Peanut Butter: It's What's for Dinner
Turns out everyone’s favorite condiment is also a savory superstar. Here are 20 easy peanut butter recipes for a dynamite dinner.
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I ate peanut butter for dinner for years without knowing it. I could recognize ginger, coconut milk, lime, and fish sauce in my treasured curries and spring rolls, but had no idea what the mystery ingredient was that tied them all together. Only after stumbling upon a recipe for an Asian-inspired broccoli salad did my forehead-smacking commence.
Peanut butter, the same stuff that’s been languishing in my pantry (next to the canned coconut milk and fish sauce, which are, coincidentally, peanut butter’s best savory friends), can make any food indulgent. Case in point: Several of the following recipes are vegan, and this meat-and-dairy lover is pumped to eat them all.
I really have to hand it to peanut butter. Its nutty, salty sweetness balances bright salads, adds richness to spicy stews, and can even enhance a hamburger (more on that below). Now, it’s time to finally give the humble condiment some credit. Read on for 20 delightful ways to use peanut butter as a savory ingredient.
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Ingredients that go well with peanut butter
There are certain flavor combinations you will repeatedly see in savory peanut butter recipes, such as:
These grocery items help make peanut butter shine. So the next time you stock up on nut butter, you might want to throw these complementary ingredients in your cart.
Chicken recipes featuring peanut butter
From street food to soup, peanut butter and chicken go hand in hand.
This popular Southeast Asian street food has become an American mainstay for good reason: It's absolutely delicious. Who doesn't love juicy chicken skewers doused in rich, creamy peanut butter sauce? Clocking in at just 90 minutes from start to finish, with only 30 of those minutes spent on food prep, this recipe also happens to be relatively simple to make. First, you'll marinade the chicken in a mouthwatering sauce of coconut milk, cumin, soy sauce and other complementary flavors. Then, you'll concoct a rich dipping sauce that includes peanut butter and lime juice. Grill, broil, or sizzle those skewers in a cast iron until lightly charred, and then dunk them into that peanut-buttery sauce.
It doesn’t get more flavorful than this rich, filling dinner. After frying crushed garlic with chili, ginger, and garam masala, simmer chopped chicken thighs in a lush pan sauce for 30 minutes. Then top with crunchy peanuts and cilantro (referred to here as coriander) before ladling everything over soft basmati rice. The thick peanut butter adds an incredible richness to a creamy sauce, balanced by the zing of tomatoes and spices.
This twist on African peanut stew incorporates vitamin-rich pureed pumpkin (either canned or fresh will do) with creamy peanut butter and light coconut milk for a healthy, substantial meal. Just combine these ingredients with garlic, onion, chicken broth, cayenne pepper, ginger, and slowly-cooked chicken breasts in your slow cooker. You’ll be rewarded with a tender, delicious stew.
Salad recipes containing peanut butter
Peanut butter plays well with everything from cabbage to pasta salad.
This balanced salad has it all: crunchy, fresh cabbage and lettuce, sharp citrus and vinegar, sweet honey, and rich, creamy peanut butter. While it takes 45 minutes to throw together, think of this as a main course, not a side dish. Simply steam your chicken (you can also bake it if you don’t have a steamer basket) and combine all remaining ingredients for the salad dressing. Toss and enjoy!
This uber-nutritious salad features bright, crisp vegetables and suggests healthier alternatives to traditional condiments, such as maple syrup in place of honey and coconut aminos instead of soy sauce. Roasted, salted peanuts and nutty sesame seeds add depth, but the real star of this rainbow-colored concoction is the creamy peanut butter dressing.
This versatile salad checks all the boxes: It’s chock full of protein, thanks to tofu; pasta and chickpeas make it satisfying enough to be an entire dinner, and the combination of broccoli slaw and peanut butter dressing is nutritious and, pardon the rhyme, delicious. Sign me up.
This quick, throw-together salad is substantial enough for an entire meal yet easy enough to whip up as a last-minute side dish. Featuring a super tasty, rich, peanut butter dressing balanced with lime and rice vinegar, this combination of crunchy cabbage and savory sauce is a brilliant way to woo the broccoli-averse.
I’m not a huge fan of pasta salad, but egg noodle pasta salad is a whole different ball game. These light, silky noodles are naturally easy on the starch and serve as a perfect backdrop to lush, spicy peanut butter dressing and juicy shrimp.
Stew recipes with peanut butter
African stew is the OG in this category. It’s so classic, it’s produced multiple, delicious variations.
This classic dish makes expert use of peanut butter for a creamy, thick sauce that coats every bite of its tender, slow-roasted chicken. You really can’t go wrong with the savory garlic, curry, ginger and crushed red pepper listed here, either. Top this lovely stew with crunchy peanuts and fresh cilantro for an exquisite, nourishing feast.
Here’s a genius way to get your daily serving of vegetables: Simply sauté carrot, green beans, onion, bell pepper, and sweet potato in coconut oil (or your fat of choice). Add and slowly cook peanut butter, tomato, carrot juice, and warming spices such as paprika and turmeric for a delightful vegan stew. The result is a cozy meal that still manages to be light.
In this vegan variation on the timeless West African stew recipe, peanut butter is the secret to tying together eggplant, sweet potato, zucchini, tomatoes, and cinnamon.
Curry recipes containing peanut butter
Peanut butter is the perfect foil for spicy, vegetable-rich curries.
There are few things as satisfying as a well-made curry. This vegetable-packed, peanut-butter-rich, vegan recipe certainly looks like one, with sweet pineapple, spicy curry paste, bright bell peppers, and full-fat coconut milk.
This gorgeous vegan curry incorporates juicy squash into its already mouthwatering combination of chickpeas, coconut milk, tomatoes, and garam masala. Thickened with peanut butter, this rich dish would be lovely over a bed of rice with lime, peanuts, and cilantro.
If you’re craving a warm, nourishing dish that also happens to be show-stoppingly pretty, give this slow cooker peanut butter chicken curry a try. Thankfully, your slow cooker will do most of the work in bringing this vegetable-packed dish to fruition. Layer the coconut milk sauce, studded with sweet potatoes and colorful bell peppers, over a plate of cauliflower (or actual) rice.
Beef recipes with peanut butter
Cashew beef, Mongolian beef — you’ve likely heard of these classic beef dishes. But did you know they are often made with peanut butter? Peanut butter has a way with this popular protein.
You only need 30 minutes to throw together this classic dish. Just brown round chopped steak in a skillet with oil. Reserve the meat on a paper towel and sauté garlic, ginger, cashews, and green onions with more oil. Add back the beef with cornstarch, peanut butter, soy sauce, and sugar, and cook for 10 minutes. Boom! You’ve got a creamy, flavorful dinner. And since it has peanut butter, you know it will be special.
The slow cooker does most of the work in this classic combination of tender flank steak and savory, tangy sauce. I love the variety from rich peanut butter, sweet molasses, and plenty of onions, scallions, and garlic — especially with the addition of soy sauce, cooking sherry, and white vinegar.
This savory stir fry combines seasoned cubed beef with bright, juicy vegetables over steamed rice, topped with incredibly creamy, peanut-buttery hoisin sauce. This delicious dish takes an hour and a half to come together, but only 20 minutes of hands-on prep time.
Unexpected meals containing peanut butter
Peanut butter in ramen and on hamburgers? It’s not blasphemy. I promise.
Judging by the flood of peanut butter ramen recipes on the internet, I trust the concept. It’s also got to be convenient when you’re short on time or ingredients: Just combine packaged vegetable ramen with a tablespoon of peanut butter, a clove of garlic, hot sauce, and soy sauce to taste.
I love a classic burger, but I can tell you from experience that a peanut butter version is strangely satisfying. I still fondly remember the Elvis special, a peanut butter and banana burger I enjoyed nearly a decade ago. Instead of banana, these have bacon, which sounds even more scrumptious.
If you’re anything like me, you already love apples and peanut butter. Why not combine the two as a sandwich to turn a beloved snack into a complete meal? The concept of an apple peanut butter sandwich isn’t far off from a PB&J. But substituting apples for the jelly is healthier and, best of all, crunchier.
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