with lots of Thai basil for a fragrant and flavourful result.

Paired with rice or noodles, Thai eggplant makes a wonderful meal perfect for any occasion or an easy dinner any night of the week.

If you’re looking for a delicious and easy way to prepare eggplant, you’ll love this dish. It’s simple to make and tastes amazing. Give it a try today!

What You’ll Need

Please scroll down the page to find the recipe card with ingredient measurements and full instructions.

The following sections provide notes on ingredients and substitutions and step-by-step photos for a quick visual reference. When you’re ready to make the recipe, use the recipe card at the end of the post.

All of the ingredients needed for making a Thai basil eggplant recipe with a stir fry sauce, bell peppers and onions.
  • Soy Sauce: I used 3 tbsp of soy sauce and 1 tbsp of dark soy sauce but if you don’t have dark soy sauce, use 4 tbsp soy sauce.
  • Oyster Sauce: Use vegetarian oyster sauce for a vegetarian and vegan recipe.
  • Rice Vinegar: You can use seasoned or unseasoned rice vinegar.
  • Maple Syrup: You can use maple syrup, coconut sugar or brown sugar.
  • Cornstarch: You can use cornstarch or arrowroot powder for thickening the sauce.
  • Oil: You can use any neutral oil such as avocado oil or grape seed oil.
  • Eggplant: You’ll need Japanese eggplant, or the long skinny ones! Japanese (or Chinese) eggplant are a bit more tender than regular eggplants so work well in a stir fry.
  • Bell Pepper: The recipe calls for 1 yellow and 1 red bell pepper though you can use any colour you have on hand.
  • Onion: You can use white or yellow onion for this recipe.
  • Garlic and Ginger: Fresh (raw) garlic and ginger are best for this recipe rather than garlic powder or ground ginger. If you have to substitute the fresh ginger, you can use 1 tsp ground ginger and mix it into the sauce.
  • Thai Chili: These are the small red chilies and are used to add heat to the recipe. Remove the seeds if you are sensitive to spice (I remove the seeds). Use 1-2 Thai chilies to your preference.
  • Thai Basil: Thai basil (holy basil) is best for this recipe though you can use Italian basil in a pinch. Thai basil is definitely recommended here though.

How to Make (with Photos)

Step 1: Prepare the sauce by whisking together the soy sauce, dark soy sauce, vegetarian oyster sauce, rice vinegar and maple syrup.

Quick Tip: The recipe calls for 3 tbsp soy sauce and 1 tbsp dark soy sauce but it’s totally fine to just use 4 tbsp of soy sauce (or tamari) if that’s what you have.

Stir fry sauce mixed together in a small bowl with a whisk beside a small bowl of cornstarch slurry and another bowl of minced garlic and ginger.

Step 2: Cook the eggplant.

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Once it’s hot, add the eggplant and toss well to coat in the oil then spread the pieces evenly around the pan.

Sprinkle a little water over the eggplant, cover and cook for about 2-3 minutes, flip the pieces and sprinkle with a little more water, cover and cook for another 2 minutes.

Remove the lid and stir fry until the eggplant is golden brown. It should be tender but still holding its shape. We don’t want mushy eggplant here and it will cook a little more in the final step.

Remove the eggplant from the pan and set aside for now.

Browned stir fried eggplant cooked in a large wok.

Step 3: Stir fry the peppers and onions.

Heat the other 1 tbsp of oil in the same pan and add the onions and bell pepper. Cook them for 5-6 minutes, stirring often.

Stir fried peppers and onions in a large wok.

Step 4: Add the garlic, ginger and Thai chili and cook them for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

For the Thai chilies, I found one chili with the seeds removed to be the right amount of heat for me. You can leave a few seeds in for a spicier dish and/or use 2 Thai chilies.

Step 5: Add the sauce you prepared and the cornstarch slurry.

Quick Tip: Make sure you give the slurry a stir before adding to the pan as the cornstarch will have settled on the bottom.

Stir fried peppers and onions in stir fry sauce cooking in a large wok.

Step 6: Add the eggplant and Thai basil.

Once the sauce is simmering, add the eggplant and cook for about 2 minutes until the sauce thickens and the eggplant absorbs some of the sauce. Turn off the heat and stir in the Thai basil.

Stir fried eggplant, peppers, onions and Thai basil in sauce cooking in a large wok.

Serve your Thai eggplant over fresh Jasmine or Basmati rice, garnished with more Thai basil, if you like!

A bowl of stir fried Thai basil eggplant served over rice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to remove the eggplant skin?

In general, the skin on eggplants is edible though some varieties like Globe eggplant have thicker skin than Japanese and Chinese eggplant. You can trim the skin off if you prefer but it’s not necessary for this recipe.

Can I make this gluten-free?

Yes. You’ll need to use tamari instead of soy sauce and find a gluten-free vegetarian oyster sauce.

Expert Tips

  1. Prepare everything before you start cooking as the recipe goes fast once you start.
  2. Don’t chop up the eggplant until you’re ready to start cooking to avoid it browning.
  3. Be sure to use Japanese or Chinese eggplant and not globe eggplants. Look for the long, skinny ones, not the fat ones!
  4. Thai basil, or holy basil, is really best for flavour here so I’d recommend using that instead of Italian sweet basil.
  5. You can omit the Thai chili if you’re sensitive to heat but I would suggest using one if you don’t mind just a little spice because it helps balance the sweet and salty flavours.
  6. Be sure to slice the eggplant in more than 3/4-inch pieces so they don’t take too long to cook.
Stir fried Thai basil eggplant mixed with rice in a bowl.

Serving

  • Serve Thai eggplant with fresh basmati or jasmine rice.
  • Garnish with more Thai basil and sliced scallions before serving.
  • Pair with your choice of protein such as baked tofu or pan-fried tofu serving as a main dish.

Variations

  • Baby bok choy, green onion and spinach work well as an addition to the stir fry. If using, add them when you add the peppers and onions.
  • You can add or substitute vegetables like mushrooms, snow peas or snap peas, broccoli or carrot for the bell pepper. I would suggest keeping the onion in the recipe.
Stir fried Thai basil eggplant cooking in a wok with bell peppers and onions.

How to Store

  • Let the stir fry cool before storing.
  • Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Reheat in a pan or in the microwave until heated through.
  • This recipe is not suitable for freezing. Well, you could but it wouldn’t really be the same after it thaws.
Print
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Stir fried Thai basil eggplant cooking in a wok with bell peppers and onions.

Thai Basil Eggplant Recipe

  • Author: Deryn Macey
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Cuisine: Thai
  • Diet: Vegan
Save Recipe

Description

Flavourful and fragrant Thai basil eggplant featuring stir fried eggplant, bell peppers, onions and Thai basil in a mouthwatering sweet and sticky sauce.


Ingredients

Scale

For the Sauce

For the Stir Fry

  • 2 tbsp neutral oil, like avocado or grape seed (30 mL)
  • 2 Japanese eggplants, halved lengthwise, then cut into 3/4-inch pieces (about 6 cups/420 g) 
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced (approx. 140 g/1.5 cups)
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced (approx. 140 g/1.5 cups)
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced (approx. 155 g/1.5 cups)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or grated (heaping 1 tbsp/20 g)
  • 1-inch ginger, peeled then grated (1 tbsp/20g)
  • 12 red Thai chili (seeds removed, if desired), thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch Thai basil, torn (15 g, about 1 cup torn)

For Serving:

  • fresh Jasmin or Basmati rice
  • more Thai basil

Instructions

  1. Prepare the Sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, dark soy sauce (or additional soy sauce), vegetarian oyster sauce, rice vinegar and maple syrup until combined. In a separate small bowl, mix together the cornstarch and cold water. Set both aside.
  2. Cook the Eggplant: Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Once it’s hot, add the eggplant and toss to coat in the oil. Spread the pieces evenly around the pan in one layer. Sprinkle a little water over the eggplant, cover and cook for 2-3 minutes, flip the pieces and sprinkle with a little more water, cover and cook another 2 minutes. Remove the lid and stir fry until the eggplant is golden brown. It should be tender but still holding its shape. Remove the eggplant from the pan and set aside.
  3. Stir Fry Peppers & Onions: Heat the remaining 1 tbsp oil over medium-high. Add onions and peppers. Cook for 5-6 min, stirring often, until tender-crisp.
  4. Add Aromatics: Add garlic, ginger and Thai chili. Cook for 1 min, stirring constantly, until fragrant. 
  5. Add Sauce: To the pan, add the sauce and cornstarch slurry, making sure to re-mix the slurry as the cornstarch will have settled to the bottom.
  6. Add Eggplant and Thai Basil: Bring to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce heat to medium. Add eggplant to the pan. Cook for another 2 minutes stirring often, until slightly reduced, saucy and eggplant absorbs some of the sauce. Turn off the heat and stir in the Thai basil.
  7. Serve: Serve Thai basil eggplant over your choice of rice. Garnish with more Thai basil, if desired.

Notes

Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days in a sealed container. This recipe is not suitable for freezing.

Nutrition facts do not include rice.

For the Thai chilies, one chili with the seeds removed was the right amount of heat for me. If you want more spice, use 2 chilies and/or leave in a few of the seeds.


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe
  • Calories: 149
  • Sugar: 8 g
  • Sodium: 808 mg
  • Fat: 7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 19 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 3 g

Keywords: thai basil eggplant, thai eggplant