Grilled Chicken with Piri Piri Sauce

Lunch / Dinner

Grilled Chicken with Piri Piri Sauce

Piri piri is a great sauce to pair with mild chicken. Use some of the sauce to marinate the chicken, then grill it, douse it with more piri piri, and it becomes finger lickin’ good.

As popular as ketchup is in the U.S., piri piri sauce is Portugal’s ubiquitous condiment. Unlike many other hot sauces, piri piri delivers as much flavor as it does heat. And though authentic piri piri chiles are hard to come by, it’s easy enough to reproduce the sauce by using common everyday ingredients.

While a trip to Portugal might not be feasible, enjoying its food is. Because of where it’s located, Portuguese cuisine is an exciting blend of Mediterranean and African influences. The Portuguese, who colonized Mozambique in the 16th century, took their love of a local African chile, called piri piri (which means pepper pepper in Swahili) to Portugal and used it to create the sauce.


6 servings

Total Time

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Test Kitchen Tip

We found a three– to four–pound whole chicken to be the best size. If your chicken is much larger, you’ll need to adjust the grilling time.


For the sauce, melt butter, oil, ginger, garlic, hot sauce, honey, pepper flakes, and paprika in a saucepan over low until fragrant, 34 minutes. Off heat, stir in lemon juice and cilantro; season sauce with salt. Reserve ¼ cup sauce for marinating chicken, then transfer remaining sauce to a Pyrex measuring cup and let cool.

For the chicken, remove backbone by cutting along both sides of bone using kitchen shears; flip. Using the palms of your hands, press on breastbone to flatten chicken. Tuck wing tips under body. Insert a skewer through the wings and upper breasts and another through the thighs and lower breasts. Transfer chicken to a baking sheet, brush with reserved ¼ cup sauce, cover, and marinate 4 hours or overnight. Cover remaining sauce and chill.

Prepare grill for two-zone grilling, heating one side to medium-high and the other side to low. Brush grill grate with oil.

Arrange chicken, skin side up, over low heat and grill, covered, 10 minutes. Rotate chicken and grill 10 minutes. Carefully flip chicken, skin side down, over medium-high. Grill chicken until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part, but not touching bone, registers 165°, 510 minutes more. Transfer chicken to a cutting board, skin side up, tent with foil, and let rest 5 minutes.

Cut chicken into 8 pieces and transfer to a platter. Briefly reheat remaining sauce in a microwave until butter is melted, then drizzle over chicken.


Butterflying a chicken helps it cook evenly, and it’s easy to do. Simply cut along each side of the backbone with kitchen shears to remove.


Once the backbone is removed, the chicken doesn’t have much structure. Using skewers helps with that and with moving the chicken around on the grill.

Nutritional Facts

Nutritional Facts

Per serving

Calories: 739

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 57g 87%

Saturated Fat 18g 90%

Cholesterol 219mg 73%

Sodium 268mg 11%

Carbs 5g 1%

Protein 50g

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

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