Piri-Piri Sauce.

Ever wondered how a cheeky Nando’s make their chicken so cheeky? Well wonder no more because the cheekiness is all in the simplicity of hitting a button. I’ll preface this recipe by telling everybody that again this is one of those posts that is not really a recipe because everything is pureed together in a blender to make a sauce and therefore the method is short and sweet. Or short and spicy. Short and cheeky? I’ll stop now.

God I hate Nando’s culture. Can we all unanimously agree that Nando’s culture makes us recoil? As a branding and marketing coordinator in my actual day-to-day job, I would love to see the metric effects that social media and the whole entire Nandos’ nation had on the sales of the establishment. That vulgar image of a sweatpant wearing lad heading for a ‘cheeky Nandos’ of an evening after ‘leg day’ must not have affected them positively. Surely? But alas. I bet it did.

And it’s such a shame that unfortunately the Nando’s appeal went haywire following this ridiculous culture creation. Because Nando’s – albeit grossly overpriced for what it is – actually does provide some really well flavoured chicken. I said ‘flavoured’. The chicken itself is less than desired, but the flavour is great. My first Nando’s experience was in University (as many a first time for anything is) and while I can still count on my left hand the amount of times I’ve eaten there since, I must admit that the sauce really does catch the back of your neck in a really interesting way.

There’s nothing entirely progressive about a piri-piri sauce. It’s a Portuguese sauce with a really good body and the a unique amount of acidity to it that marries so well with the chili. The addition of two different types of warmth and smokiness – provided by both ginger and paprika – gives it a roundness, or a fullness that gives you that ‘charred’ almost BBQ tang to it. Despite the images that Nando’s main conjure, there’s no denying the appeal of it’s sauces.


In a blender, pop in a shot glass of vegetable oil and a shot glass of hot sauce (I use Frank’s Red Hot sauce). Follow this with three small cloves of garlic, a small cube of fresh ginger and the juice of a lime. Now add a roughly chopped chili – remember the longer and thinner they are, the hotter they are. Depending on how fiery you like your sauces – remember I’ve already added hot sauce – you may want to remove the seeds from the chili first.

Now add in the juice of a lime and sprinkle in some dried oregano. Follow this with a small splash of balsamic vinegar and half a shot glass of sesame oil. Lastly add a teaspoon and a pinch of paprika and a little sea salt before clamping on the lid and blitzing everything down in a thick sauce. You’re able to bottle this and refrigerate it for when you want.

How I tend to use this then is that I’ll coat some chicken cuts in salt, pepper and some good olive oil and roast them for 35 minutes on 200C before pouring the sauce over for a further 10-15 minutes to allow everything to amalgamate. Just before serving, I finely chop up a spring onion for some sweet tang and throw it over. I remember serving this literally in the roasting pan, straight on the table, allowing people to pick their own wings from the pan.


SIDE NOTE – totally recommend slicing a potato into wedges, coating with oil, salt, sweet paprika and some rosemary and roasting alongside the chicken for something carby to dip into the leftover piri piri sauce bubbling in the pan. So good, right?


It’s such a simple recipe. If I’m honest, I tend to whip up a batch of this piri-piri sauce at the end of a week when I have tehse things leftover. I would usually have been using a ginger root throughout the week so this is a good way to use up that, as well as some begging old limes that are lying around and the petrified chili that’s always at the bottom of my fridge.

It’s an easy throw-together sauce you can do on a Sunday ready for say… a Wednesday, or something. That’s usually the mid-week night that I am in no need to cook anything entirely original and this will always provide me with the mid-week kick up the butt I need.

No cheekiness necessary.



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