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Slow Cooker Thai-Inspired Peanut Chicken

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By: The Real Food Dietitians Posted: 10/26/21

You can make creamy, peanutty Thai Peanut Chicken in your slow cooker for a warming, saucy dish the whole family loves to eat. Our healthy take on a favorite comfort dish is easy and nourishing when made from real-food ingredients and an easy homemade peanut sauce. Add it all to a slow cooker, set it, and forget it until dinner time is here.

This recipe was originally posted December 30, 2017; Updated October 26, 2021.

Close up view of creamy Thai peanut chicken in a bowl with pad Thai noodles garnished with cilantro and lime.

Thai Peanut Chicken: A takeout favorite reinvented

We all have our favorite memories of ordering peanut chicken from our local Thai restaurants. Always made with chicken, peanut butter, coconut milk, and a handful of spices and ginger, this dish is always full of flavor and healthy ingredients. Peanut Chicken is a favorite Thai-inspired dish for many people because, while it has depth of flavor from several spices plus lime and peanut sauce, it isn’t particularly spicy. Instead, it’s rich, creamy, and always comforting.

Close up view of creamy Thai peanut chicken in a slow cooker with a black spoon stirring it.

Ingredients to make thai-Inspired peanut chicken

Our slow cooker version of Thai Peanut Chicken uses fresh ingredients and many things you may already have in your pantry. Here’s what you need to make it:

  • Boneless skinless chicken breast or thighs 
  • Yellow onion – may sub a white onion
  • Red bell pepper – a red bell pepper adds nice color, but you can use any color of bell pepper
  • Baby spinach – use fresh spinach leaves, which will wilt into the peanut sauce at the very end of cooking
  • Lime – you’ll need the juice of 1 large lime
  • Canned coconut milk – use light or full-fat
  • Natural creamy peanut butter
  • Coconut aminos – you can substitute half the amount of gluten-free tamari, shoyu, or soy sauce
  • Rice vinegar
  • Toasted sesame oil
  • Fish sauce and honey – these ingredients are optional, but they add great flavor and balance to the peanut sauce, so use them if you have them on hand 
  • Ginger – use grated fresh ginger if you have it, or you can substitute dried ground ginger 
  • Garlic
  • Crushed red pepper flakes 
All ingredients for Thai-inspired peanut chicken in bowls of different sized arranged together on a marble countertop.

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how to make thai peanut chicken in the slow cooker

This dish requires that you make your own quick peanut sauce. The sauce is then poured over chicken and veggies in the slow cooker. It’s that simple!

  1. Place the chopped chicken pieces, diced onion, and red bell pepper in the slow cooker.
  2. Make the peanut sauce by whisking together the peanut sauce ingredients. You’ll use the peanut butter, coconut milk, garlic, coconut aminos, rice vinegar, honey, sesame oil, fish sauce, ginger, and red pepper flakes.
  3. Pour the sauce over chicken and veggies in slow cooker. Cook on low heat for 4 to 4 ½ hours or until chicken is cooked through.
  4. When the chicken is cooked through, stir in the spinach and lime juice. Stir and heat a few more minutes to allow the spinach to wilt into the sauce.
  5. Serve over rice or noodles, and top servings with desired garnishes.
Homemade peanut sauce being poured into a slow cooker filled with raw chicken and diced red pepper.

Is Peanut Chicken a traditional Thai Dish?

Peanuts and peanut sauces aren’t traditionally found in Thai cooking. Instead, they originated in Malaysia and Indonesia. But somewhere along the line this was lost in culinary translation. And peanut sauce-based dishes started showing up regularly on Thai restaurant menus in America. Our version of slow cooker Thai Peanut Chicken is inspired by the saucy dishes we love from our many visits to our favorite Thai restaurants.

Overhead view of slow cooker Thai-inspired chicken served in a bowl with pad Thai noodles.

Adding spinach to thai peanut chicken

We love to up the nutrition and color in this favorite saucy slow cooker Thai dish by adding a generous amount of fresh spinach. Spinach is a good source of vitamin A, magnesium, potassium, and folate (aka nutrients that boost heart health and help tame inflammation). Add a bag of fresh spinach at the very end, after all the other ingredients have cooked. Then, give it a few gently stirs to let the spinach wilt gently into the dish.

Close up view of peanut chicken over pad Thai noodles with a gold fork on the side.

How to serve thai peanut chicken

This saucy peanut chicken is good on it’s own, but it’s extra good when served over rice or noodles. We love to serve it over jasmine rice or basmati rice, pad-Thai noodles (Lotus Foods makes our favorite gluten-free organic pad-thai noodles), or even cauliflower rice for a grain-free, lower-carb option.

Make Instant Pot Jasmine Rice

While your Thai Peanut Chicken is finishing up in the slow cooker, round out your meal by making a quick batch of Jasmine Rice in the Instant Pot. Our directions show you how to make it perfectly fluffy every time.

Recipe: Instant Pot Jasmine RIce

Peanut chicken served over pad Thai noodles and topped with cilantro, peanuts, and fresh lime.

Recipe

Slow Cooker Thai Peanut Chicken

Easy, saucy Thai Peanut Chicken is so delicious and so simple when made in a slow cooker. Made with tender chicken, vegetables and spinach, and a homemade peanut sauce, this dish is classic comfort and healthy, too.

Prep: 15 minsCook: 4 hoursTotal: 4 hours, 15 mins

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs, cut into bite size pieces. 
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (5-ounce) carton or bag fresh baby spinach 
  • Juice of 1 large or 2 small limes (¼ cup)

For The Peanut Sauce

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1 cup light or full-fat canned coconut milk 
  • ½ cup natural creamy peanut butter
  • ¼ cup coconut aminos*
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional) 
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (or 1 teaspoon dried ground ginger) 
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 

Optional garnishes: chopped peanuts, cilantro, and/or sliced green onions

Instructions

  1. In a slow cooker, place the chicken pieces, diced onion, and red bell pepper; season with salt and pepper, tossing to coat.
  2. To make the peanut sauce, in a bowl, combine the peanut sauce ingredients (garlic through red pepper flakes). Whisk to combine.
  3. Pour the sauce over chicken and veggies in slow cooker. Cook on low heat for 4 to 4 ½ hours or until chicken is cooked through.
  4. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired.
  5. Remove lid and stir in the spinach leaves and lime juice. Stir and heat a few more minutes to allow the spinach to wilt into the sauce.
  6. If desired, serve over rice, cauliflower rice, pad Thai noodles, or any noodles. Top with desired garnishes.

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Notes

* In place of the 1/4 cup coconut aminos, you may substitute 2 tablespoons gluten-free tamari, shoyu, or soy sauce

We love to serve this dish over Jasmine Rice or Pad-Thai Noodles. For gluten-free noodles, we love Lotus Foods noodles.

The nutrition analysis below reflects the recipe when made with light coconut milk. The nutrition analysis per serving with full-fat coconut milk is: 380 calories, 21 g total fat (9 g sat fat), 581 mg sodium, 15 g carb (4 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 31 g protein, 65 mg chol

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size: 1/6 of recipe (1 cup)
  • Calories: 340
  • Fat: 17 g
  • (Sat Fat: 5 g)
  • Sodium: 572 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 15 g
  • (Fiber: 4 g
  • Sugar: 7 g)
  • Protein: 31 g
  • Cholesterol: 65 mg

Dietary

© The Real Food Dietitians

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Overhead view of Thai-inspired peanut chicken served of pad Thai noodles, topped with cilantro, peanuts, and cilantro, plated in a low profile bowl.

All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use our photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own unique words. Link back to the source recipe here on The Real Food Dietitians. Thank you!

Photo Credit: The photos in this blog post were taken by Rachel Cook of Half Acre House.

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