Quick and Easy African Piri Piri Sauce Recipe

Whole prawns with piri piri sauce
Tony Robins/Photolibrary/Getty Images
  • 5 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins,
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 1 cup (4 servings)

Piri piri sauce is a sauce with some history. It originated in Africa in Angola and Mozambique after Portuguese settlers arrived bringing hot chile peppers from their homeland during colonization. (In Swahili, these peppers are called piri piri.) 

Today, this fiery, fragrant sauce is common in Portugal, Angola, Namibia, Mozambique, and South Africa. In the U.S., it's also becoming more common in restaurants that specialize in serving chicken. Not only does it taste great with chicken, piri piri sauce pairs wonderfully with grilled fish or shrimp. Try piri piri with fried foods, too.

This recipe for peri peri sauce is from Mozambique. Prepare for a hot, spicy, and tasty treat!

What You'll Need

  • 2 tablespoons red hot chile paste (or 10 red hot chiles, such as Thai chiles)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro (finely chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon parsley (chopped)
  • 5 garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (or peanut oil)

How to Make It

  1. Add the chile paste, lemon juice, cilantro, parsley, garlic, and salt into a food processor. Blend on high until the ingredients are a smooth consistency.
  2. Once the sauce begins to get smooth, drizzle in the oil slowly while the machine is running.
  3. Once the oil is all incorporated, put the sauce in a glass jar and let stand at room temperature for up to a day.
  4. Serve the piri piri sauce with fried, grilled, or broiled seafood. And remember: a little goes a long way! (Add too much sauce and your tastes buds just may learn the hard way.)

    Chef's Notes:

    • It is important the chiles you use are red in order to yield the proper color of piri piri. If you are using fresh red chiles, chop them roughly. If you really want to make this authentic, find yourself the tiny "bird's eye" chiles, which are very, very hot. Any hot chile will do, though.
    • If marinating meat, such as chicken, with piri piri sauce, be sure to let it sit for about an hour so it can properly absorb into the meat.
    • Piri piri sauce can be stored in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to one month. And since a little goes a long way, that means you can experiment trying new dishes that use the sauce.


    Raichlen, S., Maroukian, F., & Bon Appétit Test Kitchen. (2010). Piri-Piri Chicken. Retrieved November 16, 2016, from http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/piri-piri-chicken-359750

    Rowley Leigh, "A Fiery Challenge for Delicate Palates", The Financial Times (London, England), 25 September 2004, p. 6.

    Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
    Calories 303
    Total Fat 27 g
    Saturated Fat 4 g
    Unsaturated Fat 20 g
    Cholesterol 0 mg
    Sodium 10 mg
    Carbohydrates 15 g
    Dietary Fiber 2 g
    Protein 3 g
    (The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)