Chicken satay with peanut sauce is a delicious and easy to make dinner, or appetizer. Skewers of seasoned chicken pair up with a flavorful Satay dipping sauce.
(This post was originally published on June 12, 2012. I’ve recently updated it with Paleo and Whole30 options and nutritional information. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn commission on qualifying purchases)
Where is Satay from?
Satay with Peanut Sauce is prevalent throughout Southeast Asia. On nearly every street corner from Jakarta to Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur you can find a satay vendor. Crouched low on their heels, over a coal braizer, smiling men and women will cook skewers of marinated meat for just a couple of ringget or baht. Each vendor, of course, has his or her own marinade recipe and peanut sauce. satay is originally from Indonesia, but if you look at a map, you can easily see how this delicious street food has taken over most of the peninsula with each region having different recipes and meats. You’ll also find different forms of satay in Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and the Philippines.
What’s the difference between Satay and Sate?
Since we had spent the majority of our honeymoon in South East Asia, we ate a lot of satay and sate. It’s spelled differently depending on where you are, with ‘Satay” being the spelling used in Indonesia and “Sate” more common in Malaysia. Other than that, each region has it’s own recipe. We spent about two weeks in Indonesia and loved the Balinese Breakfasts, and about 4 days in Singapore. The Singapore Hot Pot is fabulous!
What Kind of Meat is Used in Satay?
While chicken is most commonly used for satay, beef, lamb and and less commonly pork are also used. In our travels, we ate mostly chicken or beef satay. Pork very rare in both Malaysia and Indonesia since they are both predominately Muslim countries.
What’s in Satay Marinade?
While some satay marinades have soy sauce, I’ve substituted coconut aminos, so that it will be paleo, Whole30 compliant and Keto friendly. If you want a more traditional satay marinade, and have no issues with soy sauce, feel free to use it. Another key ingredient is curry powder or curry paste.
This Chicken Satay recipe is adapted from Craig Claibourne’s The New York Times Cook Book.
I’ve made this recipe so many times, the spine is cracked and broken right at that page. I’ve recently updated the recipe, made several changes with Paleo friendly and Whole30 compliant options. I substituted cashews for the peanuts (a legume, therefore not Paleo), with no discernible difference. I also substituted coconut aminos for the soy sauce, and coconut sugar for the table sugar. I’ve also use jarred, pre-roasted red bell peppers, rather than roasting them at home. None of these changes affected the flavor, and after making it again last weekend for a party, it got rave reviews. If you want to try roasting bell peppers or chile peppers, here’s my tutorial.
What Can I Substitute for Peanut Sauce?
That’s a great question! I made it for years just like the recipe, including roasting the red bell peppers for the sauce. Since we no longer eat peanut butter, I’ve been substituting cashew butter. Almond butter would work as well!
How Do You Thread Chicken Satay?
Since most of the satay we ate was one the streets, the chicken was usually cut into long strips and then threaded through most of the skewer, expect each person to eat about 4-5 skewers for a dinner serving. When serving this as an appetizer, keep in mind that they should be able to eat the skewer in one bite. In that case, push a smaller amount of chicken towards the tip of the skewer.
Can I make Chicken Satay and Peanut Sauce Ahead of Time?
Yes! If you’re planning a party, or just dinner for your family, you can make the peanut (cashew) sauce a day or even several days ahead of time and store in a jar in the refrigerator. The marinade can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for several days. The chicken should marinate from one to no more than 12 hours.
- 1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons lemon or lime juice
- 2 Tablespoons coconut aminos (or gluten free soy sauce or tamari if not Paleo)
- 1 Tablespoon curry powder
- 2 teaspoons coconut sugar (Omit for Whole30, or can use regular sugar if not Paleo or Whole30)
- Bamboo skewers soaked in water for 30 min to keep them from burning.
- Mix all ingredients together and pour over chicken pieces.
- Marinate chicken for a minimum of one hour and up to 12 hours.
- Cut chicken in thin strips. Thread on bamboo skewers.
- Grill skewers for a few minutes on each side. They can cook pretty quickly, depending on how thick the meat is. About 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve with Cashew Sauce.
Serve the chicken satay with this Cashew (or Peanut) Sauce…
Peanut Sauce (or Cashew Sauce)
- 12 oz jar of roasted red bell peppers, drained
- 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 shallot thinly sliced
- 2 Tablespoons curry powder or curry paste
- 1 cup coconut cream
- 1/2 cup cashew butter, or peanut butter if not Paleo
- 1 teaspoon coconut sugar
- Salt and pepper, to taste.
- Heat oil in skillet over medium heat, add shallots, cook briefly, stirring. Add the curry powder, or paste and cook briefly.
- Remove from heat and add peppers, cashew butter, and coconut milk or cream.
- Let simmer on low for about 5 minutes.
- Puree in a food processor or blender.
- Thin with water or chicken stock if too thick. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.
Some of the items used in this post are available at my Amazon Affiliate Store.
Looking for more Thai recipes?
Sandy Loper says
All of the above sounds delish!! Love satay! Question – Chunky Peanut Butter? Most Satays thatI’ve had were really smooth…and do you have a favorite brand?
A must try!
Oh, and don’t go tellin’ tales on Sweet & pretty lil’ Sophie!
Sandy, it gets smooth when you puree it in the food processor. I just use skippy.
Annie Cohen says
is it possible to grill the meat in the oven?
Heck yeah Annie! I had to grill/broil in my oven for SEVEN months because we did not have a BBQ! And we live in California.
I made the chicken satay, rice and peanut sauce for dinner on Tuesday – both kids really liked the chicken, but only Maya liked the peanut sauce. She really liked it, but Ryan not so much – isn’t that always the way. I am going to make the apricot calfoutte today.
You can’t please ’em all, all the time! Let me know how the Crostata turns out.
This sounds scrumptious!
allie @ Through Her Looking Glass says
Dear Cynthia, I loved hearing about your travels!!! your dad is right, no regrets. This is such an easy and delicious recipe, can’t wait to try it on the grill.
Thank you Allie!
This looks so good, I am loving that peanut sauce!
Me too Marye! Thank you!
Jessica @ A Kitchen Addiction says
Love these flavors! I know that this would disappear in a hurry at our house!
Lane & Holly @ With Two Spoons says
My kids would LOVE these! Yum!
this looks like a fantastic dish! perfect for an appetizer, or as part of a main dish! My family will love this!
kid go crazy for this!
Ginny McMeans says
Oh my word! That cashew sauce sounds so delicious. Love the ingredients and that you blended it. Must make!
thanks Ginny! The sauce is to die for!
Claire | Sprinkles and Sprouts says
What a great idea to use cashew butter in these!
Store bought satay sauce is always so disappointing, so I can’t wait to try this!
Usually trader joes has great stuff…their peanut sauce was just bad. I now use jarred bell peppers which makes this so much faster!
I am loving the sound of this! Chicken satay used to be my favourite takeaway dish but I haven’t had it in years. I must make this at home!
it’s pretty easy…the hardest part is threading the skewers! Enlist a kid!
So cool you were able to get away for a hundred days with a luxury and a blessing to experience that. I love the idea of substituting peanut butter for cashew butter. Sometimes I think in traditional recipes we get too caught up in how they’re supposed to be and it stops our creativity in doing something different I might even try this with almond butter
Yes, we were very lucky, but we worked hard to save the money and didn’t travel extravagantly. Yes, cashew butter is my new substitute for peanut butter!
I haven’t been able to get passed the 100 day honeymoon! Wow. We were lucky to get a week off of work. Impressive! Regarding empty nests, don’t worry, it’ll only take a day or two until you realize you have some freedom back, and more control over your time. It’s truly fun. And, they keep visiting anyway. And when they do, you found the hours until they leave. I’m serious! But what great stories you have, especially about your food experiences. This looks like a great recipe. Love Craig Claiborne. His autobiography is in my Amazon cart!
Hi Mimi. It was a the perfect time to do it. We both saved up for 7 months waiting tables day and night when we got engaged. Since we didn’t have much, we just rented a storage shed and popped everything in there. We had no debt, kids, pets or anything else to worry about. I can’t imagine being able to do that again, even after the kids are out of the nest for good!
Christina | Christina's Cucina says
I LOOOOVVVVEEE chicken satay with peanut sauce, but have never tried it with cashew sauce. I need to give it a go! I’m sure I’d be just as happy! One of my favorite ways to prepare chicken. So tasty!
Since we’re avoiding legumes, this was a perfect substitute.
Jay Aguirre says
What a great recipe! Thanks for explaining the difference between sate and satay as well. Can’t wait to try this one out.
Yep, it all depends on where you are when you order it! No matter where you have it, it’s delicious!
Kristine Nicole Alessandra says
This is an easy recipe to follow. I will add this to our menu plan for next week. Hopefully it does not rain so we can use the grill. Meat just comes out more delicious with the added smokey flavor.
Thank you! Grilling is definitely key!
Marta Skeledžija says
That looks so good. And now I am hungry.
I love chicken but I’ve never thought of trying it with peanut butter. Thanks for the recipe. Can’t wait to try it.
the peanut butter is part of the sauce which is very traditional in SE Asia.
mimi rippee says
Gorgeous. I don’t order these out anymore, because I’ve always had bad experiences with the chicken being overcooked. Much smarter to make at home. Love the peanut sauce.