A platter of the best peri peri chicken sits on a wooden bench. The back wall is bright orange and a bottle of chilli sauce sits behind the chicken.

Okay, gather round, kids. Time for some real talk now. Peri peri chicken is the most important dish in my life because Mozambican/Portuguese food was central to my upbringing in Johannesburg. This recipe is my father’s, the most important man in my life (apart from my two boys) and remains unchanged. It’s better than pretty much all the recipes for this dish that exist and it completely destroys that sacrilegious, famous, franchised, overcooked and overpriced product, which due to legal reasons I can’t mention by name.

The Best Peri Peri Chicken

Recipe by Duncan Welgemoed
Course Dinner, Main Course
Servings 4


  • barbecue
  • 60g applewood smoking chips, soaked in water overnight


  • 1 whole chicken spatchcocked
  • lemon wedges


  • 15 red bird’s eye chillies
  • 10 green bird’s eye chillies
  • 5 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
  • ½ teaspoon chopped fresh bay leaves
  • ½ tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 100 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 100 ml lemon juice


  • 160 g sea salt flakes
  • 55 g brown sugar
  • 55 ml apple cider vinegar
  • 1 bunch of thyme
  • 10 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 garlic bulbs halved


  • To make the peri peri sauce, preheat the oven to 180°C. Place all the chillies on a baking tray and roast them for 10 minutes.
  • Cool and roughly chop the chillies. Place the chillies, garlic, salt, bay leaves, paprika, olive oil, vinegar
  • and lemon juice in a saucepan and simmer for
  • 2–3 minutes.
  • Allow the mixture to cool, then blend it to a purée in a blender or food processor. Store in a lidded container at room temperature; it will keep for about a month. Shake well before using.
  • To make the brine, put all the ingredients and 1 litre (4 cups) water in a large pot and bring to the boil, then take off the heat. Once cool, add the chicken and leave overnight. When you are ready to cook, take the chicken out of the brine and give it a wash in cold water.
  • Place the chicken in a bowl and add half the peri peri sauce, spreading it over evenly, and marinate in the fridge for 3 hours.
  • Light your barbecue. When the coals are ashed, throw the chicken on the grill. Place the lid on the barbecue and cook for 10–15 minutes on each side or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked through, occasionally taking off the lid to baste with excess marinade. For the last 5 minutes, toss the smoking chips on the embers and shut the lid.
  • Serve the chicken with extra peri peri sauce and lemon wedges.


Images and text from Africola by Duncan Welgemoed; food photography by Simon Bajada. Murdoch Books RRP $49.99.
Image and text from Africola by Duncan Welgemoed; food photography by Simon Bajada. Murdoch Books RRP $49.99.
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