Free: Healthy 5-Ingredient Meals EbookGet It Now
If you’re looking for a new and exciting way to prepare chicken, this peri peri chicken recipe is the perfect dish to try! It’s known for its bold and spicy flavors — thanks to a marinade of red chili peppers, herbs, and spices — and almost always served with peri peri sauce. When you want to spice up your weeknight dinner routine, this surprisingly easy dinner is sure to impress.
Peri peri chicken is often compared to other spicy chicken dishes, like chicken with jerk seasoning from Jamaica, tandoori chicken from India, and harissa chicken from North Africa. However, it has its own unique flavor profile and there’s nothing else quite like it.
Why You’ll Love This Peri Peri Chicken Recipe
- Spicy, tangy flavors
- Tender chicken, crispy skin
- Quick, simple marinade
- Fast prep time
- Healthy crowd-pleasing chicken recipe
What Is Peri Peri Chicken?
Peri peri chicken, sometimes called piri-piri chicken, is a spicy Portuguese dish made by marinating chicken in oil, chili peppers, garlic, herbs, and spices before grilling or roasting to perfection. It’s also popular in South Africa.
Ingredients & Substitutions
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for chicken with peri peri sauce, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Chicken – I used bone-in chicken thighs, but you could easily use other cuts such as chicken drumsticks, bone-in chicken breasts, chicken leg quarters, or wings. Just keep in mind the cook time will vary.
- Olive Oil – The base of the marinade. You could also use avocado oil if you like.
- Lemon Juice – The acidity helps to tenderize the chicken and its tanginess balances out the spiciness of the peppers. Fresh lemon juice works best here, but you can use bottled for convenience. Lime juice or red wine vinegar would make pretty good substitutes.
- Garlic – For the best flavor, use fresh minced garlic. To save on time, use 1 teaspoon jarred garlic instead. Alternatively, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder will work, but fresh tastes better.
- African Bird’s Eye Chili Pepper – This adds spice and also the classic flavor of peri peri chicken. If you can’t find it, you can use a Thai red chili pepper or other varieties of spicy red peppers. If you want extra heat, you can add more peppers, or add a pinch of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes as well.
- Dried Herbs & Spices – Including smoked paprika (or sweet paprika), oregano (or thyme, rosemary, or marjoram), sea salt, and black pepper.
- Peri Peri Sauce – You can’t have peri peri chicken without the sauce!
How To Make Peri Peri Chicken
This section shows how to make this peri peri chicken recipe, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Make the peri peri sauce. Just follow my easy peri peri sauce recipe to make it.
- Mix the marinade. In a small bowl, stir together the olive oil, garlic, red chili pepper, and spices.
- Marinate the chicken. Place the chicken thighs in a zip lock bag and pour the spice mixture over them, coating well. Marinate in the fridge.
- Bake. Preheat the oven. Place the chicken thighs in a baking dish in a single layer, and bake until cooked through.
- Broil. Place under the broiler, until the skin of chicken thighs is crispy.
- Serve. You can serve the chicken with peri peri sauce on the side, or spoon it over the chicken before serving.
Tips For The Best Peri Peri Chicken
This peri peri chicken recipe is very easy and straightforward, but here are a few tips I found while making it:
- Marinating enough, but not too long. The ideal amount of time is between 3 and 12 hours. Do not marinate chicken for longer than 24 hours, or it will get mushy.
- Give the chicken space. It’s okay if the pieces touch a little in the baking dish, but they should not be super crowded, otherwise they’ll take longer to cook and the skin won’t crisp up.
- Use a meat thermometer. For best results, cook dark meat like chicken thighs to an internal temperature of 170 degrees F. (This is more juicy than the minimum safe temperature of 165 degrees F, and the opposite of what you’d do for white meat.)
- Broil for crispy skin. Broiling peri peri chicken is not required, but makes the skin crispier!
- Store: Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
- Meal prep: Marinate the chicken overnight in the refrigerator.
- Reheat: Warm up chicken peri peri in the oven at 350 degrees F, or reheat in the microwave (but the skin won’t be crispy anymore).
- Freeze: Transfer the chicken to a freezer-safe container or zip lock bag, removing as much air as possible, and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
What To Serve With Peri Peri Chicken
This spicy chicken is a flavorful and versatile dish that can be paired with a variety of sides. Try it with:
- Salads – A fresh and crisp salad is the perfect way to balance out the bold flavors of the chicken! Try serving it with a spring mix salad or a light cucumber tomato salad.
- Rice – Rice is a classic side dish and provides a neutral base to soak up all of the delicious sauce. Try serving it with plain white, brown rice, or for lighter options, cauliflower rice or miracle rice.
- Vegetables – I served this chicken with air fryer green beans (pictured above). Chicken peri peri also pairs well with Instant Pot corn on the cob, easy roasted zucchini and squash, or a variety of roasted vegetables.
- Potatoes – Try serving this dish with a side of garlic roasted potatoes or air fryer sweet potatoes for a satisfying meal.
More Spicy Chicken Recipes
If you love the bold and fiery flavors of this chicken, you might also enjoy these other spicy chicken recipes:
Peri Peri Chicken
You'll love this peri peri chicken recipe! It features juicy, crispy chicken, an easy marinade, and spicy red pepper sauce on the side.
Like this video? Subscribe to my YouTube cooking channel for healthy recipes!
Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Make the peri peri sauce here. Set aside.
In a small bowl, stir together the olive oil, garlic, Thai red chili, and spices.
Place the chicken thighs in a zip lock bag and pour the marinade over them. Seal the bag and shake well until the chicken thighs are fully coated. Marinate in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours, or overnight. (Do not marinate for longer than 24 hours.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C).
Place the chicken thighs in a baking dish in a single layer. (It’s okay for the pieces to touch a little but they should not be super crowded.) Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). (I recommend an internal temperature of at least 170 degrees F (77 degrees C) for dark meat which makes it more juicy and tender.)
Optional: Broil for 2-3 minutes, until the top of chicken thighs are a little crispy.
Serve peri peri chicken with peri peri sauce.
Did You Like It?
Leave a rating to help other readers (this also helps me continue to provide free recipes on my site), or get the recipe sent to your inbox.
Serving size: 1 chicken thigh + 2 tablespoons sauce
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
© Copyright Maya Krampf for Wholesome Yum. Please DO NOT SCREENSHOT OR COPY/PASTE recipes to social media or websites. We’d LOVE for you to share a link with photo instead. 🙂