Spicy, tangy, citrusy, and bold, peri peri sauce is a traditional African condiment that is also often seen in Portuguese cooking! Its unique flavor is so versatile, so you can add it to almost any savory dish you can think of!
I am a huge sauce and condiment lover! It’s almost impossible for me to eat anything savory without some sort of sauce to go along with it. In recent years I’ve developed a passion for creating my own condiments from scratch. Fresh? Check. Made with wholesome ingredients? Check. No added preservatives or chemicals? Double check.
Recipes like this sweet chili sauce recipe, Korean BBQ sauce called bulgogi, and ajvar roasted red pepper relish are just a few of my homemade creations.
Today, I’m taking things to Africa and sharing this recipe for peri peri sauce. Sometimes called piri piri sauce, it’s made with fiery piri piri chilis (hence the name!), bell peppers, garlic, and lemon. Brought to Africa by the Portuguese, these chilis also go by the name African Birds Eye chilis.
The piri piri chilis are often hard to find, but Thai Bird's Eye chiles work as a great substitute! The results are a complex flavor profile that seems to pair well with almost any savory dish: fish, chicken, beef, and vegetables. I’ve even been known to drizzle a bit on my eggs in the morning.
No matter which way you decide to enjoy it, you’re going to want to keep a bottle of this stuff around the house!
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Onion - I like to use red onions for this condiment recipe as they’re a bit sweeter than other varieties. It’s perfect for peri peri sauce.
- Bell Peppers - Use a combination of red and yellow bell peppers. They add a splash of color and flavor.
- Red Fresno Chilis - These chilis are similar to jalapeños in flavor, and add more heat to this recipe.
- Piri Piri Chilis - If you’re wondering where the name of this sauce came from, it’s because it includes this type of chili. They are popular in Africa and Portugal and are rich and almost smoky. You can also use Thai bird’s eye chilis if you have them instead.
- Garlic - Savory, spicy, and slightly nutty, garlic is a great addition to this sauce.
- Salt - Use salt to balance out the rest of the flavors.
- Paprika - For a burst of color and more spice.
- Lemon Juice & Zest - This is where the citrus flavor comes from!
- White Vinegar - The subtle tang found in this condiment is partially thanks to the addition of vinegar.
- Vegetable Oil - To make the consistency just right.
HOW TO MAKE PERI PERI SAUCE
- Blend The Ingredients. Add the onion, bell peppers, chilis, garlic, salt, paprika, lemon juice, zest, and white vinegar to a food processor and blend until well combined.
- Add The Oil. Pour the vegetable oil into the food processor with the rest of the ingredients as you continue to blend. You want the mixture to be smooth and emulsified.
- Cook The Peri Peri Sauce. Place the sauce into a saucepan and heat over high until it starts to boil. Turn the heat to low and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes, or until your sauce has reduced to half of what you started with.
- Cool & Blend Again. Remove your sauce from the heat and let it cool for at least 15 minutes. Place it back in the food processor and purée until smooth. Store in the airtight container of your choice!
What Is Peri Peri Sauce Made Of?
Recipes for peri peri sauce vary, but they all typically feature piri piri chilis, lemon, garlic, salt, onion, vinegar, and oil. Also called piri piri sauce, it’s popular in Africa and Portugal. Portuguese colonists brought piri piri chilis to Africa, which is why the sauce is popular in both countries. Piri means pepper in Swahili. If you’re a fan of the restaurant Nando’s, you’ve most likely seen this spicy condiment on their menu!
Is There A Difference Between Peri Peri and Piri Piri Sauce?
Nope! This condiment is referred to as both peri peri and piri piri sauce, depending on where you are. It’s most often called piri piri in Portugal, and peri peri in Africa and other parts of the world.
How Do You Make Peri Peri Sauce Taste Good?
There are several different ways to prepare this sauce! Some chefs swear by sautéeing the onions and garlic before adding them to the mix. Others say that a variety of red chilis is the best way to get more flavor. You can prepare yours as instructed above and on the recipe card below, or you can put your own twist on it!
African Bird's Eye Chiles vs. Thai Bird's Eye Chiles
An almost identical hot pepper in appearance and heat level is used in African cuisine called peri-peri or African bird's eye chile. Piri piri or peri-peri peppers are frequently used to make hot sauce and are less commonly found in the United States. Generally, the two peppers can be used interchangeably in recipes.
You'll find me using this in my Peri Peri Chicken, so be on the lookout for that soon!
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Peri Peri Sauce
- 1 small red onion chopped
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 1 yellow bell pepper chopped
- 2 small red chili fresno
- 2-3 piri-piri chilies or Thai bird's eye chili stems removed
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon paprika powder
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ½ cup white vinegar
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- In a food processor add all ingredients except the oil. Process well until every thing is well combined.
- After that pour in vegetable oil with processor running until smooth and emulsified.
- Pour the mixture in a pot. Heat over high until it starts boiling. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the mixture has reduced to half.
- Remove from heat and let cool for at least 15 minutes. Puree once again until smooth in consistency.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.