Simpler, Healthier Turmeric Chicken Satay

Simpler, Healthier Turmeric Chicken Satay

Meal: Lunch, Dinner 
Dietary Type: Omnivore (with Vegetarian substitution)
Prep Time: 30 minutes 
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Serves: serves 2-3 as an appetizer

The Dish

Satay (or sate) is a traditional Indonesian dish, but you may have tried it at a Thai restaurant, where it is a common appetizer. The popular dish is comprised of charred, spiced meat (often chicken) cooked on skewers and served with a flavorful peanut sauce. The preparation of the traditional dish can be quite complex, but we’ve come up with a super simple version that involves fewer ingredients without sacrificing great taste. This version also has some ingredient substitutions that make the dish a bit healthier.

The key ingredient to satay is turmeric; rubbing the chicken in a turmeric paste or marinade tenderizes the meat and gives it a bright, zesty flavor...and provides that unique yellow color. Thanks to its range of health benefits, which includes aiding in digestion, helping build a strong immune system, and boasting anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric is a favorite ingredient in the health space. Turmeric is mixed with soy sauce and spicy cumin to marinate the chicken, creating a nourishing and flavorful base to this dish. 

Another flavor-packed, healthy appetizer: Smoky Sweet Potato Wedges with Mashed Avocado.

Aside from vibrantly-colored protein, the most characteristic element to satay is the delicious peanut sauce used for dipping your chicken skewers into. While we love the classic version, we’ve chosen to create an even healthier twist on the sauce by using almonds in place of peanuts. Almonds are high in good fats, have no cholesterol, and are a great source of the antioxidant Vitamin E, making them a heart-healthy option. They are also high in protein, have a low glycemic index, and can help with weight management. The wholesome nuts make an equally delicious base for the dipping sauce.

In addition to nuts, the classic sauce is made with coconut milk. This is fairly high in saturated fat, so we swapped it for one of our favorite healthy condiments, Greek yogurt, which has a similar consistency and coolness to balance the rest of the spices in the dish. 

Both elements of the meal can be prepared ahead of time, making it a great recipe for a party or family gathering. If you’re feeding vegetarians, season tofu or crunchy vegetables in the same marinade used for the chicken. Such a low-effort dish with such big flavor will become an instant go-to in your entertaining repertoire. 


1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (or subsitute with extra firm tofu)
1 teaspoon (3g) ground turmeric
1 teaspoon (3g) ground cumin
2 teaspoons (10ml) soy sauce, divided 
3 tablespoons (45ml) olive oil, divided
1/2 white onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon (1.2g) crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon (21g) honey
1/2 cup (70g) dry, roasted almonds or 1/2 cup (120g) almond butter
1/4 cup (65g) plain, full fat Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon (5ml) rice wine vinegar


  • On a large cutting board, use a rolling pin to pound chicken until flattened (about 1/4-1/2 inch, or 6-13 mm, thick).
  • Cut chicken lengthwise into long 1 inch (25mm) strips. 
  • In a mixing bowl, combine 1 tablespoon (15ml) of olive oil, turmeric, cumin, and 1 teaspoon (5ml) soy sauce until smooth.
  • Add chicken to bowl and toss to coat.
  • Cover and marinade at least 30 minutes, up to 2 hours.
  • Soak wooden skewers in cold water for ~30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the satay sauce:

  • In a food processor or blender, puree 1 tablespoon (15ml) olive oil, onion, red pepper flakes, honey, remaining teaspoon soy sauce, almonds, yogurt, and rice wine vinegar.
  • Transfer to a bowl and set aside (or cover and refrigerate until you are ready to cook the chicken). 

Back to the dish:

  • Weave 1 strip of chicken onto a wooden skewer. Repeat until all chicken has been thread onto skewers.
  • On a grill pan over medium-high heat, evenly distribute remaining 1 tablespoon (15ml) of olive oil.
  • Add skewers in an even layer, browning both sides until cooked through, ~5 minutes per side. 

Pro Tip: Dish is commonly used as an appetizer, so portion is small; but regardless, be sure to serve chicken immediately with satay sauce (alternatively, store in an airtight container until ready to serve).