• Peri-Peri Sauce aka Homemade Nandos! How to make a marinade just like the original Nandos recipe at home

Peri-Peri Sauce aka Homemade Nandos!

Back when I was in dental school, we were mainly based at Guy’s Campus (essentially next door to Borough Market!) but a few sessions were scheduled at the King’s College campus in Denmark Hill.  This afforded me and my firm the excuse to use our student discount to go to Nandos for lunch, as it was so close to the hospital.

We did that almost every time we went to Denmark Hill and now that I think back over it, I am reminded of how wonderful it was to have such good friends that even though we spent all week together at university, we still wanted to have lunch together as a group as well as spending a lot of our evenings and weekends together too.  I miss those guys and those happy days.  But luckily, now I’ve worked out how to make Peri-Peri Sauce myself, I can have Homemade Nandos whenever I like and recall those uni days through my favourite medium – food.

How to make your own Homemade Nandos with this Peri-Peri Sauce!Click To Tweet
Peri-Peri Sauce aka homemade Nandos!

If you don’t eat at Nandos, then you need to know this is a grilled chicken restaurant originating in Johannesburg, South Africa although it has heavy Portuguese influences.  It’s incredibly tasty stuff – you can order pieces of or whole chickens cooked over charcoal grills, basted with their addictive Peri-Peri sauce which you can order as hot as you like.

You know I’m practically immune to chilli so I default to Hungry Hubby (also a big Nandos fan) to tell you that my recipe for Peri-Peri Sauce would be rated as their “Hot”.  If you like a mere tickle of the hot stuff, then use only 10 chillies and you’ll be grand.   I love the heat so use 20 and just keep a stack of napkins for The Hungry One to mop his brow with as I don’t even break a sweat 😉

Perinaise - stir a little homemade peri-peri sauce into some mayonnaise to make a spicy dip!

Peri-Peri (also called piri-piri) chillies are tiny little bright red chillies which you can find more readily available dried here in the UK than fresh.  They are very hot and spicy and form the essence of this sauce.

You do need to soak them in boiling water overnight to rehydrate them before using but the resulting sauce is worth the wait.  I found mine at Spice Mountain on my last trip to London’s Borough Market but you can order from them online and they ship worldwide.  This isn’t a sponsored post, I just love them!

Portion up your homemade peri-peri sauce and freeze in small bags. Or coat meat or fish with it before freezing.
The chicken is certainly the star of the show at Nandos but me and Hungry Hubby love a good condiment to dip into and Perinaise is something you must try when you make a batch of my Peri-Peri sauce.  Simply stir 1 tbsp of the sauce into about 4 tbsp of mayonnaise and you are in for such a treat!

As it makes quite a lot of sauce, I tend to use some to baste a whole spatchcocked chicken or some drumsticks with then I bag up the rest and freeze it.  What I do is put 4-6 tbsp worth into freezer bags for future whole chickens or I coat some chicken thighs or even salmon fillets in it before freezing them raw.

They will emerge fully tenderised and oh so flavourful when thawed and will make a super fast and delicious midweek meal for you. I grill or roast meat coated in my Peri-Peri Sauce in the colder months but I can’t wait for the summer to get that charcoal smokiness into the mix on the BBQ.

5 from 2 votes
Peri-Peri Sauce aka Homemade Nandos!
Peri-Peri Sauce for Homemade Nandos!

A hot and spicy sauce to be used as a marinade for meat or fish, or even stirred into mayonnaise to make your own Perinaise! As close as you can get to Nandos without knowing their actual secret recipe!

Makes approximately 1 litre.

Author: Just Jo
  • 20 dried peri-peri chillies reduce to 10 for a mild sauce
  • 2 roasted red peppers from a jar in vinegar or oil
  • 2 red onions peeled and thickly sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic peeled
  • 2 large lemons zest and juice of both
  • 120 ml cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 120 ml olive oil
  1. The day before you want to start, wash the dried red chillies then place in a medium bowl. Cover with just boiled water then cover with clingfilm. Allow to sit for 12-24 hours to rehydrate and soften. 

  2. Start by charring the onion slices and garlic cloves in a grill pan on high heat. Turn them regularly until the onion has softened and has some good char marks on it - the garlic will take less time. Place in a food process with the blades on or in a blender jug. 

  3. Drain the chillies and red peppers then add to the food processor/blender followed by all the remaining ingredients apart from the oil. Blitz to mix until you have a smooth paste, which may take a couple of minutes and some scraping down. 

  4. Add the contents of the food processor/blender into a medium saucepan and over medium heat, reduce the sauce by a third. Stir frequently to prevent catching and stand back so you don't inhale the vinegary chilli fumes! 

  5. Allow the thickened sauce to cool down whilst you clean out the food processor/blender and scrape it back in. With the motor running, trickle the oil in in a thin and steady stream (like when making pesto or mayo). Once emulsified (thick and glossy with no separated oil) and fully cooled, you can use the sauce straight away. 

    It will keep for 48 hours in the fridge or you can freeze it in portions. I like to coat some meat or fish with it before freezing so I have a fast to make dinner stored away for another day!

Recipe Notes

With 20 chillies, you have what would be the "Hot" version of the sauce from Nandos. If you want a mild but full flavoured and warming version, reduce to 10 instead. 

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  1. I’ve never heard of peri peri sauce before. My oldest loves thins with heat so it’s probably right up his alley.

    • Just Jo 21/02/2017 at 21:19 - Reply

      Chilli fans will love this for sure Val – it’s quite fiery and very versatile 😀

  2. Dene' V. Alexander 21/02/2017 at 12:48 - Reply

    I have never experienced peri peri sauce!! This looks so full of flavor and has a wonderful color!!

    • Just Jo 21/02/2017 at 21:19 - Reply

      Oh then you must experience this sauce then Dene! And thank you 😀

  3. I’ve never tried these chilies before. Looks like a sauce that would be delicious on practically anything!

    • Just Jo 21/02/2017 at 21:18 - Reply

      Yep, it’s addictive stuff! I am sure you could use it in a great man more dishes 😀

  4. Veena Azmanov 21/02/2017 at 13:58 - Reply

    Oh I could use that sauce on a slice of bread. I love peri peri sauce but I usually just buy it off the shelf. I must try to make it home. Love the color of those chillies

    • Just Jo 21/02/2017 at 21:17 - Reply

      Ooo, now I am imagining making garlic bread and spreading this on it ooo!

  5. Priya Srinivasan 21/02/2017 at 14:09 - Reply

    Wow look at that color, homemade is always best, would love to try this sometime soon!!

    • Just Jo 21/02/2017 at 21:18 - Reply

      Isn’t it just Priya? You can’t beat a homespun version of anything edible 😀

  6. Tracy Iseminger 21/02/2017 at 14:28 - Reply

    I’ve never heard of peri peri chilies before but this recipe sounds delicious! I’ll have to look to see where I can find some locally to try this. I LOVE spicy!

    • Just Jo 21/02/2017 at 21:16 - Reply

      Bird’s eye chillies would be a close alternative if you can find those – basically you want a hot, fiery red chilli. Peri peri ones are traditional but you can certainly use others. Just be careful about how hot the ones you find are and adapt the recipe accordingly!

  7. Mark, CompassandFork 21/02/2017 at 14:53 - Reply

    We have Nandos as well, here in Australia, so I am very familiar with their Peri Peri sauce. It’s a great sauce, and now I have a recipe on hand to make it. Thanks, great job.

    • Just Jo 21/02/2017 at 21:17 - Reply

      You’re welcome Mark – I think you’ll find it really close to the original recipe 😀

  8. Byron Thomas 21/02/2017 at 14:56 - Reply

    I’m not much of a spice lover, but my coworker is Portuguese and swears by Piri Piri sauce. Maybe I’ll be extra nice and make some of this for her as a gift. Looks beautiful!

    • Just Jo 21/02/2017 at 21:16 - Reply

      Thank you Byron. What a kind coworker you are, thinking of making this for your colleague, esepcially if you don’t like hot stuff!

  9. Pam Wattenbarger 21/02/2017 at 15:55 - Reply

    We don’t have Nando’s here, but I have heard a lot about them. I need to make this Peri Peri sauce and try it for myself.

    • Just Jo 21/02/2017 at 21:15 - Reply

      This sauce will make you think you’re in Nandos Pam lol! It’s really close to the restaurant version 😀

  10. Anvita 21/02/2017 at 17:09 - Reply

    Hubby loves this sauce. Never tried to make it at home before, but would love to try it. Seems pretty simple.

    • Just Jo 21/02/2017 at 21:12 - Reply

      Oh go on, treat your hubs to a homemade version then Anvita – so worth sourcing the chillies for!

  11. Tanya 21/02/2017 at 17:18 - Reply

    I’ve never heard of Nando’s but this sauce looks amazing! I’m going to try it on some chicken.

    • Just Jo 21/02/2017 at 21:10 - Reply

      I hope you like it Tanya! I’m surprised that Nandos isn’t more popular in the States – it’s so dang tasty!

  12. Stephanie@ApplesforCJ 21/02/2017 at 17:56 - Reply

    I love spicy foods so this sauce sounds great! I’ve never heard of Nandos but I think this sauce could be used on lots of dishes!

    • Just Jo 21/02/2017 at 21:13 - Reply

      Yep, you got it Stephanie – you can use it in so many things! A very versatile sauce 😀

  13. Christine McMichael 21/02/2017 at 18:00 - Reply

    Yum!! I think I definitely need to try this sauce. I’ve never had Peri-Peri Sauce before!

    • Just Jo 21/02/2017 at 21:09 - Reply

      Oh then you must Christine! It’s superb, whether or not you have been to Nandos 😀

  14. That sounds like a great marinade/spice/sauce to have on hand. Somewhere in our cupboard, we have some peri peri packets. I’m going to have to search and see. We eat chicken about as often as we eat fish — this sauce would be a great way to season it.

    • Just Jo 21/02/2017 at 21:13 - Reply

      I’d be interested to see what was in those packets Marisa – I bet it would be easy to whip up your own spice blend. This sauce works equally well on fish or chicken so it’s a great marinade to have stashed in the freezer 😀

  15. I haven’t been to a Nandos in at least 5 years! I love the idea of using the peri-peri sauce on salmon, such a great flavor for fish!

    • Just Jo 21/02/2017 at 21:07 - Reply

      Me and Hungry Hubby don’t go to Nandos anymore either – no need now I’ve figured out the secret sauce 😉 It’s fabulous with salmon. The oiliness of the fish cuts the spice nicely 😀

  16. Hanady | Recipe Nomad 22/02/2017 at 02:20 - Reply

    Nando’s was my favorite restaurant in London. We love the peri peri sauce and miss it all the time! Can’t wait to make this- just need to get a hold of the chilies

    • Just Jo 23/02/2017 at 09:40 - Reply

      You can order from Spice Mountain worldwide so you won’t be too far away from a taste of Nandos Hanady!

  17. Jennifer A Stewart 22/02/2017 at 04:01 - Reply

    My friend grows tiny red peppers for hot sauce and I have had the chance to try theirs. I really want to grab some of these peppers and make this sauce. The yellow color looks amazing!

    • Just Jo 23/02/2017 at 09:41 - Reply

      Oh that would be so cool! It would be a 100% homemade then – I hope your friend shares some chillies with you 😀

  18. Sandhya Ramakrishnan 24/02/2017 at 04:59 - Reply

    We eat a lot of spice and that sauce would be so famous in my house. I must definitely give this a try. Love the bright color of the sauce.

  19. Ron Radloff 07/04/2017 at 14:27 - Reply

    We are ex Zimbabwean’s and Piri Piri chicken certainly is a favorite, I believe it originated in the Portuguese communities in Mozambique. The chillies they use are called birds eye (dried are best) which are crushed and put in a bottle with olive oil for use as and when. A dear old Portugese lady showed us how to make Piri Piri chicken it really is great and will give Nando’s a go, yours is quite different and we certainly will be trying it and will let you know.

    • Just Jo 08/04/2017 at 08:49 - Reply

      Hi Ron – thanks so much for your detailed comment. How wonderful to learn from an expert Portuguese lady! I’ve not been so lucky so you may not find my recipe “authentic” but hopefully the lack of authenticity on this occasion is offset by a delicious marinade. Enjoy and do let me know if you try it.

  20. Dawn 14/10/2017 at 19:45 - Reply

    My bird eye chillies arrive yesterday. They are now soaking in some water and tomorrow I’m making it. I miss Nandos and this will remind me of South Africa. I’m excited to taste the final result. Thanks for sharing and Wish me luck, I’m planning on making a huge batch and then can it for later use.

    • Just Jo 16/10/2017 at 16:51 - Reply

      I hope you enjoyed the sauce Dawn and that it was the taste of home you remember. Do let me know how you got on xx

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