Peanut Butter Curry is a comforting dinner recipe that is ready in under 30 minutes. This easy weeknight meal has bite-sized pieces of chicken in a creamy sauce, featuring warm spices, savory peanut butter, and rich coconut milk.
Why You Will Love This Recipe
Creamy and Flavorful: The combination of creamy peanut butter, red curry paste, and coconut milk creates a deliciously rich and complex flavor. It is inspired by Thai-style curry and is an approachable dish that is enjoyable even if you are new to the world of curries. This is one meal that my entire family (even the picky ones) will eat!
Quick and Easy: This recipe has very little that needs to be prepped, and it cooks up fast! So it is great for busy weeknights or when you're short on time but still want a delicious and satisfying meal.
Versatile: You can easily switch up the protein and make this a vegetarian dish, or add in some vegetables for a one-pot meal. Even increase the spice levels if you like it hot! It's easy to change up this recipe depending on your mood and using what you have on hand in the kitchen.
Looking for the full recipe? See the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full list of ingredients, including measurements and instructions.
Chicken - Boneless, skinless chicken breast is the main protein in this dish. You could use skinless chicken thighs if you prefer dark meat. For a vegetarian option, use tofu or chickpeas.
Garlic - Fresh garlic adds great flavor to the curry. You can also use one teaspoon of jarred minced garlic or ¾ teaspoon of garlic powder.
Ginger - Fresh ginger or frozen can be used. I do not recommend ground ginger for this recipe as it does not provide the same depth of flavor.
Red Curry Paste - Red curry typically has medium heat, but it can vary widely depending on the brand. I use Thai Kitchen which is flavorful, but more on the mild side. If your curry paste is spicy then leave out the cayenne pepper.
Coconut Milk - Use full-fat coconut milk for the creamiest sauce.
Peanut Butter - Quality, natural peanut butter will contribute the most peanutty flavor. Regular peanut butter will contribute a sweeter flavor, due to the added sugars. I like creamy peanut butter, but crunchy peanut butter can also be used.
Fish Sauce - Fish sauce is a savory, umami-rich condiment used to add depth of flavor to the curry. If you do not have fish sauce or you want a vegetarian meal, substitute the fish sauce with one teaspoon of soy sauce and a teaspoon of lime juice
Quick Tip: The steps to this recipe move quickly, so have all of the ingredients prepared and measured before you begin making the sauce.
How to Make Peanut Butter Chicken Curry
Step One: Brown Chicken
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet and add the chicken pieces in a single layer. Cook over medium-high heat.
- You may need to cook in batches if all of the chicken does not fit in a single layer.
- Once browned, transfer the chicken to a plate.
- It does not need to be fully cooked through. The chicken will continue to cook in the sauce.
Step Two: Saute Curry Paste
- Add a little more oil to the pan then cook the ginger and garlic for 30 seconds, until it is fragrant.
- Add the red curry paste and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes to unlock the flavors of the curry.
Step Three: Cook Sauce
- Add the peanut butter, coconut milk, and the rest of the remaining ingredients to the pan.
- It will be clumpy at first. Whisk it as it heats up and it will transform into a smooth peanut butter sauce.
Step Four: Stir in Chicken
- Once the sauce is smooth, add the chicken back into the pan with the peanut sauce.
- Reduce to low heat and cook for 10 minutes, or until the peanut curry sauce has thickened and the chicken is cooked through.
Peanut Butter Curry Variations
There are so many ways that you can customize this curry to make it your own.
Vegetables: Sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, red bell pepper, onion, and zucchini are all great additions. Add them to the sauce when you add the chicken back in and simmer for 10 minutes, or until tender.
Greens: Boost your nutrients with the addition of kale or spinach. These just need to be added with enough time to wilt, so they can go in during the last few minutes of cooking.
Use Yellow or Green Curry Paste: Yellow curry is milder than red curry and green is a little bit spicier. They each have unique flavor profiles that will change the overall dish. Note that while you can substitute different types of curry paste, curry powder is not a sufficient substitution, as it would not produce the robust flavor needed in this dish.
More Sweetness: If you use natural peanut butter you may want a little added sugar. Just stir in 1 tablespoon of brown sugar.
Thicker Sauce: There are two ways to make a thicker sauce. The first is to simply cook the sauce longer. The longer that it cooks the thicker it will become. The second way is faster. Remove ¼ cup of sauce to a small bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, then add the slurry back to the sauce. Give it a good stir and cook for several minutes to allow the cornstarch time to thicken the sauce. If it gets too thick just add a splash of water.
Protein Alternatives: Swap out the chicken for your favorite protein. Turkey and shrimp are both good options for meat-based meals. Chickpeas or crispy tofu are tasty vegetarian options.
Spicy: For more spice, add additional red curry paste or cayenne pepper.
What to Serve with Peanut Butter Curry?
- Rice: Serve with long-grain rice like Jasmine or Basmati (either white or brown rice is fine). This type of rice has a light and fluffy texture that pairs well with creamy curry. Though it's a bit too rich of a combination for me, my daughter's favorite meal is Peanut Buttery Curry spooned over Coconut Rice.
- Naan bread or roti: These Asian flatbreads are perfect for scooping up the curry sauce.
- Steamed or roasted vegetables: I usually serve steamed broccoli or green beans with this meal. Snap peas are a good option as well.
- Fresh herbs: Top the curry with chopped Thai basil or fresh cilantro for a burst of fresh flavor and color. Green onions are also a tasty topping.
Transfer leftovers to an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Yes, I often make a double batch and freeze half of it. Cool the dish completely then transfer it to a freezer-safe container. It will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then reheat in a large skillet before serving.
Yes, this is an easy crockpot recipe. Just put all of the ingredients into the slow cooker and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or on HIGH for 4-6 hours. The sauce will be thinner when it is cooked in the slow cooker, but it's still an easy, healthy dinner.
For cooking in the Instant Pot, place all of the ingredients in your pressure cooker. Then set to high pressure for 11 minutes. Once it finishes cooking, let the pressure naturally release for 5 minutes, then open the quick-release steam valve. To thicken the sauce, turn on the SAUTE function for 5-10 minutes.
More 30 Minute Dinners
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Peanut Butter Chicken CurryRecipe by:
- 2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast cut into bite-sized cubes
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 4 garlic cloves peeled and minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 3 tablespoon red curry paste
- ½ cup creamy peanut butter
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (omit if using a very spicy curry paste)
- ½ tablespoon fish sauce
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 13.5 ounce cans coconut milk
- roasted peanuts & chopped cilantro for garnish
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
- Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the chicken and toss to coat. Transfer the chicken pieces to the skillet in an even layer. (Cook in batches, if needed) Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. The chicken does not need to be cooked through as it will finish cooking in the sauce. Transfer the browned chicken to a plate and set aside.2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet and reduce the heat to medium. Add the minced garlic and ginger and cook for one minute, stirring continuously to prevent burning.4 garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- Add the red curry paste and stir for an additional minute.3 tablespoon red curry paste
- Add in the remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth. Then add the chicken to the sauce. Bring to a simmer, then reduce to low heat and cook for 10 minutes, stirring continuously.½ cup creamy peanut butter, ½ teaspoon chili powder, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, ½ tablespoon fish sauce, ½ teaspoon sesame oil, 2 13.5 ounce cans coconut milk
- Serve over steamed rice and top with roasted peanuts and chopped cilantro.roasted peanuts & chopped cilantro
This recipe weas originally published on May 2, 20202 and was updated on April 12, 2023 to include more detailed recipe steps, ingredient information, and variation suggestions. Here's one of the photos from the original post.