6 Ingredient Piri Piri Chicken – a Nando’s knockoff

basics dinner & chill easy recipes
Try this homemade version of a beloved classic - spicy, tangy, bright, fresh, and delicious.
Posted January 28, 2019 by Mike

If you’ve ever had Nando’s, you’ll recognize these flavors. This is an easy weeknight recipe for portuguese-by-way-of-historically-unethical-african-colonies perfect oven broiled chicken thighs with spicy piri piri sauce. Nothing about this recipe is authentic, but damn if it doesn’t taste good with only 6 ingredients. It’s spicy, bright, tangy, sweet, and delicious.

Why does this recipe work?
Leaving the chicken out while you marinate it lets it come to temperature for more even cooking. If the idea of this makes you squeamish, you can marinate in the fridge, but then you’ll need to add additional cooking time and, ideally, use a meat thermometer to check when the chicken has come to about 180°F. You should marinate the chicken for as long as you can, but know that it takes 30 minutes for the chicken to cook.

Piri Piri sauce is traditionally made with African bird’s eye chiles, which are far, far spicier than anything you can get in a grocery store. In this recipe, I went with Thai bird’s eye, which are plenty spicy. So spicy in fact, that you should carefully consider how spicy you can handle. The recipe calls for 4, if you can’t handle spice, go for 1, or even none.

What do you need?
A blender, an oven, and a baking sheet with a rack that fits. Optional but great: a meat thermometer.

How do you serve it?
You can demolish this on its own, or you can serve with portugese rice, potatoes, or a nice salad. You can also sub wings or a whole chicken for the thighs.

Nando’s knockoff 6 Ingredient Piri Piri Chicken
Serves 2

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 4 Thai chilis
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 sprig rosemary (optional)
  • 1lb chicken thighs

1. Make a marinade by blending the vinegar, thai chilis, bell pepper, garlic, sugar, and rosemary, if using.
6 Ingredient Piri Piri Chicken - a Nando's knockoff | www.iamafoodblog.com

2. Season your chicken thighs with salt and pepper to taste (I omitted this step, to be honest – it didn’t seem to need it). Marinate your chicken thighs with half of the sauce for a minimum of 15 minutes and up to two hours.
6 Ingredient Piri Piri Chicken - a Nando's knockoff | www.iamafoodblog.com

3. Preheat your oven to broil (500°F) with the rack set to the middle position. At the same time, cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a rack on top.

4. Meanwhile in a small saucepan, bring the other half of the sauce up to a very low simmer and hold it there until you are done.
6 Ingredient Piri Piri Chicken - a Nando's knockoff | www.iamafoodblog.com

5. When you are done marinating, position the chicken on the rack spacing each thigh about 1/2” apart.
6 Ingredient Piri Piri Chicken - a Nando's knockoff | www.iamafoodblog.com

6. Place the chicken in the oven, check back every 5 minutes or so for signs of burning, you want a little char, but not too much.

7. After 15 minutes has elapsed, flip the chicken and place back in the oven for another 15 minutes.

8. Remove and serve with the simmered piri piri sauce.
6 Ingredient Piri Piri Chicken - a Nando's knockoff | www.iamafoodblog.com

Welcome to Dinner & Chill, a new series focusing on quick & easy weeknight dinners with easy to find ingredients, low prep, and low effort.


  1. Bryn says:

    So is the marinade time just the time it takes for the oven to preheat? Did I miss the time? I saw that it should be at room temp but not the ideal timeframe. Thanks! It looks so good

    1. Mike says:

      Good catch! Yes it’s about as long as your oven takes to heat up, but longer is better. I’ve edited the recipe to say this, thanks!

    1. Mike says:

      nandos for life!

  2. Ashley says:

    What type of vinegar? Thank you!

    1. Mike says:

      Apple cider vinegar, thanks for the reminder!

  3. Howard T says:

    Skinless chicken thighs? I can’t tell from the pics – old eyes I suppose.

    1. Stephanie says:

      They’re skin on, bone in :)

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