A Taste of South Africa: Piri Piri Sauce

Posted on 4/24/15 by Jackie Dilworth

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Piri Piri Sauce Recipe, brought to you by Kristy McCarron

Nando’s Peri Peri Sauce has developed quite a following. I often hear folks during the lunch hour discussing what they’ve done with their bottled sauce and how great it tastes on just about everything. Luckily, this Portuguese-gone-South African sauce is something that we can create at home, and while we’re celebrating South Africa this month, it seems like the perfect time to try out this recipe.

Piri Piri (or, pepper, pepper) sauce is a staple among South African cuisine because of the prevalence of hot peppers in this warm environment. Luckily, with summer right around the corner, we’re about to hit pepper season as well. I picture this being used with marinated chicken that’s later thrown on the grill (easy dinner!). In our YMCA Anthony Bowen Kitchen, we tried out a few different recipes (this was our first time making it as well), and found that Food and Wine’s recipe was the easiest, most delicious, and, we think, true to the original. Enjoy!

Piri Piri Sauce Recipe

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 fresh red chiles, such as cayenne—stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3 Thai chiles, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper


  • In a large skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the bell pepper, onion, cayenne chiles, Thai chiles, garlic and paprika and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 12 minutes.
  • Scrape the mixture into a blender and let cool slightly. Add the vinegar, lemon juice and water and puree until almost smooth. Season the sauce with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl.
  • Let stand at room temperature for about 1 hour before serving
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