Thai Chicken Satay (baked or grilled)

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Chicken Satay should be a staple in your kitchen with its juicy, marinated skewered chicken layered with flavor all dunked in creamy, intoxicating peanut satay sauce. 

Satay is a popular restaurant appetizer or dish – but NOW it can be favorite dish made in your kitchen! I’ve included recipe instructions for baking Chicken Satay or indoor/outdoor grilling (and pics of both) so you can make this Thai Chicken Satay recipe year-round – because you will want to devour it year-round! I am specifically posting this recipe RIGHT NOW, because these delectable chicken skewers make a showstopping Christmas or New Year’s Eve holiday appetizer!

CHICKEN SATAY RECIPE


People often ask me what my favorite recipe is. That is virtually an impossible question as it changes depending on my mood, and even then there are too many ties for “favorites.”

But you know what I crave absolutely ALL the time? even if I have already made it twice in one week to perfect the recipe – This Thai Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce! It is juicy, tangy chicken with a creamy dipping sauce exploding with multi-dimensional peanut flavor.

There are many variations of chicken satay recipes, which in essence, means chicken marinated in spices, skewered and grilled, but to me, it is all about the Peanut Sauce, this peanut sauce.

I can even back up my opinion: in 2017 CNN did a survey and satay came in 14th on the worlds best foods -of ALL the foods out there 14th!  That’s pretty amazing in my book – and accurate.
I am absolutely obsessed with peanut sauce from my wraps to tacos to skillet chicken. And even though I have shared many other recipes with peanut sauce, I find this straightforward easy recipe with just marinated chicken + peanut sauce every bit as delicious.

So get ready for the tastiest, EASIEST Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce of your life!
easy chicken satay with satay sauce recipe

WHERE DID WE GET SATAY?

Short answer – Heaven. Now for the long answer, Chicken Satay comes from Java Indonesia. The peanut sauce is also linked to Indo roots. I chuckled when I found out that even McDonald’s has done right by the Indonesian culture. They serve their ‘Burger sate’ with a peanut sauce, beef patty in a bun.

Javanese street vendors developed Satay as a variation of Indian kebabs. The introduction of satay based on meats such as goat and lamb, coincided with an increase of Indian and Arab traders and immigrants starting in the 18th century.

From Java, satay spread throughout the Malay Archipelago and, as a yummy result, numerous variations of the dish have been developed. By the late-19th century, satay had crossed the Strait of Malacca into neighboring Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. Each Country and region has its own variation and added dipping sauces and marinades.

WHAT DOES SATAY TASTE LIKE?

Asking what Chicken Satay taste like is technically asking what marinated chicken taste like – which means, it tastes like all the amazing goodness it is marinated in!

This fabulous chicken satay marinade starts with a base of soy sauce and is infused with fish sauce, brown sugar, lime juice, chili paste and hand-picked seasoning of basil, coriander, ginger, garlic and turmeric.

It creates a salty, savory, tangy chicken with a kiss of sweet. It is far tangier than teriyaki chicken and boasts a far more complex flavor profile than any Chinese chickens – that is why I love it so much!
The Chicken Satay emerges unbelievably juicy and boasts a smoky undertone if cooked on the grill but is still delightful if baked instead.

WHAT DOES PEANUT SATAY SAUCE TASTE LIKE?

Technically, Chicken Satay is just the chicken, but I live for the marriage of chicken AND peanut sauce in every bite.

So what does the Peanut Satay Sauce taste like? Do not assume it tastes like your PB and J from grade school. Instead, this Peanut Sauce is everything perfect about peanut butter and all its nutty, luscious glory but infused with ginger, garlic and lime to name a few wonderful notes. It is creamy, tangy, salty, savory and as spicy as you like it. It is LIFE.
top view of chicken satay with a bowl of peanut satay sauce

WHAT IS SATAY MADE OF?

The ingredient list for this Chicken Satay and Peanut Sauce might seem long, but you are whisking everything together once (and add peanut butter later) and that’s ALL your prep for this ridiculously delicious satay recipe! Here is what you need:
  • chicken: you can use either chicken breasts or chicken thighs for this Chicken Satay recipe. I tend to use chicken breasts because they are leaner and emerge wonderfully juicy with this marinade but thighs are inherently more juicy so they also fabulous. Keep in mind that light meat will cook faster than dark meat so it isn’t a good idea to combine on one skewer.
  • soy sauce: grounds the sauce and adds the salty, savory undertone. Please use low sodium soy sauce so your sauce isn’t too salty.
  • fish sauce: fish sauce is a staple in Asian cooking and imparts a fabulous umami flavor. that cannot be achieved in any other way. I promise, it will not make your Satay taste fishy! Just don’t be tempted to smell it :).
  • lime: you may use fresh or bottled lime juice. Fresh is always best. I will freeze lime juice in cubes so I always have some on hand.
  • brown sugar: adds sweetness to balance the soy, fish sauce and lime juice.
  • ginger: adds a warm spicy, almost pepper taste. I used ground ginger because you only need 1/2 teaspoon and because I want the peanut sauce to be silky smooth without bits of ginger or garlic.
  • garlic: I also used garlic powder for the same reasons as the ginger. I don’t recommend raw garlic because we are doubling the marinade and making it part of our Peanut Satay Sauce.
  • dried basil: basil is quintessential to Thai cuisine. It adds a layer of savory, peppery and slightly minty flavor.
  • ground coriander: adds a toasty, lemony citrus flavor that I use to mimic lemongrass.
  • turmeric: adds gingery, punchy, earthy undertones.
  • Asian chili paste: adds a little heat and rounds out the flavors but will NOT make your Chicken Satay taste spicy at all. You can customize the spice level of your Peanut Satay Sauce by adding additional chili sauce to taste.
top view of grilled chicken satay with Thai peanut sauce
 

DO I HAVE TO USE CHICKEN?

No! As Satay jumped over oceans and rivers, people adapted the recipe with what they had around them. Most any meat can be used, even cow intestines if you dare. Or keep it simple with chicken, pork, shrimp, and beef. Just be aware that different proteins have different cooking times. The last thing you want to do is ruin our satay by overcooking t!
thai chicken satay with peanut sauce threaded on skewers

IS SATAY GLUTEN FREE? IS THAI PEANUT SAUCE GLUTEN FREE?

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce is not gluten free as written due to the soy sauce. You can easily make it gluten free by substituting gluten free soy sauce. Also double check your peanut butter is gluten free.

IS SATAY MARINADE DAIRY FREE? IS PEANUT SAUCE DAIRY FREE?

Yes! My Recipes both are dairy free.

HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN SATAY

This Thai Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce comes together super quickly because the chicken marinade and the peanut satay are made with the SAME ingredients you whisk together once! As in, all your prep is literally done in minutes!
Once you stir together your mouthwatering concoction of soy sauce, brown sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, chili paste, ginger, garlic, basil, coriander and tumeric (drool!) your prep is almost done!
Part of the sauce becomes your marinade and the rest becomes the base of your Peanut Sauce. Now, all you do is simmer the reserved Sauce for a minute while your chicken is either baking or grilling then whisk in some peanut butter – done!
up close of chicken satay on skewers

HOW TO GRILL CHICKEN SATAY

The most important aspect of cooking chicken with any method is not to overcook it – no one wants dry chicken! I recommend investing in an instant-read thermometer so you know exactly when your chicken is done so you can pull it off the heat immediately. For this Chicken Satay recipe, just a few minutes on each side is plenty.

TO GRILL CHICKEN SATAY:

  1. Grease an indoor or outdoor grill and heat to high heat.
  2. Once hot, add chicken, reduce heat to medium and cover.
  3. Grill chicken approximately 4 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked through (internal temp of 165 degrees F).

CAN I MAKE SATAY ON THE STOVE TOP?

Yes!  This Thai Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce is so good that I wanted it to be accessible year round, so I’ve included instructions for skillet or oven cooking. These pics are of both baked Chicken Satay (without the grill marks) and grilled satay.
I know stove top or baking satay might seem sacrilegious to some, but the chicken satay emerges incredibly juicy and ensures everyone, even those without an indoor grill, can taste the marinated spiced chicken and delectable, creamy, multi-dimensional peanut sauce at any time.

TO COOK CHICKEN SATAY ON THE STOVE:

  1. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Working in batches, add skewers and cook for 2-3 minutes per side until cooked through (internal temp of 165 degrees F).

CAN I BAKE CHICKEN SATAY?

Baking Chicken Satay is super simple because you can place the skewered chicken in your oven and forget about them for 15 minutes instead of babysitting the grill or stove. But whether you bake, grill or cook your easy Thai Chicken Satay on the stove, I know you are going love it!

TO BAKE CHICKEN SATAY:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line two baking sheets with foil and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Evenly divide chicken between baking sheets. Make sure there is room in between the chicken so your chicken bakes and doesn’t steam.
  4. Bake 15-20 minutes OR until chicken is cooked (internal temp of 165 degrees F).
far away view of grilled chicken satay on a platter with peanut sauce

TIPS TO MAKE SATAY

  • Soak the wooden skewers before grilling them or else they will catch on fire. I start soaking before doing anything else, then they can be soaking while the chicken is marinating – and you don’t have to worry about it last minute. When ready to use, just thread the chicken on, no need to dry them first.
  • I find it easiest to cut each chicken breast in half horizontally to create chicken fillets, then slice into strips.
  • The difference between great and FABULOUS results with this Chicken Satay recipe is the marinating time. I would not marinate the chicken less than 6 hours. Try and plan for the full 24 hours if possible because the longer you marinate the chicken, the more flavorful and juicy it will become.
  • Remove the chicken from refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cooking to bring to room temperature. This helps the chicken to cook more evenly.
  • The Peanut Satay Satay has a peanut butter range of 1/3-1/2 cup. I find this is necessary due to readers’ personal preference and which peanut butter is used. I personally like the full ½ cup peanut butter and thin with additional coconut milk, but it is up to you!
  • You can use water or coconut milk in the Peanut Satay Sauce if you don’t want to crack open a can for 1/4 cup, but the subtle coconut flavor is sensational.
  • As mentioned, you need to adjust the consistency of the Peanut Sauce with either additional peanut butter or coconut milk/water. It should be thick but pourable.
  • If you have extra peanut sauce, you can thin it out and toss it with noodles, or serve it over rice or with vegetables. You can also use it as a salad dressing!
  • Looking for a fun presentation? Dress up the platter with chopped cilantro, basil leaves, crushed peanuts and a swirl of Sriracha in the dipping bowl.
authentic chicken satay on a white platter with wooden skewers

CAN I PREP CHICKEN SATAY AND PEANUT SAUCE I ADVANCE?

Yes! This Chicken Satay makes a fabulous make ahead dinner or appetizer because you can prepare everything up to 24 hours in advance then just grill the chicken when its “go” time.
  • Marinade: whisk the marinade ingredients and store in an airtight container up to 5 days in advance. This chicken loves to marinate so you can have it bathe in the refrigerator for 24 hours before you cook it.
  • Peanut Satay Sauce: The peanut sauce will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week stored in an airtight container. It can be reheated in the microwave or over low heat on the stove top. If the sauce gets too thick, whisk in water or coconut milk until the desired consistency is achieved.
up close of chicken satay that can be grilled or baked

WHAT TO SERVE WITH CHICKEN SATAY?

Chicken Satay is usually served with peanut sauce, but if peanuts are not your thing or you have an allergy – try these other Thai and Asian sauces:
  • hoisin sauce
  • blackberry hoisin sauce
  • Asian sweet chili sauce
  • pineapple sweet and sour sauce
  • mango honey dip
  • sriracha mango honey dip
Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce is typically served as an appetizer at restaurants but we usually make it a meal jasmine rice, pineapple, stir fried veggies and/or an Asian Salad.
healthy chicken satay on wooden skewers garnished by cilantro

CAN I FREEZE CHICKEN SATAY, MARINADE AND PEANUT SAUCE?

Yes, yes, and yes! To freeze:
  • Satay Marinade: Whisk together, add to a freezer bag, label and freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Chicken Satay: After you have cooked the Chicken Satay, you can remove the skewers or not, I prefer to remove them so I can get more Satay to a container. Let the chicken cool completely before storing in airtight freezer container. Can be frozen for 2 to 3 months.
  • Peanut satay sauce: The peanut sauce freezes well, so I usually make a double or triple batch and freeze leftover sauce in 1-cup portions for use in making a fast meal in the future. The sauce can be defrosted by moving it from the freezer to the fridge the day before you need it.

IS CHICKEN SATAY HEALTHY?

Chicken is a lean, heart healthy protein so Chicken Satay itself is healthy. The Peanut Satay Sauce contains nutrient-packed ingredients but it is also also high in calories and fat, so it should be consumed in moderation. If you you stick to small servings, your diet won’t be derailed.
It’s also important to think about what you’re eating with that peanut sauce. Skinless poultry or tofu and fresh vegetables won’t add many calories to the dish and will give you a healthy dose of protein, vitamins and minerals, but pouring the sauce onto a food that’s already high in fat, such as beef or sautéed noodles, could add hundreds more calories and a dozen or more fat grams.
If you’re watching your weight, keep serving sizes small and make sure your plate has balance with items from several different food groups.
You can also try no sugar peanut butter with sesame oil to make it lower in fat and sugar.
Now, I hope you ring in the New Year with this baked or grilled Thai Chicken Satay with its deep and rich creamy, savory, Peanut Sauce and continue to love it year round. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Thai Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce (baked or grilled!)
Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce is one of my absolute favorite recipes with the most addicting Peanut Sauce ever! Chicken Satay should be a staple in your kitchen with its juicy, marinated skewered chicken layered with flavor all dunked in creamy, intoxicating peanut sauce. It is a popular restaurant appetizer or dish - but NOW it can be favorite dish made in your kitchen! I've included recipe instructions for baking Chicken Satay or indoor/outdoor grilling so you can make this Thai Chicken Satay recipe year-round - because you will want to devour it year-round! I am specifically posting this recipe RIGHT NOW, because these delectable chicken skewers make a showstopping Christmas or New Year's Eve holiday appetizer!
 CourseMain Dish
 CuisineAsian
 Prep Time30 minutes
 Cook Time10 minutes
 Servings
 people, about 30 skewers
INGREDIENTS
 
  • 2 pounds chicken breasts or thighs sliced into 1 1/2" wide strips by 3-5" long
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk plus more as needed (may sub water)
  • 1/3-1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 12-15 skewers
Marinade/Sauce
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste (like Sambal Oelek)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
top view of grilled chicken satay with Thai peanut sauce
 
 
INSTRUCTIONS
 
  1. Whisk together the Marinade/Sauce ingredients in a medium bowl. Remove 1/3 cup to a freezer size bag and whisk in 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add chicken and toss to evenly coat. Marinate in the refrigerator 6 hours up to overnight. Refrigerate remaining marinade/sauce separately - this will become the base of your Peanut Sauce.
  2. When ready to cook, soak wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, remove chicken from refrigerator to bring to room temperature. Thread chicken onto skewers and lightly dab excess marinade off with paper towels.
  3. OVEN: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with foil and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray. Evenly divide chicken between baking sheets. Bake 15-20 minutes OR until chicken is cooked through being careful not to overcook or chicken will not be as tender (internal temp of 165 degrees F).
  4. GRILL: Grease an indoor or outdoor grill and heat to high heat. Once hot, add chicken, reduce heat to medium, cover and grill chicken 3-4 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked through (internal temp of 165 degrees F).
  5. SKILLET: Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Working in batches, add skewers and cook for 2-3 minutes per side until cooked through (internal temp of 165 degrees F).
  6. Add reserved Sauce to a small saucepan along with 1/4 cup coconut milk OR 3 tablespoons water. Bring to a boil then simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat then stir in 1/3 cup peanut butter until completely combined then add additional peanut butter if desired for a thicker/more nutty sauce OR water or coconut milk 1 tablespoon at a time for a thinner sauce. Taste and add additional chili sauce if desired for a spicier sauce.
  7. Serve chicken warm with Peanut Sauce for an appetizer or also serve with rice/veggies for a main course.
RECIPE NOTES

TIPS AND TRICKS

  • Soak the wooden skewers before grilling them or else they will catch on fire. I start soaking before doing anything else, then they can be soaking while the chicken is marinating – and you don’t have to worry about it last minute. When ready to use, just thread the chicken on, no need to dry them first.
  • I find it easiest to cut each chicken breast in half horizontally to create chicken fillets, then slice into strips.
  • The difference between great and FABULOUS results with this Chicken Satay recipe is the marinating time. I would not marinate the chicken less than 6 hours. Try and plan for the full 24 hours if possible because the longer you marinate the chicken, the more flavorful and juicy it will become.
  • Remove the chicken from refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cooking to bring to room temperature. This helps the chicken to cook more evenly.
  • The Peanut Satay Satay has a peanut butter range of 1/3-1/2 cup. I find this is necessary due to readers’ personal preference and which peanut butter is used. I personally like the full ½ cup peanut butter and thin with additional coconut milk, but it is up to you!
  • You can use water or coconut milk in the Peanut Satay Sauce. It is only 2 tablespoons, plus more as needed, so it won’t have a huge impact on flavor.
  • As mentioned, you need to adjust the consistency of the Peanut Sauce with either additional peanut butter or coconut milk/water. It should be thick but pourable.
  • If you have extra peanut sauce, you can thin it out and toss it with noodles, or serve it over rice or with vegetables. You can also use it as a salad dressing!
  • Looking for a fun presentation? Dress up the platter with chopped cilantro, basil leaves, crushed peanuts and a swirl of Sriracha in the dipping bowl.

HOW TO PREP IN ADVANCE

  • Marinade: whisk the marinade ingredients and store in an airtight container up to 5 days in advance. This chicken loves to marinate so you can have satay bathing in the refrigerator for a 24 hours before you cook it.
  • Peanut Satay Sauce: The peanut sauce will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week stored in an airtight container. It can be reheated in the microwave or over low heat on the stove top. If the sauce gets too thick, whisk in water or coconut milk until the desired consistency is achieved.

HOW TO FREEZE

  • Marinade: Whisk together, add to a freezer bag, label and freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Chicken Satay: After you have cooked the Satay you can remove the skewers or not, I prefer to remove them so I can get more Satay to a container. Let the chicken cool completely before storing in airtight freezer container. Can be frozen for 2 to 3 months.
  • Peanut satay sauce: The peanut sauce freezes well, so I usually make a double or triple batch and freeze leftover sauce in 1-cup portions for use in making a fast meal in the future. The sauce can be defrosted by moving it from the freezer to the fridge the day before you need it.