Peri Peri Sauce is a spicy African condiment with a complex flavor profile. It’s most well known as the star ingredient of Peri Peri Chicken, but goes great with so many things.
Just a quick whir in the blender, and you can have your very own homemade Peri Peri Sauce. But let me warn you, these flavors are very addictive!
This latest addition is right up there with the best of them.
What is Peri Peri?
Peri Peri, also known as Piri Piri or Pili Pili, is an exotic, fiery chili sauce with deep African and Portuguese roots. This tantalizing blend is famous for its perfect combination of heat and flavor.
Traditionally, African bird’s eye chilis are used in the sauce. They lend the sauce their local name, which is derived from the Swahili word pilipili, which means “pepper”.
Where it was first produced is unclear, but it does seem most likely that the original sauce was created by the Portuguese from African peppers.
More recently, the restaurant chain Nando’s has helped Peri Peri become a household name. Originating in South Africa, Nando’s specializes in Portuguese-African cuisine, with Peri Peri chicken being its signature dish.
Nowadays, bottled Peri Peri Sauce is common on supermarket shelves. But as with most foods, homemade is always best!
Regarding Bird’s Eye Chilis
As mentioned, African bird’s eye chilis are traditional. If you can find those, use them.
A great substitute is Thai bird’s eye chilis, which are readily available in most local Asian grocery stores.
If you can’t find either of these varieties, other hot red peppers can be used.
Take note that our recipe uses Thai bird’s eye chilis. If you are using other chili peppers, you will want to adjust the amounts based on how hot they are. African bird’s eye peppers are 2-3x hotter, so if that’s what you have, start with 2 or 3 and taste before adding more. Most chili peppers available in supermarkets will be less hot than Thai.
- Thai Red Bird Chilis – Supply the signature heat.
- Shallots – Provide a mild, sweet base.
- Garlic – Adds depth of flavor.
- Red Bell Pepper – Contribute sweetness and color.
- Tomato Paste – Offers thickness and tangy richness.
- White Wine Vinegar – Adds acidity to balance flavors.
- Lemon – Both juice and rind for a citrussy component.
- Herbs and Seasonings – Bay leaves, dried oregano, smoked paprika, salt.
- Olive Oil – Ensures a smooth, rich texture.
Easy Peri Peri Sauce Recipe
Place all ingredients except olive oil in a blender or food processor. Blend to a fine consistency.
Add in olive oil.
Blend until the oil emulsifies.
Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use.
Recipe Notes and Variations
- Chili Variations – Experiment with different types of chilis for varying heat levels. For a milder sauce, you might use serrano or jalapeño peppers.
- Citrus Twist – Try different citrus fruits like lime or orange instead of lemon for a unique flavor profile.
- Herb Variations – Substitute dried oregano with fresh, or add other herbs like thyme, basil or cilantro for different flavors.
- Char the Peppers – If you want an even deeper taste, try grilling or roasting the red bell peppers before adding to the sauce.
- Swap the Paprika – If you’re not into smoky flavors, you can use regular paprika in place of smoked.
How to Use Homemade Peri Peri Sauce
Our favorite use for Peri Peri sauce is as a marinade. It goes great with pork chops, steaks like skirt or flank, shrimp and, of course, chicken. Stay tuned, our next post is Peri Peri Chicken.
Don’t discard the used marinade! Simmer it in a saucepan for 5-10 minutes, then it makes a great dipping sauce for your marinated meat.
It is a great flavor booster for soups or beans. Add in a tablespoon at a time until you achieve your desired taste.
Leftovers and Storage
Peri Peri Sauce refrigerates well in an airtight container for about 2 weeks.
It can also be frozen for 2-3 months. Freeze it in ice cube trays, then transfer to a freezer safe zip top bag for later use.
Each cube is about 1 tablespoon, so you can take out as much or as little as you want.
Add some spice to your life by mixing up a batch of this amazing Peri Peri Sauce. Once you try it, you’ll see why its popularity is spreading around the globe!
Make sure to save or pin this recipe so you always know where to find it. And don’t forget to subscribe to GypsyPlate, we’re always cooking up new recipes for you!
Peri Peri Sauce, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 10 Thai red bird chilis (see note 1)
- 3 shallots, chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 small bay leaves, crumbled by hand
- 4 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1.5 Tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 lemon (rind + juice)
- 1 Tbsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1.5 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Place all ingredients except olive oil in a blender or food processor. Blend to a fine consistency.
- Add in olive oil. Blend until the oil is well incorporated and the sauce has a smooth consistency.
- Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use.
- We like our piri piri sauce pretty spicy. If you aren't very heat tolerant, start with 5.
Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.
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