This Thai Peanut Sauce recipe is an easy dip or dressing for your favorite Asian meals.
Thai Peanut Sauce is a creamy, subtle sauce that is full of complimentary flavors that enhances and brings Asian and ethnic dishes to life. It combines creamy peanut butter, curry, ginger, coconut milk, garlic, and soy for the perfect blend of slightly sweet and salty in a mellow dip or dressing.
I first experienced Thai Peanut Sauce with Chicken Satay Skewers as a child. My Dad is a big fan of ethnic food and St. Louis, half an hour from where I grew up, is blessed with cultural and culinary diversity. Whenever I visit a Thai restaurant to this day, Chicken Satay is my favorite appetizer. Chicken tenders are marinated in a coconut milk and curry marinade and then grilled to juicy perfection, sometimes even table-side on a mini barbecue grill. The chicken is served with the creamy, slightly sweet Peanut Sauce along side of a cold, tangy Pickled Cucumber and Onion Salad. The flavor and texture combination is incredible.
While Peanut Sauce is amazing with Chicken Satay, I also enjoy it as the dipper for Spring Rolls, veggies, and also on Asian inspired salads and slaws. It’s versatile, easy to prepare, can be made ahead, stored for up to a week in the refrigerator, and freezes well.
How to make my Thai Peanut Sauce recipe
In a medium sauce pan, whisk together coconut milk, minced garlic, fresh grated ginger, peanut butter, curry paste, chicken stock, and brown sugar.
Simmer for 5 minutes for the flavors to combine and thicken.
Cool a bit and whisk in a bit of soy sauce and lime juice for brightness. Garnish with chopped, roasted peanuts, green onions, and/or cilantro if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature. If your Peanut Sauce is too thick after refrigerating, thin with a little chicken stock or coconut milk.
I’ve seen recipes for Peanut Sauce that bill themselves as no-cook. I don’t recommend this for the simple reason that cooking the ingredients together, especially the curry paste, brings the flavors alive and wakes them up. Not doing this is going to create an inferior sauce and since cooking it requires only a 5 minute simmer, it’s too quick and easy too skip this step.
What is curry paste?
Curry paste is a mixture of chilies, lemongrass, garlic, lime juice, ginger, onion, and other spices. It has more ingredients then curry powder, so I do not use them interchangeably. It can be homemade. Minimalist Baker has a great recipe for it, but the ingredients are a little harder to source and might require an Asian market.
What is coconut milk and which one do I choose?
Coconut milk is basically pureed coconut mixed with water. Unsweetened coconut milk will only have coconut, water, and guar gum on the ingredient label. This is what we will use. Do not be confused by cream of coconut, coconut cream, or coconut water. Thai Kitchen, Imperial Dragon, and Chaokoh are common brands. An interesting article by Bon Appetit can be found here about the differences.
When you use a can opener to open the top of a can of coconut milk, there is often a top layer that is thicker and more solidified, like butter, with a liquid below. Stir the two layers together with a butter knife to combine before using the amount that the recipe calls for.
Where do I purchase Thai and Asian ingredients?
Most grocery stores have an Asian or ethnic section, even Walmart, usually with the soy sauce. Asian grocery stores or Amazon are also another source for ingredients.
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Thai Peanut Sauce
- 7 ounces coconut milk
- 2 cloves garlic – finely minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger – fresh grated
- 1 tablespoon red curry paste
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1/3 cup chicken stock
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- Combine coconut milk, garlic, ginger, curry, peanut butter, chicken stock, and brown sugar in a small sauce pan.
- Bring to a simmer at a medium-low to medium heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Remove from heat and add soy sauce and lime juice.
- Serve warm or at room temperature. Garnish with crushed peanuts, green onions, and/or cilantro if desired.