Spicy Asian peanut butter pasta is the perfect base for tossing in fresh stir fry veggies and chopped cooked chicken for an easy weeknight dinner. You can adjust the heat from mild to hot, whatever your family loves best!
Delicious creamy peanut butter pasta is the not-too-spicy dinner your kids will love.
You can top it with fresh veggies and your favorite protein, but we love it best with this honey garlic chicken recipe that only takes 5 minutes to prep.
Got a picky eater on your hands? You can serve the stir fry veggies separately and let your family mix and match their favorite toppings for the final dish or eat them on their own.
The ingredients for peanut butter pasta are so easy, you probably already have most of them in your pantry:
- Peanut Butter: Whatever creamy-style peanut butter you love.
- Soy sauce
- Minced garlic
- Honey: I used plain honey for years, but I'm now obsessed with Mike's Hot Honey seasoned with chiles. It adds just the right amount of heat to this dish without being too spicy. Use whatever honey your family enjoys.
- Long pasta: fettuccine or thin spaghetti are our two favorites
For the finished dish, you'll want these fresh produce items:
- Crushed red pepper flakes
- Red bell pepper
- Shredded carrots
- Green onions
- Cabbage slaw mix: You can buy the prepared cabbage slaw bag or simply shred a fresh green cabbage on your own.
See recipe card for quantities.
NOTE: If this list of ingredients looks like too much for your family, you may prefer my spicy peanut butter noodles with ground pork.
It has a very similar flavor but is much quicker and has a lot fewer vegetables in the mix.
Step 1: Prepare the peanut butter sauce
Set a large pot of salted water over HIGH heat for boiling your pasta.
Meanwhile, add the peanut butter, soy sauce, garlic, and red pepper flakes to a small mixing bowl and whisk them together.
The sauce will be VERY thick at first.
Boil the pasta for the lowest time listed on the package so it is al dente.
About 2 minutes before the pasta is finished, strain 1 cup of the boiling pasta water into a heatproof measuring cup.
Pour ½ cup of the pasta water into the prepared peanut butter sauce and stir.
Strain the pasta and set aside.
Step 2: Prep the veggies & assemble
While the pasta is boiling, you'll have time to chop the red pepper and green onions.
Place them in a bowl with the cabbage and carrots.
Once the pasta has been strained, add the thinned down peanut butter sauce to the empty pasta pot. Be sure to do it OFF the burner or the peanut butter may burn.
Whisk the sauce briefly, the heat of the pot will begin to soften the sauce even more. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and toss to coat.
Adjust the thickness of the sauce by drizzling in as much of the reserved ½ cup of pasta water as needed to reach your desired consistency.
Add the prepared veggies to the pasta and toss to combine.
I recommend topping this dish with our favorite honey garlic chicken thighs but shredded rotisserie chicken would work well, too.
Hint: The amount of pasta water you'll need to thin the sauce will depend on the shape and brand of noodle you choose. Some absorb more liquid than others.
This recipe is best served immediately after preparing it.
If you need to reheat it, you may wish to add a splash of chicken stock to the dish before microwaving to help moisten the pasta which will thicken in the fridge overnight.
If you're serving it over rice, you may wish to double the recipe for a larger portion.
Honey garlic chicken would be a perfect protein topping for this pasta. But, you could also use our healthy chicken tenderloins from the air fryer, frozen shrimp, or roasted red peppers and pineapple for a vegetarian version of the dish:
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Asian Peanut Butter Pasta
For the chicken:
- 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 5 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon ginger
For the pasta:
- 1 (16 oz.) box whole grain thin spaghetti
- ½ cup peanut butter
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- healthy sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ cup reserved pasta cooking water
For the salad:
- ½ fresh red bell pepper sliced very thinly
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- ¼ cup sliced green onions
- ½ cup raw red & green cabbage mix sliced thinly like slaw
- ¼ cup grated carrots
- OR–I found an awesome Asian Slaw mix in my produce aisle that had a mix of everything listed but the red pepper. I just used 2 big handfuls of that. Take a look, you might be surprised what you find to save time.
- Set a large pot of salted water to boil. Preheat your oven to 425°F.
Make the marinade for the chicken:
- Whisk all the ingredients together and pour over the chicken. Toss to coat. You can do this earlier in the day and let it marinate or do it just before popping in the oven. I’ve done both and it worked just fine.
Bake the chicken
- Bake the chicken at 425°F for 50 minutes. Turn it 3 times (after 25 min., another 15, another 10) during cooking so that it gets nice and caramelized by the heat. My family fights over the crunchy bits!
Boil the pasta:
- While the chicken is baking, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions. Be sure to reserve a good cup or two of the cooking water before you drain the noodles.
Prepare the pasta sauce:
- Whisk all the ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside for tossing. The peanut butter mixture will be insanely thick until you add the pasta water. It will come together nicely with the bit of heat the pasta water gives it. Add more or less water to get the consistency you prefer.
Prep the veggies:
- It took me a minute or less since I was using the bag of Asian slaw mix. I just had to slice the pepper.
- When the pasta is done, reserve the water you need, drain and place in a large bowl.
- Whisk the pasta water into the pasta sauce bowl. Toss the finished sauce with the noodles to combine.
- Toss the raw veggies in with the warm noodles. The heat of the pasta will just SLIGHTLY wilt them a bit but they will still be full of crunch. OR you can put the veggies in a separate bowl and let your family add just what they want to their mix–the much more popular method for my girls.
- Cut or shred the chicken. You can toss it in with the pasta or serve it on top.
- Be warned, the pasta will get very dry when left to soak up the peanut butter sauce overnight. Since we served the veggies as separate mix-ins, I was able to store the pasta alone with just a few tablespoons of the reserved pasta water laying at the bottom of the container. When we wanted to eat the leftovers, I reheated the noodles in the microwave and the water turned to steam and rehydrated the noodle sauce after a good toss.
- The chicken and veggies will store perfectly if kept separate. Just assemble your leftovers as needed.
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This is one of our favorite meals. I've made it numerous times and its always a big hit, especially with my little ones!
Wow, Tiffany; how exciting! It's beautiful and sounds really yummy; I can't wait to try it! Also? So excited for YOU that Tim is craving more flavor 🙂 #Winning!