This 30-Minute Thai Peanut Chicken with super tender chicken, healthy veggies and a silky smooth Asian peanut sauce comes together in less time than you can order takeout!
When my husband tells me at least five times during a meal, how delicious it is and, as I'm clearing the table, says, "That was like candy!" (his description of something crazy-good), I know the dinner was a winner! I love that this Thai Peanut Chicken comes together quickly, yet has the flavor of a much more time-consuming recipe!
I wanted a Thai Peanut Chicken recipe that would be easy enough to make it feasible for a weeknight dinner, yet something so delicious it would also be great for a dinner party. To create a recipe like that, I employed some of my favorite flavor creating secrets.
Delicious flavor secrets
To give more depth of flavor to this Thai Peanut Chicken, I have included a few of my favorite little culinary secrets. Secrets that give the sauce a long-simmered, complex deliciousness in a short amount of time.
- Include a variety of super flavorful ingredients; in this case, garlic, finely chopped red onion, ginger, red curry paste, peanut butter (hence the name), brown sugar, soy sauce and turmeric.
- Gently sauté these aromatics and flavor enhancers in oil before adding the liquid. This helps them "bloom" which adds a wonderful complexity to this Thai Peanut Chicken. It's sweet, spicy and has a ton of delicious Asian-inspired flavor.
- Use an oil that complements the recipe and other ingredients. I chose coconut oil which, in combination with the other ingredients, creates another layer of flavor.
- Create lots of texture in addition to flavor. A silky smooth sauce, crisp veggies, tender chicken and crunchy peanuts all work together to enhance each other.
The vegetables (sliced red onion and broccolini) stay crisp-tender in this recipe as they're quickly stir-fried before making the sauce, then removed from the pot until right before serving. They retain both their pretty color and shape as well as adding a nice texture to the finished dish.
An easy trick for tender chicken
One last element of this recipe that makes it unique is the prep I use with the chicken. If you've been following The Café for a while you may recognize this technique called "velveting". I've used it in lots of other Asian recipes like this 30 Minute Sticky Thai Chicken and this Easy Chicken Coconut Curry.
If you've ever eaten at an Asian restaurant and wondered how in the world they get the chicken so tender, they probably employ this velveting technique. It's a wonderful trick to have up your sleeve!
Velveting doesn't take long and it's not difficult, but it makes a world of difference in the finished product. How does it work? There are actually several ways to velvetize chicken. I've tried them all, but I found the following technique produces the most delicious results.
Simply combine the chicken with a mixture of egg white, cornstarch and rice vinegar and marinate this mixture for 20 minutes. This simple process doesn't affect the flavor, but what is does do is break down the tough fibers, making the chicken super tender - like velvet!
The only other thing you need to know about this Thai Peanut Chicken is that you definitely need to make it! Pick up some chicken breasts, a bunch of broccolini (baby broccoli) and a can of coconut milk next time you shop. If you have a well-stocked pantry you probably have everything else you need.
Café Tips for making this Thai Peanut Chicken
- You can use either full-fat or light coconut milk in this recipe. I usually have both in my pantry but the light works well in this recipe and saves a bunch of calories. If you prefer the full fat, feel free to use it.
- I use creamy Skippy peanut butter for this recipe. Crunchy style would also be nice, although the sauce won't be as smooth. I would hesitate to use natural peanut butter that has oil on the top, I think it could make it difficult to obtain a creamy, smooth sauce.
- Use whatever type of peanuts you really like. Salted, roasted are great, plain unsalted also work. I used honey roasted, salted peanuts the first time I made this, only because I was out of plain peanuts. We loved this crunchy, sweet, salty garnish so that's what I now use every time I make this Thai Peanut Chicken.
- I like to use fresh Thai basil and cilantro as a garnish for this dish but regular basil also works well as does fresh mint. You don't have to have a combination of herbs, feel free to use whatever you like and/or have available.
- Another garnish I enjoy using on Asian dishes like this Thai Peanut Chicken is sesame seed. I usually keep a supply of both black and light-colored sesame seeds. I store them in the freezer as sesame seeds can go rancid if stored too long at room temperature.
- This recipe calls for red curry paste. Red curry paste is available at most larger grocers in the Asian section. Red curry pastes can vary in heat intensity so I put a range for the amount to use. Thai Kitchen is the brand I usually use. We like things medium spicy and one and one-half tablespoons is perfect for us. If you like your food fairly spicy, go with two or more. Like things less spicy? Start out with one tablespoon and you can always add more later.
- Serve this Thai Peanut Chicken with white or brown rice. Black rice (forbidden rice) would also be delicious - and beautiful!
- Speaking of rice, did you know that you can freeze rice? Yep, it freezes beautifully! I like to make a double or triple batch when I'm cooking rice and then portion it out into ziplock bags. I freeze the rice in bags and just pull one out when we're having a dinner that goes with rice. It saves so much time and makes it much easier to get dinner together quickly!
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear other’s results and ideas for variations.
- 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 egg white from medium or large egg
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil divided
- 1 medium bunch broccolini
- 1 medium red onion peeled, halved and sliced about ¼-inch thick
- 1-2 tablespoon red curry paste
- ⅔ cup peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger or ginger paste
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 ½ teaspoons turmeric
- ½ medium red onion finely chopped
- 14 ounce can coconut milk I use light
- 2 cups chicken broth
- ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
- chopped peanuts for garnish
- fresh lime wedges
- cilantro mint, Thai basil, for garnish, if desired
- sesame seeds if desired for garnish (I use black and white)
Cut chicken into small, bite-size pieces. Combine egg white, corn starch and rice vinegar in a medium-size bowl and whisk with a fork until well combined. Add chicken and stir well to coat. Refrigerate for 20 minutes while preparing the veggies and sauce.
Thinly slice broccolini stems on an angle. Cut any large florets into smaller pieces.
Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a medium-large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add the broccolini and stir for 1 minute. Add the sliced red onion and a generous pinch of salt (about ¼ teaspoon) and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 more minute. Remove veggies to a bowl and set aside.
Heat remaining 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in the same pot. Add red curry paste, peanut butter, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, turmeric and chopped red onion. Cook for 2 minutes stirring frequently.
Slowly add the coconut milk while stirring. When smooth, add the chicken stock and soy sauce and bring it to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and cook, uncovered for 10 minutes.
Add the chicken along with the marinade and return to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes then turn off the heat and cover for another 5 minutes. Add the broccolini and red onion (reserve a few pieces of broccolini and a few red onion slices for garnish, if desired) and stir gently.
Serve with white, brown or black rice or Asian noodles and lime wedges. Garnish with chopped or halved peanuts, sesame seeds and fresh Thai basil, regular basil, cilantro and/or mint.
See Café Tips for more detailed instructions and tips.
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