Chinese Satay Sauce


This Chinese Satay Sauce recipe is so easy to make at home, and you can use it on almost anything. Chicken Satay, spring rolls, dumplings. Whatever you choose I am sure you will love it. And the best thing is that it only takes 15 minutes! Chinese satay sauce is an easy to make and delicious dipping sauce which marries Indonesian satay and Chinese five spice to create the perfect blend of sweet and savory.


The satay sauce is completely made from scratch and it’s so good because it uses mostly fresh ingredients! Now you won’t ever have to buy expensive store bought satay sauce with preservatives!

Chinese Style Satay Beef


This Asian satay beef is quite easy to make! You are simply marinating your beef in a velveting marinade to make the meat tender and juicy. Then in a pan, you will fry the beef to brown the edges just a bit. Next you have the option to toss in your favourite veggies (bell peppers are recommended) and then pour your homemade satay sauce over top to simmer for a couple of minutes so the beef absorbs that flavour.

My authentic Chinese satay beef recipe is so saucy and delicious, pairing wonderfully with some hot steamed rice and more veggies, as you wish.


The great thing about this Chinese style satay beef recipe is that it’s so versatile! You can sneak the beef into a sandwich or pair it with some hot soupy noodles like how they do at Hong Kong style cafes, and it will hit the spot!

Chinese Style Satay Beef


  • Use fresh flank steak or grilling beef steak. If you are using a grilling steak with fat along the edges, slice the fat off and tenderize the red part with a meat hammer. Typically, flank steak is used for this recipe.
  • Source fresh lemongrass for the best flavour.
  • To make things easier in the kitchen, use minced garlic that you can purchase in a container from the Korean or Asian grocer. This will help cut down on time as you prepare the other ingredients.
  • If you have a blender, use the blender to blend your satay sauce into a smooth texture. However, if you do not, don’t worry! I did not use a blender for this recipe and the sauce turned out great. It just takes some time to mince the lemongrass.
  • Use a non-stick pan or a well-seasoned wok to fry your beef.
  • When frying your beef, make sure to brown the edges a bit to give it another level of flavour.
  • Once the beef is browned, then it is time to add your veggies (optional).
  • Once the beef is 75% cooked (you still see a little bit of red in the middle), pour your satay sauce and cook for a few minutes until mixed. You don’t want to overcook your beef and then add your satay sauce to cook it more.



It’s slightly different from your Singapore beef satay recipe or Malaysian beef satay recipe where they usually come on skewers. Cantonese satay beef uses flank steak and is sliced into very thin pieces. Then it is fried with a delicious nutty satay sauce using similar ingredients to the South-East Asian skewer. This version is more on par with Chinese restaurant style satay beef.


If you’re making this Chinese style satay beef recipe, then you will need flank steak. If you can’t find flank steak, use a thin grilling steak but slice off the fat and tenderize with a meat hammer.


There are many versions of satay sauce, but my Cantonese version contains:  

  • Ginger powder
  • Peanut butter
  • Soy sauce
  • Brown sugar
  • Lemongrass
  • Garlic
  • Shallot
  • Sesame oil
  • Red chili


You will need the following ingredients for my Chinese satay beef stir fry recipe:

  • 500 grams beef
  • Optional: 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • Optional: 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp cooking oil

Beef marinade:

  • ¼ tsp Baking soda
  • 4 tsp Soy sauce
  • 1 ½ tsp Cornstarch
  • ½ tsp Garlic powder
  • 2 tsp Water
  • ½ tbsp garlic, minced

Satay Sauce:

  • 3 tbsp peanut butter, smooth kind
  • ½ tsp Ginger powder
  • 2 tbsp Lemongrass, finely minced
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • One Shallot, minced
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp Garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp red chili, finely minced


  1. Slice your steak against the grain and very thinly. Tip: if you freeze the steak for 20-30 minutes, this will allow you to slice the steak very thinly. Transfer beef to a mixing bowl.
  2. To the same mixing bowl, add your beef marinade ingredients. Mix with tongs or your hands and then pack the beef into a ball so that the marinade really soaks into the meat. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together your satay sauce ingredients until well combine. Tip: if you have a blender, add your ingredients to the blender and then blend until smooth. Set aside.
  4. Next in a non-stick pan set over medium high heat, add cooking oil and your marinated beef. Fry until the edges are brown and the meat is 50-60% cooked, about 5 minutes.
  5. Optional: Toss in your chopped bell peppers here and fry for 2 minutes.
  6. Then when the beef is 75% cooked, pour in your satay sauce and mix. Cook for 1-2 minutes until beef is cooked through and not red. Transfer to a serving plate and enjoy!

Is Satay Sauce Vegan?

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Manufacturers may change their ingredients at any time so please always double-check for yourself before purchasing anything.

Satay sauce is a popular Chinese sauce made with peanuts. But is it suitable for vegans and vegetarians? Or does it contain animal-derived ingredients?

Green Wakame Seaweed Salad with Satay Sauce

This article explores the ingredients you’ll find in satay sauce. We’ll look at what ingredients are sometimes added to satay sauce that aren’t vegan-friendly. I’ll look also suggest a couple of vegan satay sauce recipes that you might like to try.

Can vegans eat satay sauce?

Satay sauce is usually vegan-friendly, but sometimes it may contain animal-derived ingredients such as fish sauce, cows’ milk or honey from bees. Therefore, if you’re ordering a dish that includes satay sauce, you should always ask whether it’s suitable for vegans or not.

What non-vegan ingredients may be added to satay sauce?

Traditional Chinese satay sauce is made with peanuts, coconut milk, soy sauce, garlic, cumin, coriander and tamarind. However, depending on whether you order satay sauce in a Chinese or Thai restaurant or buy it from a supermarket, other ingredients may be included.

1. Fish sauce

Fish sauce is one ingredient you may encounter in satay sauce that is neither vegan nor vegetarian-friendly. Traditional fish sauce is made from anchovies and sea salt. As fish are animals, fish sauce is something that vegans should be aware of when ordering Chinese food.

2. Cows’ milk

While satay sauce should be made with coconut milk, some shop-bought satay sauces contain cows’ milk. Unfortunately for vegans and people who follow a dairy-free diet, cows’ milk makes its way into many processed foods as it’s a cheap ingredient that manufacturers use to bulk things out so they can make more money.

3. Honey

Some satay sauce recipes include honey to add sweetness. Fish and milk are easy to spot on food labels as they are highlighted in capital letters or bold. But, as honey is not one of the common allergens that must be highlighted by law in the UK, it can be a little trickier to spot when skim-reading labels.

Does satay sauce contain meat?

Satay sauce does not contain meat, but the satay itself usually does. Satay is small pieces of meat grilled on a skewer. While satay sauce is made to complement the meat flavours, vegans and vegetarians can order mushroom satay or tofu satay as an alternative.

Does satay sauce contain fish?

Some satay sauces contain fish and some do not, it depends on the recipe that was used. When ordering or buying satay sauce, vegans and vegetarians should always be sure to check the ingredients, looking out for fish.

What is Chinese satay sauce made of?

Chinese takeaway satay sauce is usually made with peanut butter, lime, honey, coconut milk, soy sauce, curry powder, and water. However the exact ingredients may be different in each restaurant, so if you have special dietary requirements you should always check.

What is vegan satay made of?

Vegan satay may be made of tofu cubes or mushrooms. The tofu or mushrooms are marinated in something like lemongrass and baked before serving with peanut sauce. Vegan satay will be served with a vegan-friendly satay sauce that doesn’t contain animal ingredients like fish, honey or milk.

mushroom satay
Mushroom satay

Vegan Satay Sauce Recipes

You can make satay sauce with vegan-friendly ingredients. It’s really easy as you just throw things into a pan and heat them up.

Here are two recipes you can try at home…

Chinese-Style Satay Sauce

  • 4 teaspoons of sesame oil
  • 1 small minced onion
  • 3 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 250g peanut butter
  • 250ml coconut milk
  • 75ml of sweet chilli sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons of brown sugar

Saute the onion in a pan with heated sesame oil. Once the onion is softened, add garlic. Whisk in the coconut milk, peanut butter, soy sauce, chilli sauce and brown sugar. Mix until smooth. Allow mixture to simmer. Decrease heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Vegan Thai Peanut Sauce

  • 100g of peanut butter
  • 250ml of water
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of lime juice
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar

Add and mix all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over low heat. Stir the sauce until all ingredients are well mixed. Look for a creamy and smooth consistency. Serve warm.

What Is Chicken Satay?

Satay is an Indonesian dish made by grilling skewered meat. Sate ayam (chicken satay) is one of the most popular versions—so popular that it’s become a favorite in other Southeast Asian countries, including Malaysia and Thailand. Chicken satay is traditionally grilled outdoors, but you can also make it inside using a grill pan.

What Does Chicken Satay Taste Like?

When grilled, chicken satay has a pleasantly smoky flavor. Indonesian chicken satay is flavored with kecap manis, a syrupy soy sauce that gives satay a salty-sweet flavor. Thai chicken satay is often seasoned with a flavor-packed marinade of fish sauce, turmeric, and lemongrass and garnished with fresh herbs like cilantro that give it a bright, citrusy flavor.

How to Serve Chicken Satay

Chicken satay skewers are typically served as an appetizer with sambal kacang (peanut sauce) and cucumber salad. It’s also delicious served over jasmine rice. Peanut sauce is so commonly served with satay that it’s often called “satay sauce.” In Indonesia, however, peanut sauce is served with a variety of foods, including salads and fried rice. It’s almost always made with deep-fried peanuts—never creamy peanut butter.

Indonesian Chicken Satay Recipe




30 min


40 min


10 min


For the chicken:

  • 1 tablespoon kecap manis (sweet Indonesian soy sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs or chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces

For the peanut sauce:

  • ⅔ cup plus 2 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
  • ½ cup unsalted, skin-on peanuts
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 bird’s-eye chile pepper, finely chopped
  • 1½ tablespoons kecap manis
  • 2 teaspoons tamarind paste (or substitute 2 teaspoons lime juice and a pinch of brown sugar)
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  1. 1About 30 minutes before you plan to cook, soak 24 bamboo skewers in water.
  2. 2Make the marinade. In a large bowl, combine kecap manis, lime juice, and coconut oil. Add chicken pieces and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate, marinating chicken while you prepare the dipping sauce.
  3. 3Fry the peanuts. In a small saucepan over high heat, bring ⅔ cup peanut oil to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Add peanuts and deep-fry, stirring continuously, until deep mahogany brown, about 4 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.
  4. 4Heat a small skillet over medium heat with 2 tablespoons oil and sauté garlic and chile pepper until fragrant and slightly softened, about 3 minutes.
  5. 5In the bowl of a food processor, combine fried peanuts with garlic and chile pepper mixture, kecap manis, tamarind paste, and salt. Pulse to form a coarse paste, then slowly add water, continuing to pulse until sauce reaches desired consistency.
  6. 6Thread the skewers. Add 3–4 pieces of marinated chicken to each wooden skewer.
  7. 7Meanwhile, prepare an outdoor grill with coals or heat a stove-top cast iron grill pan over medium-high heat, lightly oiling the grates if necessary.
  8. 8Grill the skewers, turning occasionally, until lightly charred and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Serve hot with peanut sauce.

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