Peri peri (piri piri) sauce brings vibrant, piquant taste of Africa to your cooking. Use it to baste or marinate chicken for a Nando’s-style ‘fakeaway’, or as a lively dip or topping for all sorts of barbecue dishes. Suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
Peri Peri A Global Recipe!
Peri Peri sauce is a truly global recipe. Portuguese explorers brought capsicum frutescens from Brazil back to Europe.
Merchants and colonists then took the malagueta pepper to East Africa, to modern Mozambique. The plants naturalized there and evolved into the African Birds Eye or Peri Peri chilli, on which this sauce is based.
The peri peri dishes we know today arise from that meeting of cultures and cuisines. Today this African fusion food is strongly associated with South Africa. Peri peri has become immensely popular in the UK with the spread of South African restaurant chain Nando’s.
This fresh-tasting peri peri sauce recipe is easy to make with familiar ingredients. It’s great for an economical home-made ‘fakeaway’ Nando’s-style grilled chicken, so use it for copycat versions of your eat-out favourites. It’s also delicious on barbecue dishes or as a dip or burger sauce.
Peri peri makes a refreshing change from curry or stir fries, and we love it for a spicy reminder of the sun on grey winter days.
This sauce keeps well in the fridge, so you can make enough for two or three meals for two over a fortnight. Any leftover sauce can be frozen.
How to Make Nando’s-Style Peri Peri Sauce
Step two – Assemble all the ingredients. You can roast and then peel fresh red peppers, or for ease and speed you can use jarred ones.
Step Two – Soak the peri peri chillis in boiling water before you start, and leave them until the water has cooled. This can be done in advance if you are going to be short of time when you come to cook.
We usually use dried chillies, but if you can get fresh use them and skip the soaking stage.
Step three – Chop the onions and garlic, then zest and juice the lemons.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a shallow casserole or large frying pan. Fry the onion and garlic until translucent. Add the spices and oregano, and fry for a further couple of minutes.
Step four – Put the onion and garlic mixture in a blender or food processor. Add the soaked peri peri chillis, the roasted red peppers, lemon juice and zest, sugar, and cider vinegar.
Step five – Blend the mixture well, until there are no large chunks.
Step six – Transfer the mixture back to the pan. Add the bay leaves and then bring up to a gentle simmer.
Step seven – Cook the mixture for about 20 minutes, until it thickens and has reduced by a half to a third. When it is ready, a wooden spoon or spatula should leave a trace on the bottom of the pan.
Step eight – Transfer the mixture back to the food processor. Then blitz again, slowly adding the olive oil as you do so. It is important to add the oil slowly so the mixture emulsifies so you get a lovely smooth sauce.
Step nine – Blitz to a smooth paste. The peri peri sauce will take on a vibrant orange-yellow colour. It’s now ready to use. Pour the mixture into a jam jar, and keep in the fridge, where it will last for a week. For longer storage, freeze in individual portions in an ice cube tray. I find that freezing this sauce does reduce the heat, so if it’s turned out to be too spicy for you, try giving it a spell in the freezer.
Hints & Tips for Peri Peri Sauce
- Chillis do vary in fierceness, even when they are the same variety. Taste and check as that you are happy with the degree of heat, and adjust to suit your taste.
- If you can’t get African peri peri chillis, Brazilian are very similar. Alternatively, just use another chilli such as Asian bird’s eye chillis.
- For speed and ease we use jarred roasted red peppers for this, you can of course roast your own from fresh if you prefer.
- Try lime juice instead of lemon or add a couple of tablespoons of coconut milk.
- This Nando’s style peri peri sauce will keep for about two weeks in the fridge. Freeze leftovers into individual portions in an ice tray.
- Use it to baste or marinate chicken.
- If you love the heat serve a dollop on my homemade peri peri chicken.
- Use as a dip for peri peri chips (fries) alongside a burger or on baked sweet potatoes, or on all sorts of grilled food.
- This peri peri sauce recipe is suitable for vegetarians and vegans – why not try it with halloumi vegetable skewers or vegeburgers?
- Serve along side some homemade Nandos rice.
- Add to homemade BBQ sauce to give it a kick
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We love sauces, dips and dressings. Browse all our sauce recipes, or choose from our favourites.
- Burger Sauce
- Curry Sauce
- Stilton Sauce
- Chilli Sauce
- Garlic Sauce
For more chicken fakeaway recipes, try these Sticky Asian Chicken Wings or these Barbecue Chicken Thighs.
If you love chilli in your sauce, we think you will love this Easy No-Cook Kebab-Shop Chilli Sauce.