Easy Spicy Thai Peanut Butter Chicken Thighs

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Satay lovers stop right here! This super easy spicy Thai peanut butter chicken thighs recipe is basically chicken thighs baked in a peanut satay sauce and sprinkled with colorful toppings! It’s made with just a few main ingredients, and all in one pan, so it’s perfect for no-fuss entertaining. Just 15 minutes of prep time – the oven does the rest. You’ll be dreaming about that spicy peanut butter sauce!

A round white baking dish of spicy peanut butter chicken from above with a stripy red and green tea towel and ingredients around the dish

Why you’re going to love it

Peanut chicken recipes – love them or hate them? If you’re like me and meals with peanuts in them are your food heaven, also try this massaman chicken curry with sweet potato and peanuts. Or these easy chicken satay skewers with peanut sauce.

You won’t go wrong with either of these peanut chicken recipes. If however you’re looking for more of a show-stopper, then I can’t recommend these spicy Thai peanut butter chicken thigh recipe enough!

Here’s why:

  • It’s a one pan recipe. Perfect for midweek, but also for really easy entertaining. You can prepare it ahead, then pop the dish into the fridge until ready to cook.
  • It’s full of punchy, umami flavours. When I’m eating this, I don’t want my meal to end. There aren’t many meals I say that about (well OK, maybe this Greek chicken and potatoes).
  • It’s incredibly easy recipe. It almost makes itself. All you do is whisk together a few ingredients to make the spicy peanut sauce, then pour it over chicken thighs and bake. No pre-cooking necessary. The icing on the cake is the toppings which add some freshness, colour, texture and extra flavour.

About the ingredients

Chicken thighs: Use boneless skinless chicken thighs. You don’t need to pre-cook them. Just lay them in a baking dish raw, pour over the sauce and bake. The number of thighs I use depends on the size, but it’s usually around 7 to 11 thighs.

For the spicy peanut sauce and toppings

All the ingredients needed to make spicy peanut butter chicken, except the chicken and coconut milk, so spring onions, honey, lime, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, chicken stock and cornflour, crushed peanuts, chilis, garlic, ginger and peanut butter

Peanut butter: I use crunchy for texture, but either smooth or crunchy is fine.

Soy sauce and rice wine vinegar: It doesn’t really matter whether you use dark or light soy sauce – I just use what I happen to have. For the rice wine vinegar I prefer Japanese Mirin, but any rice wine vinegar is fine.

Coconut milk: You need just a quarter cup. This adds a bit of creaminess to the final dish.

Chicken stock: Mix this with a little cornflour to thicken the sauce as it bakes. I find the sauce is sometimes a little thicker, sometimes a little thinner depending on the amount of chicken juices.

Garlic and ginger: I crush the garlic to add to the sauce. I finely slice a big piece of peeled ginger and add that too. No pre-cooking required!

Fresh chili: This is as much about the colour as it is the spice. So I like to use red chilis. I chop the chilis finely and scatter 2 to 3 in the sauce, and another 1 to 2 on the top, depending on how spicy you want the dish to be. Actually what I usually do is serve extra chopped chilis on the side so that those who like it spicy can add more!

Honey: For just a hint of sweetness!

Toppings: Spring onions/Scallions, crushed peanuts, extra chopped chilis and lime segments. Don’t skip these – they really make the dish!

How to make it

Collage of 4 images showing how to make the sauce for spicy peanut butter chicken and pour it over the chicken in the baking dish

There are really only 2 main steps before baking – whisk all the sauce ingredients together, then pour it over the chicken thighs.

But let’s break it down a little more!

Step 1: I usually start by blending the soy sauce and rice wine vinegar into the peanut butter.

Step 2: Then add all of the other sauce ingredients – coconut milk, chicken stock blended with cornflour/cornstarch, then the garlic, ginger, chilis and honey.

Step 3: Arrange the chicken thighs in a baking dish. The baking dish in the photo above is 9 inches, but a 9×12 inch baking dish is fine, too.

Step 4: Pour the sauce all over the chicken thighs.

Collage of 4 images showing the final steps to making spicy peanut butter chicken, so covering, baking, spooning over sauce half way through cooking and adding the final toppings

Step 5: Cover the dish with aluminium foil for the first part of cooking.

Step 6: Ten minutes before the end of the cooking time, remove the foil, spoon the sauce over the chicken again, then return to the oven to finish cooking.

Steps 7 and 8: Take the dish out of the oven. Just before serving, sprinkle over the toppings. You can either sprinkle them all over the whole dish, or over each person’s serving.

Pro tip: Wear kitchen gloves when chopping up your chilis. One time I forgot and my hands were on fire!

How to serve Thai peanut butter chicken thighs

If I’m serving this to my family, I tend to serve the chicken and sauce over rice. Then I sprinkle toppings over everyone’s dish.

If I’m serving it to guests (did I mention it’s great for easy entertaining?), I sometimes sprinkle the toppings all over the chicken in the baking dish, then take the dish to the table. Because it’s pretty!

If you feel like the baking dish is a little messy, you can even spoon the chicken and sauce into a big serving dish and then sprinkle over the toppings before you take it to the table. I’ve done both ways.

You might like to have extra chopped chilis on the table for those who want a bit more heat.

Rice, lime wedges and a simple green salad or vegetables such as this 10-minute frozen sautéed broccoli are perfect on the side if you have guests. Naan bread or poppadoms are optional for mopping up the amazing sauce!

Feeling more of a curry vibe?

This dish is supposed to be tasty but super simple, which is why the ingredients are kept to a minimum. But there’s one little variation you can try if you like. You can add a teaspoon or two of red curry paste to the sauce for a bit of extra Thai flavour and kick.

The result will be more like a Thai peanut curry if you do this, but it’ll certainly be no less delicious! Also if you do this you might like to go easy on the added chilis until you see how spicy it is.

And if you’re now craving a proper Thai curry, you just have to try this Thai chicken and butternut squash satay curry. It’s legendary!

A close up of part of a dish of spicy peanut butter chicken from above and with a serving spoon in it

More things to know (FAQs)

Why is my sauce too runny?

Sometimes I find the sauce turns out a little thicker, sometimes a little thinner. It depends on how big the chicken thighs are. Bigger thighs means more juices running out during cooking and mingling with the sauce.

I find the amount of cornflour/corn starch stated in the recipe is usually about right. But if you’d like to thicken slightly more, just add another tablespoon of corn flour blended with a bit of water or stock. Drizzle and stir it into the sauce, then return to the oven for 5 more minutes.

On the other hand, if by any chance your sauce turns out a little thick for your liking (although this has never happened to me!) you can add a drizzle more coconut milk, or even water. Mix in around the chicken and return to the oven for another few minutes.

Is this gluten free?

This dish can very easily be gluten free. Simply make sure you buy a gluten free soy sauce and chicken stock. The other ingredients are naturally gluten free. Serve with rice and you have a very delicious and completely gluten free meal. Especially if you finish off with one of these delicious (and not too naughty) gluten free brownies.

I don’t have chilis – can I use chili paste or sriracha instead? Or can I skip the chili altogether?

Yes! How much should you use? Because different brands vary so much, I’d check the back of the packaging to see what they suggest. It’s best to add just a little at first. You can always stir in more at the end, but you won’t be able to take it out once it’s been added!

Not keen on chili at all? I really feel like this dish is best with at least a bit of chili. If you’re not into super spicy, stick with just 1 chili in the sauce, and another scattered on top. Also make sure you remove the seeds from the chilis before chopping them. Remember to wear kitchen gloves so that the chili oil doesn’t burn your fingers!

You can always serve some extra chopped chilis on the side for anyone who likes more spice.

Can I prepare it ahead?

Yes, absolutely! Just arrange the chicken in a baking dish and pour over the sauce. Then cover and store in the fridge until you’re ready to bake it.

I also like to prepare all the toppings ahead. Just chop everything and put them in little covered bowls until you’re ready to eat. I love to do this when I’m having guests over. This way I can throw the prepared dish in the oven, then concentrate on my guests until it’s cooked!

Can I freeze this?

Absolutely! Simply let the peanut butter chicken thighs cool then freeze in glass containers for up to 3 months. Just make sure you freeze without the garnishes, of course!

Let defrost (ideally overnight in the fridge), then cover it with aluminium foil and reheat in the oven at 325F/160C for about 25 minutes or until properly heated through.

Alternatively, reheat in the microwave. I suggest reheating it at 50% power to make sure it doesn’t dry out. Check the chicken is piping hot after about 5 minutes, and if not keep reheating for a minute at a time until thoroughly reheated.

Someone holding up a bowl of spicy peanut butter chicken and rice with a spoon in it and more in a baking dish behind

Completely mad about peanut butter? You just have to try this peanut butter, banana and chocolate chip cake as well! It has great reviews for a reason.

More quick and easy Asian meals

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A white baking dish of spicy peanut butter chicken from above with a red and green striped tea towel and ingredients around it
4.87 from 29 votes

Easy Spicy Thai Peanut Butter Chicken Thighs

Chicken thighs cooked in a spicy Thai style peanut butter sauce. If you like satay chicken, you'll LOVE this. It takes moments to whisk up the spicy peanut butter sauce and just around 40 minutes to bake. Sprinkle with spring onions, fresh red chilli and more peanuts and congratulate yourself on making such a delicious one pan chicken recipe. Mmmm!
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Servings: 4 (to 5)

Ingredients 
 

Chicken

  • ¼ cups peanut butter
  • ¼ cups soy sauce
  • ¼ cups coconut milk
  • ¼ cups chicken stock, blended into the cornflour
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour, (US = corn starch)
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 piece ginger, (thumb-width piece, at least) peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, (I used Japanese mirin, but Chinese is fine, too)
  • 2 chilis, small red (increase to 3 if you like, remove the seeds for less spicy)
  • 1.75 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs, around 800 grams or between 7 to 11 thighs, depending on the size (the weight doesn't have to be exact!)

Toppings

  • 3 spring onions, (US = scallions/salad onions), chopped finely
  • ounces peanuts, around 50 grams or a large handful, crushed in a food processor or bashed with a rolling pin in a plastic bag (salted or unsalted are both fine)
  • 1 red chili, or increase to 2, chopped finely (or serve more on the side if you like)
  • lime wedges
  • rice or rice noodles, to serve

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/355F.
  • Slowly blend the soy sauce into the peanut butter in a jug or medium bowl, then blend in the coconut milk & stock/corn flour.
  • Stir in the minced garlic, chopped ginger, honey, rice vinegar and chopped chilis.
  • Arrange the chicken thighs in a large baking dish (A medium round baking dish, or a 9 x 12 inch rectangular one), then pour the sauce all over them.
  • Cover with aluminium foil and bake for about 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce bubbling and thickened a little. 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time, remove the foil, spoon the sauce all over the chicken again and then return to the oven uncovered.
  • Spoon the chicken and sauce into individual bowls over rice or rice noodles (or into one nice larger serving dish with a separate bowl of rice/noodles).
  • Sprinkle the spring onions, peanuts and remaining chili over. Eat immediately with lime wedges and poppadoms/naan bread if you like. Also serve extra chilis on the side if you like.

Notes

Thickness of the sauce: Sometimes I find the sauce turns out a little thicker, sometimes a little thinner. It depends on how big the chicken thighs are.
To thicken slightly more, just add another tablespoon of cornflour blended with a bit of water or stock, drizzle and stir it into the sauce, then return to the oven for 5 more minutes.
Chilis: Remove the seeds to make the dish less spicy. Add 1 to 2 more chilis to the sauce and sprinkled on the top for a spicier dish. Alternatively you can serve a dish of extra chopped chilis on the side for those who would like more spice. 
Gluten free: Use gluten free soy sauce & chicken stock to make this dish gluten free.
Alternative: You can add 1 to 3 teaspoons of Thai red chili paste to the sauce for more of a ‘Thai curry’ vibe! 
To make ahead: Assemble the dish completely, then cover and keep in the fridge for up to a day before baking. Make the toppings separately to add after baking.
Freezing instructions: Let cool then freeze in glass containers for up to 3 months. Freeze without the garnishes, of course. 

Let defrost (ideally overnight in the fridge), then cover with aluminium foil and reheat in the oven at 325F/160C for about 25 minutes or until properly heated through.

Alternatively, reheat in the microwave. I suggest reheating it at 50 to 80% power to make sure it doesn’t dry out. Try 5 minutes, then for a minute at a time until thoroughly reheated.

Nutrition

Calories: 503kcal, Carbohydrates: 24g, Protein: 48g, Fat: 25g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g, Monounsaturated Fat: 9g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 189mg, Sodium: 1092mg, Potassium: 903mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 13g, Vitamin A: 459IU, Vitamin C: 51mg, Calcium: 59mg, Iron: 4mg
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About Helen Schofield

Don't expect to find anything fussy or complicated here. Just QUICK, EASY & (mostly!) HEALTHY recipes from the Mediterranean and beyond. ENJOY!

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106 Comments

  1. Thanks for this wonderful recipe. I cooked it a couple of weeks ago and my partner is desperate for me to cook it again so doing so again tonight.

    1. Hi Donna. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave this great feedback. It always makes my day to hear that someone’s enjoyed a recipe on the blog! Hope you both enjoyed it as much the second time! 🙂

      1. Yes we most certainly did and my partner has scored this dish 10 out of 10. Thanks so much for all the effort you’ve gone to with your blog. I’ll have to try some more of your recipes. I’m new to Pinterest so haven’t worked out how to mark it as tried and liked.

      2. Well, thanks again for the positive feedback, Donna. Really appreciate it, and now you’ve got me craving this meal again!

        Hope you follow along with the blog this year – I’ve got some great changes coming up in March!

      3. 5 stars
        As an update, Helen this dish along with your Pumpkin, Chorizo and Feta salad have made their way onto out table too many times to count. They are two of our favourite meals. If ever I ask my partner what I should cook he always asks for this! 😊

      4. Hi, Donna! Merry Christmas! Thank you so much for popping by and letting me know. The spicy Thai peanut chicken is one of my all time favourites and I’m actually thinking of making the salad again for Christmas day as we’re in Australia this year (=super hot, most likely!). That’s an old post but still a popular one. Thanks for the 5 star rating!!!
        P.S. Oh, I’ve just seen you’re in Australia too!

  2. Do you make this with skinless chicken thighs? If not, doesn’t the skin come out soggy unless you pan fry it first or broil it at the end?

    1. Hello, Sheila. Great question, and you’re absolutely right, this is made with skinless, boneless chicken thighs. Thanks for pointing this out to me actually – I’ll change it in the recipe. Hope you do get around to making this – I’ve had great feedback so far!

  3. Just tried this and it came out great! Will definitely be making this again! Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Hello Hannah. You’re so welcome! And thank you so much for taking the time to pop by and leave some feedback. I so appreciate that. You might enjoy my recipes for Singapore noodles and ‘mee goreng’ too if you enjoyed this!
      Happy New Year!

  4. I am obsessed with any peanut/satay based dishes and this is exactly what I love. Going to try this with gluten free soy sauce and no onions sometime soon 🙂

    1. Hello Becky! Thanks so much for passing by and taking the time to comment. Peanut based dishes are my favourite too. Really happy you can easily make this gluten free, too! 🙂

  5. love, love, love this…. I’m glad I have subscribed, this is my type of food….Thanks Helen

    1. Hello, Peter. You’ve just made my day! I’m so happy you like this and really hope you give it a go. It’s definitely one of my favourite meals – just so, so full of flavour. I’ve got another Asian dish coming up soon – and I’m thinking about doing a satay stir-fry, too. Enjoy!

    1. Hello Tammy! I haven’t tried making it like this, but why not? You could give it a try as the recipe also has garlic in it, and then see if it’s spicy enough for you that way. I must admit the chilis add a great flavour and ‘oomph’ but you could always try it with some fresh chilis next time! Good luck and let me know how you go! 🙂

  6. I do love morning cooking shows too – before, they used to have Nigella Lawson on in the mornings and I used to love getting breakfast ready while listening to her potter on and on!
    Speaking of things I love – Helen – wow – this one pan satay looks incredible! Gah – sorry to hear about your chili-cutting mishap – but, wow – fantastic job with this one!

    1. Oh yes, Nigella is so ‘soothing’, isn’t she? Thanks for the sweet comment, Shashi. I’m in love with this satay dish – happy you like it, too!

  7. Oh my goodness, my food hell was blood sausage and something that was clearly intestines…served during an Argentinian Christmas feast…just NO! This chicken definitely looks like my food heaven! Love the Thai and peanut flavors, looks totally delicious!

    1. Oooh, blood sausage!! That is very similar to the ‘boudin’ mentioned in the post. Isn’t it just disgusting!! Oooh, yuck! Glad you like the peanut chicken though, Denise. I feel a bit better about making you remember the blood sausage and intestines now!

  8. My husband is absolutely going to go weak in the knees over this! Thai food is his favorite, I’m just not that good at preparing it and send him out to him favorite restaurant. Guess I’m running out of excuses with this awesome recipe Helen. You put a good amount of peanut butter in there! I gotta feeling every bit of sauce will be used up!

    1. Believe me, Laura, I would only make this if it was super easy. I promise you it is! The only slight ‘hassle’ if you like is chopping up the chilis and onions. The sauce is super easy – just a matter of whisking together all the pastes and sauces. Do try it – you’ll never look back 😉