Piri Piri Chicken


Piri Piri Chicken – Obvious I Know!

As part of my F1 cooks where I am doing a cook from each country where the F1 race is held, I went for Piri-Piri Chicken for Portugal. I know this is quite an obvious one, but a few reasons I chose it. Firstly, I really like Piri Piri Chicken, so it was a great excuse to have it again. Secondly, I have never made it with the sauce from scratch, which I really enjoyed doing. Finally, it is a great dish to cook over coals on the BBQ.

At its most basic Piri Piri Chicken is grilled chicken that has been marinated in a spicy chilli sauce. Some of the recipes I came across didn’t marinate the chicken but just basted the chicken with the sauce as part of the cooking process. There was also a question of whether to leave the skin on or take it off. Again, different recipes recommended different approaches. 

Preparation and Cook

After doing a fair bit of research, I opted to marinate the chicken in the Piri Piri chilli sauce and also to take the skin off.  I prepared it first thing in the morning for a cook that evening so the chicken was going to get around 8 hours marinating.

The majority of ingredients I went for are ones you are likely to have in your cupboard. The only specialist purchase was the African Bird’s Eye Chilli, sourced from the Chili Mash Company.

So after making the marinade and preparing the chicken, I liberally covered the chicken with the marinade and rubbed it into all the nooks and crannies, before placing it in the fridge. 

About an hour before I wanted to start cooking, I removed the spatchcocked chicken from the fridge to bring up the temperature before cooking. Next was preparing the BBQ. For this cook, I used the SNS Kettle, with a first run-out for the Slow ‘n Sear Deluxe, which makes it easy to create an indirect and direct zone. The direct zone is really hot which makes it great for searing meat and the indirect zone is great for baking or oven-type cooking. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have the Slow ‘n Sear, just create 2 zones that you can cook on.

Just before cooking, I removed the legs from the chicken so I could manage the chicken when cooking a little better. I added a pearwood chunk for some extra smokiness and started the cook by searing the legs and then moving to the indirect area. Next, I seared the main part of the chicken until it had some nice char marks before flipping then moving to the indirect area.

I did use some of the marinate in the tray to keep basting the chicken through the cook which built up some great colour on the chicken.

The cook took around 1hr 30minutes, but I always like going by temperature using my Thermapen. An instant-read thermometer is critical regardless if you are cooking indoors or out.

Once ready, I removed from the BBQ and let rest before slicing.

The Verdict

When I tasted the marinade on its own I was a little concerned at the spiciness. I like spicy food but my wife is not as keen. However, once cooked the spiciness was toned down a bit. It still had a bit of a kick but it wasn’t overpowering. 

I absolutely loved this cook from the research, making the Piri Piri marinade through to the final cook. It worked really well and I loved the end result. Luckily I had enough leftovers to get another couple of meals from the Piri Piri Chicken. An obvious dish to cook from Portugal but definitely the right one to choose.

Piri Piri Chicken

This Portuguese inspired dish, made with authentic African Bird's Eye Chilli's, adds a lovely heat to the Piri Piri marinade. The chicken is then cooked over coals on the BBQ, creating a delicious dinner that will soon become a family favourite.
Servings 2 people
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes


  • SNS Kettle BBQ
  • Slow 'n Sear
  • Food Processor
  • Green Olive Restaurant Grade Charcoal


  • 1 Medium Sized Free Range Chicken
  • 6 African Bird's Eye Chillis (dried)
  • 4 Garlic Cloves (crushed)
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp White Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Lemons (juiced)
  • 20 g Bunch of Parsley
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1 tsp Oregano (dried)
  • 1 tsp Thyme (dried)
  • 1 tsp Caster Sugar
  • 2 tsp Salt


  • Add all the ingredients to a food processor and blend into a paste. Set to one side.
  • Spatchcock your chicken and remove the skin. Make some deep incisions into the breast and legs to allow the marinade to penetrate a little easier.
    I also removed the legs which made it easier to cook especially when I was chargrilling directly over the coals.
  • Pour over your marinade, and massage the marinade into the chicken, then place in the fridge for a minimum of 6 hours, but preferably overnight.
    Chicken Marinating
  • Remove the marinating chicken from the fridge about 1 hour before you want to start cooking to bring the temperature up towards room temperature.
  • Light your BBQ and create a direct and indirect zone. Once ready to cook start by cooking the chicken on the direct zone of the BBQ to add some char. Flip the chicken over so you are chargrilling both sides. Keep an eye that you don't burn it, but you will find with the marinade the chicken can take a bit of heat.
  • Move to the indirect side of the BBQ and cook until the internal temperature is 75°C. Whilst it is cooking keep basting the chicken with any remaining marinade, which will build up a lovely colour and tasty crust.
    Piri Piri Chicken Cooking
  • Once it hits 75°C, take off the BBQ and allow to rest for a few minutes before serving. I served this with Arroz de Tomate (Portuguese Tomato Rice) and Bolo de Caco (Sweet Potato Bread).
    Piri Piri Chicken


My sauce ended up being green where traditionally it is a reddish colour. This was caused by the amount of Parsley I added. It’s an ingredient that is not always used in Piri Piri so if you want the red Piri Piri sauce, reduce the quantities or miss it out altogether.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: Peri Peri, Piri Piri, Portugal, Portugal Chicken

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