Give your meals an extra kick of flavor with this easy-to-make Thai Creamy Peanut Sauce! It's perfect for dipping, drizzling, or marinating – making it a must-have for anyone who loves adding some extra excitement to their favorite dishes. Plus, its creamy texture and delicious taste make it an unforgettable addition!
I hope you enjoy this recipe! ❤️ If you give it a try, please let me know how it turned out for you in the comments section at the bottom of the page or share a pic of your om noms on Instagram and tag @dishesanddustbunnies! ❤️
Thai peanut sauce is a tasty and creamy dip that usually accompanies Thai meat dishes or appetizers such as chicken satay.
What is Thai peanut sauce made of?
The sauce is made of a combination of coconut milk, peanut butter, fish sauce, red chili paste, low sodium soy sauce, some fresh garlic and fresh grated ginger, and some lime juice. I found this simple combination works so well you don't even have to add soy sauce or rice vinegar.
Coconut milk combined with peanut butter and other ingredients makes for a rich and irresistible dip that is sooo incredible with Thai dishes – especially marinated and skewered meats.
When peanut sauce is made in Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia or Thailand, peanuts are manually ground up and roasted or fried in order to create the sauce. Typically in the western world, people will use peanut butter instead of putting in work manually roasting and grinding up peanuts. This is because peanut butter is widely available, creamy, and super smooth right out of the packaging and it creates a significant shortcut to making this peanut sauce.
Peanut butter is only popular in North America so it is not commonly eaten or used in Asian cuisine. Meaning, any Thai peanut sauce recipe that is made with peanut butter would be an example of American-Asian fusion cuisine, not something that is authentic to how this dish is made in actual Southeast Asian countries.
Is Peanut Sauce really Thai?
The western world's popular identification of peanut sauce recipes and satay skewers with Thai food isn't entirely accurate. While peanut sauce has been a part of Thai cooking for hundreds of years and today can be found on the menus of almost all Thai restaurants; the use of peanuts and other nuts in sauces and curries has been a staple in all of Southeast Asia for centuries, eaten in places such as China or Malaysia just as much as it is in Thailand.
Peanut sauce as we know it originates from expat Chinese street vendors selling their food in Indonesia. Eventually, it became a staple of Indonesian cooking, served everywhere from street meat vendors to fancy restaurants. It was there in Indonesia that peanut sauce became refined and the delicate balance of different sweet, tangy, spicy tastes and ingredients was worked out.
Peanut sauce did indeed become popular in Thailand, however, the Thai variety is considered to be a sweeter hybrid of the Indonesian original.
Is Satay sauce the same as Thai Peanut Sauce?
Essentially yes, they refer to the same thing. In American supermarkets, prepackaged sauce is sold as “Thai Peanut Sauce” however this same sauce is commonly known as Satay sauce (or bumbu kacang) throughout the Far East. Though it is a peanut based sauce, when called satay sauce it is not named after an ingredient in the sauce; it is named that way because it is a sauce meant for satay. Satay is a dish made of sliced or diced meat which is barbequed and then served on a skewer.
Satay sauce is believed to have originated in Indonesian cuisine (likely introduced to Thailand by Chinese immigrants) but it is also used in Thai cuisine, Malaysian cuisine and Chinese Cuisine.
Be sure to see the recipe card at the bottom of the post for full ingredients & instructions!
How to make Thai peanut sauce – Overview
You can find the full recipe details, including ingredient amounts and the full instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this post, but first, here's a quick overview of how to make the best Thai peanut sauce!
To make your homemade peanut sauce, begin by heating vegetable oil in a saucepan, add fresh ginger and garlic and allow it to cook for about a minute until fragrant. Next, reduce the heat and add soy sauce (use gluten free soy sauce if you prefer), coconut milk, creamy peanut butter, fish sauce, and red chili paste. Combine using a whisk, reduce heat, simmer for about 10 minutes, then add the fresh lime juice and combine.
Sprinkle the peanut sauce with chopped peanuts for garnish if desired.
Thai Peanut Sauce Recipe Variations & Substitutions:
This recipe is so simple and absolutely delicious as it is, but you can make some adjustments to change things up a bit if you like!
Peanut Butter Substitutes:
I used creamy peanut butter for this recipe, but you can easily swap it out for crunchy peanut butter or chunky peanut butter for some added texture if you like!
Natural peanut butter can be used instead for the health conscious cook. Store-bought peanut butter contains sugar, so if you're planning on using natural peanut butter in this recipe instead, keep ing mind it'll need to be sweetened with additional sweeteners such as maple syrup or brown sugar. Adjust the amounts according to your taste.
Roast & Grind your own Peanuts – Authentic Thai peanut sauce uses freshly ground peanuts rather than peanut butter. If you'd like, you can also try making this recipe more authentically Thai by roasting and grinding peanuts yourself, rather than using premade peanut butter. This takes a little more work, but totally worth it if you have the time. First, roast the peanuts by putting them on a baking sheet in the oven and baking them at 350 degrees F for approximately 20 minutes. Then put the roasted nuts in a blender with a little water and blend until smooth.
Use another nut butter in place of peanut butter – For a different flavour you can try using other nut butters in this recipe if you like, however as I haven't tested different nut butters myself, I can't report on how well others would work for this recipe. I have read that substituting almond butter or cashew butter works well!
If you don't have any red chili paste available, you can easily substitute it for some sriracha sauce or another hot sauce, such as a chili sauce, chili garlic sauce.
For an added kick, you can also add some red pepper flakes to your peanut sauce.
Feel free to adjust the amounts of any spicy ingredients to make the peanut sauce as spicy or mild as you prefer! Adding more chili garlic sauce is a great way to add more of a kick!
Lemon juice: If you don't have lime juice on hand, you can substitute it for lemon juice if you like. Lime is typically used in Thai cooking, but lemon juice will do in a pinch!
Feel free to try adjusting the ratios of ingredients if you feel like experimenting! You can add more peanut butter, more coconut milk, soy sauce, fish sauce, etc to your liking!
- Toasted sesame oil makes for a nice added dimension of flavour!
- chopped fresh cilantro
- toasted sesame seeds
Can I make Thai peanut sauce ahead of time?
Yes, you can make Thai peanut sauce ahead of time. To make this sauce ahead of time, just follow the same steps as when making it fresh: blend together all your ingredients until smooth. Afterward, pour it into a container for storage.
When you're ready to serve, simply heat on medium-low in a small saucepan and combine using a whisk.
How to Store Leftover Thai Peanut Sauce
Once you’ve made the sauce, it can be poured into an airtight container or mason jar and stored in the refrigerator.
Reheat it on the stove over medium-low heat or in the microwave before using again. If you notice any separation of oil and liquids, simply give the sauce a good stir until everything is blended together again.
You should also try to consume any leftover sauce soon after reheating because the flavors will begin deteriorating over time after being warmed up again.
How long is leftover Thai peanut sauce good for?
When stored properly in an air-tight container, homemade Thai peanut sauce can last up to 5-7 days in the refrigerator.
Can I freeze Thai peanut sauce?
Yes, you can totally freeze Thai peanut sauce! The creamy texture and nutty flavor of this delicious sauce is perfect for freezing. All you need to do is let the sauce cool completely before transferring it into an airtight container.
Freezing Thai peanut sauce will keep it fresh for up to three months. When you’re ready to use it, just thaw the sauce in the refrigerator overnight or until it reaches room temperature. You may need to add more liquid, such as water or coconut milk, when reheating it.
Reheat on the stove over medium low heat and combine with a whisk.
Be sure to see the recipe card at the bottom of the post for full ingredients & instructions!
What to Serve with/How to Use Thai peanut sauce
Thai Peanut dipping sauce is served along with chicken satay skewers or fresh spring rolls but there are many ways to use it!
Thai peanut sauce is extremely versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes. It's great for dipping, drizzling over salads, or as a flavor enhancer to many recipes. Here are some delicious ways to enjoy creamy Thai peanut sauce:
Try drizzling it over steamed veggies such as broccoli and cauliflower. For an added boost, serve with hot chili peppers!
Try tossing cooked noodles with the sauce for an easy weeknight dinner. All you need is some cooked noodles (rice noodles work great) and vegetables like bell peppers, carrots and snow peas. Mix together in a bowl with the warm peanut sauce, top with crushed peanuts and cilantro for extra flavor, considering throwing in a protein such as chicken and enjoy!
This sauce can also be used to dress up simple dishes like a veggie stir-fry. Just cook your favorite vegetables in a wok with some oil and some garlic and ginger, then add a few tablespoons of peanut sauce at the end for an irresistibly rich flavor. Serve it over steamed rice for a complete meal.
The signature creaminess of this Thai peanut sauce also makes it a perfect dipping sauce for dipping appetizers like steamed dumplings, spring rolls, shrimp, or chicken skewers.
Fried tofu is another classic appetizer that pairs perfectly with Thai Peanut Sauce. To make it, just toss small cubes of tofu in cornstarch before deep-frying them until golden brown and crispy. The texture contrast between the crunchy exterior and soft interior works wonderfully when dipped in this creamy sauce. Add some fresh herbs like mint or cilantro for an extra touch of flavor!
Other Recipes You'll Enjoy:
Creamy Thai Peanut Sauce
- Total Time: 17 minutes
- Yield: 2 cups 1x
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ inch fresh ginger, minced
- ½ tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
- 1 ¾ cups coconut milk
- ¾ cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- Juice of 1 lime
- ¼ tsp red chili paste
- chopped peanuts for garnish (optional)
- In a medium saucepan, heat vegetable oil on medium heat.
- Add ginger and garlic and cook for about 1 minute until fragrant.
- Reduce heat and add remaining ingredients except lime juice. Use a whisk to combine.
- Simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Add the lime juice and use a whisk to combine.
- Put the sauce into individual small dipping bowls and serve with Chicken Satay Skewers, spring rolls, etc. Sprinkle the peanut sauce with chopped peanuts for garnish if desired.
NOTE: You may notice that the sauce will separate when in storage or when sitting out – this is normal! The fat from the coconut milk used in the recipe tends to rise to the top. Just heat up the sauce again and give it a good stir before serving.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 12 minutes
- Category: Sauce
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Thai