YIELDS: 4 Servings

PREP TIME: 15 mins

COOK TIME: 1 hr 15 mins

TOTAL TIME: 1 hr 30 mins

Piri Piri Chicken is a popular, Portuguese dish of butterflied, barbecued chicken. What distinguishes Piri Piri Chicken from other grilled chickens is the unique glaze it receives before going on the grill. 

Piri piri is the common name for it in Portugal. However, internationally it is much more commonly known as peri peri chicken. Piri piri is believed to have derived from the Swahili Pilipili which means pepper.


Small, whole chicken (about 2 ½ - 3 lbs), butterflied 
2 cloves garlic, minced 
1 ½ tbsp butter, room temperature 
Fresh thyme 
Juice of 1 lemon 
Salt and pepper 

Piri Piri Sauce 
2 piri piri chilies (If fresh chilies can't be found, dried can be found online or you can use something similar such as fresh Thai chilies), roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed 
½ cup olive oil 
Juice of 1 lemon
1 ½ tbsp white port wine 
Salt and pepper, to taste 
Fresh cilantro leaves, to taste 

Cooling Yogurt Sauce 
Fresh mint 
Fresh chives 
⅓ cup Greek yogurt 
¼ cup ricotta cheese
Salt and pepper 
Olive oil 

Baking sheet
Grill or oven 
Mixing bowls 
Food processor 
Cutting board 
Instant read thermometer 


  1. Place your chicken on a baking tray, rub with the minced garlic and lemon juice. Transfer to the refrigerator and let marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the butter and fresh thyme, then divide the mixture in half. Rub under the skin of each breast with half of the mixture. (Rubbing it from the outside to make sure the butter is well spread.) This will add extra flavor to the breasts and make them more moist. Season the chicken with salt and black pepper, then set it aside.
  3. Preheat your grill to a low flame or oven to 465°F. 
  4. To make the piri piri sauce, combine the ingredients in a food processor and blend everything for a couple of minutes. It should look like a smooth paste but not super liquidy. 
  5. Once the grill or oven is hot, add the seasoned chicken. Cook it for 20 minutes, then spread about 1/3 of the piri piri sauce over the whole chicken, place back on the grill or in the oven. Repeat the process. Continue until the skin achieves a barbecued look and the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, usually around 1 hour 15 minutes.
  6. While the chicken is cooking, make the cooling sauce by finely chopping the herbs and combining them with the yogurt and ricotta. Season to taste with salt and pepper and add a drizzle of olive oil. 
  7. Serve your chicken with the sides you prefer. I serve mine like the Portuguese do, with a simple salad, French fries, and any remaining piri piri sauce.