Peri Peri Sauce
Peri peri sauce is a zesty combination of peppers and spices blended together for a deliciously spicy experience! This tastes delicious as a marinade, sauce or dip.
If you’ve ever eaten at a Nando’s Peri-Peri Chicken restaurant you’ve had this amazing peri peri sauce. We love food with a lot of spice and it has just the right amount of heat to add a little kick to some grilled or baked chicken.
This recipe has Portuguese origins so you know Melinda is all about it. She and I have worked on getting just the right blend of peppers to give you all of that signature Nando’s flavor without having to leave your house!
Note: This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Thank you!
What You’ll Need
- Red bell pepper – Cut the pepper into quarters and remove the seeds.
- Yellow onion – Remove the skin and cut the onion into quarters.
- Garlic – Fresh garlic adds a background of flavor. Make sure to use fresh garlic instead of garlic powder for the best results.
- Red chilies – There are lots of options for the type of red chili to use in this sauce. The piri piri chili is what is used in South Africa where this recipe originated but those are very hard to find in the USA. Common substitution are, Bird’s Eye chili peppers, red Thai chilies, serrano peppers, fresno chili peppers, tabasco peppers, or any other hot red chili pepper. We used red fresno chili peppers and it was delicious!
- Spices – Smoked paprika, dried oregano, kosher salt, and black pepper add more layers of flavor to this zesty sauce.
- Olive oil – Olive oil thins out the sauce a bit and adds a lightly floral taste to balance out all the heat.
- Lemon juice and zest – The lemon juice and zest adds acidic brightness and flavor.
- White wine vinegar – A splash of white wine vinegar finishes the recipe off with a little extra zingy acidity and flavor.
How to Make
Broil the veggies. Arrange the prepared red bell pepper, onion and the garlic cloves on a baking sheet. Place in the oven under the broiler for 3 minutes before flipping them and letting them cook for another 3 minutes. Everything should have a slight char.
Blend. Put roasted red pepper, onion, garlic and spices in a blender and blend until it is a smooth paste.
Add the chilies. This step is key for getting the perfect spice level. You should add the red chilies 1 at a time. Blend after each pepper. Make sure to taste the sauce each time you blend a new pepper in so you get a heat level that you are comfortable with.
Cook the mixture. The peppers will be a paste-like consistency. Add them to a skillet with ¼ cup olive oil and cook the mixture over medium heat for 15 minutes.
Finish the sauce with lemon and vinegar. Pour in lemon juice, lemon zest and white wine vinegar continuing to cook for 5 minutes before removing from heat.
Peri Peri sauce is made from the piri piri pepper found in South Africa. This pepper is a type of chili pepper. It’s spicier than a jalapeno with around the same level of spice as a habanero. It has a Scoville ranking of 175,000. Despite the heat, people often describe it as having a light, fresh flavor.
This sauce was imported to Portugal from Portuguese colonies in Angola and Mozambique. Portuguese-African recipe varies by region but the base always consists of chili peppers, garlic, oil, and some kind of acid. This spicy sauce can be used as a marinade or as a dipping sauce. It pairs very well with grilled chicken.
This recipe originally used piri piri peppers.These aren’t the easiest to find in the United States. You can use Thai red chilis, serrano peppers, fresno hot chili peppers, tabasco peppers, really any other spicy red pepper.
You can also use the dried or powdered version of any of those chili peppers if needed.
This sauce has a very long shelf life thanks to the high acidity. You can keep this sauce in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
What to Serve with Peri Peri Sauce
This spicy sauce makes a great topping or dipping sauce for grilled or baked chicken, chicken wings, roasted cauliflower, hummus…basically if you’d put hot sauce on it then try it with some peri peri sauce!
Looking for More Sauce Recipes?
- Easy Hot Pepper Sauce
- Keto Tzatziki Sauce
- Red Enchilada Sauce
- How to Make BBQ Sauce
- How to Make Basil Pesto
- More Sauces and Seasonings…
Peri Peri Sauce
- 8 ounces Roasted Red pepper in jar
- 6 ounces Yellow onion, cut into quarters
- 3 cloves Garlic
- 2-3 Hot red chili peppers, you can add more if you would like the sauce to be hotter
- 2 teaspoons Smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon Dried oregano
- 1.5 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon Pepper
- 1/3 cup Olive oil
- 1/4 cup Lemon juice
- Lemon zest, from 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup White wine vinegar
- Arrange cut onion, and the garlic cloves on a baking sheet. Place in the oven under the broiler for 3 minutes before turning and letting cook for another 3 minutes. This will give everything a slight char.
- Place roasted red pepper, onion, garlic, smoked paprika, dried, oregano, salt, and pepper in a blender and blend until it is a smooth paste.
- Add the red chilies 1 at a time, blending the sauce and then tasting until you get to a heat level that you are comfortable with.
- Add the paste to a skillet with ¼ cup olive oil and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.
- Pour in lemon juice, lemon zest, and white wine vinegar continuing to cook for 5 minutes before removing from heat.
- Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and add the mixture. Strain the liquid into the bowl and dispose of the solids.
- Place in a sealed container in the refrigerator until ready to use.