Exploring Savoury Applications Of Peanut Butter In Cooking

Peanut butter is often associated with sweet treats and sandwiches. The PBJ, or peanut butter jelly sandwich, is the most popular sandwich, where the star of the show is the creamy and nutty peanut butter. However, its potential extends far beyond sweet preparations, and its nutritional benefits can power your day with energy. So, here is a recipe for you to try:

History and Significance of Peanut Butter

 Peanut butter has a rich history that dates back centuries. Its origins can be traced to the ancient Incas and Aztecs, who ground roasted peanuts into a paste-like consistency. However, it wasn't until the late 19th century that peanut butter gained popularity as a food product. Its discovery is said to have been credited to Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, a physician who aimed to provide a protein-rich food source for his patients. Over time, peanut butter evolved, becoming a staple in American households and finding its way into various global cuisines.

Different cultures have incorporated peanut butter into their traditional dishes. For example, West African cuisine often features peanut-based stews and sauces, such as the famous groundnut soup. In Southeast Asia, peanut sauce is a common component in satay dishes, adding a delightful nuttiness and depth of flavour. Exploring the historical and cultural significance of peanut butter reveals its versatility as a savoury ingredient.

Health Benefits of Peanut Butter

Peanut butter offers a range of health benefits, making it a valuable addition to a balanced diet. It is an excellent source of protein, healthy fats, fibre, and essential vitamins and minerals. The monounsaturated fats in peanut butter are heart-healthy and can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Additionally, peanut butter is rich in antioxidants, which combat free radicals and promote overall well-being. However, it is important to consume peanut butter in moderation, as it is calorie-dense

Savoury Flavour Pairings with Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is commonly associated with sweet treats like sandwiches, cookies, and smoothies, but it can also be a versatile ingredient in savoury dishes. Peanut butter's rich and nutty flavour can be enhanced by savoury ingredients such as soy sauce, lemon, ginger, garlic, and chillies. Soy sauce adds umami, garlic brings depth, and ginger provides warmth. Lime or lemon juice adds tanginess, while chilli or hot sauce adds heat.

Cilantro or basil brings freshness, and coconut milk adds creaminess. Sesame oil offers a toasty note, and hoisin sauce adds a sweet-savoury element. Sriracha provides a spicy kick. These pairings create delicious dishes like Asian-inspired stir-fries, dressings, or sauces. They elevate the taste and add a delightful twist to savoury creations with peanut butter.

Here are some creative ways to incorporate peanut butter into savoury recipes:

Peanut Sauce

Peanut butter forms the base of many delectable peanut sauces used in Asian cuisine. Whether it's Thai-style peanut sauce for satay or peanut sauce for stir-fries, it adds a creamy and nutty element to the dish. The combination of peanut butter with ingredients like soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, and ginger creates a complex and savoury flavour.

Salad Dressing

Create a creamy and tangy salad dressing by blending peanut butter with ingredients like vinegar, soy sauce, honey, and sesame oil. This dressing pairs well with fresh vegetables, noodles, or grilled meats, adding a delightful nuttiness to your salads.

Peanut Noodles

Toss cooked noodles, veggies, and meat with a peanut butter-based sauce like Satay sauce for a satisfying and flavourful meal. Top it off with some chopped peanuts, scallions, and fresh herbs for added texture and freshness.

Peanut Stews and Curries

Peanut butter can be used as a thickening agent and flavour enhancer in stews and curries. Its richness and nuttiness complement well with ingredients like tomatoes, spices, and coconut milk. From African-inspired groundnut stews to Thai massaman curry, peanut butter adds depth and complexity to these hearty dishes.

Peanut Butter Dips

Create savoury dips by combining peanut butter with ingredients like yoghurt, garlic, lemon juice, and herbs. These dips can be served with fresh vegetables, crackers, or grilled meats as an appetiser or snack.

Here are five savoury dishes that incorporate peanut butter as a key ingredient and showcase the diverse range of flavours and textures that peanut butter can bring to savoury cuisine:

Peanut Butter Chicken

This dish features succulent chicken pieces cooked in a creamy peanut butter sauce. The sauce is typically made with peanut butter, coconut milk, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and spices. The result is a delectable blend of tender chicken and the rich, nutty flavours of peanut butter.

African Peanut Soup

African peanut soup is a hearty and flavourful dish made with peanut butter, vegetables, and spices. It often includes ingredients like sweet potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and chilli peppers. The peanut butter adds a creamy and nutty base to the soup, creating a satisfying and comforting meal.

Peanut Butter and Shrimp Noodles

This dish combines sautéed shrimp, noodles, and a peanut butter-based sauce. The sauce typically includes peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, and chilli flakes. The combination of the savoury shrimp, noodles, and creamy peanut butter sauce creates a delicious and filling meal.

Peanut Butter and Beef Stir-Fry

In this dish, thinly sliced beef is stir-fried with vegetables and a peanut butter-based sauce. The sauce is made with peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and other seasonings. The peanut butter adds a rich and nutty flavour to the stir-fry, complementing the tender beef and crunchy vegetables.

Thai Peanut Noodle Salad

This refreshing salad combines cooked noodles, crisp vegetables, and a tangy peanut butter dressing. The dressing is typically made with peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce, honey, garlic, and chilli paste. The peanut butter dressing adds a creamy and flavourful element to the salad, making it a satisfying and vibrant meal option.

Homemade Peanut Butter

Making peanut butter at home is a simple and rewarding process. Here's a step-by-step recipe to prepare creamy homemade peanut butter:


  • 2 cups of roasted, unsalted peanuts
  • 1-2 tablespoons neutral oil (optional, for desired consistency)
  • Pinch of salt (optional)


  • Place the roasted, unsalted peanuts in a food processor or high-speed blender. 
  • Process the peanuts on high speed for about 5-8 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed. At first, the peanuts will turn into a fine powder, then clump together, and finally transform into a smooth and creamy consistency. 
  • If desired, add a tablespoon or two of neutral oil, such as peanut or vegetable oil, to achieve a creamier texture. You can also add a pinch of salt for extra flavour, but this is optional. 
  • Continue blending until the peanut butter reaches your desired consistency. If it appears too thick, add a little more oil and blend again. 
  • Once the peanut butter is smooth and creamy, transfer it to a clean jar with a tight-fitting lid. 
  • Store the homemade peanut butter in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Remember to give it a good stir before using, as natural separation may occur.