How to make Portuguese style Piri-Piri sauce recipe. Clear jar containing sauce.

How to make Portuguese style Piri-Piri sauce [Recipe]

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If you’ve come across a Nando’s, you probably know that Piri Piri chicken has a Portuguese connection. The chain was set up by a Portuguese immigrant in South Africa and Portuguese people love chicken barbequed with Piri Piri.

You will find a jar of Piri Piri sauce is most Portuguese households and certainly in all restaurants. My dad kept one he made himself. My British husband also likes spicy food and we make our own. Today I’m sharing a recipe of our own Piri Piri sauce for you to spice up your food at home… portuguese style!


There are many versions and no set recipe. This is how we do it at home here in the UK:  

  1. Get a clean jar. We use old jam or mayo jars

  1. Pour copious amounts of dried chili flakes, around ¼ to 1/3 of the jar depending on how hot you want it to be.

  1. Fill the rest of the jar with good extra virgin olive oil

  1. That’s good enough as it is. It will do the job. Traditionally, Piri Piri sauce in Portugal may include citrus peel, onion, pepper, garlic, salt, lemon juice, bay leaves, paprika and oregano. We sometimes add garlic or pickles to it at home, which adds a nice flavour. The current sauce we have images in this post has pickled cornichons and bay leaf, for example. The basis of it is the chili and oil, then you can be a little creative.

  1. Leave to infuse and serve with a teaspoon. Keep it on a plate – if it spills a little drop, someone may have a nasty surprise!

Needless to say, but I’m going to say it anyway: Wash hands after handling chili!

How to use

Piri Piri sauce is used as a seasoning or marinade.

I tend to only use the infused oil, but if you like your food really spicy, you can use the flakes as well. When the sauce runs out, you can add more olive oil to the leftover chili or start again from scratch. This is how we use it:

We take it to the table as any other seasoning and add a couple of spoons to our own plate – on the food (stir in a stew, for example) or on the side. I sometimes add a little of the infused oil when cooking, just to add a little ‘oomph’. I usually add to chilli con carne, and today I added a little to a soup which was served to everyone, including the children. When cooking, I only add enough to add a little flavour and interest, not to burn little people’s mouths, obviously!

If we infuse with pickles, I like to have some hot crunchy pickles too, especially with a meat dish.

Piri Piri Mayo, anyone?

My husband has a twist on it. He puts a dollop of Mayonnaise on his plate and puts a spoon of the oil with chili flakes and all (he’s a bit hardcore like that) and then mixes. You get a nice, creamy and hot mayo.

Back to Nando’s

Just to clarify, that the Portuguese love affair with chili actually comes from Mozambique. Piri Piri is an African Chilli and sauces derived from it are used a lot in some African countries, especially in Angola,  Mozambique and South Africa. In Malawi, for example, you’ll find one called Nali which is delish! Just take care not to put too much to start with…


Bom apetite!


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