This spicy thick tangy peri peri sauce recipe is delicious, easy to make, dairy-free, and egg-free. Roasted red bell peppers, ground black pepper, chili pepper, smoked hot paprika and a handful of other ingredients are all you’ll need, ready in just 15 minutes!
Adjust the heat to suit your preference and use it as a marinade, a dip, as a sauce, or drizzle it over some vegetables for a copycat Nando’s experience at home!
Just blitz everything in a blender or food processor and heat until thickened, an easy recipe suitable for any level of cooking skills.
Peri-Peri Sauce Origins
I was introduced to Nando’s by my excited husband when I was home in Dublin a few years ago, visiting friends and family. Indeed, most people associate peri peri with Nando’s, or first tasted the delicious spicy sauce there.
It tasted completely different to any hot sauce I had tried previously. I love this sauce. I dream of this sauce. Variations of peri-peri have been around since the 15th century in Africa, when the sauce was used as a marinade, heavily influenced by Portuguese settlers.
It’s still disputed to this day whether the original recipes originated in Angola or Mozambique, but one thing that isn’t being disputed is how delicious it is.
Peri-peri (also known as piri piri sauce or pili-pili) references the hot spicy peppers used to make peri peri sauce. Traditionally, bird’s eye chili peppers are used.
How to use it?
I like to add peri peri sauce to hummus, pour it over Buddha bowls, use it as a dip…the possibilities are endless.
If you skip the coconut milk and don’t cook it down it also doubles up as a marinade – do be sure to lower the spice level a notch though as you’ll no longer have the fat from the coconut to take the edge off…
My absolute favourite way to have it is over vegetables served with lemon coconut rice. I like to quickly stir-fry some chunky cut pineapple, onion, peppers, aubergine and carrots, with no oil – I like the veg slightly charred in this dish, and for that to happen they need to stick just a little to the pan to char.
Or use it as a spread instead of mayonnaise, or a dip as part of a mezze (along with some delicious spicy Greek feta dip).
You can also add some cooked chickpeas to sauted vegetables, mix in this tasty peri peri sauce, simmer for five minutes, and voila! A tasty dinner is served.
How hot is peri peri sauce?
How long is a piece of string? I’ve suggested one cayenne chili pepper for the sauce in this recipe, but it really depends on how hot your chili peppers are, what type you use and how high your spice tolerance is.
At the time I wrote down this perfected peri peri sauce recipe I had a bizarrely hot batch of chili peppers, but I’ve made it with six mild peppers before.
I can’t usually get bird’s eye chili peppers where I live, just south of Madrid in Spain. You can use any red chili pepper you wish if you can’t get a hold of bird’s eye chili peppers, just taste the sauce and check for spice or whether it needs more chili peppers before you add the coconut milk and cook it.
Try it with just one pepper initially and test how spicy it is. You can always add more chili peppers in later if you need it spicier – but if you jump the gun and get too generous with the chilis from the start you’ll be left with a sauce which is too spicy to eat. But seriously, eat it SPICY.
How to make it
Peri-peri sauce is super easy to make and can be put on anything.
Just take all the ingredients except the coconut milk and olive oil (so the red chili pepper or peppers, red bell pepper, lemon juice, smoked paprika, salt, dried oregano, garlic, balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar, and ground black pepper), add to a high-powered blender or food processor, and blend until as smooth as possible. The white wine vinegar can be substituted with red wine vinegar if needed.
I use red chili peppers to keep that gorgeous orange-red hue but if you’re stuck you can use green ones, just know that the color will be a little muddy.
You can see from the photo above that it won’t be perfectly smooth but a little chunk is fine. Next, drizzle in the olive oil a tablespoon at a time while the motor is running.
You’ll see the sauce thicken a little as the sauce emulsifies, and it should look like the photo below.
If you’re using it as a marinade for food that needs to be cooked, you can use it as is right now.
If you want to continue on and use it as a sauce or dip, add the coconut milk and blend another minute or two and transfer to a pot. Note that if you’d prefer not to use coconut milk (maybe you don’t like it, maybe you’re watching your calories) you can just use the same quantity (1 cup/240ml) of water.
Heat the sauce over medium-high heat until bubbling, reduce the heat to medium and allow to cook for around ten minutes or until it’s reached your preferred consistency.
Enjoy! It’ll keep in the fridge for at least a week. I usually make up a double batch and freeze some (although if that’s your plan freeze it without the coconut milk to avoid the sauce separating when it defrosts).
Recipes using peri peri sauce
My husband is an omnivore and loves to have peri peri sauce with chicken but I’m vegetarian so I steer clear. I love it as a dip for French fries, or as an alternative to enchilada sauce. I can also absolutely recommend the following recipes for using your homemade peri peri sauce in:
- Peri peri Quorn fillets with homemade slaw
- Peri peri potato wedges
- Knockoff Nando’s spicy peri peri rice
- Peri peri tofu
- Peri peri vegetable frankie
- Peri peri halloumi burger with sweetcorn salsa
- Peri peri ratatouille
Did you make this easy peri peri sauce recipe? Let me know how much you loved it with a star rating in the recipe box, review, or comment below.
- 1 long red cayenne chili pepper or 4-6 bird's eye chili peppers
- 1 large red bell pepper, roughly chopped
- Juice of one lemon (about 2 tbsp)
- 1.5 tbsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1.5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1.5 tbsp white wine vinegar (red wine vinegar also fine)
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup full fat coconut milk (240 ml)
- Add all the ingredients except the olive oil and coconut milk to a blender or food processor.
- Process until as smooth as possible. Now with the motor running on a low speed, drizzle in one tablespoon of olive oil at a time until the sauce is slightly thickened and the colour is more orange.
- Check for spiciness. If you want it hotter, blend in more chili peppers. It can now be used as a marinade, or blend in the coconut milk to make the sauce.
- Heat the coconut milk pepper mix in a pot over medium-high heat until bubbling, then reduce to medium and let cook for about ten minutes, or until it's at your preferred consistency.
If you don't have access to bird's eye chili peppers or cayenne peppers, you can use any medium spicy chili pepper but add in amounts slowly and text for spice level before adding more.
Amount Per Serving Calories 266Total Fat 23gSaturated Fat 12gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 0mgSodium 310mgCarbohydrates 16gFiber 3gSugar 7gProtein 4g