Chicken Satay Skewers - Cooking Up Clean

Chicken Satay Skewers

Who can resist grilled food on a stick?!? (If you just raised your hand, I don’t think we can be friends anymore… j/k!). Indonesian in its roots, this version of satay is the slightly spicier Thai version that is popular around all of Southeast Asia. Marinating meat and giving it a light char on the grill or with a broiler has the universal effect of making people want to eat it, especially if it’s finger food prepared for easy eating on a skewer. These little chicken satay skewers will be an impressive addition to your backyard barbeque. Especially when they’re served with a creamy dreamy sauce.

Traditionally, satay is served with a peanut sauce but with my son’s nut allergies, that’s no-go. This sauce tastes just like the famously known peanut sauce but is made without nuts. Making a nut free peanut sauce, I thought, would be a huge challenge but it’s surprisingly easy. Sunflower seeds and sesame seeds are an easy stand in for similar nut-like flavor but since they are seeds, they can safely be substituted for nuts for anyone with nut allergies. In this case, I used SunButter which is a peanut butter type of spread made from sunflower seeds. I’ve also successfully used tahini (a spread made with sesame seeds) as a substitute as well in this recipe.  Having made it both ways, I prefer the taste of the SunButter over tahini in this application as I think it tastes the most similar to the original sauce. In fact, you may not be able to tell the difference at all!

I really love Thai cuisine to have authentic taste so in this recipe I’ve used a few items you may not be familiar with. The recipe will work fine without these ingredients but the flavor profile is more authentic and well-rounded with those included. Lemongrass is a delicious edible grass that is used in many Asian cuisines but most notably in Southeast Asia. It has a light, almost sweet, lemon flavor that pairs perfectly with curries. I usually purchase the stalks of lemongrass but you can also find lemongrass paste in some supermarkets for easier preparation. I’ve also taken to using tamarind when I make Thai foods and first discovered it when I was attempting to make the perfect pad thai. Tamarind is hard to find in whole form here and it’s a lot of work to soak and prepare to make juice for recipes. Because of this, I always purchase it as a tamarind concentrate and it keeps for a long time in the fridge. The last seemingly odd authentic ingredient I regularly use is kaffir lime leaves. I’ve never been able to find them fresh up here in Minnesota so I get them dried and just crumble them like dried herbs when I use them in recipes. These lovely leaves impart a light lemon/lime/orange type of aroma and flavor to the sauce.

Authentic Thai flavors and food on a stick! Chicken satay skewers with this unique nut free peanut sauce are super perfect served with a side of Thai Cucumber Salad.

Chicken Satay Skewers
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Appetizers
Cuisine: Thai
Serves: 6
  • 1 pound chicken chicken breast, sliced into strips
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon tumeric
  • ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon lemongrass paste or ½ stalk lemongrass, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 cup SunButter or tahini
  • 1-2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon lemongrass paste or ½ stalk lemongrass, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ - 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped or dried and crumbled (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon tamarind concentrate (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  1. Combine ingredients for the marinade and place in a bowl.
  2. Add chicken and coat with marinade. Marinate the chicken in fridge for 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
  3. Preheat a grill to medium high heat or start a broiler.
  4. Skewer chicken pieces and arrange on a broiler sheet if broiling.
  5. Grill skewers directly on grill grates 8-10 minutes per side or broil skewers on a broiler pan about 10 minutes per side.
  6. While chicken is cooking, prepare sauce.
  7. Combine all sauce ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  8. Heat in a saucepan until boiling and keep boiling until thickens slightly.
  9. Serve hot.
The sauce serves many more. Serving size is about 2 tablespoons. Either refrigerate the leftovers or you can freeze it and reheat for future meals.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 402 Fat: 30 Carbohydrates: 10 Protein: 22


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