Peanut Sauce-Marinated Chicken Skewers

Peanut Sauce Marinated Chicken Skewers on a plate with cucumber salad
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Peanut sauce is the best thing in the world (everybody knows that), and chicken thighs are cheap, easy to cook and delicious, therefore these peanut sauce-marinated chicken skewers are the best, easiest, cheapest dinner you didn’t know you needed. 

Peanut Butter Chicken Skewers: AKA Not-Boring Chicken.

When is chicken for dinner (again!?!) not lame? When you start with moist, juicy chicken thighs, and marinate them in a rich and creamy peanut sauce until they are imbued with tons of nutty, garlicky, soy sauce-y goodness. Then, you slip the marinated chicken onto skewers—metal or bamboo skewers both work—and then cook the chicken kebabs in oven, or throw them on the grill. We’re excited to introduce you to what is possibly the easiest, least ho-hum chicken recipe EVER. 

ingredients laid out chicken thighs, peanuts, cilantro, peanut butter, ginger

How To Make Peanut Butter Sauce:

It doesn’t get much more delicious than creamy, nutty homemade peanut butter sauce for chicken—just ask your favorite Thai restaurant (chicken satay, anyone?!). Our take on peanut sauce chicken uses the homemade peanut sauce as a marinade rather than a dip. This peanut marinade for chicken skewers is so simple. In a bowl big enough to hold all of your chicken, simply whisk together: 

  • Creamy peanut butter. Look for a “natural” variety without any added sugar or palm oil. 
  • Garlic. Use fresh cloves—minced, or try grating the garlic with a microplane grater to get it extra fine for easy mixing. 
  • Soy sauce. Low-sodium variety will still be plenty salty, and make this already-healthy chicken kebab recipe that much healthier!
  • Toasted sesame oil. Don’t use untoasted—your peanut sauce marinade will thank you! 
  • white vinegar. Since this is a marinade, not a sauce—in other words, it is a flavor-delivery vehicle rather than something intended to be eaten straight—we want big big flavors! 
  • Green onions. Just the white and light green parts—save the dark green tops for garnish. 
  • Cilantro. But, if you are a person who thinks cilantro tastes like soap (which, btw, is believed to be a genetic thing!) just skip it. 
  • Ground ginger. We know, we know. Usually we call for fresh. BUT! Here, we want the ginger to distribute easily throughout the marinade, and ground ginger is better for that. Just be sure yours isn’t too old—if all you’ve got is a jar of ground ginger left over from Christmas, and it’s mid-July, buy a new jar. 
chicken marinating in peanut sauce in a bowl

Chicken Skewers 101:

Call them shish kebabs or call them chicken skewers—cooking meat and veggies on a stick is one of our very favorite things. Bite-sized pieces are evenly and quickly cooked, and the clean up is super-minimal (especially if you grill the peanut butter chicken skewers). A few things to keep in mind about making chicken skewers: 

  • Have your butcher cut the chicken thigh meat into pieces for you! We just love to put our butcher to work, don’t you? Unless they are really busy—for example, at 5:30pm on a Sunday—asking your butcher (nicely) to do some of the messy prep for you is not a big deal. 
  • Wooden skewers: to soak or not to soak? While some argue that soaking wooden skewers is unnecessary, we’re firmly in the “why risk it?” camp. Soak wooden or bamboo skewers in water for at least 30 minutes before you cook your kebabs to prevent burning. The ends may still take on a bit of char, but that’s OK. If the thought of soaking feels like too much hassle, may we suggest...
  • Metal skewers! No need to soak—just skewer the peanut sauce-marinated chicken thigh meat, and cook those kebabs! The only downside of metal skewers is that they do get quite hot, but you’re probably not in the habit of reaching into your oven or grill without some sort of protective layer anyway, right?

How To Cook Chicken Skewers:

You can cook these peanut sauce-slathered chicken skewers in the oven or on the grill! They’re a great recipe to lean on when you’re not sure what the weather is going to do—no grill, no prob. Just remember, whichever kebab cooking method you opt for, look for an internal temp of 165°F, and try to take that reading near the middle of the skewer. Here’s how to cook chicken kebabs on the grill and in the oven: 

  • In the oven: we’re sort of fudging a grill by using an oven-safe cooling rack in the oven. The rack will give your chicken thigh skewers lovely grill marks—just be sure to have a sheet pan under the chicken kebabs as they cook to catch any drips that may fall. 
  • On the grill: this is probably the easier option, weather permitting. On a gas grill, you’ll want to cook these chicken thigh kebabs at a medium heat, on a charcoal grill that means you want to place them over indirect heat as much as possible. 

Tools: 

Help Us Peanut Sauce, You’re Our Only Hope.

Have we mentioned that we’re crazy for peanut butter sauces and marinades? Not only are they richly satisfying and healthy—peanut butter has lots of protein! Lots of iron! Lots of plant-based fat!—they are so easy. Here are a few of our favorites peanut sauce recipes: 

Peanut Sauce Marinated Chicken Skewers on a plate with cucumber salad

These Chicken Skewers are the BEST, Right?

Snap a photo of your grill-marked, peanut-marinated chicken thigh kebabs and maybe even a video of the beautiful people you share them with. Tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Happy eating!

Peanut Sauce-Marinated Chicken Skewers

Serves 6

Ingredients

3 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces
½ cup creamy natural peanut butter
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp soy sauce (or tamari)
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp white vinegar
4 green onions, minced, divided
¼ cup cilantro, minced (plus extra for serving)
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
½ cup peanuts, crushed for serving
Red pepper flakes, optional
Twelve metal skewers

Method

  1. In a bowl mix together the peanut butter, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, white vinegar, half of the green onions (reserve the rest for a garnish), cilantro, ground ginger and salt.
  2. Add chicken to the peanut sauce, toss well until all the pieces are evenly coated. Allow to marinate for at least 1 hour or covered & refrigerated (a zipper top bag works great for this step too) over night.
  3. Heat oven to 400° F. Place a cooling rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet. Spray or brush the cooling rack with oil to prevent sticking. Thread the chicken onto metal skewers or wooden skewers that have been thoroughly soaked in water to prevent burning. Bake chicken for 20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.

**This recipe is also great grilled over medium high heat.