Piri Piri Sauce Recipe (aka Peri Peri Sauce)

Love your piri piri chicken and prawns? Then make your own piri piri sauce! I'm giving you a hot version and a mild/medium recipe.
bright orange-red piri piri sauce in a small black bowl with a white spoon
bright orange-red piri piri sauce in a small black bowl with a white spoon
Homemade Piri Piri Sauce

Piri piri sauce is a tangy hot sauce that can be used as a condiment but is also a great ingredient to enhance many, many dishes. It adds a delicious complexity to whatever you’re cooking up.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Where is Piri Piri Sauce From?

Also known as peri-peri or pili-pili, piri piri sauce is a hot sauce or chilli sauce that has its origins in the southern parts of Africa. Mozambicans will tell you that they were the first ones to have come up with this zesty and slightly earthy hot sauce.

Many, if not most, people are probably familiar with piri piri sauce because of Nando’s and their Portuguese chicken or peri peri chicken. Nando’s also sell the hot sauce and dry rubs, which are very popular here in the UK.

But if you take a trip to the southern countries of Africa, you’ll find many variations of this much loved hot sauce. You’ll find it in South Africa, Botswana, Angola, and as mentioned above, Mozambique.

So piri piri sauce is very much a Southern African hot sauce (not just South African), which was taken home to Portugal by the restornados, returning Portuguese settlers. And not the other way around.

So what is Piri Piri Sauce?

Piri Piri simply means pepper pepper in Swahili. That kind of tells you it’s hot!

It’s tangy, a little earthy but, despite its name, can be spicy or mild. In its most basic form, this chilli sauce will have African bird’s eye chillies, garlic, vinegar or lemon and salt.

Every region in southern Africa will have its own variation of it. Paprika, onions, oil and a herb or two are very popular ingredients too.

Let’s take a look at what ingredients I use to make piri piri sauce, along with optional ones that you can try if you fancy.


Red Chillies

The traditional chilli when making piri piri sauce is the African bird’s eye chilli. It’s a hot little number, but not overly so, hitting around 150 000 – 200 000 Scoville Units.

You can use any red chillies (red chilies in non British spelling) to make piri piri sauce, whether birds eye or otherwise. It will make no difference to the final flavour of your hot sauce. But you can control the final heat level with the type of chillies you use. So go for a hot chilli type or a mild one.

I’ve used all sorts of chillies to make this hot sauce: red jalapenos, cayenne peppers, and even mild kashmiris. But always with a few birds eye type chillies for heat.

If you fancy a mild piri piri sauce, use 1 mild red chilli and a whole red capsicum (bell pepper). This way, you get the flavour but not the heat. I’ve given you 2 recipes in the recipe card below.

Red bell peppers make a great substitute for red chilli peppers for anyone who cannot handle spicy foods.

bright orange-red piri piri sauce in a small black bowl with a white spoon
Use less oil for a thicker paste

Other Aromatics

We’ve got garlic and shallots in our piri piri sauce for added flavour and kick. The garlic, especially, makes its presence known given the number we’re using.

Lemon Juice and Vinegar

Piri piri sauce has a certain amount of tartness about it. In Southern Africa, where this zesty hot sauce comes from, you’ll find either or both used in the recipe.

I prefer to use just lemon juice in mine, getting that signature tartness with a delightful citrus hit.

Oil in Piri Piri Sauce

Your best bet is either a light olive oil or a neutral (flavourless) oil, like any vegetable oil, corn oil or peanut oil. Extra virgin olive oil is too strong for piri piri sauce and will overpower everything else. Trust me on this.

You know I like my EV olive oil, and use it so many other chilli recipes, but definitely not here.

I’m using 125ml (1/2 cup) in the recipe below. You can reduce it slightly for a thicker hot sauce.


I like to add a little sweet, smoked paprika for a little depth of flavour. Paprika add a little earthiness to this Southern African hot sauce. This is especially good if you love Nando’s piri piri chicken or are planning to use your sauce to grill, roast or barbecue.

The amount I’ve given below adds just a hint of smokiness and earthiness to our peri peri sauce. You can double up on this if you like smoky. You can also use hot smoked paprika, if you like it hot.

Bay Leaf

This is the traditional herb of choice, especially in piri piri sauce from Mozambique. I’ve tried a few different herbs over the years and always come back to the humble bay leaf.

I’m using only 1 leaf in our recipe for just a hint of aroma, leaving the chillies and lemon juice to do their thing.

Optional Ingredients

  • Other Herbs – you can also add oregano or perhaps even parsley. Something that’s not going to change the aroma and flavour, but rather enhance it. If you are planning to use a strongly flavoured herb like basil or rosemary, use it sparingly.
  • Citrus peel – add a little lemon zest to your sauce for an even zestier hit.

Peri Peri Sauce Recipe

It’s a very, very easy recipe to make. This is what we’ll be doing:

  1. Place everything in a blender or food processor and blend to a smooth paste.
  2. Taste and adjust the seasoning as you fancy (salt, sugar, lemon juice).
  3. Optional step: pour into a frying pan and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. This deepens the flavour slightly and makes our piri piri sauce perfect to be served as a condiment.

How to use Peri Peri Sauce

As an Ingredient

This, by far, is the most popular way of using piri piri sauce. Look out for recipes using our homemade hot sauce over the coming weeks. But essentially, you’d use it as a marinade, then grill, roast or barbecue whatever you’re cooking.

This can be chicken, prawns (shrimp – my personal favourite) or even vegetables, tofu and cheese.

One of my favourite ways is to oven bake chicken wings or drumsticks after being slathered with homemade peri peri sauce (the chicken, not me!).


Piri piri sauce also makes a great condiment. It goes very well with any grilled or fried food, especially seafood. Use it as a dip and you know me, spike mayonnaise with it.

I simply adore it drizzled over eggs, especially poached or sunny side up.

If using as a condiment, I would suggest you heat it for a short while to deepen the flavour even more.

How long will it Keep?

Your fresh piri piri sauce will keep for a week in the fridge, easily. If you are planning to use it as a cooking ingredient, you could also freeze it in large cube trays. Then just defrost what you need.

If you enjoy this recipe, drop me a comment and let me know. And if you are feeling like a star, don’t forget that 5-star rating! 😉 Thank you!

If you make this recipe, post it on Instagram and tag me @azlinbloor with the hashtag #linsfood.

Lin xx

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bright orange-red piri piri sauce in a small black bowl with a white spoon

Homemade Piri Piri Sauce Recipe

Love your piri piri chicken and prawns? Then make your own piri piri sauce! I'm giving you a hot version and a mild/medium recipe.
5 from 8 votes
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Course: Condiments, Ingredients
Cuisine: Mozambican, Portuguese, South African
Keyword: chiles, chilis, chillies
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 20 makes about 575g (roughly 2 cups)
Calories: 57kcal
Author: Azlin Bloor


  • 1 Knife
  • 1 Chopping board
  • 1 blender/food processor
  • spoons as needed
  • 2 250ml jars (1 cup capacity each)


Spicy Piri Piri Sauce

  • 500 g red chillies of your choice bird eye are traditional
  • 5 medium garlic cloves
  • 1 shallot 30g/1 oz pre peeled weight
  • 1 fresh bay leaf or dried
  • 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 125 ml light olive oil or any neutral/flavourless oil
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white sugar

Medium Hot Piri Piri Sauce

  • 1 red capsicum (bell pepper) about 300g/10.5 oz)
  • 200 g mild-medium red chillies or make up the weight to 500g, depending on the size of your red pepper 500g – 600g, it doesn't matter.
  • 5 medium garlic cloves
  • 1 shallot 30g/1 oz pre peeled weight
  • 1 fresh bay leaf or dried
  • 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 125 ml light olive oil or any neutral/flavourless oil
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white sugar


  • Roughly chop the chillies and bell pepper if using. Place them in a blender or food processor.
  • Peel the garlic and shallot and drop into the blender.
    Cut the bay leaf on either side of its tough middle vein and add to the blender.
    If you're using a dried bay leaf, you'll have to pound or grind it to a coarse powder before adding. This can be done with a spice mill or pestle and mortar.
  • Add the paprika, olive oil and lemon juice. If you're planning to lightly cook your piri piri sauce (optional step below), then only add 2 Tbsp of the lemon juice here.
  • Place the lid on your blender and blend everything into a smooth, runny mix.
    Pour into clean jars and store in the fridge. Use within a week.

Optional Step – Heat your Piri Piri Sauce

  • Pour the sauce into a small saucepan or medium frying pan. Bring to a simmer on medium heat, then reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring a few times.
  • Take it off the heat and stir in the last tablespoon of lemon juice. Pour into sterilised jars, leave to cool then store in the fridge.
    I usually leave half the sauce raw, and cook the other half so I can use it as a condiment.



The nutritional information is based on 2 Tbsp per serving. So this is just a guide. If you’re using this hot sauce to marinade some chicken or whatever, you might be using more than that.


Serving: 2Tbsp | Calories: 57kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 0.2g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 117mg | Potassium: 34mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 191IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 0.1mg
Did you make this recipe?Mention @azlinbloor and tag #linsfood!
Made it? Upload your photosMention @azlinbloor and tag #linsfood!

6 thoughts on “Piri Piri Sauce Recipe (aka Peri Peri Sauce)”

  1. 5 stars
    Awesome! This Piri Piri sauce is a masterpiece! Looks absolutely delicious and very tasty! The color and creamy texture make it so enticing! Absolutely perfect for our chicken and prawns! Loved it!

  2. 5 stars
    I have not heard of this sauce before. Sounds like a very versatile sauce. Excited to give it a try!

  3. Amy Liu Dong

    5 stars
    I have never tried to make a piri piri sauce. This sauce recipe looks so easy and tasty to make.

  4. 5 stars
    I tried out your recipe for Piri Piri sauce for a BBQ party, and I have to say, it was a total hit! It was the perfect accompaniment for grilled chicken and other meats. I even mixed some of the sauce with mayo to create a milder dipping sauce option, which was equally delicious!

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