Homemade Peri Peri Chicken Recipe (with Sauce)
Here’s an easy homemade Peri Peri Chicken recipe (with sauce!) that gives the most tender, juicy results. This recipe requires 10 simple ingredients and any cut of bone-in chicken (leg quarters, thighs, or whole chicken pieces).
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“This recipe is phenomenal and something my husband eagerly helps prepare, which is always a win!”Afra
I first had Peri Peri Chicken at Nando’s in Pakistan and I resented not having had it earlier or more often and I resented the chain for not being global enough. (These are standard Tea for Turmeric-style resentments.) When I moved to Houston, I diligently sampled all of the halal Peri Peri restaurants. Here’s an interesting article on why the Pakistani & Indian community is particularly fond of it.
I didn’t consider making it at home until I tried Urban Accent’s Peri Peri seasoning and was blown away by it’s on-point flavor. I suggest using it or any other Peri Peri spice blend for a restaurant-like taste. But rest assured, if you can’t find it or buy it online, I’ve given an easy substitute of paprika and red chili flakes that’ll still taste delicious.
What is Peri Peri (or Peli Peli) and how does it taste?
Peri peri is an African-grown spice, also known as African Bird’s Eye Chilli. Though the exact origins are debated, the spice is said to have been blended with Portuguese flavors to create the world-famous Peri Peri sauce.
Peri peri sauce is hot and spicy, of course, but not in a flat way. It’s intense but has subtle smoky, tangy, slightly sweet flavor. Once you try it, you’ll wonder where it’s been all your life.
The Secret to Restaurant-Level Tender Chicken
I know most recipes would have you grill or bake the chicken. (More great baked recipes: Baked Tandoori Chicken Curry, Chicken Kofta and 25-Minute Fish Tikka.) You could do that, but to get the restaurant-level tenderness with the pan-seared or chargrilled flavor, try steaming the chicken after grilling or pan-searing.
Sounds fancy, but all you’re doing is covering it with aluminum foil so steam can’t escape and then popping it in the oven. I even spoke to one of the Peri Peri restaurant owners & they shared the same steam + grill tactic, so we are onto something here.
Ingredients for Homemade Peri Peri Chicken
Apart from the seasoning, this recipe requires basic ingredients you likely have on hand:
Here’s what you’ll need to make the sauce for Peri Peri Chicken:
- A red bell pepper
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice and apple cider vinegar – for the signature tangy taste.
- Oil – any neutral oil and even mild olive oil works.
- Lots of garlic cloves.
- Dried oregano leaves.
- Salt & pepper.
- Sugar or sweetener of choice.
- Peri Peri Spice Seasoning or a blend of paprika & red chili flakes
Peri Peri Spice Blend
Urban Accent’s Mozambique Peri-Peri blend has a base of paprika, red chili, along with 6 other herbs & spices, and a hint of citrus. This elevates the Peri Peri sauce with fresh, vibrant, and nuanced flavor.
Update 2024: Urban Accents has been acquired by StoneWall Kitchen and they no longer sell the Peri Peri spice blend. Feel free to use any Peri Peri seasoning. Or as I’ve shared, a simple blend of paprika and chili flakes also works.
How to Make Peri Peri Chicken in 5 Easy Steps
Here’s how it goes.
Step 1: Make the Peri Peri sauce.
Roast a red bell pepper. You can skip this step and it’ll still be delicious without the bell pepper but I recommend adding it for the flavor and consistency. You may also want to slightly decrease the the amount of spice you use if you omit the bell pepper.
Next, add the roasted pepper to your food processor along with the rest of the Peri Peri Sauce ingredients and blend until as smooth as possible.
Step 2: Reserve some Peri Peri sauce & use the rest to marinate the chicken.
Reserve 1/3 cup of the Peri Peri sauce for serving & dipping. Use the remaining sauce to marinate the chicken. Nando’s says they marinate for 24 hours, which is ideal but not always practical. So if you’re a spontaneous cook and want to make it immediately, you have my endorsement.
Step 3: Grill (or Pan-Sear) the Chicken
Place the chicken on the hot skillet or grill, meat side down. Then sear both sides, pressing to enhance grill marks. This can get smoky, but it’s essential for the restaurant-flavor.
What Pan to Use for Searing
A cast-iron grill gives the nice grill marks, but it’s not at all essential. You can use a non-stick skillet and the chicken will sear just the same. In fact, I’d reach for it most nights if only for the easier cleanup.
Step 4: Cover & Bake (Steam) the chicken in the Oven
I’ve tested and given bake times for bone-in chicken leg quarters, thighs/legs, or a whole cut-up chicken. So feel free to use your favorite cut here. You could also use boneless chicken and decrease baking time according to thickness.
If you’re using an oven-safe pan, you could cover it and slide it in the oven at this point. My pan is not large enough, so I transfer the chicken to an oven-safe roasting pan.
Step 5: Combine Peri Peri Sauce with Mayonnaise to Serve
Remember the sauce you reserved? Cool it down with mayo (or anything creamy) and serve it alongside the chicken.
This sauce, I learned, is technically called PERInaise. Get it? Peri-naise. Use this sauce to brush the chicken, dip the fries, and make the whole meal extra festive.
The type and quality of mayonnaise you use is crucial here. If you can find (or make) homemade mayo, it will be next-level delicious. If you’d rather not use mayo, try yogurt, sour cream, heavy whipping cream, or coconut cream for a dairy-free option.
What to Serve with Peri Peri Chicken
Nando’s style restaurants are my go-to for side inspiration. I find fries to be a non-negotiable, with yellow rice a close second. The coolness of coleslaw helps balance the fiery flavors so I almost always serve it. Unconventional, but I’ve even enjoyed Peri Peri Chicken with naan.
Love Oven-Baked recipes? Try these:
Homemade Peri Peri Chicken Recipe (with Sauce)
Watch the Video
- 2 lbs (907 g) bone-in, skinless chicken (leg quarters, thighs, or legs), or sub whole chicken, cut up, skinless
Peri Peri Sauce
- 1 small to medium red bell pepper (140-170g), cut in half lengthwise, stemmed, and deseeded
- ¼ cup (59 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp oil, any kind works
- 8 garlic cloves, peeled but leave whole
- 2 tbsp Peri Peri Spice Blend – Note 1, or sub 1 1/2 tbsp paprika + 1 tbsp red chili flakes
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tsp sugar, I use cane sugar
- 2 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 2-3 tbsp neutral oil, or as needed
- ¼ cup mayonnaise, or sub sour cream, yogurt, heavy cream, coconut cream or any combination of these
- Food Processor
- Stovetop Grill Pan or Skillet
- Optional Step (skip if omitting red bell pepper) – Preheat oven to 450°F/232°C. Place the red bell pepper, cut side down, on an aluminum foil or parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 40 minutes, flipping both pieces over midway. The bell pepper will wilt and blacken.
- Use a knife to cut 3-5 slits into each chicken piece and place in a large bowl.
- Add the roasted bell pepper (if using) along with the rest of the ingredients listed under 'Peri Peri Sauce' to a food processor. Blend until as smooth as possible.
- Reserve 1/3-cup of the sauce, then pour the remaining sauce onto the chicken. Mix well to ensure the chicken is thoroughly coated.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours, ideally overnight. (If you're short on time, skip the longer marination and continue with the next step.)
- When ready to cook, take the chicken out of the fridge and allow it come closer to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Meanwhile, heat a large skillet or stovetop grill pan over medium-high to high heat. Once hot, brush or spray with oil and add the chicken pieces, meat side down. Discard any leftover marinade. Grill the chicken, pressing down on it to increase grill marks, for 4 minutes each side, or until charred or browned on both sides. Discard any leftover marinade.
- Place the chicken pieces side by side in a 9" x 13" oven-safe pan or roaster. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and place the baking dish on the center rack of the oven. Roast for 20-25 minutes (Note 2), or until the chicken is cooked through.
- Meanwhile, mix remaining sauce with mayonnaise or your choice of something creamy to dilute the sauce. Taste and adjust salt, mayo to mellow it out, or sugar for sweetness. Brush the sauce over the chicken. Serve immediately with French fries, rice, cole slaw, corn on the cob, or your choice of sides.