Craving something hearty and comforting? Try our easy Slow Cooker Thai Peanut Chicken!
A takeout favorite reinvented
When I was a dietetic intern at the University of Alaska-Anchorage there was a little Thai restaurant in a seedy strip mall by my house that was well-known for it’s ‘Popeye Chicken’. The dish was essentially chicken, peanut butter, coconut milk, spinach and a handful of spices and ginger. It wasn’t particularly spicy but it was so rich and creamy – definitely a comfort food go-to during those long, dark days.
This Slow Cooker Thai Peanut Chicken recipe is the interpretation of my gustatory memory of Popeye Chicken. When I served it I didn’t tell my hubby what we were having for dinner but instead, plunked a plate down in front of him and asked him to say the first thing that came to mind. He smiled and “Popeye Chicken from The Thai Kitchen!”
It’s all about the peanut butter
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. That being said, I’m no purist so whether this is authentically Thai or not isn’t my concern. I just wanted to recreate a beloved dish from my past that was easy to make and every bit as delicious as the original (but definitely more budget-friendly than takeout!)
So when our friends at Old Home Foods reached out and asked us to use their Natural Peanut Butter in a recipe, it was only fitting that it had to be this Slow Cooker Thai Peanut Chicken.
Crunchy vs. Creamy
For this recipe, I opted to use the creamy style peanut butter rather than crunchy because I didn’t want the longer cooking time to make the bit of peanuts soggy. I then added the crunch that I thought the dish needed by sprinkling chopped peanuts on top just before serving. Basically, you’re getting the best of both worlds this way.Slow Cooker Thai Peanut Chicken requires just 15 minutes of hands-on prep the slow cooker does the rest! Click To Tweet
Popeye loves spinach
And you should, too. It’s packed with vitamin A (in the carotene form) and good source of magnesium, potassium and folate. Adding a bag of fresh spinach just before serving punches up the nutrition and makes the dish pretty (which admittedly, isn’t always easy to do with slow cooker recipes).
Spice it up!
The dish I sought to recreate wasn’t spicy in the least – which always led me to add copious amounts of sriracha to because spicy food is my jam. This recipe keeps the spice level in the mild to medium range depending on how much of the crushed red pepper you use. Being that I was also serving this to my kids, I kept it mild with just a ¼ teaspoon of chili flakes (then added said sriracha to my own bowl when it was time to eat). But if spice is your thing and you don’t have little ones to feed, then feel free to add the full ½ teaspoon or more!
I served this over cauliflower rice but you can also serve it over rice, rice noodles, kelp noodles or my new ultra low-carb favorite: shirataki noodles (I get them on Amazon or Thrive Market for the best prices) – then garnished with fresh cilantro, crushed peanuts and a little diced red pepper for color and that crunch, of course!
- 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup canned full-fat coconut milk
- ¾ cup Old Home Natural Creamy Peanut Butter
- ¼ cup coconut aminos (may substitute 2 Tbsp. gluten-free tamari sauce)
- 1 Tbsp. honey, optional
- 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
- 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp. fish sauce, optional
- 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger (or 1 tsp. dried ground ginger)
- ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 5-ounce bag fresh spinach
- 1 lime, juiced
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Optional garnishes - chopped peanuts, cilantro, sliced green onions and/or diced red bell pepper
- Place chicken and diced onions in the slow cooker.
- In a small bowl, combine garlic through red pepper flakes. Whisk to combine.
- Pour sauce over chicken and set slow cooker to LOW heat. Cook for 4 - 4 ½ hours or until chicken is cooked through.
- Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired.
- Remove lid, stir in lime juice and spinach. Allow spinach to wilt before serving.
- Serve with rice or 'cauliflower' rice and garnish as desired.
What’s your favorite savory way to use peanut butter? And are you a fan of the creamy or the crunchy? Tell us in the comments below!
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