Learn to make lip-smacking peri peri chicken from scratch at home. Made with a cracking homemade spice mix, this chicken is charred on the outside, tender inside, and full of sweet, tangy, and spicy bold flavors.
Chicken is, hands down, my go-to protein. I love working with it because of its versatility and ease of handling. Some classics like blackened chicken, chicken wings, and chicken tenders are my kitchen regulars.
And when it comes to restaurant copycats or recreating favorite takeouts at home, you’ll be surprised at how authentic honey mustard chicken, chicken Milanese, tandoori chicken, and this peri peri chicken taste.
Table of Contents
- What is peri peri chicken?
- Why you’ll love this recipe
- Ingredients Needed
- How to make peri peri chicken
- What to serve with peri peri chicken
- Tips to make the best recipe
- Flavor variations
- Storage instructions
- Recommended tools to make this recipe
- More chicken recipes to try
- Frequently asked questions
- Peri Peri Chicken
What is peri peri chicken?
Peri peri or piri piri chicken is a savory delicacy prepared by coating whole or chicken pieces in a traditional spicy African Bird’s eye chili (pili pili) sauce and grilling to perfection.
Irrespective of where it came from, today, this South African-Portuguese dish is one of the most-ordered dishes on the menu, all thanks to Nando’s popularity.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Quick and easy. All you need to do is prepare the spice mix, marinate your chicken, and grill it. Five minutes of prep, overnight marination, and 20 minutes of cook time- perfect for a simple weeknight meal.
- Make ahead. You can marinate large quantities of chicken in advance and cook them at your convenience. Ideal for planning parties and family barbeques.
- Authentic. This peri peri marinade is made using common kitchen ingredients and tastes just like the one you find in restaurants.
- Healthy. This recipe is surprisingly healthy. It has very little oil, no added carbs, and the essential oils from aromatics and herbs.
- Budget-friendly. Compared to the exorbitant restaurant prices, this DIY chicken is as tasty yet easy on your pockets.
What I love the most about this recipe is how delicious this chicken turns out. It is perfectly balanced with sweet, salty, hot, herby, tangy, and juicy flavors.
Like any simple chicken recipe, this one calls for a handful of fresh and dry ingredients and chicken. Here’s what you’ll need to make it taste better than Nandos:
- Olive oil. To make a smooth marinade. I have used olive oil, but any neutral oil works for this recipe.
- Lemon. For acidity. I swear by freshly squeezed lemon juice for the best results. But you can use vinegar too.
- Garlic. I have used fresh garlic cloves. But you can substitute it with garlic powder as well.
- Red chili. I love the flavor of freshly chopped chili. If you prefer less spicy food, you can skip it.
- Brown sugar. This spice mix is hot and sweet. So don’t skimp out on this sweet element. You can also use maple/agave syrup instead of brown sugar.
- Sweet paprika. Using different peppers makes a complex and layered peri peri spice mix.
- Cayenne pepper. For subtle heat.
- Salt. To taste.
- Chicken. You can use one or a mix of chicken pieces. I have used skinless thigh pieces for this particular recipe.
What else can I make with peri peri sauce?
You can use this sauce to coat meat like pork chops, steak, and seafood (especially shrimp and tilapia). The peri peri flavors go brilliantly with meaty veggies like cauliflower and potato and sweet potato fries. Another way is to use it as a dipping sauce for fritters.
How to make peri peri chicken
This recipe is incredibly simple to make. Follow these three simple steps to create a restaurant-style dish in no time!
Step 1- Make the marinade
Combine olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, garlic cloves, sweet paprika, red chili, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, and salt in the food processor and blend into a smooth paste.
Step 2- Marinate the chicken
Add chicken to a large bowl and marinate the chicken with peri peri spice paste. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
Step 3- Cook the chicken
Toss the pieces onto a preheated charcoal grill or a greased grill pan. Keep turning the pieces regularly to prevent burning.
Once the internal temperature reaches 165°F, turn off the heat. This may take up to 12 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken pieces.
What to serve with peri peri chicken
One of the best things about this dish is that it serves well with almost anything. Make a complete meal by serving chicken with a side of grilled vegetables and a portion of rice.
You can also serve it with green salad, coleslaw, and baked potatoes.
Tips to make the best recipe
- Slather more sauce. Make some extra marinade and baste it over your chicken once it is ready to eat, reinforcing peri peri flavors.
- Slice chicken before marinating. Make deep slices into the chicken to ensure that the peri peri flavor infuses well into the chicken.
- Marinate for longer. Prepare your chicken and marinate it overnight for the best results.
- Use a meat thermometer. Always use a meat thermometer to assess the internal temperature to ensure the chicken is perfectly cooked.
The beauty of this chicken recipe is that it’s super versatile and you can adjust the taste or method to suit your tastebuds!
- Cook the entire chicken. You can spatchcock the whole chicken and follow the same procedure. The sight of the reddish-brown chicken, fresh out of the oven, is a sight to behold.
- Use different herbs. I have used oregano in this recipe. But you could make the peri peri marinade with rosemary and thyme.
- Make it spicier. If you enjoy a bit of peppery heat, you’ll love the addition of serrano chilies, black and white pepper. You could also add roasted bell peppers and red onions to give the peri peri sauce more body.
To store. You can keep the marinated chicken or the grilled peri peri chicken in an airtight container in the fridge. When stored correctly, it keeps well for up to 3 days.
To freeze. If you freeze, store your leftovers in the freezer for 4-6 months.
To reheat. Reheating chicken could get tricky. Add some water to the pan/baking dish and cover it with a lid as it heats to lock in the moisture.
Recommended tools to make this recipe
- Charcoal grill. The ultimate gadget to make this chicken taste like Nandos!
- Grill pan. Don’t have a grill? A grill pan is a fabulous alternative.
- Instant read thermometer. To make sure the chicken is perfectly cooked.
More chicken recipes to try
Frequently asked questions
Bake the marinated chicken in the oven at 375°F for 15-20 minutes until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
Yes, this recipe does not contain gluten.
You can prepare the marinade in advance and refrigerate it for up to a couple of weeks in an airtight container.
I recommend making your sauce at home. But you could opt for the store-bought version if you don’t have an alternative.
This dish is known for its spiciness. However, because it is well-balanced with sweet and tart flavors, the heat does not overpower the rest of the flavors.
Peri Peri Chicken
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 lemon juiced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 small red chili finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 bone-in chicken thighs
- In a food processor, add all the marinade ingredients and blend until smooth.
- Add the chicken to a bowl and cover with the marinade. Refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.
- Grease a grill pan or preheat a charcoal grill to medium. Once hot, add the chicken and cook for 12 minutes, turning regularly, until it reaches an internal temperature of 165F.
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