Peri Peri Sauce Recipe | Homemade Piri Piri Sauce

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Spicy, zesty, and downright addictive, my recipe for Peri-Peri Sauce from scratch means that a plateful of flavor is never far from reach. Made from dry red chili peppers, this delightful, homemade Portuguese condiment is a favorite at our house.

peri peri sauce in a bowl on a blue plate with text layovers.

What is Peri Peri?

Peri-Peri (also spelled Piri-Piri) is both the name of a bright red Portuguese sauce, as well as the eponymous African Bird’s Eye chili pepper that the condiment is named after.

Legend has it that the Piri-Piri chilies arrived in Portugal via the Portuguese who cultivated them in the colonized South African territories. The Piri-Piri chilies found their way into a sauce developed by the Portuguese which has now become a staple in Portugal.

I honestly do not know the real story… Who developed the sauce and where did the chilis come from? I’m not sure. All I know is that the sauce is REALLY AWESOME and REALLY SPICY.

Peri-Peri chiles are quite spicy, with a typical range of between 50,000-125,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHUs). For reference, jalapeño peppers are about 3,500 SHUs. Like I said, these little chiles are fiery, and the sauce they are used in shares the same spicy characteristics.

About Peri Peri Sauce Recipe

If hot and spicy are two adjectives you like for your food, you are going to love this delicious peri-peri sauce! As an added bonus, the recipe takes just 10 minutes to make, start to finish. You simply can’t beat that!

My sister actually introduced me to peri-peri sauce (11 years back) and I couldn’t resist coming up with this recipe. When she told me the name peri-peri, I had something of a deja vu.

As it turns out, the South African chain restaurant known as Nando’s actually had a few branches in Bangalore then. Mystery solved!

The peri-peri sauce is super delicious, so we have it with everything from vegetables and rice to salads and bread. It brings zest and spice to any dish it touches, which is part of why we love it so.

You can also serve it with snacks like French Fries, Veg Momos, Spring Rolls, Aloo Tikki, or anything else that could use a good dipping sauce.

Typically speaking, piri-piri sauce can also be used to marinate meats or seafood; as vegetarians, we prefer to use it as a marinade for paneer or tofu, or as more of a dipping sauce with other prepared foods.

Ingredients, Substitutions, & Variations

Being a global citizen, I am aware that preferences and ingredient availability will vary by location. As such, I want to make sure that you know which substitutions you can use to customize this peri-peri sauce recipe to your liking. Here are a few ideas:

  • Use the red chillies that are available to you. But take into account their flavor profile – whether smoky, spicy, pungent or hot. I have made the sauce with a variety of Indian red chili called Kashmiri red chillies. These chillies have a deep red color and are not spicy. But when combined in a sauce, they were hot enough for all of us. The rest of the ingredients are always easily available in the kitchen pantry.
  • A blend of different red chilies can also be used depending on their hotness. For dry chilies, be sure to soak them in cool water for 2 to 3 hours or 15 to 20 minutes in hot water before blending them.
  • Instead of lemon juice, one can also use vinegar/cider vinegar or a 50/50 split of lemon juice and vinegar. I did not add vinegar to the sauce. I only used lemon juice.
  • If you want a thin sauce, the amount of olive oil can be increased. 
  • Also, please note that the more the sauce ages, the better it becomes. This makes it an excellent candidate for your meal prep day.
Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Peri Peri Sauce

1. Take 11 to 12 dry red Kashmiri chilies, or any fresh or dried red chili variety. Remove the stems and seeds.

To remove the seeds, break the chillies or halve them or you can slit them on one side. Shake them and the seeds will fall. You can also opt to remove the seeds using a small spoon.

You can use any variety of dry red chilies with low to medium SHUs. If using super hot bird’s eye chilis, then you can add 4 to 5 of them in combination with the milder dry red chilies.

dried kashmiri chilis on a plate.

2. Rinse the dry red chilies in water. Soak them in hot water for 10 to 15 minutes before blending them. If you are using fresh red chilies then skip this step.

soaking chilis in water for making peri-peri sauce.

3. Peel and chop 7 to 8 medium-sized garlic cloves. Measure and keep all the ingredients ready for making the peri-peri sauce.

piri piri sauce ingredients measured out into small bowls on a black table.

4. In a blender or food processor, add ¼ cup chopped coriander leaves (a.k.a. cilantro leaves, or sub in parsley leaves) and the soaked dry red Kashmiri chilies.

coriander and soaked chiles in a grinder.

5. Next add 7 to 8 chopped garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional) and salt as required.

You could use ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper or red chilli powder instead of red chilli flakes.

garlic cloves, salt, and red chile flakes added to grinder for making peri peri sauce recipe.

6. Pour ¼ cup olive oil or vegetable oil. The amount of olive oil can be increased if you want a thin sauce with a longer shelf life.

adding oil to the grinder.

7. Lastly add the juice of 1 medium-sized lemon (or approximately 1 tablespoon lemon juice). You can use ½ tablespoon vinegar instead of lemon juice if you prefer.

adding lemon juice to the grinder.

8. Grind in a blender or food processor and blend to a fine and smooth consistency.

peri peri sauce after blending in a grinder.

9. Cover and store the Peri Peri sauce in a container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

peri peri sauce in a white bowl with a turquoise rim.

Serving Suggestions

This delicious sauce is a must-try for people who like hot and spicy foods. Here are a few ways to use it:

  • As a dipping sauce with any snacks like French Fries, Potato Wedges, or Veg Cutlet or vegetable crudités.
  • As marination for tofu, paneer (Indian cottage cheese), veggies like cauliflower, potatoes, mushrooms, capsicum, aubergines and then grilled, roasted, sautéed or fried.
  • Added to simple dishes like Fried Rice or Veg Noodles. 1 or 2 teaspoons of the peri-peri sauce will make the rice spicy and flavorful.
  • As a topping on Pizza, Pita Bread sandwiches, wraps or rolls.

FAQs

Are peri-peri and piri-piri the same?

Yes, they are. The spellings derive from different pronunciations of the chili pepper and sauce, from a variety of different African languages. Pili-pili is yet another spelling for this spicy chilli.

Why isn’t my peri-peri sauce as bright red as in your pictures?

I used bright red Kashmiri chilis in my piri-piri sauce; these peppers are known for their saturated red hue. Depending on what type of chilis you use, and even if you use fresh instead of dried, the color of your sauce my vary.

How can I make my homemade piri-piri sauce last longer?

Treat it like Pesto and add a layer of oil on top of the sauce to help protect it from the air. It should last for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. You can also freeze it for up to 6 months if needed.

More Sauces To Try!

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peri peri sauce in a bowl on a blue plate.

Peri Peri Sauce Recipe | Homemade Piri Piri Sauce

This homemade Peri Peri sauce is a spicy, hot and fiery condiment made with dried red chilies, herbs, spices and olive oil. Zesty, and downright addictive this delightful Portuguese condiment is a favorite at our house.
4.77 from 13 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 0 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Cuisine Portuguese, World
Course Condiment, Side Dish
Diet Gluten Free, Vegan
Difficulty Level Moderate
Servings 1 small jar
Units

Ingredients

  • 11 to 12 dry red chilies – use a lesser hot variety, I have used Kashmiri red chillies.
  • 7 to 8 garlic cloves (medium-sized)
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes or ½ teaspoon red chili powder or cayenne pepper (optional, and if you want a more hotter sauce)
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro (coriander leaves) or parsley. a combination of both greens can also be used
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or juice of 1 medium-sized lemon or ½ tablespoon vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil or any neutral flavored oil
  • sea salt or salt as required

Instructions
 

  • Remove the stems from the dry red chilies.
  • Slit the chillies and shake them to remove the seeds.
  • Rinse them in water and then soak in hot water for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Peel and chop the garlic roughly.
  • Add all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend or process to a smooth and fine consistency.
  • Store the Peri Peri sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Notes

  • Use dried red chillies that are available to you. But consider their pungency, spiciness, smokiness and hotness before using them. You could use a blend of two to three chilli variants. 
  • The peri peri sauce can also be made with fresh red chillies. With fresh chillies, the sauce will have a less shelf life. Do refrigerate and finish the sauce in 2 to 3 days.
  • Note that the approximate nutrition info is for the entire portion of piri piri sauce made from this recipe.

Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)

Nutrition Facts
Peri Peri Sauce Recipe | Homemade Piri Piri Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 536 Calories from Fat 495
% Daily Value*
Fat 55g85%
Saturated Fat 8g50%
Polyunsaturated Fat 6g
Monounsaturated Fat 40g
Sodium 1207mg52%
Potassium 263mg8%
Carbohydrates 13g4%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin A 2323IU46%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 0.04mg3%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 0.1mg6%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%
Vitamin B6 0.4mg20%
Vitamin C 15mg18%
Vitamin E 9mg60%
Vitamin K 53µg50%
Calcium 52mg5%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 9µg2%
Iron 1mg6%
Magnesium 15mg4%
Phosphorus 50mg5%
Zinc 0.4mg3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This Peri Peri Sauce recipe from the archives first published in September 2011 has been republished and updated on November 2022. 

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Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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38 Comments

  1. This home-made peri-peri sauce is the bomb and you should have a jar in your fridge at all times.

  2. Chilli and capsicum originated in South America and were brought to Europe by the Portuguese from where it spread to the rest of the world.5 stars

  3. Hi, i tried this recipe , but didn’t turn out so red as shown in picture, I used birds eye chilli still it wasn’t as red as shown in picture.The texture looked exact though and tasted yumm …. please help me out with the colour.4 stars

    1. shanaya, i have used kashmiri red chilies and hence the red color. with bird’s eye chilies, the peri peri sauce won’t have a deep red color.

  4. Hi D, hope you and the family are well. Fortunately for me, I live in Durban, SA, Nandos is everywhere,Birds Eye chilli too, as little as $1 a kg.I want to make my own basting sauce(Nandos too expensive and they sell sauces and not basting here). I already have a tasty dry rub for chicken. I have 2 questions, by soaking dry chillies in water, would that not make the sauce go bad faster. Second, what do u think about blending fresh cream with your sauce? Thank you in advance for our feedback:)5 stars

    1. vignesh, you can use fresh bird’s eye chilies. soaking dry red chilies in hot water and then grinding does not spoil them. i make schezwan sauce also in a similar way and even red chili garlic chutney for chaat recipes. just remember to be generous with oil if storing for a long time in the fridge. you can even add a layer of oil after storing the sauce in a jar. if you use fresh cream, the heat of the chilies will get toned down, but the sauce won’t stay long for many days as cream perishes faster.

  5. Thanks for the peri peri sauce recipe.
    I will be using it in my sandwich shop in South West London.
    Steve Troy.

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