Peanut Butter Chicken: How to Make It

Peanut butter chicken is a wonderful way to bring some international cuisine into your weekly dinner. The best part of it is that it is super quick and easy to make. The very best part of it is that one of the main ingredients is pure peanut butter!

There are different ways to prepare peanut butter chicken, either in a skillet or pressure cooker. Prep time is super short, and the dish keeps exceptionally well in the fridge, where the flavors develop even more overnight. It also freezes well, which makes it perfect for batch cooking and reheating when you need it.

What is Peanut Butter Chicken?

Peanut butter chicken is a Thai inspired dish that consists of, well, chicken and a creamy peanut butter sauce. Levels of flavor are created in this dish with aromatics like garlic, ginger, and basil with some soy or fish sauce, lime juice, and coconut milk.

The dish is a hearty cousin to chicken satay – a Southeast Asian dish that consists of chicken skewers with a peanut sauce. Where chicken satays can make for tasty snacks or starters, peanut butter chicken is a meal all on its own – although it does go well with sides.

Peanut Butter Chicken Recipes

Peanut butter chicken recipes can be made in a skillet or a slow cooker. It is quick and easy to make, and the end result is soft, juicy, and succulent chicken in a flavorful, creamy peanutty sauce.

In skillet recipes, the chicken pieces are coated in ground ginger, garlic powder, onion powder, coriander, and turmeric. They are then browned in a skillet. Once the chicken is browned, you can add whichever vegetables you prefer. The sauce is then made with coconut milk, soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, Asian chili sauce, and basil. The two are added together, and voila!

This incredible meal is even easier to prepare in the slow cooker or crock pot. Simply add your chicken pieces to the slow cooker. Then make a sauce with peanut butter, soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar, chicken broth, and garlic cloves and add it to the cooker. Cook on low for around four hours or until you can easily shred the chicken. You could also make instant pot spicy peanut chicken – just increase the amount of chicken broth you use to three quarters of a cup instead of the half a cup used in the slow cooker.

Either of these peanut butter chicken recipes is an excellent base from which you can make other Asian-inspired peanut butter chicken curry dishes. Both Panang curry and Massaman curry share the fundamental ingredients of chicken, coconut milk, and (of course) delicious peanut butter that is also present in Thai peanut sauce chicken recipes. You can add different blends of curry pastes like Panang curry paste or Massaman curry paste to incorporate different and unique flavors into your dish or stick to green or red curry paste for something more simplistic.

The Best Ingredients for Peanut Butter Chicken

You can use either chicken breast or chicken thighs with the bones removed and cut into bite-sized pieces for your peanut butter chicken dish. Thighs work well in skillet recipes as they stay nice and juicy while chicken breasts cooked in a slow cooker shred really well. You can even use leftover chicken. In this case, add the seasonings directly to the chili garlic sauce, then add the peanut butter, and lastly, add the chicken. Chicken wings can be used if you want to make a peanut buttery chicken snack.

You can use either smooth or crunchy peanut butter, depending on your preference. Natural Peanut butter like the ones here at Crazy Richard’s will give your sauce a more peanutty flavor. It also doesn’t have any added ingredients like sugar or salt to count towards your recommended daily intake. It is pure, ground peanuts filled with plenty of protein and essential fats. Other nut butters like almond butter can also put a different spin on this dish. 

This dish is all about rich and creamy. Full fat coconut milk or even coconut cream adds to the creaminess of the dish. On the other hand, low-fat coconut milk could produce a thinner and less flavorful sauce.

You can add just about any kind of veggies to your peanut butter chicken dish. The great thing about this dish is that it goes so well with most produce. Add some green or red pepper, carrots, cauliflower, or green beans, and use some chopped roasted peanuts sprinkled over the top of the dish for some extra crunch.

Corn-starch can be used to thicken the sauce, or you can add a bit more peanut butter if the flavor is not too intense already. On the other hand, adding some more coconut milk or water to the dish will thin the sauce.

More brown sugar will make for a sweeter dish, while the molasses in the brown sugar adds another level of flavor to the dish. Lime juice can make the sauce tangier, and chili sauce or pastes add spiciness along with other subtle flavors. Soy or fish sauce both bring more saltiness to the dish.

Peanut butter chicken can be served with rice or noodles – or if you can’t decide between the two – rice noodles. It can also be accompanied by low carb options like cauliflower rice, quinoa, or broccoli rice.

Storing Peanut Butter Chicken

Peanut butter chicken is one of those dishes that gets better as the flavors develop if you leave it in the fridge overnight. To store it, leave it to cool and then place it in an airtight container in the fridge. If you store it correctly, peanut butter sauce can be kept in the fridge (and enjoyed anytime) for up to five days.

You can also make larger batches to freeze. Place the cooled peanut butter chicken in an airtight container or freezer bag and remove any excess air before placing it in the freezer. If you are using an airtight container, you can add a layer of water on top of the frozen layer of peanut butter chicken and freeze. This additional layer of water will protect the dish from freezer burn. You can freeze your peanut butter chicken for two to three months.

Whether you store your peanut butter chicken in the fridge or the freezer, it is quick and easy to (defrost) and reheat. Once the dish is defrosted, heat a portion in the microwave for one minute. Remove it from the microwave and stir. Then place it back into the microwave and heat it for thirty seconds at a time, stirring between each interval until it reaches the temperature you want.

Alternatively, you can heat it up in a skillet on the stove. The peanut sauce might have thickened while it was stored. You can add some water or coconut milk to thin it.

Peanut butter chicken is one of those meals that can be adapted to suit your mood, taste, and ingredients that you have available on hand. There are a few essential must-use ingredients like coconut milk, soy or fish sauce, lime juice, and of course peanut butter, along with ginger and garlic. Everything else can be adjusted to your needs or preferences – it also makes for a tasty vegetarian option.

Now, the only decision you need to make about dinner tonight is whether you will be using creamy or crunchy peanut butter. If you want to try out a dessert with your meal, try out one of our other peanut butter recipes