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Home-made Peri-Peri sauce

 In Recipes, South African Cooking, Vegetarian, Videos

Deeply flavorful African peri-peri sauce made with bird’s eye chillies, onions, peppers, garlic & lemons. This sauce is a must-have for spicy food lovers.

I hope you’re ready for a bit of fiery, kick ass condiment Heaven because I’m serving it up big time today. This home-made peri-peri sauce is the bomb and you should have a jar in your fridge at all times.

Home-made Peri-Peri sauce

As a South African, my house is never without a few bottles of this glorious red hot sauce. We use it on everything from chicken, steak and pork to adding it to marinades and dressings. If you’re my brothers (or any member of my extended family, really), you eat it on e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. I have literally seen my younger brother eating a slice of cheese with peri-peri sauce on it. I mean. So yes, for us it’s a staple and with good reason.

For me, peri-peri is the perfect mix between Harissa and a classic Hot sauce. You have the flavor depth and character of Harissa with the punchy kick of hot sauce, and then some. Some peri-peri sauces are so hot in fact, that just smelling them will make your eyes water. This one packs serious heat but I’ve tempered it with beautiful red bell peppers, tomatoes (not super traditional but so yum) and lots of lemon juice, vinegar and herbs. You can also thin it out with a little more olive oil and a splash of water if you want it to be more “saucy”.

Home-made Peri-Peri sauce

The key ingredient to any peri-peri sauce is the African bird’s eye chillies you find in markets and stores all over Southern Africa. Mountains of bright red, fiery chillies just waiting to be used always inspire me to make big batches of this beloved condiment. If you struggle to find bird’s eye chillies though, Thai chillies or any long, small red chilli. Jalapenos can also work but if you can get your hands on the proper stuff, go for it. You won’t regret it.

The best way to use peri-peri sauce is by slathering a chicken with it and grilling it over a wood fire until the skin is dark, crisp and gnarly from the chillies. But as I said, it’s a pretty versatile sauce and can be used in marinades or dressings and I even add small amount to sauces, stews and soups to add not only a spicy kick but also serious depth of flavor. And once you’ve made this you’ll find it hard not to crave it and put it on/in everything. You’ve been warned.

African bird's eye chillies for home-made peri-peri sauce

5.0 from 4 reviews
Home-made Peri-Peri sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Peri-Peri, Sauce, Condiment
Serves: 3 cups
  • 2 red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup African bird's eye chillies, stems removed
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeds removed and roughly chopped
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, skins removed and roughly chopped
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • juice and zest of 3 lemons
  • ⅓ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  1. Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor/blender and mix until all the ingredients are finely chopped and the mixture is quite saucy.
  2. Transfer to a saucepan over medium heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes to prevent the sauce from burning.
  3. After 20 minutes, check the seasoning and adjust. The sauce should be well balanced with a good kick of spice and sourness from the lemon and vinegar.
  4. Pour into jars/bottles and keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
If you'd like to preserve this sauce, make sure your jars/bottles are well sterilized. Fill them to the top with the sauce and seal immediately.


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Showing 20 comments
  • Rahul Digital

    I”ve never tried per peri sauce but by looking at ingredients I already know that I will love this sauce! Pinning!

    • Alida Ryder

      It is a much-loved recipe in my household. I’m sure you’ll love it too! 🙂

  • karien buter

    Alida thank you so much. i cannot wait to buy another one of your cookbooks when i am home in africa and i enjoy your recipes and blogs so muchxx

  • Reply

    Count me in Alida! This sounds delicious! And I totally LOVE the video! I’ve got to get moving on those myself!

    • Alida Ryder

      Thanks Mary Ann. I think you’ll love creating videos, we have so much fun with it.

  • Clinton

    Thanks for the recipe. You will be glad to know that it has made it as far as Melbourne and my work colleagues LOVE IT.

    I did though make 3 changes to it because I am trying to cut out sugar.
    I doubled the amount of garlic ( love garlic )
    Removed the sugar
    Halved the salt.

    Still a good recipe and it fitted the Peri-Peri hole in our lives down under (you can’t get decent peri-peri here)

  • ilmamemon

    Awsm recipe

  • Antoinette Pretorius

    Hi Alida! This is awesome! I asked my son Leon, restaurateur/ owner of The Countess Restaurant at 27Boxes Melville for his opinion, and he was equally impressed! He has already cooked up a batch. Thanks for sharing this fool-proof recipe.

  • Lynne

    Good one Alida 🙂 Various hot sauces are a staple in our house too. My hubby has it on EVERYTHING too, just about, (I draw the line when I make a roast dinner though…lol…he dare not ! )
    Looking forward to making your sauce, got to get those chillies 🙂

    • Alida Ryder

      I also draw the line with certain things. Especially stews/curries where I’ve spent hours to get the depth and balance perfect. 😉

  • Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    We love it hot!hot!hot! Can’t wait to whip up a batch. Thank you for the recipe.

    • Alida Ryder

      Then you will LOVE this Marisa. It is very hot but so, so good!

  • Sabrina

    I first heard about this sauce last year and definitely would love to try it! Your version sounds amazing!

    • Alida Ryder

      Thanks Sabrina! You must give it a try. It’s a goodie!

  • Kankana

    Love the color of the sauce and it’s always so better to make it at home!

    • Alida Ryder

      Thanks so much Kankana. Definitely, sauces and condiments are just always so much better when made fresh.

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