How to make Peri Peri Chicken

Hot weather calls for hot food and the sunshine at the moment made me crave Peri Peri chicken.  The secret to the chicken is in the marinade which is chock full of tiny red peri peri chillies, garlic and lashings of red wine vinegar which keeps the chicken tender and moist.  The recipe is Portugese and I have happy memories of gnawing at a drumstick doused in fiery peri peri sauce at Bonjardim restaurant in Lisbon.  Bonjardim cooks its chicken on a huge rotisserie but since I (sadly) do not have one of those at home I made do with the BBQ.

The key to cooking chicken on the BBQ is to spatchcock it first.  I have included the instructions for spatchcocking below which is less daunting than it sounds.  There is a good YouTube video of how to do it which is also pretty helpful.  A coal BBQ like a Weber is best but I had to make do with a gas BBQ which I just turned down as low as possible.  Don’t worry if the chicken gets blackened and burnt in places, that is the whole point of peri peri chicken and it will only add to the smoky fiery flavour.

Spatchcocking the chicken


15 peri peri chillies (also known as bird’s eye chillies), deseeded
1 tbsp oregano (fresh if possible but you can also use dried)
1 tbsp thyme (fresh if possible but you can also use dried)
2 tbsps paprika
150ml red wine vinegar
100ml olive oil
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 a red onion, roughly chopped.
2 tbsps brown sugar
Chicken (free range if possible)

Blending the marinade

1.  To spatchcock your chicken use a sharp knife or poultry shears and cut off any excess fat around the cavity and neck.  Then slice through either side of the backbone of the chicken and remove.  Working from the cavity side, slice just halfway through along the breastbone so the chicken can be pushed open and butterflied out.  Prick the skin of the chicken with a fork which will help it absorb the marinade.

2.  To make the marinade put everything besides the chicken into your blender and whizz until smooth.  Pour half of the marinade over the chicken, massaging it in and leave it to happily absorb the marinade in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or overnight if possible.  Turn the chicken around in the marinade every now and then so it soaks it all up.

3.  When it comes to cooking the chicken if you are using a coal BBQ get the coals very hot then move them to the edges of the BBQ and put your chicken in the middle. If you are using a gas BBQ then keep the temperature as low as possible and close your BBQ lid if it has one while the chicken cooks.

4.  Use the remainder of the marinade (apart from one small cup) to baste the chicken by brushing it regularly with the marinade.  Cook until the chicken’s skin is charred in places and the juices run clear if you skewer the chicken thigh.  This takes about 15-20 mins per side.

Trust me when I say the black bits are the good bits

Serve with salad and maybe some potatoes fried on the BBQ as well.  Put the cup of leftover marinade on the table with a brush for people who want even more peri peri action. 


  1. Mmm that looks good. I am very envious of your barbecue weather as I sit here shivering!!

  2. My dad is Portugese and Peri Peri chicken is one of my all time faves! Spatchcooking the chicken on a BBQ is sooooo the way to do it – ah I can just smell it looking at your lovely photos!!

    I made a slightly different version (one which you can make at home more) when I was on Real Food Family Cook Off:

    The sauce is slighly milder, with red peppers and chillies. It’s very yum. Now craving this! x

  3. Oh my.. these p@wns N@ndos anyday… looks so delicious!!!

  4. Looks absolutely delicious – 100 times better than Nandos (though I have been known to enjoy a cheeky Nandos every now and then.) Fingers crossed we’ll eventually get some BBQ weather here in the UK – think of us while you’re grilling!

  5. This reminds me of first year uni, when every Wednesday night my parents and I wold go to a particular restaurant and have the peri peri chicken platter 🙂 I should send my mum this post!

  6. I love Peri Peri chicken, it takes me back to my first visit to Portugal many eons ago now I need to take my Kiwi hubby there to see it too.

  7. Sarah – Sorry to make you jealous

    Gourmet Mum – Wow you were brave making it on TV – I am impressed

    Ms IHua – Well thank you.

    Katy – I will…

    Hannah – Was it Nandos?!

    Pease Pudding – Yes happy memories of Portugal for me as well. Plus it tastes great.

  8. Gagging to try this. Looks divine.

  9. Tori – I can’t lie – it was good.

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