Chicken Piri Piri (Frango Piri Piri)

Chicken Piri Piri is a popular dish from the Algarve in Portugal. The name “piri piri” refers to the type of chilli pepper used in de marinade or sauce. If you can’t find this particular type of chilli pepper, you can substitute with another dried red chilli pepper. Or use spicy smoked paprika instead of sweet smoked paprika.

There appear to be two versions of the dish. I’ve tried the chicken piri piri at Restaurante Ramires in Guia, near Albufeira.

This restaurant created the dish in 1964.

At Restaurante Ramires, you get barbecued chicken that has been marinated with piri piri. When the waiter takes your order, he assumes that everyone wants to order the chicken that the restaurant is known for, and only asks “spicy or not spicy?”. Apparently you can also have barbecued chicken without piri piri in the marinade. The chicken at Restaurante Ramires had a lot bone, but the marinade was delicious. It was only medium spicy.

I’ve also had similar chicken piri piri at another restaurant. Many recipes I’ve seen online for piri piri chicken are served with a piri piri sauce. I’ve had shrimp piri piri at a restaurant in Lagos, and that was shrimp with a huge amount of a fresh and smooth piri piri salsa. It did not resemble at all the dish at Ramires.

I took a supply of piri piri back home, and did some experimenting to recreate it at home. I decided to use drumsticks, to have less bones. Wings would also be excellent. Here’s what I came up with.


For 1 kilo (2.2 lbs) of chicken

120 ml (1/2 cup) olive oil

60 ml (1/4 cup) wine vinegar

1/2 tsp ground piri piri pepper (or more if you want it very spicy)

1 tsp sweet smoked paprika (pimentón)

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

To serve

a salad of lettuce, tomatoes, and cilantro, dressed with salt and extra virgin olive oil


I removed the skin from the chicken, but you could also leave it on.

For a better texture and flavor, it is best to dry brine the chicken overnight. Add 1 tsp of regular table salt for each kilo of chicken. Cover and allow the chicken to dry brine overnight in the refrigerator.

Combine the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl, and whisk to mix.

When the chicken has been dry brined, discard any liquid that has come out of the chicken before adding the marinade.

Mix the chicken so that it is covered with the marinade, and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Barbecue, grill or broil the chicken, turning frequently…

…and basting with the marinade each time you turn. As the marinade has been in contact with raw chicken, do not apply the marinade after you’ve finished grilling.

If using drumsticks or other thicker pieces of chicken, use indirect heat or cover the grill to help cook the inside of the chicken before the outside burns.

When the chicken is cooked through, serve it with a salad of lettuce, tomatoes, and cilantro, dressed with salt and extra virgin olive oil.

You could also serve french fries along with the chicken.

Wine pairing

This is great with rosé.


Italian Risotto ai frutti di mare differs from the Portuguese arroz de marisco (coming soon on the blog!) in that the Portuguese version is much more soupy.


7 thoughts on “Chicken Piri Piri (Frango Piri Piri)

  1. There is an Australian/British saying ‘I dips me hat to you’ the meaning of which you hopefully understand ! This is probably the simplest recipe to piri-piri chicken I have ever seen . . . but absolutely covers the authenticity of the flavour ! Shall try it exactly your way next time around . . . and if I use chicken legs I always do buy them skinless . . . best . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This looks wonderful. I own so many chile peppers I might make this with some I already own, like birds eye, Aleppo, or a lot of Mexican varieties. I love drumsticks, too, so I’m ready to make these!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have only had Piri Piri chicken once, at a renowned Portuguese restaurant near us and I have to say, I didn’t find it very special so I have to assume that it wasn’t one of the best. We have a fairly large Portuguese community in Toronto (actually, it’s not far from where we live) so I will try to venture out and see if I can find the Piri Piri peppers. I love the idea of having it on wings!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is quite simple, and as you know simple dishes are the hardest to get right. The chicken could be dry, for instance. If you can’t find the peppers, I’m pretty sure you can get a very good result using another type of dried red chiles.


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