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I love a juicy grilled chicken thigh or grilled chicken breast, but when I want more interesting flavors, this Thai chicken satay recipe with peanut sauce is my go-to. It’s hard to beat the combination of tender, marinated chicken paired with a creamy, nutty peanut sauce. Plus, food on a stick is always more fun. Who knew this Asian-inspired experience is so easy to recreate at home?
Why You’ll Love This Chicken Satay Recipe
- Juicy, tender, charred chicken
- Savory, spiced marinade
- Creamy, sweet, nutty peanut sauce
- Simple ingredients, with no refined sugar
- Fast prep time
- Easy summer grilling main dish — but you can cook it on the stovetop, too!
What Is Chicken Satay?
Chicken satay consists of chicken skewers marinated in a coconut milk and spices, grilled to perfection, and served with peanut sauce for dipping. Although it has origins in Indonesia, you can find it served in street food markets throughout Thailand, Malaysia, and other parts of southeast Asia.
Ingredients & Substitutions
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for chicken satay, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
Chicken Satay Marinade:
- Coconut Aminos – This makes up the base of the marinade. Coconut aminos is my go-to natural soy sauce substitute, but low sodium soy sauce or tamari also works.
- Full-Fat Coconut Milk – Provides richness, creaminess, and a fuller flavor to the marinade while tenderizing the chicken satay.
- Fish Sauce – Adds an umami flavor. I love this brand, which is gluten-free and has no artificial ingredients or sugar. If you need a substitute, Worcestershire sauce will work, but the flavor won’t quite be the same.
- Lime – The acid helps to tenderize the chicken and also adds a subtle tangy flavor. You’ll need both lime juice and lime zest, so fresh limes work best rather than bottled. Lemon juice and zest will work as a substitute. You can also add a teaspoon of lemongrass if you like.
- Garlic – I use fresh minced garlic, but 2 teaspoons of jarred minced garlic or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder would work.
- Grated Ginger – Adds a fresh, pungent, and slightly spicy flavor that complements the other marinade ingredients. You can use a pinch of ground ginger instead if you like.
- Curry Powder – I used yellow curry powder, but you can also experiment with red, green, or even Madras curry powder. Ground turmeric also makes a nice addition.
VARIATION: Add sweetness or heat!
- Sweetness – Many chicken satay recipes add brown sugar to the marinade, but when I want to sweeten mine, I use 1-2 tablespoons of honey (or sugar-free honey) instead.
- Heat – If you want some spice, add a sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes (or simply black pepper) to the marinade.
- Chicken – I used boneless skinless chicken thighs. Chicken thigh meat will make the juiciest chicken satay, but boneless skinless chicken breast also works great. Since you’ll be threading it on skewers, bone-in cuts don’t work well here.
- Wooden Skewers – I used these and they were the perfect length.
- Olive Oil – For brushing right before grilling. This helps lock in moisture and prevents sticking. Avocado oil or any neutral cooking oil works.
Optional For Serving:
- Peanut Sauce – Adds a rich, creamy, and nutty flavor, and it only takes 5 minutes to make it! You’ll need just 5 simple ingredients: peanut butter, coconut aminos, garlic, honey (or sugar-free honey), and vinegar.
- Fresh Cilantro – Adds a pop of color and flavor. Feel free to skip it if you’re not a fan.
- Lime Wedges – A squeeze of lime juice just before serving adds vibrant flavor.
- Peanuts – For texture and crunch. Chop finely.
How To Make Chicken Satay
This section shows how to make Thai chicken satay with peanut sauce, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Mix the marinade. In a medium bowl, whisk together the chicken satay marinade ingredients: coconut aminos (or soy sauce), coconut milk, fish sauce, lime juice and zest, garlic, ginger, and curry powder.
- Slice the chicken. Cut the chicken thighs lengthwise into long, thin strips.
- Marinate the chicken. Place the chicken in a zip lock bag or deep glass dish. Pour the marinade over the chicken and toss to coat. Seal the bag or cover the dish with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.
- Prepare the skewers. While the chicken is marinating, immerse wooden skewers in cold water to prevent burning on the grill.
- Assemble the chicken satay skewers. Thread the chicken onto the skewers lengthwise and place on a baking sheet. Brush with oil on all sides.
- Grill. Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Cook the chicken skewers until lightly charred and cooked through.
- Enjoy. Serve chicken satay with peanut dipping sauce, chopped peanuts, cilantro, and lime wedges if desired.
Alternate Cooking Methods
Don’t have a grill? You can also cook Thai chicken satay using other methods:
- Stovetop: Marinate the chicken, thread on skewers, then cook in a grill pan or regular cast iron skillet for 3-5 minutes per side.
- Oven: After marinating and skewering, arrange the chicken on a baking sheet in a single layer. Broil on High for 8-12 minutes, until cooked through.
Tips For The Best Chicken Satay
Although this chicken satay recipe is easy, use these tips to make sure it cooks perfectly:
- Slice chicken to even thickness. This ensures that they cook at the same rate.
- Marinate for the right amount of time. Ideally, the meat should marinate for at least an hour but no longer than 24 hours (or the chicken will get mushy). A good range to target is 2-4 hours, or overnight.
- Give the chicken space. Arrange the pieces on the grill so that they aren’t touching each other. This ensures that they cook evenly (and also faster).
- Use a meat thermometer. This is the best way to know your chicken is cooked perfectly.
- Get the right internal temperature. For best results, cook dark meat like chicken thighs to an internal temperature of 170 degrees F. (This is more juicy than the minimum safe temperature of 165 degrees F, and the opposite of what you’d do for white meat.) If you’re making chicken satay with chicken breasts, go for 165 degrees F instead.
- Store: Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
- Meal prep: Make the satay chicken recipe, then portion into meal prep containers with rice or cauliflower rice for easy lunches.
- Reheat: You can reheat chicken satay on the grill, in the oven at 350 degrees F, or in the microwave on medium power.
- Freeze: Transfer to an airtight zip lock bag or containers, and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
What To Serve With Chicken Satay
Serve this chicken as an appetizer or as a main course! Chicken satay recipes pair well with other Asian dishes:
- Peanut Sauce – The perfect dipping sauce for chicken satay (shown above)!
- Rice – Coconut rice makes a great pairing, but you can serve it with regular white rice, fried rice, or for a lighter option, cauliflower rice.
- Noodles – Choose your fave! I like satay chicken with lighter options, like spaghetti squash pad Thai or simple zucchini noodles. (Bonus: The satay sauce is delicious over both of these!)
- Salad – Try a smashed cucumber salad or a simple Asian-inspired cabbage salad. You can also serve the skewers over a vibrant Thai salad.
More Grilled Skewer Recipes
If you like food on a stick as much as I do (why does it always seem to taste better?), try these other grilled skewers:
Chicken Satay (Very Easy, With Peanut Sauce)
This easy Thai chicken satay recipe is marinated in coconut milk & spices, then cooked to perfection and served with a 5-minute peanut sauce.
Tap underlined ingredients to see where to get them. Please turn Safari reader mode OFF to view ingredients.
Optional For Serving:
Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the coconut aminos, coconut milk, fish sauce, lime juice, lime zest, garlic, ginger, and curry powder.
Slice the chicken thighs into long, thin strips, 1” wide. Each thigh can be cut into about 4 strips.
Place the chicken in a plastic bag. Pour the marinade over the chicken, seal and toss to coat. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably 2-4 hours, or up to 24 hours.
While the chicken is marinating, soak the wooden skewers in cold water for 30-60 minutes. This prevents them from burning on the grill.
Meanwhile, thread the chicken onto the skewers lengthwise. Brush with olive oil on all sides.
Cook the chicken satay on the grill for 3-5 minutes on each side, until crispy and internal temperature reaches 170 degrees F (77 degrees C). (This temperature is best for dark meat like chicken thighs, but if you use chicken breasts, 165 degrees F (74 degrees C) is better.)
If desired, serve with peanut sauce, chopped peanuts, cilantro, and lime wedges.
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Serving size: 2-3 skewers, or 1/6 of entire recipe
Nutrition info includes only 1/3 of the marinade ingredients, because most of it is discarded. It also does not include optional serving ingredients.
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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