Flame Grilled Peri-Peri Chicken

Introducing a fiery yet harmoniously balanced peri-peri sauce that will tantalize your tastebuds! This sauce boasts a rich history rooted in Portuguese and African culinary traditions, blending the heat of African bird’s eye chilies with the zest of citrus, the earthiness of paprika, and the piquancy of garlic. A symphony of flavors, this sauce is a perfect accompaniment to grilled chicken, adding a kick of spice and a burst of flavor. Get ready to elevate your dishes with this vibrant and versatile peri-peri sauce! For those of you who want me to compare this sauce to Nando’s Peri-Peri sauce then here’s what I have to say… I think it’s better.

Peri-peri chicken, also known as piri-piri chicken, is a flavorful dish that originated in Portugal and was popularized by the Portuguese settlers in Mozambique and Angola. The name “peri-peri” comes from the African bird’s eye chili pepper, which is a key ingredient in the spicy marinade used for this dish. The marinade typically includes ingredients like garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, paprika, and olive oil, resulting in a tangy, spicy, and slightly smoky flavor profile. This marinade is used to coat chicken pieces, which are then grilled or roasted to perfection. While chicken is the most common meat used for peri-peri dishes, the marinade can also be used with other meats like pork, beef, or even fish. Variations of peri-peri chicken can be found across the globe, with different regions adding their own twist to the marinade or cooking method.

Naturally, this peri peri sauce gets better with time as the flavours starts to settle and marry together. This is a great selling point because it’s already delicious from the get go but honestly, it never lasts as long as I’d like it to because I end up drizzling a bit over my eggs, spreading it on to sandwiches and adding a few dollops to winter stews.

If I make a big batch of peri peri sauce I like bottling them and storing them in the pantry for about 6 months to a year. It also makes for a great gift, especially if the receiver loves hot sauce, specifically Nando’s hot sauce and is one who appreciates sentimental gestures.

Flame Grilled Peri-Peri Chicken

A well balanced peri peri sauce that's good on almost anything, especially when basted on chicken and flame grilled. If you love Nando's chicken, then this one is for you!
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: African, Portuguese
Keyword: chicken, flame grilled, peri peri
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Servings: 4
Author: The Big Tasty Bite


  • 1 blender
  • 1 oven
  • 1 bbq


Peri Peri Sauce

  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 300 grams red onions cleaned and roasted *see notes
  • 300 grams red pepper deseeded and roasted *see notes
  • 6 garlic cloves peeled and roasted
  • 3 garlic cloves peeled
  • 5-8 birds eye chili stems removed *see notes
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice fresh
  • cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar or honey
  • 4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp dried origanum
  • ½ tsp white pepper ground
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • ½ cup neutral oil


  • 1.5 kg chicken spatchcocked or sectioned *see notes
  • 1 cup peri peri sauce
  • 1 lemon cut in half *see notes
  • Handful of parsley chopped


Peri peri sauce

  • Preheat the oven to 225 degrees Celsius/450 Fahrenheit. Line a large baking tray with baking paper or foil.
  • Remove the core from the red peppers, remove any seeds and place on the lined tray with the skin facing upwards. Remove the bottom roots from the onions and any outer layers that might be damaged. Quarter the onions and place on the same tray as the red peppers. Lightly cover the vegetables in oil.
  • Add 5 or more garlic cloves in the center of a small piece of foil, add a touch of oil and close. Place the garlic in the center of the lined tray with the red peppers and onions. Bake for 25 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through the baking process.
  • Once the red peppers are done baking and have cooled slightly you can remove most of the charred skin from the red peppers.
  • To a blender add the roasted red onions, peppers, roasted garlic, raw garlic, birds eye chili (see notes), lemon zest, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, smoked paprika, origanum, white pepper, salt and a bay leaf. Blend until a paste forms. Add 1/2 cup neutral oil and blend until smooth. Transfer to an airtight container. This recipe yields about 2 1/2 cups worth of sauce.

Flame Grilled Chicken

  • Preheat the oven to 165 degrees Celsius. Place the chicken on a prepared ovenproof tray and generously baste the chicken with the peri peri sauce. Bake for 45minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and transfer to your grill. Apply another coat of the peri peri sauce and grill the chicken on a high heat until a charr forms - about 2-3 minutes per side. Continue basting the chicken while you grill both sides. Cut a lemon in half and grill the lemons as well. Once you've created a lovely charr on the chicken and lemons, garnish with some chopped parsley and you're ready to serve!



  1. Red Onion and Red Pepper: You need 300g of red onions and 300g of red pepper AFTER they've been cleaned and sectioned. Do not weigh the vegetables before trimming.
  2. Garlic Cloves: I prefer the flavour profile of the sauce when I combine roasted garlic with raw garlic but you can easily go add less or more of either - this'll be based on your personal preference. Just be careful too not add too much raw garlic as it can easily overpower the other ingredients.
  3. Bird's Eye Chili: You could also use Thai Red Chilies if you're struggling to source Bird's Eye Chilies. Adding 5 chilies will result in a hot peri peri but adding 8 will result in very hot and so on. This will also depend on the actual chili used.
  4. Chicken: Baking the chicken prior to hitting the grill will ensure an evenly cooked chicken that's not undercooked or overcooked. This step is optional and depends on how skilled you are at cooking a whole raw chicken on the grill. Marinading the chicken in the sauce a day in advance is also a great way to infuse the meat with as much peri-peri flavour as possible.
CategoriesDinner Lunch Main

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