By Carl Hanson

Peanut butter, it's not just for PBJs anymore.

Go to the cupboard, and pull down that jar of peanut butter for easy, inexpensive dinners that taste like a million bucks. Peanut butter is the secret ingredient in each one of these 5-star recipes.

Oh, and did we mention, peanut butter is a healthy choice, with fiber, protein, and a ratio of unsaturated fat to saturated fat that actually resembles olive oil? What's more, peanut butter fills you up (and keeps you feeling full) without piling on calories. Vitamins and minerals? Of course, including vitamin E, vitamin B6, potasssium, and magnesium.

To pick the healthiest peanut butter at the grocery store, look for brands with little or no added sugar -- you're making savory dishes here, you don't need the sweetness -- and check the salt content.

OK, let's get to the good stuff:

1. Chef John's Peanut Curry Chicken

This is a composite curry. It's a curry without a country, in the sense that...well, Chef John explains: "I decided not to follow any specific recipe from any particular country or culture, but instead I made a simple composite of every peanut curry I've ever come across. I didn't use coconut milk, as I feel that's a little too sweet and rich for the peanut butter."

Photo by Chef John

2. Thai Peanut Stir Fry Sauce

This super-simple peanutty stir-fry sauce is ready in just 10 minutes. "Well, this was excellent," says lutzflcat. "But it's not ONLY a stir fry sauce. I used it as a dressing for a quick Asian Noodle Salad loaded with linguini, red bell pepper, zucchini, cilantro, green onion, carrots, and chopped was delicious! I put this together so quickly that I even forgot to heat it up."

Photo by lutzflcat

3. Peanut Sauce II

Fresh ginger, garlic, and jalapeño pepper give this recipe kick. "My husband and I used to live in Indonesia and loved the peanut sauce there," says HeatherW. "This recipe is the most authentic one I've found. It was very easy to make and delicious reheated."

4. Tofu and Veggies in Peanut Sauce

So simple, so healthy. With broccoli, red bell pepper, tofu, and mushrooms in a tasty sauce that stars peanut butter, molasses, soy sauce, and a little tangy vinegar. It's ready in 20 minutes.

5. Frozen Vegetable Stir-Fry

Frozen veggies in the freezer? A jar of peanut butter in the cupboard? Well then, you're 10 minutes away from a delicious dinner. This one works as a satisfying side dish, or, combined with leftover meats or tofu, as maybe the world's fastest main. "The flavor is phenomenal," says recyclability. "This recipe came out so good the first time, I had to try it again. I love how easy it was to put together, and that I already had all of the ingredients in the kitchen."

6. Easy Chicken Satay

These classic chicken skewers require time to marinate in the coconut milk and peanut butter marinade. Here's a twist: Try it in the slow cooker! "I used more chicken for the slow-cooker version," says Clearview. "Sautéed in a frying pan and then moved to the Crock-Pot. Assemble the rest of the ingredients and simply pour on top. The house smells like heaven and the chicken tastes amazing!"

Photo by CC

7. Casablanca Chili

"Peanut butter, mango chutney, and lime juice -- in chili?" asks Janice. "Yes, and it's delicious!" Sounds like the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Photo by lutzflcat

8. Peanut Butter Chili

"Excellent!" says Laura. "Everyone loved it. The peanut butter makes the chili very creamy and adds a whole other level of flavor. It can get spicy easily, so if you're sensitive to spice, maybe cut down on the cayenne and chili powder. Goes great with cornbread and cheese."

9. West African Peanut Stew

With sweet potatoes and collard greens, this hearty stew calls for chicken, but it's easily converted into a vegetarian stew. "Easy to make, full of flavor, and open to variation based on preferences and what's available in the pantry," says Michelle. "This recipe is quite forgiving."

10. Slow Cooker Thai Pork with Peppers

Pork, peppers, and spices slow-cooked in a creamy Thai peanut sauce until aromatic and tender. "Extremely easy and quick to make, few ingredients, and very yummy!" says Timorri. "I added more red pepper flakes to mine and more veggies. Orange peppers and broccoli are great additions."

Photo by Deb C

11. Gourmet Thai Chicken Pizza

A terrific change of pace from tomato-based pizza sauce. "This pizza is AMAZING!" says Glorious Baker. "It's the perfect way to quench Thai food cravings. I never have chili oil on hand and just use red pepper flakes instead to give the sauce some kick."

12. Peanut Butter Noodles

This calls for Udon noodles, but it's equally delicious with spaghetti. "I've done this using Udon noodles, spaghetti noodles, whole wheat and even angel hair pasta. Either one is delicious," says Gail "It's just as good the next day. Well balanced ingredients and makes for an awesome lunch anytime!"

Check out our collection of Quick and Easy Dinner Recipes.