This easy Portuguese Grilled Piri Piri Chicken is made in the oven and is so good! Also called “Nando’s Chicken” after the restaurant that makes this dish, this chicken legs recipe will definitely have people asking for seconds – and thirds!
HOMEMADE PORTUGUESE PIRI PIRI CHICKEN
This Piri Piri Chicken recipe is an at home version of the dish you’ll find at any Nando’s location! If you aren’t familiar with Nando’s they’re an international chain of restaurants that specialize in Portuguese cuisine. Their signature dish is this Portuguese Piri Piri chicken.
In the U.S., you can find Nando’s locations in the DC metro area or Chicago. Since many of you may not live close enough to a location to pop over and try this seriously life changing chicken – I figured I’d bring it right to your kitchen with this slammin’ homemade version.
You’re welcome! 😉
What is Piri Piri Chicken?
Piri Piri chicken is a traditional Portuguese dish. It’s usually grilled and charred whole chicken pieces covered in a chili based paste or sauce. The sauce or paste uses African Bird’s Eye Chili which is grown all over northern Africa and southern Portugal.
When made in its most traditional way, Piri Piri is truly slow food. However, I love to give you a taste of different and exciting foods in a way that is modified for simplicity in your home kitchen.
What Does Piri Piri Chicken Taste Like?
Piri Piri sauce is a little spicy, a little sweet, a bit salty, and all around complex. It’s like a little explosion of flavor in your mouth. The step that makes this chicken flavor central is the char from the griddle pan. It taste like BBQ’d chicken – but better!
For my easy version, I use red Thai chilies because they are easier to find in your local market. These chilies are spicy but also have the slightest bit of sweetness which makes our Piri Piri sauce tops.
This Piri Piri chicken will, most definitely, leave you licking your fingers.
I’m sure you can guess, the main ingredient in this dish is chicken. What makes this chicken so good is the marinade and Piri Piri sauce.
Here’s what you’ll be needing:
- chicken legs (thighs and drumsticks attached) skin-on, bone-in
For the Marinade
- lemon juice
For the Piri Piri Sauce
- red Thai chilies
- Lemon juice
- Salt and fresh ground pepper
- sweet or smoked paprika
- olive oil
- fresh parsley
- lemon wedges
How to Make Piri Piri Chicken
- Marinate: Place the chicken in a roasting pan and set it aside. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and garlic. Pour the lemon mixture over the chicken and coat all around. Season the chicken with salt; cover it and let it sit on the kitchen counter for about 30 to 60 minutes.
- Make the Sauce: In the meantime, chop the chilies and garlic, then add them to a blender or food processor. I suggest wearing gloves when working with chilies. Add in the lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Pulse the mixture until blended. Add paprika and oil, then process until it’s smooth and completely combined.
- Taste for seasonings and add more chilies, or salt and pepper, if you want. You can also add a little sugar for a bit of sweetness in your sauce.
- Bake: Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Roast the previously prepared chicken for about 32 to 35 minutes, or until cooked through. Half way through cooking, baste the chicken with its juices.
- The chicken is done when the internal temperature reaches 165˚F. Use an instant read thermometer for accuracy.
- Brown: In the meantime, preheat a griddle pan to medium-hot. Remove the chicken from the oven and brush your prepared Piri Piri Sauce all over. Add the chicken pieces to your hot griddle pan and cook for 2 minutes, or until browned and starting to char.
- Flip the chicken over and continue to cook for 2 minutes, or until browned on the opposite side.
- Serve: Remove the chicken from the griddle pan. Garnish it with parsley and serve it with lemon wedges.
- I like to serve Piri Piri chicken over a hearty grain, like farro or quinoa and topped with extra Piri Piri sauce. On the side, a cool salad or lightly steamed or grilled veggie works great.
My favorites are:
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- This chicken dish can be stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator for about 3 days. To reheat your Piri Piri Chicken, I recommend bringing it to heat in a low oven. This may dry it out a bit – so I suggest topping it with more Piri Piri sauce.
More Grilled Chicken Recipes
Tools Used in this Recipe
Piri Piri Chicken (Nando's Chicken)
- 4 whole chicken legs, (thighs and drumsticks attached) skin-on, bone-in
Marinade for Chicken
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons salt
Piri Piri Sauce
- 2 to 3 red Thai chilies, you can use more if you like a spicier dish
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- juice of one whole lemon
- salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 2 teaspoons sweet or smoked paprika
- ¼ cup olive oil
- chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
- lemon wedges, for serving
- Place chicken in a roasting pan and set aside.
- In a small mixing bowl whisk together lemon juice and garlic.
- Pour the lemon mixture over the chicken and coat all around.
- Season chicken with salt; cover and let sit on the kitchen counter for 30 to 60 minutes.
- In the meantime, chop the chillies and garlic; add to a blender or food processor. NOTE: I advise to wear gloves when working with chilies.
- Add in lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Pulse until blended.
- Add paprika and oil; process until smooth and completely combined.
- Taste for seasonings and add more chilies, or salt and pepper, if you want. You can also add a little bit of sugar to add a bit of sweetness to the sauce.
- Preheat oven to 400˚F.
- Roast previously prepared chicken for about 32 to 35 minutes, or until cooked through. Baste with its juices half way through cooking. Chicken is done when internal temperature reaches 165˚F. Use an instant read thermometer for accuracy.
- In the meantime, preheat a griddle pan to medium-hot.
- Remove chicken from oven and brush on prepared Piri Piri Sauce all over. Save some sauce for serving.
- Add chicken pieces to hot griddle pan and cook for 2 minutes, or until browned and starting to char.
- Flip chicken over and continue to cook for 2 minutes, or until browned on opposite side.
- Garnish with parsley and serve with lemon wedges and remaining Piri Piri sauce.