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    Peri Peri Chicken Recipe

    Published May 17, 2024. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

    This delicious Peri Peri Chicken recipe involves marinating chicken in a citrusy, spicy chili sauce and grilling it until golden brown while being sauced. The flavors in this easy-to-make dish are incredible, and if you try it, you’ll agree.

    In addition to this dish, If you’re in a rut when looking for different tasty chicken recipes, try my Chicken Saltimbocca or Chicken Shawarma.

    peri peri chicken with sauce


     

    Peri Peri Chicken

    Peri Peri Chicken is a traditional Mozambican dish of marinated chicken that is fire-roasted until cooked and served with additional marinade sauce. In fact, you’ve probably heard of the famous Nando’s Peri Peri Chicken restaurant, which is based on this classic meal. There are varying degrees of spiciness of the chicken, from mild to extremely spicy, depending on the level of heat in the sauce.

    The chicken is classically cooked over a wood-burning grill or pit. However, it can also be cooked on a smoker, gas grill, or oven. You will see different recipes for this chicken depending on who is making it and where it’s being made. I believe simpler preparations are best when preparing this.

    Ingredients and Substitutions

    peri peri chicken ingredients
    • Sauce – You will need peri peri sauce for this recipe.
    • Chicken – It is classical to use a flattened chicken.
    • Lemon – You will need a few lemons to rub down the chicken before adding the marinade. You can substitute lime juice or white distilled vinegar.
    • Water – Plain tap water is used for the peri peri sauce.
    • Salt – I always use coarse salt in my cooking and baking.

    How to Make Peri Peri Chicken

    Remove the backbone of the chicken.

    removing the backbone from a chicken

    Turn the chicken over and press down on the chicken breast sternum to flatten it.

    flattening a chicken

    Dry the chicken well on all sides with paper towels.

    patting a chicken dry

    Add it to a bowl and rub it down with the juice of 1 lemon, including underneath the breast skin.

    adding lemon juice to a chicken

    Generously season the chicken on all sides with salt. Set it to the side at room temperature.

    seasoning a flattened chicken

    Make the peri peri sauce and divide it into two containers.

    peri peri sauce in a container

    Using one portion of the sauce, generously coat the chicken, rubbing it down on all sides and underneath the skin.

    marinating a chicken in peri peri sauce

    Cover it and store it for 4 to 48 hours. In the refrigerator.

    resting a chicken in a bowl with peri peri sauce

    Heat your gas, smoker, or charcoal grill to high heat, between 500° and 600°.

    preheating a grill

    While the grill is heating, remove the chicken from the refrigerator and set it at room temperature for about 30 minutes to remove the chill.

    resting a peri peri chicken

    When the grill is preheated, Place the flattened chicken skin side down. Immediately turn the heat down to medium.

    grilling a peri peri chicken

    Cook for 8 to 12 minutes or until charred grill marks are formed on the skin side. I like to cook for 4 to 6 minutes then turn it 90° and cook for another 4 to 6 minutes.

    rotating a flattened chicken on the grill

    Carefully flip the chicken over and cook for 30 to 40 minutes or until the thickest part of the chicken reads about 160° to 162°.

    During this process, baste the chicken every 10 minutes with the cooked peri peri sauce.

    basting a peri peri chicken on the grill

    Remove the chicken and let it rest for 5 to 7 minutes.

    resting a peri peri chicken after grilling

    During this time you can optionally grill a few lemon halves.

    grilling lemons

    Serve the chicken with optional lemons and additional peri peri sauce.

    peri peri chicken with lemons and sauce

    Make-Ahead and Storage

    Make-Ahead: You can make this up to 30 minutes ahead of time. Just keep it covered in a pan in the oven or in a grill at low temperatures (<200°).

    How to Store: Place covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. This will freeze covered for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator for 1 day before reheating.

    How to Reheat: Add the desired amount of peri-peri chicken to a 13×9 casserole dish with ½ cups of water and cover with foil. Bake at 375° for 10 to 12 minutes or until hot.

    Chef Billy Parisi

    Chef Notes + Tips

    • A flattened chicken is a whole chicken with the backbone removed. This is also known as a spatchcock chicken.
    • Feel free to freeze the chicken backbone to use in chicken stock later.
    • If you notice too many flames shooting through the grill, add a few ice cubes to those hot spots to help tame the fire without any big puffs of smoke.
    • Grilling lemons helps to soften them so they can extract more juice when being squeezed.

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    Peri Peri Chicken Recipe

    5 from 4 votes
    This Peri Peri Chicken recipe involves marinating chicken in a citrusy, spicy chili sauce, grilling it, and basting it until golden brown.
    Servings: 4
    Prep Time: 30 minutes
    Cook Time: 55 minutes

    Ingredients 

    • 1 whole roasting chicken, about 3 1/2 to 4 pounds, backbone removed
    • juice of 1 lemon, about 2 to 3 tablespoons
    • 1 peri peri sauce recipe
    • coarse salt to taste

    Instructions

    • Remove the backbone of the chicken. Turn the chicken over and press down on the chicken breast sternum to flatten it.
    • Dry the chicken well on all sides with paper towels. Add it to a bowl and rub it down with the juice of 1 lemon, including underneath the breast skin.
    • Generously season the chicken on all sides with salt. Set it to the side at room temperature.
    • Make the peri peri sauce and divide it into two containers.
    • Using 1 portion of the sauce, generously coat the chicken, rubbing it down on all sides and underneath the skin.
    • Cover it and store it for 4 to 48 hours. In the refrigerator.
    • Heat your gas grill, smoker, or charcoal grill to high heat, which is between 500° and 600°.
    • While the grill is heating, remove the chicken from the refrigerator and set it at room temperature for about 30 minutes to remove the chill.
    • When the grill is preheated, Place the flattened chicken skin side down. Immediately turn the heat down to medium.
    • Cook for a total of 8 to 12 minutes or until charred grill marks are formed on the skin side. I like to cook for 4 to 6 minutes then turn it 90° and cook for a further 4 to 6 minutes.
    • Carefully flip the chicken over and cook for 30 to 40 minutes or until the thickest part of the chicken reads about 160° to 162°.
    • During this process, baste the chicken every 10 minutes with the cooked peri peri sauce.
    • Remove the chicken and let it rest for 5 to 7 minutes. During this time, you can optionally grill a few lemon halves.
    • Serve the chicken with optional lemons and additional peri peri sauce.

    Notes

    Make-Ahead: You can make this up to 30 minutes ahead of time. Just keep it covered in a pan in the oven or in a grill at low temperatures (<200°).
    How to Store: Place covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. This will freeze covered for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator for 1 day before reheating.
    How to Reheat: Add the desired amount of peri-peri chicken to a 13×9 casserole dish with ½ cups of water and cover with foil. Bake at 375° for 10 to 12 minutes or until hot.
    A flattened chicken is a whole chicken with the backbone removed. This is also known as a spatchcock chicken.
    Feel free to freeze the chicken backbone to use in chicken stock later.
    If you notice too many flames shooting through the grill, add a few ice cubes to those hot spots to help tame the fire without any big puffs of smoke.
    Grilling lemons helps to soften them so they can extract more juice when being squeezed.
    Course: Main
    Cuisine: South African