Simple Peanut Butter Chicken with crushed tomatoes, soy sauce, and garlic is a breeze to make. Serve this saucy chicken over rice, noodles, or cauliflower rice, and watch it disappear!
A Saucy, Savory, Asian-Inspired Chicken Recipe
Have you ever tried Peanut Butter Chicken? If you are a fan of chicken satay or Indian butter chicken, then you’ll love this recipe. Made with tender chicken thighs in a well-balanced sauce of tomatoes, peanut butter, garlic, and soy sauce, it’s an easy Asian-inspired dish that only requires a few basic ingredients. Served over rice or noodles, peanut butter chicken is sure to be a regular in your menu rotation.
In fact, I think this dish is especially great for busy weeknights, when you want to make something out of the ordinary, but at the same time you need to smash that “easy” button and get dinner on the table. It’s a simple chicken recipe that anyone can make, but it will wake up your tastebuds and give everyone a break from the same old thing. Perfection!
What Is Peanut Butter Chicken Made Of?
You may be wondering what exactly goes into this not-quite-curry recipe, so let’s dive into those ingredients. They are very simple, and in fact, you probably already have most of them in your pantry!
- Chicken: Boneless, skinless thighs are my go-to, but you could use chicken breast if you prefer.
- Soy Sauce: Tamari or coconut aminos also work great.
- Oil: For sauteing the chicken. I use olive oil, but you could use vegetable oil, avocado oil, peanut oil, etc.
- Salt and Pepper
- Crushed Tomatoes: These are usually canned or boxed. I like to look for crushed tomatoes that only contain tomatoes and salt.
- Onion: Chop up one medium onion.
- Coconut Milk: Full-fat coconut milk has the most flavor and a wonderful, creamy texture. Yum.
- Chicken Stock: Just a little bit of stock or broth is all you need. In a pinch, just use water and add a bit more salt or a small amount of chicken base, as needed.
- Peanut Butter: Creamy peanut butter.
- Garlic: Mince the garlic, or put it through a garlic press.
- Cornstarch: To thicken, you’ll want half a teaspoon or so of cornstarch. If you don’t want to use cornstarch, it’s fine to substitute arrowroot powder, or just leave it out for a slightly thinner sauce.
- Garnishes: Green onions, roasted salted peanuts, and red chilies make appetizing garnishes.
How to Make It
Time to cook! But, never fear, the cooking process is very simple. All you have to do is mix up the sauce, brown the chicken, and bake – nothing to it! Here are the step-by-step instructions.
- Prep the Oven, Chicken and Aromatics. To begin, set your oven to preheat to 375°F. Place the chicken thighs in a bowl, toss with the tamari or soy sauce (along with a sprinkle of salt if desired) and cover the bowl. Set the chicken aside to marinate. Next, chop the onion and mince the garlic.
- Mix and Blend the Sauce. In a small dish or cup, whisk together the chicken broth and cornstarch to make a smooth mixture. Then, in a large bowl, stir or whisk together the crushed tomatoes, peanut butter, coconut milk, and chicken broth mixed with the cornstarch. Add the minced garlic, and then use an immersion blender to blend all of the ingredients into a smooth sauce. Set aside.
- Brown the Chicken. Place a skillet over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add the chicken thighs, and cook them for about 5 to 8 minutes, or until they are light golden brown on the outside. Use tongs or a spatula to remove from the pan, and set them aside on a clean plate..
- Simmer the Sauce and Onion. In the same skillet that you cooked the chicken in, saute the chopped onions until translucent. This will take a minute or two. Then, add the blended peanut butter sauce to the skillet, and bring it to a simmer. Remove the skillet from the heat.
- Bake! Pour the sauce into a baking dish, arrange the chicken in the sauce, and bake the whole thing in your preheated oven for about 20 minutes.
- Enjoy! Remove the chicken from the oven and test for doneness. )Chicken thighs are done when the internal temperature registers at 165°F, although they can be more tender if cooked a few degrees higher.) Garnish as desired with chopped spring onions, red chilies, and roasted peanuts, and serve immediately.
Tips for Success
There are a few more helpful tips I’d like to share about this recipe, so read on and happy cooking! I know you’re going to love this easy, flavor-packed chicken dish.
- Avoid “Stir” Peanut Butter: While natural peanut butters (these often have to be stirred because of the natural separation of the peanut oil) are great for a lot of things, this recipe works best with commercial, no-stir peanut butters. The creamy no-stir peanut butter is easier to incorporate in the sauce without making it oily.
- Kick Up the Heat: For a spicier version of this recipe, try stirring in cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper to taste – or go bold and simmer the sauce with some chopped chili peppers. Always be careful to wear gloves while prepping spicy chili peppers, and avoid touching your face and/or eyes. Wash your hands thoroughly after prepping.
- Add Curry: If you like, up the flavor ante by stirring in a spoonful (or two, to taste) of your favorite curry powder or curry paste, while the sauce is cooking. Yum.
- Use Chicken Breast: While chicken thighs are a bit more forgiving (they are harder to overcook), chicken breast would also be fantastic in this recipe, so feel free to substitute!
Yummy Serving Suggestions
To serve, I like to spoon peanut butter chicken over a bed of basmati rice, cauliflower rice, or noodles. For sides, these easy recipes hit all the right notes:
- Naan: This Indian flatbread goes beautifully with the savory coconut-tomato-peanut sauce in peanut butter chicken. Don’t have any naan? Make a basic flatbread using this Easy Homemade Flatbread recipe instead!
- Grilled Veggies: You can’t go wrong with a grilled vegetable side, especially these mouthwatering Grilled Summer Squash Kebabs. They can be made on an outdoor grill, grill pan, or cast-iron pan, for a flexible, flavorful side dish anytime.
- Sugar Snap Peas: The sweet pop of fresh sugar snap peas can’t be beat! I love to serve them roasted, as in this easy recipe for Roasted Sugar Snap Peas with red onion.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- Store leftover peanut butter chicken in an airtight container in the fridge, for up to four days.
- Reheat on the stove, in a covered skillet over low heat. Make sure to heat this dish just until everything is heated through, but don’t overcook or the chicken will be dry.
Can I Freeze Peanut Butter Chicken?
- Yes, you can successfully freeze this dish for up to three months! Just seal it in a freezer bag, pressing out as much air as possible before you seal it up. Mark with the date, and freeze.
- Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
Peanut Butter Chicken
- 8 boneless and skinless chicken thighs
- 2 tablespoons tamari, or soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 10 ounces crushed tomatoes, or tomato polpa
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- ⅓ cup full-fat coconut milk
- ½ cup chicken stock, or chicken broth
- ½ cup creamy peanut butter
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tablespoon cornstarch
- green onions, for garnish, optional
- roasted salted peanuts, for garnish, optional
- red chilis, for garnish, optional
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Place the chicken thighs in a bowl, and add the tamari or soy sauce, along with a sprinkle of salt, if desired. Set aside to marinate.
- Meanwhile, chop the onion and mince the garlic.
- In a small mixing bowl or cup, whisk together the chicken broth and cornstarch to make a smooth mixture.
- In a large bowl, stir or whisk together the crushed tomatoes, peanut butter, coconut milk, and add in the chicken broth mixed with the cornstarch. Stir in the garlic.
- Using an immersion blender, blend all of the ingredients together to make a smooth sauce. Set aside.
- Place a skillet over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add the chicken, and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the chicken begins to turn light golden brown. Remove chicken from the pan, and set aside.
- In the same skillet, heat up the vegetable oil and saute the chopped onions until translucent. Add the blended peanut butter sauce, and bring it to a simmer. Remove from the heat.
- Pour the sauce into a baking dish, arrange the chicken in the sauce, and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the oven and test for doneness. Chicken thighs are done when the internal temperature registers at 165°F, although they can be more tender if cooked a few degrees higher.
- Garnish the chicken as desired with chopped spring onions, red chilies, and roasted peanuts.