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    Peri Peri Sauce Recipe

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

    This zesty South African Peri-Peri Sauce Recipe, which combines lemon, chilis, and garlic, makes an unbelievable, full-flavored marinade or sauce. We love using this sauce on grilled chicken to elevate the flavors.

    Whether it’s on a steak or a simple open-faced sandwich doesn’t matter. We are a sauce family and love to complement what we eat with plenty of it. If you’re similar, try my Spaghetti Sauce or Cilantro Lime Sauce.

    peri peri sauce in a jar


     

    Peri Peri Sauce

    Peri sauce is made from lemon juice, birds’ eye chilis, spices, garlic, and oil. It can be spicy or mild and used as a marinade or sauce. There are varying differences between this sauce and how it’s made, but traditionally, it is simply lemon juice and chilis slow-cooked for several hours. It has since been altered with additional ingredients to bring about more flavor quicker. However, keeping it simple and not overcomplicating with too many ingredients is best.

    The sauce was created in Mozambique in the late 1800s in Beira. It’s also known as piri piri, and other local countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, call it pili pili. The birds’ eye chilis were actually imported into Mozambique and Angola because Portugal could not find a market for them. The sauce did not become popular in Portugal until the 1960s when people from Mozambique moved there.

    Ingredients and Substitutions

    peri peri sauce ingredients
    • Chilis – The classic chili is a bird’s eye chili, or peri-peri pepper, also known as a Thai chili. This can be difficult to find in local grocery stores. I used Fresno peppers in this recipe. You can also use red finger peppers.
    • Onion – I used a shallot since it has mild onion flavors. You can substitute with a white, sweet, or red onion. In addition, you will need some garlic cloves.
    • Lemon — Freshly squeezed lemon is a classic ingredient in this recipe. If you cannot find fresh lemon, you can substitute white distilled or red wine vinegar.
    • Spices – You can use regular, smoked, or sweet paprika.
    • Oil — Olive or avocado oil is best, but you can use any neutral-flavored oil.
    • Salt – I always use coarse salt in my cooking and baking.

    How to Make Peri Peri Sauce

    Add the seeded chili, shallot, garlic, lemon juice, and paprika to a food processor.

    chilis and garlic in a food processor

    Process on high speed while slowly drizzling in the olive oil.

    adding oil to a food processor

    Adjust the seasonings with salt and mix until combined.

    peri peri sauce in a food processor

    Store or serve it. Try using it as a marinade in my Peri Peri Chicken Recipe.

    peri peri sauce with chilis

    If you’d like to use it as a sauce, I recommend adding it to a medium-sized sauce pot with ½ cup of water and simmering it over low heat for 25 to 30 minutes to thicken and concentrate the flavor.

    cooking peri peri sauce

    Make-Ahead and Storage

    Make-Ahead: You can make this up to 3 days ahead for freshness.

    How to Store: Cover and keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. This will freeze well-covered for up to 6 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator for 1 day before reheating.

    How to Reheat: Add the desired amount of peri-peri sauce to a medium-sized pot and heat over low heat until hot. If it is too thick, mix in 2 to 3 tablespoons of water.

    Chef Billy Parisi

    Chef Notes + Tips

    • You can purchase dried bird’ s-eye chilis on Amazon. They are still spicy but not as intense as fresh and can be used in this recipe.
    • If you love spice, feel free to use spicier chilis like habanero.
    • Substitute with red bell peppers if you cannot handle spice at all.
    • If you do not have a food processor, you can finely mince all the ingredients and mix them in a bowl.
    • Adding the marinade to a pot and cooking it removes some of the bite from the raw garlic and onion that would normally be cooked when using it as a marinade on something. Doing this will also intensify the flavor.
    • Portugal gained control in the 16th century and still has much influence in Mozambique. The native language there is Portuguese.

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    Peri Peri Sauce Recipe

    This zesty South African Peri-Peri Sauce Recipe, which combines lemon, chilis, and garlic, makes an unbelievable marinade or sauce.
    Servings: 2.5 cups
    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 30 minutes

    Ingredients 

    • 6 to 8 seeded Fresno peppers
    • 10 garlic cloves
    • 1 peeled shallot
    • 2 teaspoons paprika
    • Juice of 2 lemons, about 5 tablespoons
    • 1 cup olive oil
    • coarse salt to taste
    • ½ cup water

    Instructions

    When Using as a Marinade:

    • Add the seeded chili, shallot, garlic, lemon juice, and paprika to a food processor.
    • Process on high speed while slowly drizzling in the olive oil.
    • Adjust the seasonings with salt and mix until combined.
    • Store or serve it.

    When Using as a Sauce

    • If you’d like to use it as a sauce, add it to a medium-sized sauce pot with a ½ cup of water.
    • Simmer it over low heat while stirring occasionally for 25 to 30 minutes to thicken and concentrate the flavor.

    Notes

    Make-Ahead: You can make this up to 3 days ahead for freshness.
    How to Store: Cover and keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. This will freeze well-covered for up to 6 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator for 1 day before reheating.
    How to Reheat: Add the desired amount of peri-peri sauce to a medium-sized pot and heat over low heat until hot. If it is too thick, mix in 2 to 3 tablespoons of water.
    You can purchase dried bird’ s-eye chilis on Amazon. They are still spicy but not as intense as fresh and can be used in this recipe.
    If you love spice, feel free to use spicier chilis like habanero.
    Substitute with red bell peppers if you cannot handle spice at all.
    If you do not have a food processor, you can finely mince all the ingredients and mix them in a bowl.
    Adding the marinade to a pot and cooking it removes some of the bite from the raw garlic and onion that would normally be cooked when using it as a marinade on something. Doing this will also intensify the flavor.
    Portugal gained control in the 16th century and still has much influence in Mozambique. The native language there is Portuguese.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 798kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 1gFat: 87gSaturated Fat: 12gPolyunsaturated Fat: 9gMonounsaturated Fat: 63gSodium: 9mgPotassium: 177mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 1151IUVitamin C: 44mgCalcium: 33mgIron: 1mg
    Course: sauce
    Cuisine: african