This peanut sauce recipe is rich, creamy and loaded with flavor. American-fusion cuisine often uses peanut sauce over salads (cold noodle salads), as a dip for rice paper rolls or as a stir fry sauce. Use this recipe for all the above!
Is Peanut Sauce Vegan?
Many peanut sauce recipes and restaurant options are vegan, but some add fish sauce. It’s always worth asking about in a restaurant or reading ingredients if purchasing a store-bought option.
Since the base of this recipe is peanuts, or peanut butter, vegans need to look out for added flavorings.
This recipe uses plenty of tasty ingredients to create a truly flavorful sauce that’s super versatile!
Where Does Peanut Sauce Come From?
Peanut sauce recipe variations are found in many south-east Asian countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand. More traditional-style peanut sauce recipes use ground peanuts whereas the American-style sauce typically uses peanut butter as the base.
While many North Americans associate peanut sauce with Thai food, it has roots in Indonesian cuisine. In fact, one source states that peanut sauce only exists in American fusion cuisine.
This recipe is my take on a tasty, creamy peanut butter sauce. While it may not be entirely “authentic”, it is still unbelievably delicious and a fantastic add to several of my favorite recipes.
Vegan Peanut Butter Sauce Ingredients
This recipe features lots of delicious sauces and flavors. There’s lots of room for variations and substitutions if you need.
- Peanut butter: As the recipe’s base ingredient, this is most important. Using an “all natural” peanut butter is essential; this means the only ingredient in the peanut butter are peanuts (and maybe salt, although I buy an unsalted peanut butter).
- Coconut milk: You'll need to thin peanut butter to make sauce, and there’s no better way to do that than with full-fat canned coconut milk. This creates the ultimate, rich and creamy sauce. How much coconut milk to use depends on how thin you want the sauce. Use less if making a dipping sauce and more for making a salad dressing or stir fry sauce. Low-fat canned coconut milk and water are possible substitutions but won’t create the same creamy texture and rich-tasting sauce.
- Soy sauce: Add salt and lots of flavor with some soy sauce. Use tamari or coconut aminos if needed.
- Dark soy sauce: This richly flavored sauce adds a great depth of flavor. If you don’t have dark soy sauce on hand, use extra regular soy sauce or leave it out.
- Maple syrup: Some sweetness helps balance other strong flavors. I like to use maple syrup, but I suspect most other sugar options could work (although I haven’t tested any).
- Rice vinegar and lime juice: You’ll need some acidity in this sauce, and I like to use a combo of rice vinegar and lime juice. You could use one or the other depending on what you have available. Lime juice is my preference for this recipe as citrus flavor pairs perfectly with the peanut butter.
- Sesame oil: There’s nothing quite like the flavor of a good sesame oil; it’s indispensable in creating the best flavor. There isn’t another oil that can replace this flavor so if you don’t have this ingredient, simply leave it out.
- Garlic and ginger: These two aromatic vegetables add a perfect flavor. Since this sauce isn’t cooked, you’ll get the full flavor from both of these ingredients. If making a stir fry sauce, which cooks the aromatics, you could add more garlic and ginger.
- Sambal Oelek (optional): This chili sauce adds a touch of heat. Feel free to add more if you want spicy peanut sauce!
How to Make Easy Vegan Peanut Sauce
This recipe is incredibly quick and easy to make, just mix and serve!
Step 1: Mix Ingredients
The only prep you need for this recipe is to finely mince or grate the garlic and ginger.
Once that’s done, simply add all the ingredients to a small mixing bowl and stir until the sauce is well combined and creamy.
It takes a minute or two for the sauce to come together. As you start, the mixture will seem very separated but keep stirring and it’ll become smooth!
The finished sauce will be quite thick, perfect for dipping.
If needed, thin the sauce with extra coconut milk. I only recommended this if you plan to use this as a salad dressing or stir fry sauce. You may need up to 1 cup (250 mL) of coconut milk if you want a pourable sauce.
Step 2: Serve
You’re ready to serve the sauce right away! Use it for dipping, salads or stir fry.
This peanut dipping or stir fry sauce is even better if you let it sit for 10-30 minutes before serving. This helps the flavors meld together.
How to Serve a Balanced Vegan Meal
This sauce is high in fats, making it incredibly rich and satiating. Fats are essential for the body and help keep you feeling full and satisfied!
Pair this sauce with something that contains plant-based protein, vegetables and some healthy carbohydrates. Fresh spring rolls are a great choice. Stir fry with vegetables, tofu and noodles or rice is another tasty option. You could also make a cold soba noodle salad and use this as the dressing!
How to Store Leftover Peanut Sauce
Refrigerate leftover sauce in an airtight container or jar. The sauce should stay fresh for up to 2 weeks, but it’s only ever lasted for a few days in my house!
If you make this recipe, please rate and comment below to help others benefit from your experience!
Vegan Peanut Sauce
- ½ cup natural peanut butter , unsalted (145 g)
- ¼ cup coconut milk (60 mL)*
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (30 mL)
- 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce (10 mL)
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup (15 mL)
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar (15 mL)
- 1 tablespoon lime juice (15 mL)
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil (15 mL)
- 1 teaspoon garlic , crushed
- 1 teaspoon ginger , grated
- ½ teaspoon Sambal Oelek (optional)**
Step 1: Mix Ingredients
- Finley mince or grate the garlic and ginger. If you have a garlic press, use that for the garlic.1 teaspoon garlic, 1 teaspoon ginger
- Add all the ingredients to a small mixing bowl or jar.½ cup natural peanut butter, ¼ cup coconut milk, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon lime juice, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 1 teaspoon garlic, 1 teaspoon ginger, ½ teaspoon Sambal Oelek
- Stir until the sauce is well-combined and smooth. This may take a minute or two. The sauce should be thick and creamy; perfect for dipping.
- Add extra coconut milk to thin the sauce if using as a salad dressing or stir fry sauce (up to 1 cup/ 250 mL total).
Step 2: Serve
- You can serve the sauce right away.
- Chilling the sauce for 10-30 minutes before serving can help the flavors meld together.
**Use more or less to taste. Can use sriracha, dried/ crushed red chili flakes, chili oil or fresh red chilies (minced). Accuracy of nutrition information cannot be guaranteed (certain ingredients may not have all nutrients listed in the database); amounts may vary (and will vary depending on brands of ingredients used); all nutrition fact values rounded to the nearest whole number.
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About Nicole Stevens
Nicole is a vegan Registered Dietitian (RD) and founder of Lettuce Veg Out.
She helps people thrive on a vegan diet with balanced recipes and easy-to-understand nutrition science.