Thai Peanut Sauce
Published Feb 05, 2016•Updated Jun 14, 2023
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This easy 5-ingredient Thai peanut sauce is rich, creamy, has a hint of curry spice, and takes just 10 minutes to make. Make this recipe ahead, and use it on everything from chicken skewers, to fragrant noodle dishes, or enjoy as a dipping sauce. There’s nothing this sauce can’t do!
If you haven’t tried making Thai peanut sauce, prepare to become obsessed. Not only does this popular sauce hit just about all of the flavor notes (salty, sweet, umami, spicy), but it’s incredibly creamy. This is probably a good place to mention that this recipe for Thai peanut sauce is a “classic Thai peanut sauce with coconut milk”. If you’re looking for a recipe without coconut milk, check out this peanut dipping sauce.
Now, back to the sauce! Making this sauce with ultra fragrant Massaman curry paste gives this classic peanut sauce the most delicate spice flavors that taste amazing with the creaminess of that rich, thick coconut milk. All you need to do is combine the ingredients in a pan, heat on the stove for a few minutes, and you will have the most delicious tasting sauce.
When you make a Thai peanut sauce, you open a world of meal possibilities. Use it for satay on chicken or vegetable skewers, dunk your spring rolls in it, try it with Pad Thai or other noodle dishes, and more. It’s also a super easy dipping sauce to whip up if you only have 10 minutes to get something on the table. Oh, and the creamy, nutty flavor is kid friendly too. Drizzle it over a salad and watch those veggies disappear!
What is Thai Peanut Sauce?
Thai Peanut Sauce, also sometimes called satay sauce, is a nutty, salty, spice-filled sauce with just a hint of sweetness and umami flavor. There are a few different versions of this sauce, but they all start with a base of peanut butter, and then combine ingredients like soy sauce, brown sugar, fish sauce, and a curry paste to achieve a unique taste. Classic Thai Peanut Sauce, like this version, also includes coconut milk.
Peanut sauces are used in many global cuisines including in the foods of Indonesia, China, Malaysia, and, of course, Thailand.
How to Make It
- Combine the ingredients. Heat the coconut milk and curry paste over low-medium heat. Whisk constantly to combine, then add peanut butter, brown sugar and fish sauce.
- Thicken the sauce. Simmer for about 4 minutes, while continuing to whisk.
- Adjust for taste. Adjust with extra sugar or fish sauce, if needed. Enjoy while warm.
- Unsweetened Coconut Milk – For a thick, velvety texture use regular unsweetened coconut milk, rather than “light” coconut milk. There’s just no substitute for the slightly sweet, and super creamy taste of regular coconut milk.
- Massaman Curry Paste – A mild spice that works well with the peanut flavor, without overwhelming it. Most Asian markets will have Massaman curry paste on the shelves, but you can also purchase it online. Red curry paste is a good substitute, but it will be a tad spicier.
- Peanut Butter – Creamy or chunky peanut butter can be used to make this Thai peanut sauce. You can also use homemade peanut butter, conventional, or natural. Store-bought conventional brands tend to have added salt and sugar, so you may need to adjust the taste with extra fish sauce for balance.
- Brown Sugar – Dark or light brown sugar is our sweetener in this recipe, and its hint of molasses gives the sauce a touch of warmth.
- Fish Sauce – Fish sauce adds an irresistible umami flavor to the dipping sauce. To make this recipe gluten-free, use gluten-free tamari. Soy sauce works too.
How to store
Thai peanut sauce with coconut milk can be made up to 3 weeks in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container. Mason jars, salad dressing bottles, and condiment jars work well. Reheat the sauce slowly over a low heat before serving. The sauce will freeze for 3 to 4 months. Thaw at room temperature, then carefully reheat on the stove.
- To prevent the sauce from separating while it’s heating, keep the stove at a low heat to prevent boiling. A nice, slow simmer is the way to go.
- Using unsweetened natural peanut butter makes adjusting the sweet and salty flavors easier.
- Room temperature peanut butter quickly melts into the other ingredients for a super smooth sauce.
- Make it spicy – Adding red pepper flakes, chili garlic sauce, or sriracha will give this sauce a little kick of heat.
- Use a natural sweetener – While brown sugar seems to yield the best results, you can also use maple syrup or honey to sweeten this delicious sauce.
- Go peanut-free – To accommodate peanut allergies, substitute almond butter for peanut butter.
Yes! But you’ll want to change the ingredients around a bit. Use my recipe for peanut sauce without coconut milk.
If you’re entertaining, use peanut sauce as a dip for a veggie platter, with fresh spring rolls, or as a quick, flavor-packed salad dressing. Weeknight meals like pad Thai, soba or udon noodles are transformed when tossed with this creamy peanut sauce. Use this recipe to marinate chicken, pork or tofu, then serve over rice.
Make vegan Thai peanut sauce by substituting soy sauce or tamari for the fish sauce. Using gluten-free tamari makes this Thai peanut sauce vegan and gluten-free.
Recipes to Serve with Peanut Sauce
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Thai Peanut Sauce Recipe
- 1 13.5 ounce can unsweetened coconut milk (regular, not "light")
- 5 tablespoons massaman curry paste (substitute red curry paste)
- 3/4 cup peanut butter (it's great with creamy or chunky versions)
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, dark or light
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce (substitute soy sauce or gluten-free tamari)
- Combine coconut milk and curry paste in a small sauce pan over low-medium heat, whisking constantly as it begins to warm up.
- When the mixture begins to simmer, whisk in peanut butter, brown sugar and fish sauce (or soy sauce / tamari).
- Continue to simmer, whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens slightly and has a smooth consistency, about 4 minutes. (Note: If the sauce starts to boil or simmer vigourously, reduce the heat. Cooking the sauce over high heat can cause it to separate.)
- Taste the sauce and adjust with extra sugar or fish sauce, if needed. Serve warm.
- Peanut sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Reheat it slightly before serving.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.