Peanut sauce is a versatile condiment that has gained a lot of popularity in recent years due to its rich flavor and many uses. Typically found in various Asian cuisines, it’s the perfect balance of savory and sweet. I use peanut sauce on everything from salad to spring rolls.
Traditionally made from ground peanuts, peanut sauce often includes ingredients like coconut milk, sesame oil, soy sauce, fresh herbs and spices. Sometimes, maple syrup is added for sweetness. This vegan peanut sauce is perfect for fresh spring rolls, noodle dishes, or salads.
About the ingredients
This recipe is very versatile and you can add your own ingredients to mix up the flavor. Additional ingredients like tamarind, hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, lime juice, or chilies can be added to adjust the balance of sweet, sour, and spicy notes according to personal preference.9
- Creamy, unsalted natural peanut butter: This is the base of the sauce, providing a rich, nutty flavor and creamy texture. Unsalted peanut butter allows for better control of the sauce’s saltiness.
- Shallot: Shallots add a subtle, slightly sweet onion flavor which complements the richness of the peanut butter and the other ingredients.
- Bird’s eye chili: Bird’s eye chili brings a significant amount of heat to the sauce, adding a spicy kick that contrasts with the creamy peanut butter.
- Fresh ginger: Fresh ginger offers a sharp, peppery, and slightly sweet taste that enhances the sauce’s complexity and provides a fresh note.
- Coconut milk (full fat): Full-fat coconut milk contributes a creamy texture and a subtle sweetness. It also helps to balance the flavors and the heat from the chili.
- Sesame oil: Sesame oil adds a nutty, aromatic quality that complements the peanut butter and deepens the overall flavor profile of the sauce.
- Coarse salt: Salt is crucial for enhancing and balancing all the flavors in the sauce. Coarse salt also provides a more nuanced saltiness compared to fine table salt.
- Fresh lime juice: The acidity and brightness of fresh lime juice cut through the richness of the peanut butter and coconut milk, bringing a refreshing zest to the sauce.
- Neutral oil (vegetable or peanut): A neutral oil helps to smoothly combine all the ingredients. If peanut oil is used, it can also intensify the peanut flavor.
Peanut allergy alternative
Creating a peanut-allergy-friendly version of this peanut sauce recipe involves substituting the peanut butter with a safe alternative that mimics its texture and flavor as closely as possible. Here are some options:
- Sunflower Seed Butter: This is often the closest in texture and taste to peanut butter. It’s nutty and creamy but has a distinctive flavor. It’s a great alternative for those with nut allergies.
- Pumpkin Seed Butter: A less common but viable option, pumpkin seed butter can provide a unique, earthy flavor to the sauce.
- Almond Butter: This is a popular alternative, though it has a slightly different taste and is often less sweet than peanut butter.
- Cashew Butter: Creamy and mild, cashew butter can be a good substitute, though it’s sweeter and has a less pronounced flavor compared to peanut butter.
- Soy Nut Butter: Made from roasted soybeans, it has a texture and color similar to peanut butter. However, its taste is distinct and may slightly alter the final flavor of the sauce.
For each of these alternatives, the rest of the recipe can remain largely the same. However, it’s essential to taste and adjust the seasoning as you go, since each substitute will bring its unique flavor profile to the sauce. For instance, you may need to adjust the amount of sweetener or lime juice to balance the flavors appropriately.
Additionally, consider the consistency of the alternative butter; some might be thicker or thinner than peanut butter and might require slight adjustments in the amount of coconut milk or oil used to achieve the desired sauce consistency.
Storage and reheating
This homemade vegan peanut sauce will store for up to 1 week in airtight container in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave in short 10-second bursts, stirring in-between. Do not overheat or the sauce will split. If this happens, add a splash of coconut milk and stir.
How to use homemade peanut sauce
There are so many uses for this sauce and I usually have a fresh batch in the fridge ready to go. Here are a few ways to use up this sauce.
- Fresh Vegetable Spring Rolls: Drizzle or dip spring rolls filled with tofu, vermicelli, fresh herbs, and crisp vegetables. The peanut sauce adds a creamy, flavorful contrast to the light and fresh ingredients of the rolls.
- Fresh Vegetables like Red Bell Peppers: Use the peanut sauce as a dip for crunchy vegetables such as red bell peppers, carrots, and cucumber sticks. Its rich, nutty flavor complements the sweetness and crispness of the fresh veggies.
- Rice Noodles: Toss cooked rice noodles in peanut sauce for a quick, flavorful meal. The sauce clings to the noodles, providing a creamy texture and a burst of flavor, ideal for a simple yet satisfying dish.
- Tofu Wraps: Spread the peanut sauce on a wrap before adding grilled or baked tofu, along with greens and other vegetables. The sauce adds depth and richness, enhancing the tofu’s texture and the wrap’s overall taste.
- Buddha Bowls: Drizzle over Buddha bowls consisting of grains like quinoa or rice, steamed or roasted vegetables, and a protein source like chickpeas. The peanut sauce acts as a unifying dressing, bringing all the elements together.
- Salad Dressing: Thin the sauce with a bit of water or extra lime juice to create a unique, creamy salad dressing. It’s especially good on salads with a crunch, like cabbage or kale salads.
- Stir-Fry Sauce: Use it as a sauce in stir-fries. Add it to a mix of stir-fried vegetables and your choice of protein for a quick and flavorful meal.
- Marinade for Tofu: Before grilling or baking, marinate tofu in the peanut sauce to infuse them with its rich flavors.
- Noodle Bowls: Top Asian-style noodle bowls with this sauce. It pairs well with ingredients like scallions, cilantro, and lime for a Thai-inspired dish.
- Dipping Sauce for Dumplings or Egg Rolls: Serve it as a dipping sauce for Asian appetizers like dumplings or egg rolls, adding a savory, nutty complement to these snacks.
Vegan Peanut Sauce (For Spring Rolls)
- 1 ¼ cup creamy unsalted peanut butter
- 1 medium shallot minced
- 1 large bird’s eye chili minced
- 2 Tbsp. fresh ginger peeled and minced
- ¾ cup coconut milk full fat, plus more as needed
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp coarse salt
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
- 2 tsp neutral oil vegetable or peanut
- Peel and mince the shallot and ginger. Cut off the stem off the chili pepper and mince finely. For a less spicy peanut sauce, scrap out some of the seeds first, or omit the pepper.
- Heat the oil in a medium saucepan on medium heat.
- Add the shallot, ginger, and chili. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring regularly, until soft and fragrant.
- Add the coconut milk and simmer on medium low for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 15-20 minutes.
- In a blender, add the peanut butter, salt, and sesame oil. Add in the coconut milk mixture, including the cooked spices.
- Blend on medium speed for 3 minutes, stopping to scrap down the sides and stir as needed until smooth.
- Add the lime juice and pulse to blend.
- If needed, add 2-4 Tbsp. cold or room temperature coconut milk until desired consistency is reached.
- For best results, allow peanut sauce to sit for at least 1 hour before serving for the flavours to blend.
- Serve sauce slightly warm.
I hope you enjoyed this recipe for making your own peanut dipping sauce. While I love using this recipe as a healthy salad dressing, it’s a great option for so many different dishes. Be sure to leave a star rating and let me know how you used this sauce.