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There are people who like their food a little spicy, and people who love as much heat as possible. When you are making a dish that has a little spice, Peri Peri sauce is a perfect way to allow everyone to control the amount of heat. So whether you like a little tingle of spice or you want to break out into a full sweat, this homemade Peri Peri sauce is calling you.

Peri peri sauce in a glass jar.

Peri Peri sauce is also known as piri piri sauce or even pili pili sauce. It is a traditional African hot sauce made from spicy red chili peppers. It is hot, smoky, and herby, with a touch of brightness from lemon juice, and has a unique flavor all its own. This Peri Peri sauce recipe will be a great addition to your hot sauce collection.

Peri Peri sauce has heat from hot red chilies, a little smoke from fire-roasted red peppers, and a burst of flavor from a variety of herbs. You can use jarred roasted red peppers, as we did in making this recipe, or you can make your own with red bell peppers by holding them over the grill or even a gas burner on your stove.

Either way, you’ll be sure to have a flavorful and delicious smoky red pepper Peri Peri sauce that you’ll want to pour on everything.

We’re hot sauce lovers, as you probably know at this point. Some of our other spicy favorite recipes include: jalapeno hot sauce, chamoy sauce, jerk sauce, and our slightly sweeter but still heat-infused copycat Mumbo sauce.

What is peri peri sauce?

Peri Peri sauce is a hot sauce traditionally made from African Bird’s Eye Chili peppers. The most common commercial brand of Peri Peri sauce is Nando Peri Peri sauce, which is known for its slightly smoky heat filled flavor. Peri peri sauce is one of those condiments that people just can’t get enough of.

How to use peri peri sauce?

Peri Peri sauce which is called for in a number of chicken recipes – from basting chicken wings to make peri peri chicken wings to marinating and grilling chicken breasts in it to make peri peri chicken, also sometimes called pili pili chicken. But this is not only for chicken! You can use it with pork chops or pork tenderloin, on grilled shrimp. It works great with any grilled meats, and you’ll want to experiment with other options!

Ingredients

Homemade peri peri sauce requires a little chopping, but that’s it. Experiment with the amount and types of peppers you use if you want to adjust the spice.

  • Red chilies – We used red jalapenos, but this recipe is traditionally made with African Bird’s Eye chili peppers if you can find them. You can also use red Thai chili peppers. You need a full pound to make this sauce.
  • Fire-roasted peppers – You can find these in a jar at your grocery store, or you can make your own. Use the peppers that are in water if you are buying the jarred peppers. The ones in oil won’t work as well in this recipe.
  • Garlic – For flavor
  • Smoked paprika – Smoked paprika really adds extra smoky flavor to the sauce, use it over regular paprika.
  • Fresh Herbs – I use cilantro, basil, and oregano for the perfect herby combination.
  • Dark vinegar – This provides a bit of acid and balance.
  • Olive oil – In sauces particularly, use the best quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil you can find.
  • Lemon Juice – Adds freshness and brightness to the sauce.
  • Salt and black pepper

How to Make Peri Peri Sauce

This sauce couldn’t be easier to make. You chop up the peppers and the herbs, throw them all into a blender or food processor, and blend! That’s it?! Truly.

Substitutions and Variations

You can use any spicy red peppers you want for the base of this sauce. This is where most of the heat and flavor comes from, though, so plan accordingly!

If you can’t find fresh herbs, you can use dried ones. But remember, dried herbs are more potent, so use half the quantity called for if using dried. Fresh herbs add a little more brightness to the sauce, so they are definitely preferable.

As with most sauces, the flavors and ingredients can be tweaked to meet your preferences. If you don’t like cilantro, leave it out. If you want spicier sauce – add more peppers or spicier ones. If you don’t like smoke, use regular paprika. All these modifications will impact the flavor of the sauce and will make it less of a true Peri Peri sauce, but that’s the beauty of homemade sauces – they can be just as you like them!

Overhead of peri peri sauce in a white bowl.

Equipment

This Peri Peri sauce recipe can be made with a knife, a cutting board and a blender or food processor. I have this blender and this food processor and I love them both.

Storage


This sauce can be kept in an airtight container or jar in the refrigerator for 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

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Yield: about 3 cups

Peri Peri Sauce

Peri peri sauce in a glass jar.

Easy homemade peri peri sauce is done in just 10 minutes. A mix of peppers and herbs adds a ton of flavor to this easy African chili sauce. It's a must-have for fans of spicy foods.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound red chilies, chopped
  • 2 large fire-roasted peppers, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup chopped basil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano
  • ¼ cup dark vinegar
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender. Blend to form a smooth sauce. Adjust the seasonings to your preference.
  2. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Notes

Red chilis: A blend of African bird’s eye chilis is traditional for peri peri sauce. If you don't have access to these, you may use any red chilis you can find.

Fire-roasted peppers: We used peppers in a jar with water. Avoid peppers preserved in oil.

Make-ahead tips

Refrigerator: Store the sauce in an airtight container or jar in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
Freezer: Or keep it frozen for up to 2 months.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

48

Serving Size:

1 tablespoon

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 30Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 16mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 0g

The nutrition information provided is for convenience and as a courtesy only. It is not guaranteed to be accurate because nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator and input the exact ingredients you used in the recipe.

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