Thai Chicken Satay Bowls with Peanut Sauce are an easy way to bring the flavors of one of Thailand’s most famous dishes to the weeknight dinner table. Trust me on this, the creamy peanut sauce alone is worth the price of admission!
Chicken marinated in Indonesian spices, then skewered, grilled, and served up over jasmine rice with a rich peanut soy sauce. Sound exotic? It’s just Wednesday night dinner to us. That’s because even though Thai chicken satay bowls take a few steps to make, most of them can be done in the morning or the day before, which makes it super convenient for any day of the week.
How to make chicken satay bowls ahead
- Whisk together the sauce when you have a minute, and stash in the fridge ~ it gets better as it sits. Thin it down with a little hot water later if it thickens up too much.
- Mix up the easy marinade and seal in a storage container or a zip lock baggie. You can add the chicken up to 8 hours before cooking. That brilliant yellow color comes from the turmeric spice, so pretty!
- Make the quick pickled cuke salad up to a day ahead, ditto for the jasmine rice.
- When you’re ready to eat, all you have to do is grill that golden yellow chicken, assemble, and chow down.
A light bright and crunchy pickled cucumber and chili salad is a nice contrast to the rich creamy satay chicken. I use smaller Persian or pickling cucumbers for this salad and vivid cayenne peppers. Any hot pepper your supermarket carries will work.
I got my pretty handmade prep bowls from my blogging friend Teri from No Crumbs Left.
If you’re a long time reader you probably know I love handmade ceramics and I absolutely adore these useful bowls. They have a beautiful minimal Japaense inspired style and they feel so good in my hands. I use a smaller one to mix up that yummy peanut sauce, and the larger one holds my pickled cuke salad. Each one has a double lip for easy pouring. You can check out Teri’s whole collection here, I highly recommend them.
Like I said, the peanut sauce in this recipe is worth the price of admission. Everybody should know how to make this stuff, it’s insanely delicious. When not making chicken satay, I use a variation as a sauce for my Dan Dan Noodle Bowls, a dressing for my Spicy Thai Spaghetti Salad, or a dipping sauce for summer rolls.
Ingredients you’ll need for the best Thai peanut sauce
- peanut butter ~ I used a natural style peanut butter, which tends to be looser and easier to mix into the sauce
- canned coconut milk, I always use full fat for best flavor (don’t forget it’s a good fat!)
- soy sauce ~ I always use Tamari brand, it’s naturally gluten free
- toasted sesame oil ~ this is a condiment, not a cooking oil, and it will be in the Asian section of your store
- chili paste
- brown sugar (feel free to omit)
Half the fun of chicken satay is dipping the tender chunks of chicken into the peanut sauce, so I like to thread my chicken onto small wooden skewers and serve this bowl with extra sauce. But you can easily dispense with the skewers and just give the chicken a quick stir fry. Drizzle the sauce over all and you’ll get the same effect.
Customize this recipe to your dietary needs
- make it lower carb using cauliflower rice or serve over a green salad instead of rice.
- make it vegan by subbing extra firm tofu for the chicken.
- make it nut free substituting sunflower butter for the peanut butter.
- make it with beef, pork, or fish. Shrimp would also work.
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More Thai inspiration ~
- Thai Coconut Soup (tom kha)
- Rainbow Summer Rolls
- Steak Pad Thai Salad
- Spicy Thai Spaghetti Salad
- Thai Beef Salad
- Shrimp Pad Thai
- Thai Iced Tea Popsicles
Thai Chicken Satay Bowls with Peanut Sauce
- Grill pan or wok
- 1.5 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized chunks
- 4 cups cooked jasmine rice, or if you like, Coconut Rice
- 1/2 cup canned coconut milk, I use full fat
- juice of 1/2 lime
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp curry paste
- 1 tsp chili paste
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup peanut butter, creamy
- 1/4 cup canned coconut milk
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- juice of 1 lime
- 2 tsp chili paste
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 Tbsp grated ginger
- hot water to thin
- 2 small Persian cucumbers
- 1 cayenne pepper, or other small hot pepper
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tsp rice wine vinegar
- sesame seeds
- fresh cilantro
- lime wedges
- Mix the marinade in a storage container or large zip lock freezer bag and add the chicken, tossing to coat completely. Refrigerate for an hour, or up to 8 hours.
- While the chicken is marinating, whisk the sauce ingredients together and add enough hot water to thin it down a bit for easy dipping. Be sure to taste to adjust any of the ingredients.
- Slice the cucumbers as thinly as you can, I used a mandoline slicer to get super fine, even slices. Seed the pepper and slice into thin strips. Toss them with the oil and vinegar and refrigerate until ready to eat. You'll sprinkle with the sesame seeds before serving.
- Thread the marinated chicken onto skewers. I used small bamboo skewers (mine were 5-6 inches long) You can also skip the skewers, it's your choice.
- Heat a grill pan over medium high heat until very hot. Wipe it down lightly with cooking oil and grill the skewers, in batches, for about 4 minutes on each side, or until the chicken is charred and cooked thoroughly. If you aren't using skewers, use a wok.
- Divide the rice into bowls, then top with the salad and chicken skewers. Garnish with fresh cilantro and lime wedges. Drizzle with peanut sauce and serve extra sauce on the side for dipping.
Questions and Reviews
I was dying to make this, but I had to make a few adjustments. I don’t own a grill, and there was only lemon juice in the fridge. I also couldn’t be bothered to do the salad bits. So, I sautéed the chicken in a skillet, made the sauce and served it on the side, along with that equally fantastic coconut rice. OMG! The peanut sauce is near enough drinkable. Next time, I’ll make sure to have lime juice available. Thank you so much!
Love it, thanks Leona 🙂
What kind of curry paste do you recommend?
I love all of your recipes, but this one was a hit with both of my kids! I loved everything about this recipe!!! I could eat this every week! Thank you!
It’s hard to beat peanut sauce 🙂
Delicious! I just made the sauce and marinade together, then put some in a separate bowl before adding the chicken. I stirred the bit of hot water into the bowl at the end, just before serving the sauce.
To go with it, I stir fried plenty of diced in fresh ginger, garlic and chilli, took off the heat and stirred through rice cooked in stock and turmeric, along with plenty of oyster sauce.
Hi, I’d like to make this but I’m confused because brown sugar is listed twice in the ingredients for the peanut sauce. Can you clarify the amount for the sauce? Is the other amount supposed to go in the marinade or the salad?
We tossed pieces of eggplant in the marinade and grilled them for the vegetarians in the family. Fantastic! Leftovers rolled in a wrap with spring greens and peanut sauce might have been even better than the original presentation. Your recipes are the best.
My husband just declared that this recipe made it into the top 10 favorite meals list! I’ve been searching for a go-to peanut sauce, and I believe this one is it. I rarely find a blog that I want to keep searching through for more recipes, but I’ve been really happy with the flavors used and variety of cuisines. Will be back very soon for more!
My husband likes to ‘rate’ recipes, too 🙂 Glad you guys enjoyed it.
I love Thai/Asian food but the salt in soy sauce and fish sauce is too much. 2 table spoon is a lot of salt….any suggestions on substitutes?
You might try low sodium versions, or just cut the amount, it will be fine.
I made the Thai chicken satay bowls with peanut sauce and your coconut rice last evening and I’m wishing I would have doubled the amount of chicken so I could feast on this for days! I Used a cast iron skillet to cook the chicken thighs and watched them closely to make sure they were a bit charred but not burnt. The peanut sauce is so delicious and will be my go-to recipe in the future. I’ve made a peanut sauce in the past using a different recipe and I’ll never use that one again!
Thanks so much for all your recipes; you flavor my life with joy and delicious food ?