Piri-Piri Chicken Recipe

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Piri-Piri Chicken, Peri-Peri Chicken, Frango Piri-Piri, and Frango à Cafreal are all basically the same dish: chicken, marinated in a hot chile pepper marinade, then grilled. The dish's Portuguese and African origins are clearly seen in its names. Frango and cafreal (or cafrial) are Portuguese for chicken, and grilled; and piri-piri or peri-peri are the pan-African words for chile pepper. This dish evolved in Angola and Mozambique (once Portuguese colonies) after Portuguese explorers and settlers brought American chile peppers to Africa. The Portuguese also took the peppers and the cafreal to other parts of the world, notably Goa, India. Spicy-hot Frango Piri-Piri is now so popular in Portugal that it is regarded as a Portuguese dish.

The most basic piri-piri marinade recipe calls for just oil, cayenne pepper or minced fresh hot chile pepper, and salt. Many piri-piri recipes add an acidic liquid (usually lemon or lime juice, or vinegar, or possibly wine or liquor) which adds a tang and tenderizes the chicken. More elaborate versions also include various other flavorings and spices. -- No quantities are given for the ingredients in these recipes: how you make your marinade depends on how much chicken you're cooking and what ingredients you like. (However, as a guide, the ingredients are listed by volume from largest to smallest.)



  • What you need
  • chicken; whole or serving-sized pieces
  • Marinade # 1
  • ◦oil (or butter, or bacon grease or similar)
  • ◦cayenne pepper or red pepper; or dried red pepper flakes; or finely chopped hot chile pepper
  • ◦salt
  • Marinade # 2
  • ◦oil
  • ◦cayenne pepper or red pepper
  • ◦paprika
  • ◦garlic (minced, or powdered)
  • ◦ground ginger
  • ◦salt
  • Marinade # 3
  • ◦oil
  • ◦vinegar, or cider vinegar
  • ◦cayenne pepper or red pepper; or dried red pepper flakes
  • ◦salt
  • Marinade # 4
  • ◦oil or butter
  • ◦lemon or lime juice
  • ◦fresh hot chile peppers, minced; or cayenne pepper or red pepper; or dried red pepper flakes
  • ◦garlic, minced
  • ◦parsley, chopped
  • ◦salt
  • Marinade # 5
  • ◦oil
  • ◦vinegar (red wine vinegar) and/or dry sherry (or cooking wine)
  • ◦fresh hot chile peppers, minced; or dried red pepper flakes
  • ◦garlic, minced
  • ◦black pepper
  • ◦salt
  • Marinade # 6
  • ◦oil or butter
  • ◦lemon or lime juice
  • ◦fresh hot chile peppers, minced; or cayenne or red pepper
  • ◦garlic, minced
  • ◦ground coriander, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, to taste
  • ◦fresh or dried parsley or oregano, chopped
  • ◦salt
  • Marinade # 7
  • ◦oil (olive oil)
  • ◦lemon or lime juice -- and/or -- vinegar or cider vinegar
  • ◦fresh hot chile peppers, minced; or cayenne or red pepper
  • ◦garlic, minced
  • ◦bitters (Angostura bitters® or similar)
  • ◦paprika
  • ◦salt


  1. What you do
  2. •Prepare your choice of marinade, or invent your own, by grinding and mixing all of the ingredients (except the chicken) in a glass bowl. For a milder flavor substitute paprika for cayenne pepper. Some recipes call for bay leaf, marjoram, raisins, tarragon, thyme, or tomato paste. Some cooks like to let the marinade "age" for a day or two (in the refrigerator) to allow the flavor to develop.
  3. •Rub the chicken all over with the marinade (inside and out if using a whole chicken). Allow the chicken to marinate for at least an hour, overnight if possible. Save the remaining marinade after the chicken is done marinating.
  4. •Cook the chicken on an outdoor grill or in the oven. Depending on your preference, foil wrap or a rotisserie may be used for a whole chicken. As it cooks, turn the chicken and baste it with the remaining marinade, making sure the marinade is completely cooked after the last basting. Remove the chicken from the grill or roasting pan with a clean fork (not one that came into contact with the uncooked marinade). Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness.
  5. •Serve with additional hot sauce (but not the marinade that was used with the raw chicken), Rice, bread, or roasted potatoes, and chilled fruit.
  6. One authentic African method is to "butterfly" a whole chicken, i.e., split a cleaned whole chicken down the center enough to allow it to lie flat, but without cutting it into two pieces; then flatten it by hitting it with a mallet or sturdy bottle; then coat the chicken with a marinade like # 1 and let it marinate for a few hours before grilling.


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