Make this spicy, garlicky, and tangy Nandos copycat Peri Peri Sauce (Piri Piri Sauce) at home using simple ingredients in under 30 minutes. It’s vegan and gluten-free too.
About This Recipe
I grew up in the era when ketchup was catching up with everyone’s fancy. It’s still available in every household, but at that time, the craze was different. But nowadays people are trying on different types of sauces and are experimenting with the taste.
And one of the sauces that are getting really popular these days is this Peri Peri Sauce. If you have ever been to Nando’s (a South African restaurant chain), you will definitely know the hype behind it.
Peri Peri Sauce is a simple dipping sauce that is full of flavors. It tastes sweet, garlicky, spicy, salty, and tangy all at the same time, and is super addictive. It has the depth and flavors of Harissa Sauce and a kick of spice like a classic hot sauce. Hot and spicy, this sauce definitely adds magic to whatever it is added to.
Also known as Piri Piri Sauce or Pili Pili Sauce, this traditional African sauce actually originated in Portugal. It traveled to Africa and now has become an integral part of African food culture. It is made using African bird’s eye chilies or Peri Peri chilies which gives this sauce a very unique flavor.
But worry not, if you do not have access to African chilies, this sauce can be easily made using other spicy red chilies like Thai Chillies, Red Jalapeno Peppers, Cayenne Peppers, or Fingerling peppers.
My recipe is very close to the sauce that you get at Nando’s plus making your own at home also means that you have full control over what goes into it. You can control the salt level and the heat level. Make it as spicy as you like. Homemade is also free of any artificial colors and preservatives.
This super versatile sauce is vegan and gluten-free too.
To make this spicy and hot sauce, you will need red bell peppers, onions, African red chilies, garlic, paprika powder, black pepper powder, vinegar, salt, light olive oil, dried oregano, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
Red Bell Peppers – Wash the peppers well and cut them in half. Discard the seeds and chop them into cubes. To add a smoky flavor to the sauce, you can also roast the peppers in a broiler or gas grill, remove the charred skin and seeds, and then use them.
Chilies – Traditionally African bird’s eye chilies are used to make this sauce. However, you can use any spicy chili that you have access to. Adjust their amount as per the heat you like. A blend of different red chilies can also be used
Acid – Vinegar, lemon juice, and lemon zest cuts the spiciness and add a nice tangy taste to the sauce balancing it perfectly.
Herbs – I have used dried oregano to flavor the sauce but free to use other herbs of your choice. Oregano, Terragon, and Rosemary work great too.
How To Make Peri Peri Sauce
Chop the top 2 red bell peppers and cut the peppers in half. Discard the seeds. Chop the peppers into small pieces. Chop ½ large onion.
Discard the top green part of the African red chilies. I used 20 grams of chilies. You can increase or decrease the amount depending on your spice level and also on the spiciness of the chilies.
Peel 10-12 garlic cloves, zest a lime, and juice it.
Gather the remaining ingredients.
Make The Sauce
Add 300 g chopped red bell peppers, 100 g chopped onions, 20 g African red chilies, 10-12 cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoon smoked paprika, ½ teaspoon black pepper powder, ¼ cup white vinegar, 2 teaspoon salt, ¼ cup light olive oil, 1 tablespoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice to a blender.
Blend to make a smooth puree.
Transfer the puree to a non-stick pan.
Cook for 15-20 minutes on medium-low heat. Keep stirring at regular intervals to avoid the sauce from sticking to the pan and getting burned at the bottom. Remove the pan from the heat and let the sauce cool down. Piri Piri Sauce is ready. Store it in a clean glass jar and use it as required.
Pro Tips By Neha
Use any other hot chili, if African bird’s eye chili is not available.
Reduce the amount of chili if you like milder sauce and increase if you like it hot. The best is to go with fewer chilies first and then taste the sauce. Then keep adding more after each tasting.
Increase the quantity of red bell pepper if you like mild sauce. You can also use roasted red bell peppers for a smoky flavor.
Use fresh chilies and chop them only when you are ready to make the sauce otherwise the sauce can turn bitter.
If the sauce is too thick for your liking, you can thin it down with some olive oil or water.
This recipe makes approx 1 cup of sauce. It can be easily halved, doubled, or tripled.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, there is no harmful effect of eating Piri Piri sauce while pregnant, but since it is a very hot sauce, you should avoid consuming it in large quantities because it may cause heartburn and general stomach upset if taken in large quantities.
Yes, you can. Soak the dry red chilies in hot water for about 30 minutes to an hour, before blending them with other ingredients.
Well, you can always adjust the consistency of the sauce. If you want a thinner version, increase the quantity of olive oil in the sauce.
My personal favorite is Peri Peri Chicken Skewers where chicken strips are coated with a thick layer of this sauce and grilled. You can also use it as a marinade for shrimp (prawns), fish, pork, beef, or veggies like potatoes, cauliflower, paneer, etc.
You can add some in mayonnaise or Greek yogurt and make a nice peri peri dip.
Thin it down with water and drizzle over your salad or french fries.
You can add some to soups and stews for a nice kick.
Use it as a sandwich spread or top on tacos, wraps, or quesadillas.
Serve as a dipping sauce with chicken wings, grilled chicken, chicken legs, seafood like shrimp or squids, steak or pork.
You can store it in an airtight container for about 15 days in the refrigerator. Always use a clean and dry spoon when serving this sauce. Also, airtight the container again after every use.
Shake the sauce bottle well before pouring as olive oil might get separated from the sauce when stored for a long time.
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Peri Peri Sauce Recipe
- 300 grams seeded and chopped red bell peppers
- 100 grams chopped onions
- 20 grams African red chilies (Use any other spicy variety if these are not available)
- 10-12 whole garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon black pepper powder
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons regular salt
- ¼ cup light olive oil
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Add all the ingredients to a blender and blend to make a smooth puree.
- Transfer the puree to a non-stick pan.
- Cook for 15-20 minutes on medium-low heat. Keep stirring at regular intervals to avoid the sauce from sticking to the pan and getting burned at the bottom. Remove the pan from the heat and let the sauce cool down. Piri Piri Sauce is ready. Store it in a clean glass jar and use it as required.