West African peanut chicken stew is a hearty, comforting dinner that’s loaded with flavor, smoky spices, and a touch of spiciness.
This recipe has been on my mind for years now. I’ve been intrigued by the peanut butter and spices, giving depth and richness to the yams and chicken.
It was after a trip to visit my daughter in Bloomington, Indiana, that I knew I had to make it! (Update: July 2017: I recently updated and re-read this recipe, and am pleased to add it to my collection of Whole30, low-carb, Paleo and gluten free recipes).
We went to her favorite soup restaurant a couple of times, and I spent some time perusing their daily menu of a dozen incredible sounding soups. Their West African Peanut Stew received nothing but accolades, so I was convinced to order it. My husband was skeptical, because he loves peanut butter, but wasn’t sure it would translate well into a savory dish. The West African stew recipe isn’t the speediest dish to make, taking about 45 minutes to prep and cook. Thankfully, however, it was worth the effort!
If you’re looking for a strictly vegetarian dish, double the amount of sweet potatoes or yams to replace the chicken. I prefer chicken thighs to breast meat in a stew, as they lend themselves well to longer cooking times. To keep this dish Whole30 compliant, simply substitute the peanut oil for coconut oil and cashew butter for the peanut butter.
The magic of this rich stew is the interesting play of slightly sweet spices against subtle heat from red pepper. We found 1 1/2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes gave it just enough spiciness without masking the rest of the flavors. If you prefer more heat, increase the red pepper, or add a fresh chile.
This is definitely one of those dishes that tastes better the second day, after the flavors have had a chance to meld over night.
I hope you enjoy this West African stew recipe!
West African Peanut Chicken Stew
- 2 Tablespoons peanut oil (or coconut oil)
- 1 red or yellow onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh minced ginger
- 1 1/2 pounds chicken thighs chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 4 cups orange fleshed sweet potatoes scrubbed and cut into bite-sized chunks
- 1 13 ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup chunky peanut butter or cashew butter (Cashew butter for Whole 30)
- 1 5 ounces fresh baby spinach kale or greens
- In a large pot, heat oil over a medium high heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Then add garlic and ginger and continue cooking another 2-3 minutes.
- After that, add the chicken and cook, stirring until chicken is browned on all sides. Then add spices, red pepper, salt and black pepper, stirring to coat.
- Pour in chicken stock, and yams or sweet potatoes, then bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to simmer and cover, cooking for 15 minutes.
- Uncover, stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, and peanut butter, mixing until blended. Continue cooking an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until yams are fork tender and liquid is reduced and thick.
- Remove from heat and stir in baby spinach. (If using tougher greens, add 5-10 minutes before done)
- Serve with rice, if desired.
Some of the items used in this post: (affiliate links; I receive a small percentage which helps maintain my website. Thank you for your support!)
Love this! I’m amazed at the amount of peanut butter but I’m sure it’s delicious! Love the cinnamon and paprika, too. Fabulous!
Mimi, it does sound like a lot of peanut butter, but it made about 6 servings, so that’s less than 1/4 cup per person. You definitely taste it, but it’s not overpowering.
Christina @ Christina's Cucina says
I know I’d love this! One of our favorite chicken dishes has a peanut butter base for the sauce! Looks wonderful, Cynthia!
This sounds soo good! I’ve been wanting to try more ethnic dishes but with the time this takes I’ll definitely have to do this on the weekend.
Let me know how you like it Melody!
Shelley @ Two Healthy Kitchens says
This looks insanely good! I love using peanut butter in savory recipes like this! Combine it with the wonderful spices, plus the tomatoes, sweet potatoes and greens … my oh my … I’m in love! Definitely pinning this one so I can refer to it later! Although I’m not specifically a vegetarian, I also love finding more meatless options, and your tip on how to make this meatless by increasing some of the other ingredients is just terrific! Great post! 😀
Thanks Shelly, it was a little out of the box for even me, but the whole family absolutely loved it. Yes, so easy to adapt to vegetarian!
Mirlandra @ Mirlandra's Kitchen says
What an interesting recipe. I have never had anything like it. I love all the new things that are available to try these days.
Mirlandra, I had heard great things about this peanut stew before, but was reluctant to try it, the different flavors are like a party in your mouth!
I’ve always wanted to make this, I love all the spices, and the yams, and the peanut butter…I love everything about this dish 🙂
Thanks Sue! My husband was skeptical until he tried it, and then he was hooked!
I’ve made this a few times and just love the flavor. My coworkers have expressed a little bit of jealousy when they smell it reheating at lunchtime.
awesome! Thank you so much. It’s healthy too! Haha!
Pinning this one! I’m always looking for something different for dinner, and this definitely fits the bill. Looks delicious!
Thank you Annemarie! It definitely is a different dish but with familiar flavors!
What a hearty sounding stew! Pinning this to try once the holidays are over and we are needing some dinner inspiration!
Thank you! It is very hearty!
I don’t think I’ve had African food before but this looks so flavorful and comforting! I’m definitely going to try this stew. Looks amazing!
It’s a delicious flavor combination!
Raia Todd says
This sounds delicious! I love trying foods from different cultures.
Me too! I’m all about trying different dishes.
Megan Stevens says
We make a similar recipe in our home, and it’s one of my favorite comfort food dinners. Peanut butter wins again!! 😉
It’s not as unusual as it sounds, right?
Joni Gomes says
Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever tried west African food! I love everything in this dish and it’s already very familiar 🙂
It sounds more unusual that it is!
I love West African peanut stew. And your recipe looks like a total winner. Yum!
Thank you Kelly!
Wow, so full of nutritious ingredients and tasty flavors! I love the protein and veggies in this dish!
Yes..simple but loaded with veggies and flavor.
This sounds like such a delicious dish! I have never thought to make peanut stew before, but I do love other chicken and peanut dishes. Thanks for sharing this idea!
It’s surprisingly easy and hearty!
Tessa Simpson says
It sounds so strange, but it really is an amazing flavor profile! I am excited to your version!
I know it sounds a bit out there, but it’s really simple and the flavors blend really well!
They look so hearty delicious. Perfect for the winter!
Thank you! It is perfect for the cold weather!
Lindsey Dietz says
Sounds exotic but it’s so simple! I thought “West African peanuts” was an ingredient, but it’s not! Love that all these ingredients are easily found!
Right! I try not post things that have to many hard to find ingredients!
Anne Lawton says
I have never had this, but I would love to try it out real soon. It sounds Delicious!
So good…different but not too out there!
Ann from Sumptuous Spoonfuls says
I have made African Peanut Stew before and absolutely loved the exotic flavors, but mine was a vegetarian version … the addition of chicken here is delightful!