This Peanut Butter Chicken Curry is easy to make, full of big and bright flavors, and lusciously creamy and rich! It’s made with mostly everyday ingredients, customizable with your favorite protein and veggies, and is incredibly satisfying with steamed rice!
1.5-inch knob of Ginger – minced (about 2 TBLS minced)
2–10 Red Chilies (Bird’s eye preferred), to taste – chopped
1 Large Red Chili (optional) – thinly sliced at an angle
½ Red Bell Pepper – cored and deseeded, thinly sliced, then sliced in half
½ Yellow Bell Pepper – cored and deseeded, thinly sliced, then sliced in half
125 grams (27–28 pieces) Snow Peas (Snow Beans) – ends trimmed and hairy parts removed
6 pieces Baby Corn – cut into ½-inch pieces
1 (14 ounce/400ml) can Coconut Milk
2 TSP Corn Starch + ¼ cup Water (mixed together to make a slurry)
1.5 TBLS freshly squeezed Lime Juice
1 TSP Brown Sugar, more or less to taste
½ TSP Mint Flakes
2–3 TBLS chopped Coriander (Cilantro)
Optional toppings: Reserved coriander, chopped unsalted (or lightly salted) oil roasted peanuts, a sprinkle of crushed red pepper chili flakes
To Serve: Steamed white rice, lime wedges for squeezing if desired
Season the chicken: Combine the garlic powder, ground ginger, onion powder, turmeric powder, kosher salt, and freshly cracked black pepper in a medium-sized bowl. Mix with a spoon until the spices are evenly integrated. Dice the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and add them to the bowl. Mix until the chicken is evenly coated in the spices and seasonings. Set aside.
Prepare the fresh ingredients: While the chicken is marinating, prepare the fresh ingredients. Chop the red onion, garlic, ginger, red chilies, large red chili (if using), red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, baby corn, and coriander as indicated in the “Ingredients” section. Trim the ends of the snow beans, and remove and discard any hairy parts.
Make the Thai Sweet Chili Peanut Sauce: Combine the Thai sweet chili sauce, low sodium light soy sauce, peanut butter, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and crushed red pepper chili flakes in a bowl or measuring cup. Mix with a spoon until thoroughly combined and a smooth and thick paste has formed.
Make the corn starch slurry: Combine the corn starch and water in a small bowl or measuring cup. Mix with a spoon until combined and a slurry has formed, then set aside.
For the Peanut Butter Chicken Curry:
Cook the chicken: Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large wok or large deep sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the marinated chicken and spread out the pieces evenly in the wok. Cook undisturbed for a minute, then toss and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the chicken has browned and has fully cooked through. Transfer to a clean bowl and set aside.
Sauté aromatics: In the same wok (no need to wipe out), heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the red onion, garlic, and ginger. Sauté for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant.
Stir-fry chilies and veggies: Add the chopped red chilies and thinly sliced large red chili and stir-fry for a minute to combine. Toss in the red and yellow bell pepper, snow beans, and baby corn and stir-fry for a minute until slightly softened.
Simmer: Lower the heat to low and pour in the coconut milk and add the Thai Sweet Chili Peanut Sauce. Give the corn starch slurry a quick stir with a spoon (the corn starch will have settled at the bottom) and pour it into the wok too. Give everything a good stir to combine, then add the cooked chicken and stir. Cover the wok and simmer for 5-6 minutes, stirring once in between to make sure the peanut butter isn’t sticking to the bottom of the wok.
Stir in the lime juice, brown sugar, and coriander: Uncover the wok and turn the heat back up to medium-high. Stir in the freshly squeezed lime juice, brown sugar, mint flakes, and half of the coriander. Simmer for a minute, then switch off the heat.
To Serve: Transfer to a serving bowl/dish and garnish with the remainder chopped coriander, chopped peanuts, and a sprinkle of crushed red chili flakes. Serve immediately with warm steamed rice and extra lime wedges for squeezing if desired.
Ingredient Notes, Cook’s Tips, and FAQs
Chicken: I used boneless and skinless chicken breasts and diced them up into bite-sized pieces. But you’re welcome to use boneless and skinless chicken thighs. In fact, thighs are more juicy and flavorful so they’ll work great in this curry.
Peanut Butter: I use Skippy’s smooth (creamy) peanut butter, which has salt and sugar added to it already. Feel free to use a crunchy peanut butter instead if you like.
Adjust the spice level to taste. Feel free to make this curry as mild or as spicy as you prefer by adjusting (or omitting entirely) the amount of ground cayenne, fresh red chilies, and crushed red pepper flakes. If you are very sensitive to spicy foods, I recommend using a mild Thai sweet chili sauce and also using less of it.
Sear the chicken first to ensure that the flavors lock in. You might be tempted to just add the chicken directly to the curry. But adding the chicken pieces directly to the curry without cooking them first will cause the spices and seasonings to drown into the curry and result in bland chicken. The maillard reaction (the reaction that occurs when you sear food and gives browned food its unique flavor) will make the chicken pieces more flavorful. So don’t skip this step!
Don’t simmer the curry too long. This is a quick cooking curry and doesn’t need a lot of time to simmer. Simmering too long may cause the chicken to dry out and the veggies to lose their crunch and flavor.
Can I use light coconut milk? I recommend using full fat coconut milk so that the curry is nice and creamy. Full fat coconut milk is also more flavorful than light coconut milk. If you don’t mind a less creamy (more fluid) curry texture, feel free to use light coconut milk instead. Or if using light coconut milk and you would like a thick and creamy curry texture, add an additional teaspoon of cornstarch to the cornstarch slurry.
Can I use a natural peanut butter? Yes, you can. But note that it will result in a less creamy and thick sauce. I personally prefer using a commercial peanut butter such as Skippy or Jif because the added sugar, salt, and additives gives you a more flavorful and luscious sauce.
Can I make this refined sugar free? Yes. Use a natural peanut butter and a natural sweetener (such as honey or palm sugar) instead of brown sugar to sweeten the curry. Also, use a sugar-free Thai sweet chili sauce or another type of Asian spicy-sweet chili sauce that is naturally sugar free.
Why do you use garlic and ginger powder for the chicken and fresh garlic and ginger for the curry? Fresh garlic and ginger don’t taste exactly the same as their powdered counterparts and have a different flavor profile. The fresh versions give the curry a distinctive flavor and makes it more fragrant, warming, and earthy. Having said that, you can substitute the powdered versions for the fresh garlic and ginger if in a pinch.
Can I make this gluten-free? Yes. Use either Tamari or a gluten-free soy sauce. Try to use a low sodium one as regular gluten-free soy sauce may make the curry too salty.
Can I make this dairy-free? No change needed. All of the ingredients in this recipe are naturally dairy-free.
Can I make this vegetarian/vegan? Yes. Use a soy or plant-based protein instead of the chicken. I recommend crispy pan-fried tofu cubes or tempeh.
Can I use a different non-vegetarian protein? Yes. Shrimp, beef, or pork would all work. You’ll need 400 grams of whichever protein you choose. For shrimp, season and cook it in step 1, but stir it into the curry during the last minute of simmering in step 4. For beef or pork, I recommend slicing the cut of meat thinly so that the slices can get a good sear.
Can I use different veggies? Absolutely! You can use potatoes, sugar snaps, green beans, mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, capsicum, or any other curry friendly veggies you have in your fridge!
Can I leave out the veggies? Yes. If you prefer, you can leave out the veggies completely. I recommend using 4 chicken breasts (about 800 grams / 1.75 lbs) and doubling the spices and seasonings for marinating them if omitting the veggies. In addition, cook the chicken in batches in step 1 to prevent overcrowding the wok. Overcrowding will cause the chicken to steam instead of sear and brown.
What can I serve this curry with? I like serving it with steamed white rice. (I mostly use short-grain Japanese white rice at home.) But Thai Jasmine rice, brown rice, vermicelli, rice noodles, linguini, or even quinoa, zoodles, or cauliflower rice for low-carb options would all taste great with this delicious curry!
How long will this curry keep? This curry will keep for 3-4 days in a sealed airtight container in the refrigerator. Reheat in a wok or pot on the stovetop. Alternatively, you can reheat in the microwave for 1 minute, then stir and heat for 1-2 more minutes or until hot throughout.
Can I freeze this curry? Yes. This curry freezes beautifully. Transfer to freezer bags or freezer friendly containers once it has cooled. Freeze for up to three months. Then when you would like to have this curry, thaw in the fridge overnight (it won’t thaw completely, but that’s okay). Add the curry to a wok or large stockpot and heat over medium-high heat for a few minutes or until fully heated through.