Homemade satay chicken features marinated and grilled chicken skewers with the most addictive peanut sauce. It’s easy, authentic, and always a crowd-pleaser.
Making homemade chicken satay is always a fabulous option whenever I’m craving Thai or Malaysian food.
Coming from a half-Malaysian background, satay was a staple in my household, but today’s recipe is actually more Thai-inspired. During my travels, I spent several months in Thailand and during that time attended an intensive Thai cooking school for over two weeks. Thai satay chicken is one of our signature recipes, and I’m so excited to share this authentic recipe with you!
Table of Contents
What is satay chicken?
Satay is the name of a dish that consists of pieces of meat (chicken, pork, or beef) that are skewered, grilled, and served with a richly spiced peanut sauce.
In terms of the cooking process, the meat is marinated, skewered, then grilled over high heat. The end result is finger-licking charred chicken that is tender and juicy inside. Paired with a seriously addictive peanut sauce, it’s no wonder it’s one of the world’s most popular dishes!
I’ve been making it at least once a week since returning from my travels, and I do not doubt that you’ll love it too, because:
- Mouthwatering flavors and textures. The long marinating time makes the chicken juicy and tender and infuses it with a lot of flavor.
- Quick to make. Although a little prep work is needed to marinate the chicken, it’s hands-off once it’s time to cook.
- Perfect for parties. Skewered chicken is a great appetizer or a main dish for large gatherings. It is easy to make chicken satay in big batches with a large grill.
- Can be prepped in advance. You can marinade the chicken, thread it on skewers a day in advance, and grill it when needed.
Aromatics and spices make the foundations of this recipe. Besides those and the chicken itself, there isn’t anything else needed to make them. Here is everything you will need:
- Chicken thigh fillets. For skewered chicken, thigh meat is always preferable over breast meat, as it has a higher fat content and has less risk of drying out. I used skinless and boneless fillets.
- Aromatics. Shallots, onions, and garlic make the base of the marinade.
- Lemongrass. The secret ingredient! Not only is it a staple in Thai cuisine but also a staple for most chicken recipes, including this one. It adds a distinct citrus flavor that balances out the other ingredients.
- Oil. I used olive oil but any neutral-flavored oil is fine.
- Soy sauce. Adds a little umami flavor.
- Turmeric powder. To flavor the chicken and give the satay its distinctive yellow color.
- Sugar. I like to add a pinch of sugar to balance out the salty and savory flavors. It also helps with the caramelization of the exterior.
- Salt. To taste.
- Basting sauce. A combination of coconut cream and peanut oil is needed to brush the chicken as it cooks to keep it juicy and moist.
- Peanut sauce. My homemade Thai peanut sauce slathered over this chicken is *chef’s kiss*.
Find the printable recipe with measurements below.
How to make chicken satay
Step 1 – Make the marinade. Add all ingredients except for the chicken to a food processor and blend until a grainy thick paste forms.
Step 2 – Marinate the chicken. Add the cubed chicken to a bowl and pour the marinade over it. Give the chicken a mix, then cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or overnight.
Step 3 – Grill the chicken and serve. Once the chicken is marinated, thread 4-5 pieces on pre-soaked bamboo skewers. Cook the satay on a preheated grill or grill pan for 2-3 minutes per side, basting with coconut cream and peanut oil a few times. Serve immediately.
Can I make this in the oven?
Yes! Easily make oven-baked chicken satay with a few small tweaks. The cooking time is slightly longer, but you can make it year-round with less clean-up than a grill.
Start by prepping the chicken as instructed. Once it’s marinating, preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Next, line a large baking sheet with tin foil and grease generously. Now, add the chicken to the skewers and place them on the greased sheet, ensuring the skewers aren’t touching one another. Finally, bake for 25 minutes, flipping halfway through (and basting once).
Tips to make the best recipe
- Always soak the skewers. This step is crucial as dry skewers will burn on the grill. I like to soak them for about 5 minutes before threading the chicken on.
- Allow the chicken to come to room temperature. Remove the chicken from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking it on the grill. The chicken may cook unevenly if it’s cold.
- Cut the chicken into even pieces. To ensure all sides cook evenly and completely. We don’t want some chicken to be over-cooked and other bits under-cooked!
- Marinate for longer. The beauty of this kind of chicken is that you can marinate it for up to two days in advance without affecting the texture of flavor.
To store. Transfer leftovers to an airtight container when it cools. Keep in the fridge for 3-4 days.
To reheat. Reheat chicken in the oven preheated to 300F degrees or in the microwave until heated through. Be sure to remove the skewers if you choose the latter option.
To freeze. Remove the chicken from the skewers, transfer it into zip-top bags, and freeze for up to 2 months.
Be creative with the way you re-purpose any leftovers. Toss the chicken through a simple salad and use the peanut sauce as a dressing, make a Fusion-style pizza using the peanut sauce as the sauce base, or even add it to wraps and sandwiches.
While the classic Thai peanut sauce is a must, I love using other Asian-inspired sauces for some variety.
- Bulgogi sauce– It’s sweet and almost ketchup-like.
- Eel sauce– No eels needed, I promise. It’s thick and glossy and has a very rich flavor so a little goes a long way.
- Potsticker sauce– A thinner, more savory sauce.
- Katsu sauce– I often refer to this as Asian BBQ sauce. It’s sweet, smoky, and seriously addictive.
Frequently asked questions
Thanks to the rich-flavored marinade, these grilled chicken skewers has a rich savory flavor with sweet notes and hints of lemongrass. It is also smoky when cooked on a grill.
Chicken satay is a popular dish in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia and has many variations. The Thai version inspires this particular recipe.
Satay is a relatively healthy meal option as it is grilled and not fried. It is a good source of protein, minerals, and vitamins and can be a part of a balanced diet. Pair it with some vegetables and steamed rice for a balanced meal.
Yes! Using a grill pan works just fine if you don’t want to bust out a charcoal or outdoor grill. Just be sure to avoid overcrowding the chicken on the pan and cook in batches if needed.
Chicken Satay Recipe
- 1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil
- 1 tablespoon coconut cream
- 1/2 cup Peanut sauce
- In a food processor, add all the ingredients except for the chicken. Blend until a thick paste remains.
- Add the chicken to a bowl and cover with the marinade. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes or up to 12 hours.
- Once the chicken is marinated, thread 4-5 pieces on some pre-soaked bamboo skewers. This recipe makes approximately 12 skewers. Make the basting sauce by whisking the coconut cream with peanut oil.
- Preheat a grill pan or grill, and once hot, add the chicken satay to them and cook for 2-3 per side, basting as needed.
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