African Peanut Stew is a wholesome dairy free meal, full of warm flavors. Make this stew recipe on a stove top, in a crock pot, or Instant Pot! There’s a vegetarian option, too.
Typically, beef stew is the one everyone seems to go for first, but this peanut stew may have you changing your mind about that.
I want the meals I make to have warm flavors and also to be warm in temperature. It’s all about COMFORTING, NOURISHING meals to warm up the body.
This way, we can trick our mind into ignoring the fact that the weather outside is cold and ugly, right? RIGHT!
African peanut stew
Peanut stew is a thick, hearty meal of sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, and sometimes meat in a rich and spicy peanut-tomato sauce.
There’s peanut butter in the stew for creaminess and of course, flavor. The addition of crunchy peanuts on top gives this dish a salty crunch with every bite. It’s seriously delicious!
Also known as peanut soup or West African peanut stew, the recipe originates from Mali, in western Africa. And if you know me, you know how living in Africa was (and will always be) a part of my health journey.
When I make it, I like to use meat, but it is equally delicious as a vegetarian stew. If you prefer it meatless, no problem. You can either use 1 cup less broth, or keep the broth and add a drained can of chickpeas instead – easy!
The recipe is adaptable, too!
You can make it in a pot on the stove top, in a slow cooker, or in an Instant Pot. One of my favorite things about it is the fact that it’s freezer-friendly. So, it’s the perfect meal prep dinner!
Recipe Ingredients and Substitutions
This West African peanut stew recipe uses simple, wholesome ingredients. You won’t need anything fancy; just a few veggies and basic spices, plus optional meat.
If you plan on making a vegetarian peanut stew, you’ll omit the meat and you’ll use a little less broth. Other than that, the recipe is exactly the same.
- Tomato sauce – If you need a substitute, you can use a can of plain diced tomatoes. The burst of red color screams “cozy comfort food” to me.
- Creamy peanut butter (natural, no-stir variety) – In African cooking, peanuts are helpful for adding healthy fats and protein, but also to help thicken dishes. For this stew we use peanut butter for a creamy, earthy flavor.
- Spices – Smoked paprika, ground coriander, kosher salt and black pepper, and if desired, a little cayenne pepper. If you don’t have ground coriander, ground cumin will work just fine.
Remaining ingredients for stew
- Neutral flavor cooking oil – avocado oil, vegetable oil, and olive oil are all good options
- Protein – bite-size pieces of boneless pork, chicken, turkey or beef stew meat are optional. If you’re making vegetarian African peanut stew, feel free to use chickpeas instead.
- Broth or stock– Feel free to use either vegetable or chicken broth or stock.
- Veggies – chopped onion, sweet potatoes, spinach (or baby spinach) and carrots. The starchy vegetables (carrots and sweet potato) add nourishment and a touch of sweetness. Plus, they help to thicken the stew.
- Aromatics – minced garlic and fresh ginger give an earthy flavor to the stew. You can substitute ground ginger for fresh if you need to.
- Cooked white or brown rice, cauliflower rice, or quinoa
- Fresh cilantro, chopped
- Dry roasted peanuts, finely chopped
- Spicy chilies of choice – Originally, African peanut stew is topped with scotch bonnet peppers (a West African pepper), which are the hottest of hot! Trust me, we tried them. WOWZA! If you’re up for the spicy challenge, feel free to add them. If not, you can use mild green chilies, diced jalapeños, or for extra spicy flavor, finely mince a Serrano or Habanero pepper.
How to make West African peanut stew
Make the Sauce Regardless of which method you’re going use to cook the stew, you’ll need to make the sauce first.
- Add all the sauce ingredients to a blender or food processor and pulse to combine. If you don’t have a blender or food processor, just place everything into a large mixing bowl and use a whisk to combine them.
Stove Top Instructions
- Heat a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. I like to use a 4-quart sauce pot. When the pan is hot, add the oil and diced onions.
- Saute the onions for 3-4 minutes, stirring often. If you’re going to add meat, this is when you’ll add it to the pot. Brown or sear the meat, then use a wooden spoon to scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
- Add the ginger and garlic and saute them, then add the sweet potatoes and stir well to combine everything. Add the sauce you made earlier, along with the peanut butter, spices, spinach, and broth, then stir everything again.
- Simmer (cover the pot after the stew comes to a simmer) until the sweet potatoes are tender and meat is cooked through. This can take anywhere from 40-60 minutes, depending on the size of your sweet potato chunks.
- Garnish and serve! Transfer the meal to serving bowls and top with crushed peanuts and cilantro, if desired
Instant Pot Instructions
- Set your Instant Pot to saute and add the cooking oil. When oil is hot, add onion and garlic, and cook until onions are brown, about 2 minutes.
NOTE: If you’re adding meat, brown that in the oil first, then add the onion and garlic, and continue to cook until the onions are golden brown, 2-3 minutes or so.
- Add the remaining ingredients (minus any toppings) and the sauce, then stir to combine.
- Pressure cook on high power for 20 minutes, then allow a natural release of the pressure.
- Garnish and serve! When the pressure has released, remove the lid and transfer the stew to serving bowls. Garnish the bowls of African peanut stew with cilantro, chopped peanuts, and optional spicy peppers of choice.
Crock pot / slow cooker instructions
- Add vegetables and stock to slow cooker. Place the sweet potatoes, carrots, and broth in the crock pot. Set on low while you make the rest of the stew.
- Optional step (if using meat) Brown the meat with a tablespoon of oil in a skillet on the stove top. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the onion and garlic, and continue to sauté until onions are brown, about 2 minutes. Place browned meat and onion in the crock pot with the veggies and broth. Mix together.
- Make the sauce. Place all sauce ingredients into a blender, or use a whisk to mix by hand. Blend until creamy and smooth.
- Add sauce to the slow cooker. Then, add the spinach and seasonings and stir to combine.
- Cover and cook on low for 4 1/2 to 5 hours, or on high for 3 hours. If you cook it using high power, check for doneness after 2 hours.
- Garnish and serve!
HOW TO MAKE AFRICAN PEANUT STEW (VIDEO)
This peanut stew is a wholesome dairy free and gluten free meal that’s packed with nourishment and warming flavors. It’s delicious over rice and feeds a crowd. Freezer friendly and made with healthy, real food ingredients!
Sauce (for crock pot, Instant Pot, and stove top methods)
- 1 cup tomato sauce or plain diced canned tomatoes
- 1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter (no stir work best)
- 2 tsp smoked paprika (adjust as needed)
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander (see note)
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper, optional
- 1/2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
Remaining Ingredients for stew
- 1/2 to 1 tbsp cooking oil as needed – Use 1 tbsp if you are not browning meat.
- 1 lb diced stew meat (chicken, beef, or pork), optional
- 2 cups broth (2.5 cups if adding meat)
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 tsp minced garlic (3 small cloves)
- 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger or 1 tsp ground ginger
- 10 ounces (2 small) sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into cubes
- 2/3 cup peeled and sliced carrot, optional
- 2 cups spinach leaves or 3 cups baby spinach
Make the Sauce
- Add all the sauce ingredients to a blender or food processor and pulse to combine. Alternatively, you can place them in a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
Stove Top Instructions
- Notes before you begin. If you are using meat, brown it in the pan first, before adding the other ingredients.
- Heat a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. When pan is hot, add the meat and brown for 5 minutes, turn meat once to evenly cook. When meat is almost cooked through, remove from pan and place on a large plate or bowl. Set aside.
- In the same pan, add 1/2 tbsp to 1 tbsp oil and onions. Sauté the onions for 3-4 minutes, stirring often and scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté another 1-2 minutes, then add the sweet potatoes and stir well to combine.
- Add the tomato sauce, peanut butter, spices, spinach, and broth. Stir to combine. Simmer and cover for 1 hour or until sweet potatoes are tender and meat is cooked through.
Instant Pot Instructions
- Set your Instant Pot to sauté and add cooking oil. When oil is hot, add onion and garlic, and sauté until onions are brown, about 2 minutes. NOTE: If adding meat, first brown the meat in the oil, then add onion and garlic, and continue to sauté until onions are brown, about 2 minutes.
- Add remaining ingredients (minus toppings) and sauce, then stir to combine. Pressure cook on high power for 20 minutes, then allow a natural release of the pressure.
- After pressure is released, remove the lid and transfer contents to bowls for serving.
Crock Pot – Slow Cooker Instructions:
- Place diced sweet potatoes, carrots, and broth into the crock pot. Set on low while you make the rest of the stew.
- OPTIONAL STEP (if adding meat). Place meat of choice in frying pan with 1 tbsp olive oil. Brown for 5 minutes, then add onion and garlic. Continue to saute until onions are brown, about 2 minutes. Place browned meat and onion to the crock pot with the veggies and broth. Mix to combine.
- Make the sauce by placing all sauce ingredients listed into a blender or food processor. Alternatively, use a whisk to mix by hand. Blend until creamy and smooth.
- Add sauce to the crock pot, along with spinach and remaining seasonings, then stir to combine.
- Cover and cook on low for 4 1/2 to 5 hrs or high for 3 hours. Note: If you cook on high, check for doneness after 2 hours
- When the stew is ready, ladle it over individual bowls of hot rice. Garnish with cilantro, chopped roasted peanuts, and optional spicy peppers of choice.
- If you don’t have ground coriander, you may use 3/4 tsp ground cumin.
- You can make this with beef, chicken, pork, or turkey. Or, to make it vegetarian/vegan without meat, simply add in chickpeas.
- Nutrition shown below is for 1 serving, without meat or rice
- Category: main
- Method: slow cooker
- Cuisine: African
Keywords: African peanut stew, crockpot stew, spicy stew, West African peanut stew
OTHER HEALTHY SOUP RECIPES HERE! This recipe is part of our 10 Healthy Soups, Chili and Stew Instant Pot / Slow Cooker Recipes collection. Check it out!
Alright my friends, let me know if you have questions or give this stew a whirl!