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This irresistible peanut satay sauce is what we serve with chicken satay but it's delicious as a dip for spring rolls, as a dressing on salads, or on noodle dishes. It's an easy tried and true recipe with fresh ingredients, and takes just 15 minutes to make!
There's no denying that the best part of chicken satay is the peanut satay sauce. It's creamy, savory-sweet, a bit spicy, and totally irresistible!
This is our go-to peanut satay sauce recipe that's a riff on a family recipe given to us many years ago by a chef. It involves sautéing the onions, garlic, and ginger which adds an extra step, but it's 100% worth it.
It's a quick and easy-to-make authentic peanut sauce recipe that requires just a few basic ingredients. You can absolutely make it ahead of time and store it in the fridge if you're hosting.
This homemade version is healthier than store-bought, and it makes mealtime easy because everyone (including kids) goes crazy for it!
How to make peanut satay sauce
This satay peanut sauce is so versatile, incredibly delicious, and simple to make. Unlike some peanut satay recipes, we use the stovetop and it's 100% worth it!
Here's how to make it in a few easy steps:
- Start by sautéing the onion, ginger, and garlic in coconut oil until soft and fragrant.
- Add all the remaining ingredients and cook for a minute until it thickens. If it's too thick, add a splash more coconut milk or water.
- You can serve it as-is, or if you prefer a super smooth sauce, transfer it to your blender and blend it until it's smooth (or until your desired consistency). Top it with a few roasted peanuts if you'd like before serving.
Peanut satay sauce ingredients
With only real ingredients, this made-from-scratch Thai peanut sauce is so much healthier than anything you can buy at the store. Here's what you need to make it:
- Coconut oil – we use virgin coconut oil for sautéing which has a subtle coconut-y taste. You can use olive oil if that's what you have on hand.
- Onion, ginger + garlic – this classic mix of aromatics offers an incredible flavor base for the sauce.
- Coconut milk – we use full-fat coconut milk for maximum creaminess, but you can use light if you prefer.
- Natural peanut butter – natural peanut butter is made with only peanuts and salt, giving this sauce lots of peanut flavor.
- Soy sauce – soy sauce adds saltiness, complexity, and Asian flavor.
- Lime juice – fresh lime juice adds acidity and brightens everything up. You can rice vinegar if that's what you have on hand.
- Red curry paste – red curry paste is made from several ingredients and adds richness and heat to the sauce.
- Coconut sugar or brown sugar – adding sugar is optional, but gives the sauce a bit of sweetness. Maple syrup and honey also work as a natural option.
What to eat with chicken satay peanut sauce
We guarantee you'll want to dip, dunk, and drench all your food in this peanut satay sauce. It's what we serve with chicken satay or chicken skewers, but we also use it as a dipping sauce for spring rolls or crispy tofu, as a dressing on salads, on stir fry, and noodle dishes like pad Thai.
It's also the sauce you see with our Thai chicken marinade.
How long does it keep in the fridge?
You can store this peanut satay sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Can I make it ahead of time?
Absolutely! It will thicken when refrigerated so you may want to warm it up on the stove or in the microwave with a splash of water or coconut milk before serving.
I only have regular (conventional) peanut butter. Can I use this to make satay sauce?
We like using natural peanut butter that is made with only peanuts and salt. Regular peanut butter has a more subtle peanut flavor which affects the taste of the satay sauce. If it's all you have on hand, you can use it. Just know that it won't be as peanuty-tasting. Also, because regular peanut butter contains sugar, you likely won't want to add any extra.
Is peanut satay sauce spicy?
It depends on how spicy your red curry paste is, but yes it will have some mild heat to it. For a less spicy version, look for a mild curry paste or use less than the recipe calls for. To dial up the heat, add some red chili flakes or sriracha.
Can I use shallots instead of onion?
Yes! Shallots work very well in this recipe.
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 medium onion ( finely minced)
- 1 tablespoon finely minced ginger
- 3 cloves garlic (finely minced)
- 1 cup canned coconut milk (can be light)
- ½ cup natural peanut butter (see notes)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (gluten-free if needed)
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon red curry paste
- 2 teaspoons coconut sugar or brown sugar (optional)
- Melt the coconut oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes, or until it is soft and translucent. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute more.1 tablespoon coconut oil, 1 medium onion, 1 tablespoon finely minced ginger, 3 cloves garlic
- Add the coconut milk, peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, red curry paste, and if using the sugar. Let the sauce cook for 1 minute, or until it has thickened. If it thickens too much add a splash of water or extra coconut milk.1 cup canned coconut milk, ½ cup natural peanut butter, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 tablespoon red curry paste, 2 teaspoons coconut sugar or brown sugar
- Optional Step: if you'd like a velvety satay sauce, blend it until smooth.
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.