June 21, 2024

Beef Satay

You are going to want to fire up the grill for this one.

Packed with bold… and I mean BOLD flavor, this beef satay recipe might just be the best one you will ever make. Marinated with soy, brown sugar, a ton of aromatics, herbs, and chilies, these skewers are sweet, savory, with just a touch of heat. Whether you are hosting an outdoor grilling event or just in need of a delicious weekend dinner, this recipe is worthy of going on the repeat list.

beef satay bowl with basmati rice and a microgreen salad


Satay is a Southeast Asian dish that consists of skewered meat that is marinated and then grilled. Typically served with a peanut sauce, these meat skewers feature marinades that vary regionally, with different variations found across Southeast Asia, from Thailand to Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore

While there are variations of the popular dish, a few elements hold true. First, the meat is marinated in spices for a period of time, adding depth of flavor and tenderizing the meat. Second, the meat is skewered and cooked over an open flame, giving it a slight char on the outside. Finally, it is important to note that satay is often served with a peanut dipping sauce.

the ingredients for the marinade



  • Beef – There are a few options when choosing the beef for your satay. You want a cut of meat with some fat and marbling because these qualities add a ton of flavor and keep the meat tender. A chuck steak or even a bottom round steak are great options and are very affordable. Look for cuts that are about an inch thick when you buy them at the supermarket. Avoid the roast versions of these cuts of meat, which are significantly thicker

    Wondering what NOT to buy? Avoid London broil or top round steaks. While they might be attractive for their price point, they have almost no fat and will become extremely tough on the grill. Trust me, I tested it for you.
  • Soy Sauce
  • Brown Sugar – Light or dark both work.
  • Cilantro – My favorite herb, and completely necessary for this recipe, is cilantro. If you are one of the few who hates cilantro and tastes soap, sorry—this recipe may not be for you. This beef satay doesn’t scream cilantro flavor, but the herb adds a bit of brightness that cuts through the sweetness of the brown sugar and the umami of the soy sauce.
  • Thai Basil – A bit harder to come by, Thai basil can be found at Asian specialty markets such as Hmart. I absolutely love Thai basil almost as much as I love cilantro. It is savory and spicy, complementing the herbaceous and bright flavor of cilantro perfectly. That said, I completely understand if you can’t find this herb; in that case, it’s fine to leave it out.
  • Chilies – Thai chilies are the preferred chili to use for this recipe, but similar to Thai basil, if you can’t find these, you can use a generous pinch of chili flakes instead.
  • Lemongrass – Nowadays, you can buy lemongrass in many mainstream supermarkets. If they don’t have the long, stick-like herb loose, check where the other boxed herbs are.
  • Garlic – Fresh only!
  • Neutral Flavored Oil – Think canola, vegetable or avocado.
beef satay bowl with basmati rice and a microgreen salad


This microgreens herb salad is exactly what these savory beef skewers need. It adds a pop of citrus and herbaceous flavor that cuts through the savory and sweet flavors of the meat, making you keep coming back for more.

  • Microgreens – Microgreens are my secret ingredient in so many dishes. Why? They’re absolutely delicious and add a delicate, delightful flavor. I also have a secret love for their texture. While they can’t be found at every supermarket, most carry them. I get mine from Whole Foods, and even Costco usually has them. I prefer AeroFarms microgreens because they’re pre-cut and ready to toss into salads or sprinkle over dishes.
  • Mint – This herb is the star of the show.
  • Cilantro – Washed thoroughly, with leaves picked off the stems and left whole.
  • Cucumbers – I personally prefer Persian cucumbers for this dish; they’re quick to chop and have tender skin. Feel free to use any cucumber variety you like.
  • Lemon Juice – Fresh only!
  • Olive Oil – Use a good, flavorful extra virgin olive oil.
  • Basmati Rice

No peanut sauce? Nope, and I know traditional beef satay usually comes with peanut sauce. But trust me, they don’t need it. Between the caramelized, charred bits and the layers of flavor, adding sauce almost takes away from the beef. Don’t worry though, if you really want it with peanut sauce, Pinch of Yum has a great recipe for that.


  • Skewers – You have 2 options when it comes to purchasing skewers.
    • Wooden Skewers – I use wooden skewers, but I have to admit—they can be a pain. They need to be presoaked for at least 30 minutes before adding the meat and placing them on the grill to prevent them from burning to a crisp. If you don’t presoak them, they’ll basically disintegrate. Despite this, they’re convenient and come in large packs, so quantity isn’t an issue.
    • Metal – These won’t burn on the grill like wooden ones, but they have their own challenges. The main drawback is that you only have a fixed number, whereas wooden skewers often come in packs of 50 or more.

So what do I recommend? Go with wooden, just remember to soak them.


Cut the Meat- One of the most crucial steps is to cut against the grain, ensuring you end up with tender, not tough meat. If you’ve chosen chuck or bottom round steaks, locate the direction of the grain. It’s usually horizontal, but there’s a chance it might not be. If it runs horizontally (along the longest part of the meat), cut the steak vertically in thin strips against the grain (refer to the image below).

cutting the beef against the grain

Make the Marinade- In a bowl, combine the soy sauce and brown sugar. Add the grated garlic, lemongrass, chopped chilies, and herbs. Mix thoroughly to combine.

the beef marinating


Marinade the Meat + Prep- Place the sliced meat in the marinade and mix well to ensure all pieces are coated. If the meat starts breaking up near the fat areas, don’t worry; the pieces don’t have to be intact for them to be skewered. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for a minimum of 1-2 hours. If you want to prep this ahead, you can marinate the meat the day before and leave it in the fridge overnight.

If you opt to make the microgreen salad, which I highly recommend, assemble it either while the meat is marinating or after you skewer the meat. There are no set amounts for the salad because it depends on how many people will be enjoying this meal. For 4 people, aim to cut 3 Persian cucumbers, use 2 handfuls of microgreens, and equal parts mint and cilantro leaves (make sure to pick the leaves off the stems), about a good handful of each. Feel free to scale up or down. Do not dress the salad in advance! When ready to serve, give it a sprinkle of salt, a drizzle of olive oil, and the juice of 1/2 to 1 full lemon.

About 30 minutes before skewering and cooking the beef satay, soak the wooden skewers in water if you’re using them. This prevents them from burning completely on the grill. Take one strip of meat at a time and pierce one end with a skewer. Using a zigzagging motion, thread the meat onto the skewer. You will essentially be folding the meat in on itself as you layer it on. Keep it tight but not too tight; if the meat is too tight, it won’t cook evenly on the grill.

Grill- Preheat the grill to 450°F – 500°F. Once hot, place the skewers directly on the grate. Cook with the lid down, turning every 3-4 minutes, for approximately 12 minutes in total. Always adjust the time based on the thickness of the meat. Serve with rice, the microgreens salad, and optional peanut sauce.

grilling the beef satay skewers

Worried about overcooking? Due to the way we marinated and cut the meat, even if cooked to well-done, it shouldn’t be tough. Ideally, aim for medium doneness; the outside will char slightly while the inside remains tender and juicy.

cooked beef satay skewers topped with sesame seeds, cilantro, and extra chilies.


Store the beef satay in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. When ready to reheat you can pop the meat, removed from the skewer, into a 350 degree oven, toaster oven, or air fryer until warmed throughout. The microgreen salad can not be saved once it is dressed and should be consumed same day.

June 21, 2024

Beef Satay

Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Marinated with soy, brown sugar, a ton of aromatics, herbs, and chilies, this beef satay is sweet, savory, with just a touch of heat.
Course Dinner, Main Dish
Cuisine Asian
Keyword Beef, Summer Grilling
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Marinating Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings 5 people


  • 8-10 wooden skewers


  • 2 lbs chuck steak or bottom round steak
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp neutral oil canola, vegetable, or avocado
  • 1/2 cup cilantro chopped
  • 1/4 cup Thai basil removed from the stems and chopped
  • 5-6 Thai chilies or a heavy pinch of chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp grated lemongrass
  • 2 garlic cloves grated
  • basmati rice

Micro Green Salad

  • microgreens
  • 3-4 Persian cucumbers
  • mint
  • cilantro
  • 1 lemon
  • olive oil


  • Prep the meat by placing it in the freezer for 20-30 minutes prior to cutting. Locate the direction of the grain and, with a sharp knife, cut thin strips in the opposite direction (against the grain). On a chuck or bottom round steak, the grain is probably going horizontal, so cut vertical strips.
  • In a bowl, combine the marinade ingredients: soy sauce, brown sugar, oil, chopped cilantro and Thai basil, chilies, grated lemongrass, and garlic. Add the meat to the bowl, toss to coat thoroughly, and cover. Place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour.
  • While the meat is marinating, prepare the microgreens salad without dressing and store it covered in the fridge until you are ready to serve the beef. Refer to the post for suggested ratios for the salad; adjust the quantities based on the number of people dining.
  • After the beef has marinated, take one strip of meat at a time and pierce one end with a skewer. Thread the meat onto the skewer using a zigzagging motion, folding it in on itself. Keep the meat tight on the skewer, ensuring it's secure but not overly tight.
  • Preheat the grill to 450°F – 500°F. Once hot, place the skewers directly on the grate. Cook with the lid down, turning every 3-4 minutes, for approximately 12 minutes total. Adjust cook time appropriately (ie. cooking faster or slower than directions).
  • When ready to serve, dress the microgreen salad. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, drizzle with olive oil, and squeeze fresh lemon juice over it, starting with the juice of half a lemon and adjusting to taste.
  • Serve with rice, the microgreens salad, and optional peanut sauce.

RATE + REVIEW What did you think of this recipe?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating