Peri-Peri Chicken, the spicy Portuguese chicken

Peri-Peri Chicken

Some says Peri-Peri, and the others say Piri-Piri…

This spicy Portuguese Chicken is quite addictive. I first had the Peri-Peri Chicken at the South African franchise restaurant called “Nandos” and loved it. The spicy peri-peri (or piri-piri) sauce made with bird’s eye chili, garlic, herbs, and lemon awakens your tongue and quickly salivates all over inside your mouth. Although the sauce itself has its origin marked at Portugal, it is widely used in African countries like Angola, Mozambique, and South Africa.

The spiciness of peri-peri sauce can be adjusted by the amount of chilies, or even using less spicy kind of chilies. The best way to cook the Peri-Peri Chicken is to GRILL them. For not having an out door grill in my high rise cosmopolitan kitchen, I baked it in the oven instead. It came out great but, of course, the smoky grilled flavor would have been even better. If you have a BBQ grill, use it!

The sauce can be made in less than 5 minutes, and all you need to do is to marinade chicken ahead of time. You will love this chicken IF you can bear the heat!


peri-peri chickenThe sauce ingredients…
I mixed two kinds of chilies to reduce some heat (bird’s eye is too spicy for me). Yes, I am a WIMP!

If you want the suicidal heat…, go for 10 or even 15 of these tiny bird’s eye chilies.


peri-peri chickenPut them in a blender.


peri-peri chickenBlend until very smooth.


Pour 1/3 cup of sauce over chicken legs and spread all over. I scored chicken so the flavor will penetrate better to the meat. Marinade at least 1 hr. Overnight is even better.


Place them on a pan lined with foil (Spray the pan with oil before you place the chicken).


peri-peri chickenBake them in an hot oven (425F) for 20-25minutes, baste with more sauce as you turn the chickens to the other side.


peri-peri chickenHmmmmm… Looks delicious! Salivating as I know how they will taste…


I served my families these Peri-Peri Chicken with potato, corn, and roasted pepper salad. I drizzle a little more Peri-peri sauce over the chicken to knock them out.

Well, everyone survived and finished the chicken off to the bone.

Dinner was done and the clean up was a breeze!

Now I have to come up with what to serve for tomorrow night…


Piri-Piri Chicken

Peri-Peri Chicken, the spicy Portuguese chicken

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: about 4 servings

Peri-Peri Chicken, the spicy Portuguese chicken


  • 4 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4-10 bird's eye chili, depends on the heat level of your choice
  • 4 cloves garlic, or 1 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder for a thicker consistency
  • juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 chicken legs
  • extra sea salt, optional


  1. In a blender combine everything except the chicken and the extra salt, blend until very smooth.
  2. Score chicken legs with a knife a few times.
  3. Pour 1/3 cup of the sauce over chicken and toss well. I sprinkle a few dashes of extra salt on top of chicken. Marinade the chicken at least 1 hour or overnight.
  4. Grill your chicken or bake.
  5. To bake, preheat the oven to 425ºF
  6. Place chicken on a baking pan lined with foil, spray with oil,and place chicken. Bake for 15 minutes, turn over, baste with extra sauce, and continue to bake for another 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked and browned.
  7. Serve with extra sauce on the side.

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  1. 1


    I love spicy! Don’t often see the little bird’s eye chilies, alas – although there are other things one can use. This recipe really would be great on the grill. Chicken is on sale this week at the supermarket – this might be making an appearance. Really good recipe – thank you.

  2. 3


    I’m no good with chilies either, but love the nandos chicken! I always ask for the least spicy one haha. Thanks for sharing this, would love to try it soon, am sure my family would really enjoy. No need to pay nandos prices for these anymore!

  3. 5


    I have been craving Peri Peri Chicken since I became addicted to Nandos while I lived in Wales just one short month three summers ago! So glad to see someone else finally shares my longing! I’ve tried to recreate their spicy chicken pitas, but my recipe so far just hasn’t quite hit the spot.

    You can bet that I will be giving your recipe a try SOON! Now, if you figure out a way to make peri peri salted chips I will be impressed! :)

    Thanks so much for sharing your recipe!

    • 6

      Holly says

      I know Nandos chicken is so additive. I hope you get to like the recipe. It is not exactly the same, of course, but will clam down the craving for sure. I have not tried peri peri salted chips yet. Can’t wait to try them out.

      • 7

        Ahmed says

        Dear Holly, I live in middle east, unable to find Piri Piri chilli, however found Bird chilli from Thiland. Does it same as Bird Eye chilli piri pieri OR its different and not suitable for the recipe. Please advice. Million Thanks in advance.

  4. 11


    I love peri-peri chicken! My friend from South Africa gave me some peri peri sauce and I use it all the time. I like the flavor it has not just heat! She also gave me some spicy Portuguese seasoning. It’s good to have this recipe so I can still make it when I run out! :) Nice job!

  5. 14


    Can you believe I’ve never eaten in a Nandos?! Every thinks it’s criminal but I’ve never been that pumped to try it. Having said that, I LOVE chillies and these photographs are beautiful. Lovely post.

  6. 17


    my brother introduced me to peri peri chicken when i visited canada last year and i swear i haven’t stopped raving about it ever since! it tasted better than anything i have ever tasted!!!

  7. 18


    This looks amazing, Holly! Could you tell me where I can get those chicken legs? They look so much more elegant than drumsticks and I;d love to get them to try this recipe!

  8. 19

    Lily Lew says

    Holly, this looks so good. Can’t wait to try it. We miss you!! When I read your blog, I can hear your voice! Keep posting!

  9. 21

    Yaoli says

    So delicious! The chicken looked amazing hot and sizzling out of the oven. I couldn’t find birds eye chili in my supermarket and had to resort to poblano/jalapenos. Thanks for the wonderful recipe!

    • 22

      Holly says

      Hi Yaoli, So glad to hear that you liked it. I love spicy peri-peri sauce and I believe it is as good as with poblano/jalopenos. Thanks for leaving the comment for me. I appreciate it.

  10. 23


    What a lovely blog to chance upon while searching for peri-peri craving-soothing daubs online :) I’m about to try this recipe out. I’ll post back with results, I’m sure!

  11. 24

    Inês says

    I’m Portuguese and I was surprised to see this recipe here! In Portugal it is called Piri-Piri Chicken, and it’s a dish that reminds me of childhood days! We usually marinate the chicken overnight and after barbecued we put a little bit more sauce on it! And a tip is to eat the sauce that drips from the chicken with potato chips or bread!

  12. 26

    Brian Spiller says

    A great recipe which we have used many times now and is at the top of of favourites.
    We use the breast of chicken and score both sides to let the meat absorb more but that is the only difference in the recipe.
    The longer it marinates the better and we save some of the sauce to go in just before the end as we like more liquid on the plate.

  13. 27

    Henry says

    having a Barbie with friends, attempted to make your peri peri marinade but unfortunately never turned out as mus-tardy col and liquid…but a paste kind of sauce..proof will be in the all honesty never used the quantities mentioned but perhaps half of them….nevertheless can’t wait to put my chicken thighs on the coal…Thanks Holly!!!

  14. 29

    Guerdy says

    So, I’m kind of loving your site right now. I’ve just started to let my chicken marinate. I’m planning on leaving it for a good four or five hours. Unfortunately, I could not find any bird’s eye chilies, so I am using red habanero peppers for comparative heat. I’m also using a couple of red Mexican chilies, and a sweet bell, to see how it works. Thanks so much for these recipes! Hopefully, mine will come out half as delicious as yours seem to have done. I think I’m going to try your cola braised chicken next.

    • 30

      Holly says

      Hi Guerdy

      I hope your peri peri chicken turned out good. Thank you for your sweet comment. The cola brasied chiken is another popular recipe from my blog. Hope you like it, too.

  15. 31

    Don says

    Made this tonight and it was delicious. I wasn’t able to locate bird’s eye peppers, aka piri piri peppers ( probably get them at the chinese grocery) so I used 5 Serrano peppers. It was spicy but I could have taken a little more heat. Habaneros might make a good substitute using fewer. Your milage may very.

    cold and snowing here so I baked in a rack over a pan.

    When I’m grilling or baking like this, I like to cut the backbone out of a whole chicken, flip it and remove the breast bone/cartilage and flatten the chicken out and bake on a rack or grill whole. I think it keeps the chicken moister than when cooked in pieces. quarter it to serve. This was plenty of sauce for a whole chicken.

    This smelled great cooking and was a big taste hit. I cant wait to grill chicken this spring / summer.

    • 32

      Holly says

      Hi Don

      You are right. Cookig the whole chicken will bring better in flavor and more moist. I am glad that your peri peri chicken turned out great.

  16. 33

    Dave says

    I didn’t have any dried oregano or a bay leaf so had to omit those, and I used 7 small hot chilies. My lemon gave me 1/3 cup juice. Mixed it all up and after tasting decided I overdid it with the chilli, so added in 1/4 of a medium brown onion, otherwise followed the recipe.

    Butterflied and scored a 1.64kg chicken, rinsed and patted dry and marinated with half the mixture for 2hrs in the fridge. Fired up my weber go-anywhere hibachi grill with some lump charcoal (nice sunny day in Sydney) and cooked it for 10 mins turning and basting every couple of mins to get the crispy skin (this unfortunately used up the rest of my sauce) then moved all the charcoals to the sides and cooked with the lid on / indirect heat for 30 mins, checking every 5 mins towards the end to see if the juices from the thighs were running clear.

    Result: Best peri peri chicken I’ve ever had, and I’ve been to my local Nandos a few times. I even had to stop my wife eating the skin on the leftovers – thanks a million for sharing!

    • 34

      Don says

      I’ve made this several times now (most recently having piri-piri pork roast) and found that the heat from the raw sauce and the heat of the food once cooked in very different.

      The sauce is going to taste very hot when mixed, but the heat cooks down such that the finished product is much less spicy hot than the raw sauce. I keep turning up the heat by adding peppers.

      I really love this sauce and can’t wait to use it on the grill.

  17. 35

    Joznoodles says

    This was indeed a flavorful recipe. I added several tablespoons of white vinegar to the marinade to give it more of a tangy flavor. It worked out really well! I used red Thai chili peppers (they look very similar to the piri-piri) and the spicy-ness was just right, for my family at least.

    For cooking the chicken, I baked the pieces at 350°F for about 30-35 minutes. Then threw them on the grill at med-high flame for no more than 10 min, open lid, or until charred at your liking. Baking the chicken prior to grilling locks in the flavorful juice and cooks it, so you don’t end up with dried-out chicken, with uncooked parts near the bone. The result is juicy, fully-cooked, tender chicken – with the must-have grill flavor and texture.

    I recommend this technique for all BBQ chicken recipes.
    This recipe is GOLD. Left the house smelling the nandos for the whole night!

    Thank you so much!

    • 36

      Holly says

      Thanks for the wonderful tip of pre-baking the chicken. I think that will help chicken to stay moist and cook evenly without burning the skin outside. I am so happy to hear that you liked this recipe. I can’t wait to have an outdoor grill someday so that I can try my recipe on the grill again.

  18. 37

    Rhys says

    Hi, I worked at Nandos for a few years and this recipe is very close, if anything I think it’s better. Personally I double the chillies because after working at Nandos and living in Asia I don’t find birds eye chilli that spicy!

  19. 38

    CAROLE GRAY says




  20. 39

    Robin says

    Being Sourh African,I grew up eating peri peri. Chicken,chicken livers,beef strips ect. Hope you don’t mind me adding a little something to your recipe?
    1. Cut the chicken lengthwise along the bone making sure to cut to the bone. This allows the marinade to impregnate all over.
    2. Add a spoon of marmalade.
    3.double the amount of Crushed Garlic.

    • 40


      Hi Robin
      Thanks for the suggestions. Marmalade sounds very interesting? Does it add a little sweetness and the fragrance of orange to the chicken?

  21. 41

    Ram Sharma says

    I wanted to make a whole bunch of this for an upcoming dinner party and I was unsure of how to increase the size of the sauce recipe to fit a gallon yield. Could you help me out with this?

    • 42


      Hi Ram

      Gallon size? Wow, that is a lot of sauce to make. You can multiply many times of this recipe. I wouldn’t worry much about following the recipe to the T since the taste can depends on the particular flavor your prefer. If you like it spicier, add more chili. If you like more tang and sour, add more lemon and even add a some red wine vinegar too. After you make the sauce, taste it to see if you like the flavor. You can always adjust the amount of each ingredient for your liking. Good luck!

  22. 43

    DLouw says

    The peri peri sauce was invented by Portugese colonists in Southern Africa, ie. Angola, Mozambique & South Africa. From there travelled back to Portugal, where it also became popular. It’s a Portugese style African recipe like trinchado, prego sauce & xai-xai chicken


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