Peanut Butter Noodles
Let us start by addressing the elephant in the room, you probably think this sounds like a bizarrely weird food combination, right? I promise it super tasty! And I don’t just say that because I love the sweet creaminess of peanut butter either!
I would describe this dish as having a bit of an asian ish inspired flair, but in no means am I calling this authentic asian food. It is a very savory peanutty butter flavor with lots of fresh veggies, chicken, noodles and just a hint of spice. Plus it works wonderfully as a meal prep for easy lunches too! I just ate dinner and I already want more of this goodness just thinking about it! Yum!
To start, I gather all of my ingredients like always, and today I have quite a few!
The way these ingredients combine together bring a lot of little intricacies of flavor into each bite. If you haven’t already, please take a look at this mouthwateringly delicious video 😋
I love instant ramen noodles. They are cheap and cheerful, cook super fast, and are incredibly easy to dress up! Of course, I am not using the seasoning packet today, just the noodles. Specific to this recipe, one of the things I really like about ramen noodles is the kinky curly texture helps hold in the bits of onion and chicken so you get a little bit of every flavor in each bite! Linguini or Fettuccini noodles totally make a great substitute. They are a bit thicker and really hug the peanut butter sauce, but they take a bit longer to cook and you have to be more intentional with getting the different ingredients into each bite.
Onions-I frequently use white and yellow onions interchangeably, especially when they are being cooked. Today I am actually using half of each just because I already had half of one in the fridge, and of course first in should be first out. These need a simple dice. I am not super picky when I do this but the general rule in cooking you will want similar size cuts to promote even cooking. See 2:20 in the video if you need an example of a quick and easy way to cut the onion!
Garlic–nothing fancy, I sent my many cloves of garlic thru my garlic press. If you dont have one, I HIGHLY recommend this kitchen unitasker. I use mine so often that if it is ‘lost’ it is probably still on the drying rack haha!
Green Onions, our third onion like veggie today! This one is not being cooked, just as a garnish. But remember-the better prepared you are before you turn on the heat, the easier your cooking time will be. I think i had three full green onions, whites/greens and used it allllll the way to the root for minimal waste. And of course when slicing the onions, keep your knife moving forward thru the onion on the cutting board–this will help ensure all the little pieces have good separation.
Now–why am I using THREE different onions? Short answer: the white/yellow onions and garlic will cook into the sauce and help decrease the sweetness of the peanut butter while the green onions being used as garnish add a bite of freshness to the finished dish. And all three work together to highlight the peanuts (not sugar) into a scrumptious savory pasta!
Chopped peanuts make an excellent garnish! I do not use them to add peanut flavor–the sauce has peanut butter in it already to do that for us–I add chopped peanuts to bring little bit of crunch. And know – these nuts are not anything fancy, just your standard roasted and salted no extra flavors added variety.
Creamy vs Crunchy PB: I ALWAYS have creamy peanut butter on hand. I do not usually buy crunchy though, and I would think that cooking the crunchy peanut butter into the sauce would soften the peanut chunks so they lose their crunch. If crunchy was your 2020 panic shopping peanut butter of choice, please don’t let this stop you from trying this recipe! You might just want to also have a few diced peanuts to add as crunchy garnish 🙂
I have said it before, but baby carrots are an excellent cheater veggie to use when cooking. Not only are baby carrots a good snack to keep in the fridge, I love that they are already washed and peeled (timesaver!!!), and the size is perfect for making a julienne cut (think matchstick shape).
Cutting the carrots down to this shape can be kind of tedious. I know a lot of stores sell pre cut carrots already in the julienne/matchstick shape in a similar package to the baby carrots. Personal preference: I skip those simply because I like to have the carrot work for multiple preparations as I do not always use this shape in cooking. If you have a mandoline grater you can maybe save yourself some time here!
Now that the veggies and garnish are all prepped, we can start cooking! Chicken is up first 🍗 and is being cooked very basic with just salt and pepper. I do add just a smidgen of oil to the skillet to start. Each piece needs about three -four minutes on each side and we do want some browning on both sides of the chicken. It will be added back later but the chicken does need to be fully cooked before we take it out of the skillet to rest.
The chicken is completely optional. I have made this many times without chicken and it is delightful. My husband is a MEAT EATER so when cooking for him I always add this into the mix 😃 I love using boneless/skinless chicken thighs: First, they have a bit higher fat content than chicken breasts so they retain more moisture once cooked, second they are smaller/thinner than chicken breasts so the cook faster too, and third they actually cost less than chicken breast so it is a winner all around!
Separately, you will want to start a pot of water on the stove to boil.
Once the chicken is out of the skillet go ahead and add all the diced white/yellow onions into the same skillet (if not using chicken, start the onions with a tablespoon or so of cooking oil). We dont need the onions to brown for this recipe but we do want them to cook thru (think softened/transparent) so the finished dish does not have the bite of raw onion.
Once the onions have fully softened, add the garlic and (if using) the crushed ginger. The garlic will only need about 30-60 seconds cooking time to become very fragrant. The ginger adds a really great zing to the peanutty sauce–I cheat and get my ginger from the grocery freezer where it is packaged in tablespoon increments.
Once the garlic and ginger start becoming aromatic you can add the carrots and turn the heat to low. The carrots don’t need much cooking and I like when they still have a bit of the bite left in the finished dish.
By now the water you set to boil should be boiling. I add my ramen noodles to the pot and discard the ramen seasoning packet. Note–I did not add any salt to the boiling water. The soy sauce about to be added to the sauce is sodium enough for this dish!
To build our sauce I add the peanut butter, soy sauce, and sesame oil right to the same skillet with the veggies. I really dislike dishes so I never measure measure the peanut butter–I use a really big spoonful and call it a quarter cup. The soy sauce I used to measure at about three ounces (a 1/4 cup), again in saving dishes to wash I guestimate by adding almost enough to just barely cover the bottom of the skillet. Sesame oil is a delicious but potently flavor oil. A little goes a long way and I use no more than about a tablespoon.
The red pepper flakes are optional if you want to add a bit of back of the throat heat. Red pepper flakes infuse into the sauce similar to the way tea infuses into water. I like them now, but when I was a kid I really would not have enjoyed this, so just keep in mind your families flavor preferences. Freebie tip: if you want to try this ingredient for free without buying a whole jar of it, just ask for some next time you get a take out pizza and add about what comes in one packet (about one teaspoon). Lastly, we will take some of the (now) starchy cooking water from the noodles and add it to our veggie/sauce mix. This starchy water will help thin out the peanut butter and we can add more as necessary.
Stay with me for a minute here because as we start mixing this will look quite funky for a minute. The peanut butter needs our patience as it warms and mixes with the liquids. Be patient and after a minute or so of stirring everything should combine nicely into a sauce. You will want it to be a bit thin at this stage because the sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
Before we add the noodles, this is your best opportunity to taste test the sauce. Too peanut buttery? Add a bit of cooking liquid to dilute it. Need salt, add another splash of soy sauce. Too salty? Add more peanut butter and another splash of sesame oil to sweeten it up. Forget to add ginger and you have it, add it now! You can craft this to be exactly what you want!
Add the noodles once you are happy with the sauce. On theme with saving dishes, I add them directly from the cooking liquid with a pasta fork.
If you started with cooked chicken, we can take a moment to dice it up. I will be mixing it into the pasta completely and want bite size pieces with everything really well incorporated. Alternatively, you can easily portion control the chicken and serve the thighs whole atop the peanut butter noodles 😋
All that is really left is to dish up and garnish our pasta! Add lots of green onions, the crunchy peanuts and some sesame seeds!
I like to meal prep with this and save leftovers for easy weekday lunches. My suggestion on this–keep the green onions and peanuts separate from the pasta so they retain their original textures. In my opinion, this makes 3-4 really big servings (that being said, my husband is a big eater, if you are making this with kids you can likely feed more!)
We have lots of pasta, veggies, and chicken all coated in a yummy peanutty buttery sauce. I love this pasta! The peanut butter is very flavorful, nutty, and most importantly: savory! The onions have really done their job bringing down the sweetness of the peanut butter. The carrots keep a bit of their original crunch and the chopped peanuts add an extra bite. The chicken is warm and juicy! I know I said the ginger is optional, but it adds a really great zing of that something extra. The red pepper flakes are magic! We did not add much–only about one teaspoon–but they have added a lovely back of the throat spicy tingle.
This savory dish has so many delicious qualities! Let me know in the comments below how you enjoyed this!
- ~ 1/4 cup Peanut Butter (I use Creamy)
- Ramen Noodles, 2 packets (or linguine noodles work too)
- 1 Onion diced (white or yellow both work!)
- Carrots, ~3/4 cup (I used 10 ish baby carrots)
- Garlic, to taste–I used 3 big cloves
- ~ 1/4 cup Soy Sauce
- 1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
- 1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes for the hint of spice (optional)
- ~1/4 cup chopped Peanuts for crunch
- Sesame Seeds for garnish
- Green Onion for garnish
- 2 teaspoons Grated Ginger (optional BUT highly recommended)
- 1 pound Chicken Thighs (optional)
Peanut Butter Noodles!
- Gather and prepare all your ingredients
- dice the white/yellow onion
- julienne (matchstick) the carrots
- garlic press your garlic
- rough chop your green onions for garnish
- rough chop your peanuts for garnish
- Cook the chicken thoroughly (salt and pepper seasoning only and cooked with a smidgen of oil to prevent sticking) then remove from skillet and rest. Start a pot of water to boil.
- Add onions to the same skillet (or if not using chicken, start onions with a bit of cooking oil) and cook until softened
- Add garlic and ginger to the softened onions and cook until fragrant (roughly 30-60 seconds)
- Add carrots to skillet and turn heat to low
- Add sauce ingredients to same skillet
- Big scoop of Peanut Butter (about 1/4 cup)
- Soy sauce to almost coat bottom of pan (about 1/4 cup)
- Sesame Oil, about a tablespoon (remember it is fragrant!)
- Starchy cooking liquid from noodles (to think the peanut butter, and more as needed)
- Red pepper flakes (if using)
- Patience as you stir to combine, warm, and mix the peanut butter into the other liquids and veggies. Add more starchy cooking liquid if needed
- Add cooked noodles into peanutty sauce. Work to coat all noodles and disperse veggies evenly around with pasta
- Plate and garnish (green onions/chopped peanuts/sesame seeds)