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. Thrilled to hear this, Priscilla, and thank you so much for the feedback. This is still one of my favorite meals, after years and years of making it! 🙂

    1. Hi Diana! Apologies you had that experience. Is it a particular kind of ad in particular (video or something else?). I’m always open to suggestions for improvement on the site. Sadly I do have to keep some ads because that’s the only way I can continue to offer the recipes for free. However, I am about to publish some recipe meal plans which will be ad-free! In the meantime, you can simply click the ‘jump to recipe’ button at the top of the page to be taken straight to the recipe, then you can print it from there. I hope you will give the recipe another try as that is a great one! 🙂

  1. Can I substitute pablano peppers for red chili peppers ? I also have dried guajillo peppers I can reconstitute.

    1. Hi Todd! I hope I’m not replying too late but yes, pablano peppers are one of the best substitutes for chili peppers. I hope you enjoy the recipe!

  2. Hi Helen,

    This looks so yum I plan to make it using small chicken drumsticks instead of thighs this evening.
    Quick question, do you think it will still taste great without the ginger and chilli? My son is only 4 and has become fussy and so would rather remove any spice even only slight. As for ginger, well I don’t like it very much so I never buy it and am unable to buy such a small piece for just 1 recipe.

    I am time poor atm but my daughter loves satay chicken so thought this recipe would be a great 1 instead of my jar sauce and chicken breast for a change. 😀

    1. Hello Lisa! Yes, I think you can absolutely skip the ginger and chilli! You could perhaps add a little more garlic to compensate (just if you like). If you still want to add chilli for yourself, you could sprinkle over a little chopped fresh red chilli when serving. You could also add fresh coriander and plenty of the salad onions for yourself if you want to up the flavor. I really hope you all enjoy it!

  3. 5 stars
    Hi Helen, this was very nice. I did add a touch of curry powder as well. Family enjoyed it.

    1. Hello Sue! Thank you so much for the feedback. I’m so glad you enjoyed it, and it’s helpful to know you enjoyed it with the addition of the curry 🙂

  4. If you have big breasts ya better triple the sauce recipe. My chicken took twice as long to cook which reduced the sauce, I had enough for one plate of food. Otherwise it was good.

    1. Good tip, Cortnee – thanks! Chicken breast size does vary a lot! Glad you enjoyed it!

  5. 5 stars
    Stunning! Helen, you are my kitchen guru, every recipe of yours I’ve tried we have loved. And this was another massive hit tonight . Thank you for making our mealtimes so exciting x

    1. Hello Helen! Aw thank you so much for the endorsement!! This is one of my favourite recipes ever, but also one of my oldest so it’s probably due for a review. Really good to know it still works and is still being enjoyed, though. Thank you again – I’m so happy you’re enjoying my recipes 🙂

  6. 5 stars
    Wow, we loved this! Only change was using Sriracha and green bell pepper instead of chiles (sorry, it hurt my soul too, but that’s what I had) and I threw in some fish sauce. Had plain white vinegar but I used a little dry sherry too.

    Made it with Alton Brown’s Baked Brown Rice, using broth and a little coconut milk in the rice for kicks and giggles. I liked my all-oven meal! Thanks 🙂

    1. Hello and happy new year! Thank you so much for leaving such a positive review of this. You’ve reminded me to make this again soon. It’s one of my older recipes but still a firm favourite. Absolutely nothing wrong with making a few substitutions with things you have in the cupboard! Have you tried the mee goreng too? Another favourite of ours!

  7. 5 stars
    That looks just like a dish I would order in a restaurant. It looks delicious and I always go for peanut sauces. I can’t wait to make this for my family.

    1. Hi Marisa! Thanks so much for rating the recipe. I like to order dishes like this in restaurants too. I must admit I’m quite proud of myself for coming up with this one!

  8. Thank you so much for this wonderful recipie it was a major hit in my peanut loving household! I loved this so much that I wrote up a little blog post of my attempt with a link to this post to spread the peanut love 👉https://www.thekingandpie.com/chicken-peanut-curry/

    1. Hi Dora – so happy you gave this a go! Will pop over to your blog and read your update!