Quick and Easy African Piri Piri Sauce

Whole prawns with piri piri sauce

Tony Robins / Photolibrary / Getty Images

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 5 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
303 Calories
27g Fat
15g Carbs
3g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 303
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 27g 35%
Saturated Fat 4g 19%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 10mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 15g 5%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Protein 3g
Calcium 84mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

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 piri piri sauce is from Mozambique. Prepare for a hot, spicy, and tasty treat!


  • 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)

Steps 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.)


  • It is important the chilies you use are red in order to yield the proper color of piri piri. If you are using fresh red chilies, chop them roughly. If you really want to make this authentic, find yourself the tiny "bird's eye" chilies, which are very, very hot. Any hot chili 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.

Sources: Maroukian Raichlen & Bon Appetit Test Kitchen plus Rowley Leigh's The Financial Times article "A Fiery Challenge for Delicate Palates," reprinted with permission.

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