This tasty Indonesian satay sauce is super quick and easy to make but adds a powerful burst of flavour and a dose of peanut protein to whatever food you pair it with. It’s perfect for fast weeknight cooking or whipping together as a quick dip when unexpected guests arrive! Skip the chilli and use it as a sauce for kids to dip their air fried tofu and veggies into. It’s a sure-fire winner in any peanut loving household! Unlike traditional satay sauce, this recipe has no shrimp paste in it so it is blissfully vegan too!
I often fall back on Asian cooking for quick weeknight meals for our family. This satay sauce is such a quick and easy way to add a dose of protein to whatever we are eating, whether it is a quick bowl of noodles or some air fried tofu cubes and veggies or just some rice crackers in a bowl in front of the TV. It takes seconds to make and is universally loved by everyone! Using peanut butter is such a time saver instead of having to roast and grind the peanuts. Once you have made this sauce, you will never buy it ready-made from the shops again!
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Quick and easy – this sauce takes just a couple of minutes to prepare without any need for a food processor or blender. All you need is a jug and a fork or small whisk.
- Authentic flavour – although easier to make than the traditional Indonesian satay sauce recipe, this recipe gives a truly authentic flavour that will add a powerful flavour hit to your food!
- Versatile – you will find yourself reaching for this recipe so many times! It is such a quick way to add flavour and protein to your meals, be it noodles, tofu, veggies or even just as a quick dip!
- Lasts well in the fridge and freezer - you can batch make this sauce to have on hand whenever you need a super quick meal.
- Vegan – often satay sauce contains shrimp paste and so is not vegan. However, this version has all the flavour but without the animal products so you can indulge in the Indonesian flavours without worrying about the ingredients.
The difference between Indonesian and Thai satay sauce
In Indonesia, the word “saté” actually refers to the grilled or barbecued meat on skewers (usually chicken or pork) that is accompanied by this tasty spicy peanut sauce for dipping the skewered meat into. In the UK we often call this peanutty sauce, “satay sauce” but in the US it is often known as “peanut sauce”.
Malaysaia and Thailand also have their versions of this satay dish but my recipe is based on the Indonesian saté sauce (probably due to the fact that my husband is half Indonesian and has influenced the flavour profile of this sauce whenever I make it!). How do they differ? The Thai satay sauce is often sweeter and includes coconut milk whereas the Indonesian version is more savoury, concentrating instead on the flavours of the peanut and spices.
There are actually a few different peanut sauces in Indonesia – bumbu kacang refers to the spice mix for this peanut sauce, and sambal kacang is the spicy peanut sauce. There is also the peanut dressing for gado gado which is a delicious cabbage and potato salad with peanut dressing. You can use this satay sauce recipe as the base for a quick salad dressing if you let it down (make it more liquid) with some oil and water.
- Peanut Butter – use a natural peanut butter with no added salt or sugar. The peanut butter in this recipe is replacing roasted peanuts so it is important that the peanut butter is just made from roasted peanuts and not other ingredients. If you cannot find any natural peanut butter, you can easily make your own peanut butter or roast some peanuts for a few minutes in the air fryer and whizz them up in the food processor or blender until smooth.
- Garlic – use fresh garlic here for a fuller flavour. Mince the garlic really finely or grate on a microplane grater so that you don’t get any lumps of garlic in the sauce.
- Kecap Manis – this is an Indonesian sauce that is like a sweetened soy sauce. Check the bottle to ensure it is gluten-free as some brands may not be. If you do not have kecap manis, you could use gluten-free soy sauce instead and double the quantity of maple syrup to compensate for the loss of sweetness.
- Gluten-Free Soy Sauce or Tamari – soy sauce is not gluten-free but most brands do a gluten-free version. Alternatively, I usually use tamari which is a Japanese soy sauce that is naturally gluten-free.
- Lime Juice – use fresh lime juice here rather than the bottled kind. This adds acidity and freshness to the sauce. You could use lemon juice as an alternative.
- Sambal Oelek – this is a spicy Indonesian condiment that is widely used throughout Indonesian cuisine. If you do not have any sambal oelek to hand, you could substitute with sriratcha sauce or any other unsweetened chilli sauce (sweet chilli sauce would not work!). Leave it out completely if you are cooking for kids or do not like spicy food.
Please see the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for full list of ingredients and their quantities.
How To Make This Recipe
Step One – Place all the ingredients except the water into a measuring jug. Whisk together with a fork or small whisk.
Step Two - Slowly pour the water into the jug whilst whisking. Whisk together until smooth and at the consistency that you require.
(Adjust the water according to the consistency you prefer).
This is a summary only. Please see the printable recipe card at the bottom of this page for full instructions.
Tips for Success
There are a few key points to remember when making this recipe.
- Mix the ingredients together really well before you start thinning it down with the water. This ensures a nice smooth sauce without lumps. Also make sure that the garlic is really finely minced so that you do not bite down on large lumps of garlic.
- Use natural unsweetened peanut butter that does not have added salt. This is really important so that your flavour is not thrown out of balance. If you cannot find this type of natural peanut butter, then you could make your own or just use peanuts that you roast and then grind in a food processor until smooth.
- Control the thickness with the amount of water you add. Use less water for a thicker dipping sauce and a little more water (or some coconut milk) to make a thinner sauce for drizzling.
How to use this vegan satay sauce
This Indonesian satay sauce is the perfect quick sauce to whip together to add a powerful flavour hit to your tofu, noodles or veggies or to use as a dipping sauce on the side.
- Drizzle over tofu and tempeh – grill or air fry cubes or slices of tofu or tempeh then drizzle some of this satay sauce all over them (keep your sauce fairly thick for this).
- Noodles – use as a quick stir fry sauce with noodles and veggies for a quick weeknight supper.
- Marinade – take 2 tablespoon of this sauce and mix with 2 tablespoon oil to use as a marinade for tofu. Mix with pressed tofu cubes and leave to marinate for a few hours. Then air fry or fry and serve with the rest of the satay sauce on the side for dipping.
- Dip – use a thick version of this satay sauce for dipping krupuk (Indonesian crackers – see below for how to make them).
How to make vegan krupuk
Krupuk are Indonesian crackers that are a little like the Chinese or Thai prawn crackers but with a more bitter flavour. In Indonesia, they are sometimes made from animal skin but you can easily make a vegan version at home using rice paper!
- Find Vietnamese rice paper spring roll wrappers at the supermarket or at your local Asian grocery store. There are so many varieties but this is an example of the rice paper wrappers I mean.
- Fry the spring roll wrappers (either deep fry or just fry in a thin layer of oil and turn half way through cooking to fry both sides). They fizz up like a poppadom and you will know they are ready when they change to a crispy texture all over. It takes a minute or so.
- Then drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle with salt and, if you like, some seaweed sprinkles. They are so quick and utterly delicious dipped into this satay sauce!
- Spice level – adjust the heat by adding more or less sambal oelek (or chilli sauce) to suit your taste.
- Sweetness level - adjust the sweetness by adding more kecap manis to make it sweeter and compensating with the amount of tamari / GF soy sauce.
- No kecap manis? - don't worry if you can't find kecap manis! You can use tamari or GF soy sauce instead and add a ¼ teaspoon of maple syrup.
- Kid friendly – leave out the sambal oelek completely to make this kid friendly!
Making Ahead & Storage
This satay sauce will keep for up to 3 weeks in a jar in the fridge or up to 6 months in an airtight container in the freezer. To defrost, leave overnight in the fridge and then stir well before using. You may need to add a little more water to loosen it up once refrigerated.
No. Usually satay sauce would contain shrimp paste and may also contain some other non-vegan ingredients. This satay sauce recipe, however, is fully vegan with none of the animal products but all the flavour!
Yes! Simply add more sambal oelek for a spicier version or even add some chopped red chillies for a real chilli kick!
Yes, just take the same amount of peanuts as the amount of peanut butter specified, then roast them for 3-5 minutes in the air fryer or in a dry frying pan. Be careful not to burn them as they turn very quickly! When they are nicely browned, transfer them to a food processor or blender and whizz until the oils release from the peanuts and it becomes a smooth paste. You may need to stop and start the blender or food processor and scrape down the sides a few times. You may need to make a bigger batch in order to be able to break down the peanuts sufficiently as a very small amount of peanuts may not blend in a large food processor. If you have good arm muscles, you could also do this by hand in a pestle and mortar!
📖 Recipe 📖
Vegan Indonesian Satay Sauce Recipe
- 100 g peanut butter
- 2 garlic cloves, minced or grated
- 2 tablespoon lime juice
- 2 tablespoon kecap manis, (sweetened soy sauce)
- 1 tablespoon tamari, (or GF soy sauce)
- 2-3 teaspoon sambal oelek, (chilli sauce)
- ¼ cup water
- Measure all the ingredients except the water into a 500g jug. Whisk together with a small whisk or fork.100 g peanut butter, 2 garlic cloves, 2 tablespoon lime juice, 2 tablespoon kecap manis, 1 tablespoon tamari, 2-3 teaspoon sambal oelek
- Slowly pour in the water while whisking until smooth.¼ cup water
- Serve as a dipping sauce or let down with more water and some oil to use as a marinade.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 week for in the freezer for up to 3 months. (you may need to mix in a little water when used after storing).
- Serve as a dip for barbecued tofu or tempeh skewers, raw vegetable sticks or rice crackers (see the blogpost for how to make vegan krupuk easy at home).
- Or use as a sauce drizzled over cooked vegetables or mixed into noodles for a quick weeknight dinner.
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a ⭐ star rating ⭐ on the recipe card!
If you like this Indonesian vegan satay sauce recipe, you may like these other delicious vegan and gluten-free sauce recipes too: