Portuguese Peri Chicken Recipe: Perfect Extra Spicy Sauce

By La Cuisinière | All Recipes

May 10

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Portuguese Peri Chicken Recipe: The local Nando’s® Peri Peri restaurant is quite popular with family members and home town residents.

In fact, they are one of many featured restaurants at the “Taste of The Town” event each year.  So is the local churrasqueira.

In a hurry to get that chicken on the grill?
Buy Ready-Made Spicy Finishing Sauces or our very own barbecue sauce

This Portuguese Peri Chicken Marinade Could Light A Fire!

“Mom, have you tried Nando’s® peri peri grilled chicken?”

Truth be told, I have not been to the restaurant yet but when I spotted a display of their sauces at the Giant® supermarket a couple weeks ago, I figured it was high time to grill, weather permitting, some peri peri style chicken.

 Scoville Heat Index Scale – Peppers 24Garlic – my favorite. Perfect.

After a bit of research, I now know there is a reason why it is displayed between the medium, which is already hot, and the hot which is way up there on the Scoville scale!

All I saw that day was the word Nando’s® on the label. I did not take the time to read the fine print.

It pays to read the fine print – even on a food label. 🙂

In fact, when you check out their website, the garlic sauce sports the little red pepper symbol. It is labeled at a medium heat level.

Half an hour after dinner, my lips were still swollen.


Portuguese Peri Chicken Marinade

  • Author: De Ashton


This marinade starts hot and spicy! Add as much heat as you can stand but make sure the fire extinguisher is handy.



  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar (Braggs© or Heinz©)
  • Vegetable Oil, 1 cup (any brand will do)
  • Juice of 1 extra large lemon
  • 1 tablespoon salt (yes, it’s a lot of salt – you are in effect brewing up a brine)
  • Peri Peri seasoning, 1 tablespoon or to taste
  • 6 to 8 large cloves of fresh garlic – minced. Add as much garlic as you like.
  • Zip lock plastic bags (2 gallon size) or a vacuum sealed marinator dish for smaller chicken pieces.


  1. To a quart size Pyrex© measuring cup, add vinegar and oil.
  2. Adding the remaining ingredients to taste and with an immersion blender (the ideal tool for this recipe); blend carefully until emulsified.
  3. Place your chicken pieces in the zip top plastic bags or in the marinator. Pour the marinade over the meat. Seal and refrigerate immediately for about 6 hours.
  4. Grill the chicken over indirect flame on the grill or be prepared to handle an inferno when the marinade drips onto the coals. Even on a gas grill, the flames will flare up to majestic proportions on a low setting.


  • The longer the chicken pieces marinate, the more powerful the results. Study the Scoville scale. This marinade is for those can take the heat!
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I anticipated the Scoville rating to be high so I reached for the mild sauce but when I saw the garlic version of the sauce, I decided to pick that one.

Try this Portuguese peri chicken recipe prepared on the grill or indoors Here is our version of chicken coated with "medium heat level" garlic sauce.

Try this Portuguese peri chicken recipe prepared on the grill or indoors!

It quickly reminded me of a beach picnic we enjoyed one evening back in Africa many years ago.  

As a recipe, Piri piri sauce (or Peri Peri) has its origins both in Africa and Portugal so we were not being served anything out of the ordinary in the local cuisine.  

However, this sauce represents the spiciest combination of all the “hot stuff” you can think to add to a single marinade or basting sauce recipe.

Back then, I had never heard of piri piri sauce. Our Portuguese host was all smiles when she heard that we loved grilled chicken so what could be easier for her than to prepare grilled chicken as the main course? “You are going to love this chicken!”.


The grilled chicken was incredibly tasty but within minutes we were all in tears. It was all we could do not to run to the crashing waves just a few feet away to quench the flames.

There is no doubt that the chicken was liberally coated in her version of Portuguese piri piri sauce.

We still remember the day, the scene, the seared taste buds…

The moral of the story is that next time, when I want some kick and some bite, I will pick the mild sauce and add my own garlic and a more reasonable amount of heat!

Indoors or Outdoors? It’s Perfect Both Ways

Safeway® had a BOGO sale on chicken thighs.  With four large thighs to a pack, my seven dollars worth of chicken still had the skin on and a certain amount of fat.  

If you are lucky enough to have a dedicated grill master, he can keep an eye on the flames but the fat is perfect for self basting purposes while the chicken is sitting over the coals.

Preparing Portuguese Peri Chicken Recipe

 Grill Dome ICR-2000 Indirect Cooking Rack, Large

If it ever stops raining here in Northern Virginia, we can grill again!

When preparing this recipe outdoors, make sure the temperature is set to low or that the chicken is not directly over the coals or the heat source. 

Use an indirect cooking rack to raise the meat a few extra inches away from the flames.  The grill of my dreams has a super accessory.  Wish it could fit on any grill!

As the fat drips, it will burn and incinerate your chicken pieces. Been there, done that.  

The only way to lessen the chances of a total flame out is to raise the chicken pieces on a rack.  You still have to watch the chicken carefully.

The chicken prepared for the beach picnic was cooked in a crude fit pit and on a spit nearly two feet above charcoal.  It still flared up.

Preparing Peri Peri Chicken In The Oven

Prefer to prepare the Portuguese Peri Peri chicken recipe indoors on a rainy day or during the winter months?  No problem.

I have a heavy jelly roll pan reserved specifically for grilling meats. 

The thighs are placed skin side down on foil and grilled in the oven at 400 degrees on a convection setting.  I turn them every 15 to 20 minutes for an even roast for a total of 35 minutes.

You can also place the chicken on a rack and allow the fat to drip below.  Remember to spray the rack so the chicken pieces do not stick to it.

  • For an extreme spicy taste, marinate the chicken pieces in the sauce for several hours, covered and in the fridge.
  • For a milder version, baste the chicken pieces with the peri peri sauce during the last 20 to 30 minutes of roasting.  In my first experience with the bottled Peri Peri sauce I was blissfully unaware of the heat index, so I applied the sauce liberally.

 Don’t say I did not warn you. 😉

To paraphrase the website description for the garlic sauce, the garlic Peri-Peri sauce definitely had lots of tang and some serious bite.

Preparing Peri Peri Basting Sauce

Hot Sauce Bottles, 5 Oz - 12 PackHot Sauce Bottles, 5 Oz – 12 Pack

With some recipe tweaking, transform the marinade into a basting sauce

Add the peri peri seasoning to this vinegar base chicken basting sauce.  

Here is a way to “bottle” your basting sauce instead of sacrificing a good saucepan to the heat of the grill or even a side burner.  More importantly, it keeps the wasps out of the sauce!

Prepare the sauce early in the day or even the day ahead. Allow it to cool completely and then bottle it!

It’s the perfect gift for the grill master who has everything – a set of clear glass bottles with those dripper inserts so you can manage the basting.

Go ahead – prepare your award winning homemade hot sauce. Store it in the fridge to have all summer or make the perfect stocking stuffer for all those family members who want Peri Peri marinade or basting sauce.

Did you know that Nando’s® garlic seasoning comes in a rub?  Imagine the possibilities!

Dj BBQ is a little on the wild side and this is not the Yoff Plage barbecue of long ago but there is enough garlic to suit my taste, the coals are perfection, the method is all there so I’m sure the flavor is as well. Bom apetite!

Are you ready to try this Portuguese chicken recipe?

Chicken, Chicken…

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About the Author

1 Cook, 2 Countries & A Taste For World Cuisines: Cooking A La Mode De Chez Nous - Cuisine d'Hier Et d'Aujourd'hui! For the love of home style cooking and great food. Memories are made of this!

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