Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Portuguese Piri Piri Style Chicken

My first experience of piri piri chicken was from Nandos. It used to be a take away treat at home, my dad would buy a whole Nandos piri piri chicken and we would eat it with steamed rice.

I haven’t had Nandos in a while but I love the taste of piri piri chicken, which is basically chicken marinated in a hot chilly pepper marinade.

I researched how to make piri piri chicken and the most recipes contained some oil, garlic, chillies, salt, pepper and an acidic element such as lemon juice or vinegar which adds some tanginess and also tenderizes the chicken. Some recipes add various other flavourings, spices and herbs.

I wanted to make my own rendition of piri piri chicken.  I listed all the different ingredients that I had come across in piri piri chicken recipes, intending to add bits of each element in and taste to get my desired result. Here are the results, I ended up putting in a little bit of everything. 

Mix of chillies to desired hotness (2 long red chillies, 2 habenero chillies, 2 birds eye chillies)
5 cloves garlic 
2cm piece/~ 1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons ground sweet smoked paprika 
½ teaspoon coriander
1 fresh bay leaf, torn
½ cup fresh parsley
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
100 ml olive oil
1kg of chicken pieces with skin (mix of thigh, wing, drumstick)

Preheat oven to 180C. Slice the chillies in half and deseed, then place them on a roasting tray and roast for 10 minutes. Cool and roughly chop.

Place the chillies, garlic, ginger, salt, pepper, ground paprika, ground coriander, bay leaf, parsley, oregano, lemon juice, red wine vinegar into a blender, and blend until everything is finely chopped. With the motor still running, add the olive oil in a thin stream and blend until the mixture forms a puree/smooth paste.

Spread the paste over the chicken and marinate for 4-5 hours in fridge.

Take the chicken out of the fridge half an hour before cooking to bring to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 200C. Brush a roasting tray with olive oil to grease. Place the chicken pieces skin side up on the tray and roast for 25 minutes until the chicken is golden and cooked through. 


Chicken could also be cooked on the barbecue.

The chicken was wonderfully tender, due to the addition of acidity from lemon and vinegar.

I tasted the marinade before marinating the chicken and I felt that it would be ok. The end result was delicious! This probably isn’t a true piri piri chicken recipe, it’s a mash of everything that I found on piri piri chicken and it worked!


  1. mmm chicken. looks tasty

  2. How spicy does this taste?

    1. Hello, I'd say moderate and you can reduce the amount of chillies in the mix if you prefer it to be less spicy :)

  3. I've tried at least 6 piri piri recipes and yours is the best. Thanks so much for posting this. This sauce is one of my favs and I make mine hot. Your recipe rocks.

    1. Thanks for the feedback :) I had researched a few recipes and put together what I thought was the best sauce. Really glad you liked it!