Home-made Peri-Peri sauce

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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!

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”.

What is peri-peri sauce made of?

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 will work well. Jalapenos can also work but if you can get your hands on the proper stuff, go for it. You won’t regret it. The rest of the sauce consits of 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

How to make peri-peri sauce

Combine onions, garlic, African bird’s eye chillies, olive oil, vinegar, bell peppers, tomatoes and seasoning in the bowl of a food processor and blend into a smooth paste. I like using smoked paprika, oregano, bay leaves and lemon to flavor my peri-peri sauce but feel free to play around with other herbs like rosemary or thyme. Transfer the blended paste to a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring regularly. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. You want the sauce to be fiery but well balanced with salt, sugar and acid. Transfer to jars and allow to cool completely before storing in the fridge.

Home-made Peri-Peri sauce

How to serve peri-peri sauce

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.

Recipe ideas: 

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

Home-made Peri-Peri sauce
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4.4 from 43 votes

Home-made Peri-Peri sauce

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.
Course Condiment, Peri-Peri, Sauce
Cuisine South African
Keyword condiment, hot sauce, sauce
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 3 cups
Calories 309kcal
Author Alida Ryder

Ingredients

  • 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
  • 1/3 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

Instructions

  • 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.
  • Transfer to a saucepan over medium heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes to prevent the sauce from burning.
  • 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.
  • Pour into jars/bottles and keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Notes

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.

Nutrition

Calories: 309kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 2347mg | Potassium: 801mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 103.2% | Vitamin C: 237.3% | Calcium: 7.4% | Iron: 14.8%

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Showing 53 comments
  • Vince Fidanov
    Reply

    It’s GREAT! Done it half a dozen times. This is the best peri-peri sauce i’ve tried and believe me, i like my food hot and spicy. All my friends love it. Thanks a lot love for sharing

  • Alina
    Reply

    Alida, it looks so yummy! I love the step-by-step instructions, making it an easy recipe to follow!

    • Alida Ryder
      Reply

      Hope you love it!

    • Todd Goin
      Reply

      Skids, I have some dried piri piri peppers. Have you ever used them for this? How did you rehydrate them and would you use a cup once rehydrated?

      • Alida Ryder
        Reply

        No I’ve never used dry peppers, I think the finished consistency and flavor of the sauce will be a lot different when using dried.

    • Nick
      Reply

      Great sauce. I roasted the the peppers and onions first to add to the sweetness, then blended.

  • Alyssa
    Reply

    Alida, thanks! Very tasty sauce turned out. Very cool photos!

  • Bibs
    Reply

    Hi there,
    I’m going to attempt you recipe this weekend. If our sterilize the bottles, how long do you think this will preserve for.

    I’ve read in some blogs if you use citric acid it will persevere for longer. Any idea if this will work?

    • Alida Ryder
      Reply

      It should last for a couple of months but as I haven’t tested it I can’t say for certain and I have never used citric acid for preserving unfortunately.

  • Patricia Trinque
    Reply

    Best piri piri sauce ever! Love it!!!!

  • Primo
    Reply

    I just made your sauce this afternoon and it is fantastic! I cannot find bird’s eye chillies here in Spain, so have substituted some red ones from Morocco. I shall use this sauce with chicken livers later this week. Many thanks!!

    • Alida Ryder
      Reply

      Delicious! Enjoy the chicken livers. 🙂

  • Georgia
    Reply

    This sauce was so flavorful and perfect with chicken on the grill. Great for spicy food lovers.

  • Andrew
    Reply

    I noticed in the video tinned chopped tomatoes are used, what size can is that? Also how many grams would you say a cup of Bird’s Eye Chillies is?

    • Alida Ryder
      Reply

      It’s a 400g/14oz can. Regarding the chillies, I would honestly go by taste but maybe start around 50-75g and work up from there?

      • Andrew
        Reply

        Thanks so much for the response, will let you know how it goes 🙂

  • Richard Megson
    Reply

    Amazing. I’ve been to Portugal loads of times and this beauty beats the best beachfront restaurants. I marinaded shell-on prawns for an hour then fried them hot and quickly. (I double the garlic as I love Peri Peri that way.)

    Thank you for this foolproof recipe. It will be my staple.
    R

    • Alida Ryder
      Reply

      That is so wonderful to hear Richard. Thanks for your lovely comment.

  • Brad
    Reply

    Great recipe! I changed it a bit by grilling the onion and the red peppers. This gave the sauce a bit more of a pronounced savory/sweet flavor. I also used a smoking gun to add hickory smoke to it while it was being blended together.

  • Kaie
    Reply

    Curious – How much ground piri piri powder would you use in lieu of the fresh ones? Alternatively, how many chilis do you suppose fit in the 1 cup?

    It seems 1/2 tsp roughly equals 1 chili

    • Alida Ryder
      Reply

      Yes, that sounds about right. I would taste after each teaspoon though to make sure that you’re happy with the level of heat.

  • Navi Nawaz
    Reply

    I made this sauce at home,it is very delicious. Thanks

  • Gordo
    Reply

    Awesome!! Delicious

  • Jitender
    Reply

    Wow Awesome Recipe, Thank you for the recipe.

  • Naval Sakhalkar
    Reply

    Thank you for this simple but fingerlickin’ recipe. I shall make it without tomatoes as they would sweeten it. The onions will be enough. Thanks again!

  • Rahul Digital
    Reply

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

    • Alida Ryder
      Reply

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

  • karien buter
    Reply

    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
      Reply

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

  • Clinton
    Reply

    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
    Reply

    Awsm recipe

  • Antoinette Pretorius
    Reply

    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
    Reply

    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
      Reply

      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
    Reply

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

    • Alida Ryder
      Reply

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

  • Sabrina
    Reply

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

    • Alida Ryder
      Reply

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

  • Kankana
    Reply

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

    • Alida Ryder
      Reply

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

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