Does the perfect peanut sauce recipe seem elusive? Look no further. This pantry-based recipe provides classic flavor with minimal effort and can be used in so many ways.
Does the consummate peanut dressing or sauce seem like something that can only be found when you’re eating out?
The ingredients from one peanut sauce to the next are fairly consistent. It’s the ratio of these ingredients that varies, and it can be difficult to achieve that “just right” balance.
When achieved, however, the results are a nutty, blissful combination that is highly versatile.
The reason a simple peanut sauce can be so appealing is that it typically contains all of the five universally accepted tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami.
Honey provides sweetness, of course. Ginger is bitter, with a hint of spice. Peanut butter supplies the salty. Vinegar delivers sour. Soy sauce (or tamari) rounds things out with a hearty punch of umami.
Some of these ingredients offer more than a single flavor note. But the bottom line is that they are all present and accounted for in a memorable peanut sauce.
When I’m asked what’s for dinner and I mention that I’m serving a dish that utilizes this dressing, the response is glowing. My family doesn’t even have to know what the sauce is being used on. When they hear the words “favorite peanut sauce,” they have faith!
You may have noticed that I tend to interchangeably refer to this recipe as both a sauce and dressing. Ultimately, I chose to use dressing in the recipe title because the consistency is something that can be drizzled rather than thickly spooned.
The list of possible uses, however (see below), illustrates that you may consider these words to be interchangeable. Do note that, when first mixed, the the consistency will be thinner and will thicken slightly when chilled.
It should be noted that for years, my husband Jack was not a peanut sauce fan. He’d eat it but didn’t love it. This dressing (sauce?) changed that, and he regularly drizzles extra over his serving.
How to use peanut dressing
- As a dipping sauce for chicken kebabs or sauce for chicken breasts
- A dip for spring rolls or dumplings…
- …or tofu, or shrimp, or vegetables
- In a wrap
- Peanutty noodles (rice and soba noodles are traditional, but use you favorite)
- As a dressing for a green salad or slaw*
- As a sauce for a grain salad or buddha bowl*
- In a marinade for chicken, shrimp, or tofu
* When using as a dressing for a green, grain, or noodle salad, all sort of proteins and raw and cooked vegetables will complement. Choose from a variety of green and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, spinach, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts; orange vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots; proteins like chicken, salmon, shrimp, steak, ground turkey, tofu, and beans; red veggies including bell peppers and tomatoes, and so on.
- ¼ cup (64g) peanut butter
- ¼ cup (60ml) low sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 3 tablespoons (60g) honey
- 3 tablespoons (45ml) unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic (or 1 medium clove)
- 1-2 teaspoons sriracha sauce (or to taste)
- 2 tablespoons (28ml) mild olive or vegetable oil
Stir the peanut butter, soy sauce, honey, vinegar, ginger, garlic, and sriracha together in a small bowl until smooth. (Tip: I like to use a fork as a whisk and find it’s easiest to fully incorporate the peanut butter – no lumps! – if I start by slowly stirring in the liquid ingredients to thin the peanut butter.) Stir in the oil, whisking to create a smooth, creamy mixture.
Stored in the refrigerator, the peanut sauce will keep for a week or more. Tip: the flavors will improve as the sauce rests so, if possible, I like to prepare it even a hour or so before using.
•For a hint of complementary flavor, you may add a teaspoon or so of toasted sesame oil to the dressing.
•If a gluten-free recipe is needed, be sure to use gluten-free soy sauce or tamari.