Roasted Chicken Thighs with — Wait, What?

Barbecue sauce-slathered chicken thighs with a surprising ingredient.
Barbecue sauce-slathered chicken thighs with a surprising ingredient.

These chicken thighs get roasted in the oven in no time flat, and slathered with a barbecue sauce that has an unlikely ingredient.

Peanut butter.

Make that creamy, too, not chunky.

It’s the taste of the American South meets Indonesia.

“Roasted Chicken Thighs with Peanut Butter Barbecue Sauce” is a fun and delightful recipe by Kay Chun, a recipe developer and editor, that was printed in the New York Times.

Not just for sandwiches with jelly.
Not just for sandwiches with jelly.

The peanut butter really thickens up this barbecue sauce, giving it a nutty, rich taste reminiscent of satay, but with added sweetness, spiciness and tang.

The sauce, which also has soy sauce, distilled white vinegar, molasses, Worcestershire, smoked paprika, cayenne, and tomato paste in it, comes together on the stove-top in mere minutes.

A thick, rich tasting barbecue sauce that couldn't be easier to make.
A thick, rich tasting barbecue sauce that couldn’t be easier to make.

Chicken thighs get coated with the sauce, then roasted in a hot oven. The recipe calls for 2 pounds of chicken thighs, but you could make 3 pounds, if you like, and still have a little sauce left over to brush over the chicken after cooking.

This sauce is so nutty good, don’t be surprised if you’ll want to use it on pork tenderloin, ribs or even for just dunking crudites into.

Serve with sauteed veggies, a green salad, coleslaw or even fluffy white rice.
Serve with sauteed veggies, a green salad, coleslaw or even fluffy white rice.

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Peanut Butter Barbecue Sauce

(Serves 4)

For the barbecue sauce:

2 tablespoons canola oil

¼ cup minced onion (about 1/4 medium onion)

2 tablespoons tomato paste

½ cup natural smooth peanut butter

¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce

¼ cup distilled white vinegar

2 tablespoons turbinado or light brown sugar

2 tablespoons unsulphured molasses

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

½ teaspoon cayenne

For the chicken:

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

2 tablespoons canola oil

¾ cup barbecue sauce

Kosher salt

Make the barbecue sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat oil. Add onion and cook over moderate medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, until lightly caramelized and deepened in color, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the remaining ingredients and 6 tablespoons water. Simmer until flavors are combined, and the sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Make the chicken: Heat oven to 425 degrees. Set a rack over a rimmed baking sheet.

In a large bowl, combine chicken, oil and 1/4 cup of the barbecue sauce and season with salt. Toss to evenly coat and arrange on the rack. Roast, using a brush to baste with the remaining 1/2 cup sauce every 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and deep golden in color, about 30 minutes. Serve with the leftover sauce on the side, or store sauce in the refrigerator for later use.

Tip: Don’t worry if the sauce separates a little during cooking. (It’s just the natural oils in the peanut butter.) Once cooled, whisk the mixture to emulsify back together.

Almond butter can be used in place of the peanut butter, if allergies are a consideration.

From Kay Chun for the New York Times

More Peanut Butter Goodness: Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes

And: Chocolate and Peanut Butter Ripples

And: Peanut Butter Cookies with Milk Chocolate Chunks

And: Triple Play Peanut Butter Cookies

And: Peanut Butter Dream Ice Cream Sandwiches

And: Roasted Banana Peanut Butter Pie

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  • Have to say, I wasn’t expecting to see peanut butter as in ingredient here. Neat idea, though, and I can see how it totally can work. Such a tasty recipe — thanks.

  • Who doesn’t like peanut butter in any form…I’m sure the chicken is delicious.

  • Great post, thank you. I will definitely try it out. I did not expect peanut butter in a barbecue sauce, but I think it would taste really good. I can imagine that it will have the nutty, thick and rich texture you are talking about because that’s what happens in this peanut butter sauce used commonly in Vietnam. I think the sweetness can pair well with the sauce and the chicken. Thank you for sharing.

  • Hi Vivian: You’re very welcome! I hope you give it a try. It really is a wonderfully rich, flavorful and unique sauce. Happy cooking!

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