Spicy Peanut Sauce

$1.75 recipe / $0.22 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
5 from 11 votes
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I was really craving a good creamy-spicy peanut sauce this week, so I thought I’d try my hand at making one. What I came up with is based on Thai peanut sauce, but using the ingredients I had on hand. While it’s not authentic by any means, it’s super delicious with complex flavors that left me wanting to drink it with a spoon. AH-MAZ-ING. Plus it’s versatile. I used it as a salad dressing, pasta sauce, and as a flavorful drizzle over a rice pilaf.

Spicy Peanut Sauce

Thai Peanut Sauce in clean bowl and garnished with cilantro

Adjust the Heat

If you do not have sriracha sauce, you can use red pepper flakes. Again, begin with a small amount and add more until it is as hot as you’d like. Remember, when using dried spices, the sauce will get spicier as it refrigerates and the flakes rehydrate.

How to Use Leftover Coconut Milk

My recipe calls for 1/4 cup of coconut milk which is only about 1/8th of a can. If you are looking for something to do with the rest of it (because no one likes to throw stuff away, especially delicious coconut milk), you can make some Savory Coconut Rice with the remainder. It is also really tasty when poured over oatmeal with fruit and nuts. If you make smoothies, coconut milk will add a lot of creaminess and a tropical flavor!

Tips for Using Fresh Ginger

When buying fresh ginger, don’t be shy about breaking off a small nub from the large roots they have at the grocery store. It is perfectly acceptable. I never use a lot of ginger so I always just break off an inch or two so that I’m not paying for more than I need. Ginger is easily peeled with a regular vegetable peeler and then you can grate it using the smallest side of a cheese grater.

Try These Authentic Peanut Sauce Recipes

As I mentioned above, this is just sort of my “wing it with what I have” version of peanut sauce. If you want to try an authentic peanut sauce, check out these awesome recipes (various versions from various countries):

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Spicy Peanut Sauce

5 from 11 votes
This Spicy Peanut sauce is quick and easy to make at home and the flavor will blow you away.
Author: Beth - Budget Bytes
Servings 8 (1/4 cup ea.)
Prep 15 mins
Total 15 mins

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup natural style peanut butter ($0.82)
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk, optional ($0.16)
  • juice from 1/2 a lime ($0.17)
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled, grated (optional) ($0.24)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced ($0.06)
  • 1 tsp sriracha sauce, rooster hot sauce ($0.05)
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce ($0.03)
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil, optional ($0.02)
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar ($0.03)
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro ($0.17)
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup water ($0.00)

Instructions 

  • Make sure your natural style peanut butter is thoroughly mixed before measuring (you don’t want to get all oil or all solids). In a blender or food processor combine all of the ingredients except the sriracha sauce. Begin with only 1/4 cup of water and add more until you get the consistency you want (I used 1/2 cup total). Add the sriracha sauce a little at a time (blending between) until it is to your desired heat (I used about 1/2 tsp).
  • Enjoy the peanut sauce on salads, pasta or as a dipping sauce!

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25CupsCalories: 160.88kcalCarbohydrates: 8.53gProtein: 5.68gFat: 12.81gSodium: 134.64mgFiber: 1.4g
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  1. Just wanted to note that I freeze fresh ginger, and it holds up well. For peeling, using the edge of a spoon works wonders. You don’t lose as much of the flesh.

    I love this site and have probably made over 30 recipes. I also share it widely. Thanks Beth and Budget bytes team!

  2. Good quick peanut sauce. Nice balance between heat and sweet. I had some brown rice ramen, chop salad, and boneless chicken breast. The peanut sauce was a great sauce for it all!

  3. Put this on a stir fry and it was so good, also added a bit of red chili paste to give it some heat.

  4. This is a go-to sauce in our house! One of our favorite uses is to bake a spaghetti squash, saute some broccoli and red peppers, and mix it all together. If we have some on hand, I also mix in some roasted cashews!

  5. I am allergic to all forms of citrus. Could anything be substituted for the lime? Possibly pineapple juice or vinegar of some sort?

    1. Personally I feel like the lime is critical to the flavor in this one. You might be able to get away with some sort of mild vinegar, but the lime flavor really makes this one pop.

    2. Rice vinegar is a decent substitute! I’ve found it can help add a fruity tartness in place of lemons and limes, however though mild it does still have a faint vinegar aroma.

  6. Oops, I forgot a couple of things when I made my first comment: the gas used for cooking, and the water and dish detergent used for washing dishes. It’s still an inexpensive recipe, but I am just saying that your figures are not complete or accurate.

    1. Well, she does price all the recopies based on FOOD. Not housing expenses. That is our thing to figure. No need to get nit-picky. We all know her recipes are delicious.

    2. There is also the cost of the internet connection and the computer to view the recipes. ;) It could go on and on but I think the typical convention is to just list the cost of the ingredients that you end up eating. You aren’t (strictly speaking) wrong, but it would be kind of extraneous to list all of that in a recipe.

      Looking forward to trying this sauce. Tonight we are making your egg roll recipe and we are using the “quick peanut sauce”…but I think we will do this one next. Thanks!

    3. Really??????? You’re going to criticize a recipe because it didn’t factor in the cost of gas and clean up?????  Do you see thismlisted in ANY recipe ANYWHERE?????   Maybe we should all send Rachel Rae or other Top Chefs a note stating they need to include this info when advising how to cook an affordable meal?    Or are you just trying to be a mean girl????   Tsk tsk 

    1. But the amount used is definitely less than $0.01. Prices are approximate and are only for demonstrative purposes.

  7. Sounds delicious! Can’t wait to try. If I can just add a couple of tips …. ginger freezes well. I put the whole ginger in a plastic bag in the freezer . Use a grater or sharp knife to remove small portions. Coconut milk and cream also freeze well.

  8. Excellent recipe! Another budget tip: coconut milk freezes well, too. Use what you need, pour the rest into a plastic container and freeze.

  9. Great sauce! We have used this recipe now for about a year as our stir fry sauce. I dropped out the sugar (don’t need it) and the cilantro (don’t like it) and added 1 tsp tamarind paste to give it more thai flair. Thank you so much for this!

    1. Hmm, I’m honestly not sure how well this would freeze. I’ve never tried to freeze this kind of sauce before.

  10. Oh, also, I did grate the ginger and mince the garlic, but otherwise didn’t blend or puree the sauce at all. I also used crunchy peanut butter, which adds in little chunks of peanut throughout, which I like :)

  11. This sauce is seriously SO. GOOD.

    I’ve made it a couple of times, both times adding a bit more liquid to make it coat noodles more easily.

    I also left out the brown sugar, as I tend to add in sauteed red bell peppers, frozen green pea+carrot mix, and caramelized onion, which all add some sweetness.

    I also toss in a little tofu to up the fillingness, and serve it over soba noodles (which add an awesome earthiness).

    Great recipe that I’m SO glad I found!