Spicy Smoky Peri Peri Chicken Recipe

Chicken dishes often go one of two ways: Either they're underseasoned and dry, or they're packed with flavor and have a juicy, tender texture. Mashed recipe developer Catherine Brookes perfects the latter in this spicy smoky peri peri chicken recipe. Although certain consumers will be familiar with this style of chicken from the South African restaurant chain Nando's, the recipe is originally from Mozambique. The dish gets its name from the star ingredient used in the marinade: bird's eye chili, aka peri peri chili. 

Of course, if intense heat isn't your thing, Brookes offers suggestions for a flavorful yet tamer profile. "The marinade is packed with fresh tasty ingredients," Brookes notes, which enhances basic chicken thighs for a dish you can serve with simple sides. She shares, "I love the delicious punchy flavors in this spicy, garlicky, zesty chicken." You'll definitely want to make enough for leftovers too — this tasty chicken would make the perfect sandwich filling!

Gather the ingredients for this spicy smoky peri peri chicken recipe

For this recipe, you'll need skin-on and bone-in chicken thighs. As for seasonings, get smoked paprika, garlic powder, oregano, salt, black pepper, red chilies (roughly chopped), garlic cloves (roughly chopped), paprika, and onion powder. Next, make sure you have olive oil, lemons (juiced), and apple cider vinegar on hand. About the chilies, Brookes suggests adjusting the spice level to your desire and notes, "I used serrano but you can use bird's eye chilies if you want to go hotter!"

Season the chicken with spices

Begin by combining the ingredients for the dry rub. In a small bowl, add 1 tablespoon of smoked paprika, garlic powder, oregano, salt, and pepper. Mix the spices together until the mixture is uniform. Use a paper towel to pat the chicken thighs dry, then rub the spice blend over the meat on all sides. Set the chicken aside while you prepare the marinade.

Make the marinade and coat the chicken

Set up your food processor and toss the chopped chilies and garlic into the bowl. Blend the contents until they are fully chopped up. Next, add 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika, regular paprika, olive oil, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, onion powder, and salt to taste. Blend everything together until the marinade is smooth. Brookes remarks that "you could absolutely make the marinade in advance if preferred," and adds, "It should keep well in the fridge for about three days or you could freeze it for later."

Assuming you're making the chicken for an imminent meal, add the thighs to a big bowl and pour half the marinade over top. Mix the chicken with the marinade to coat it well, then cover the bowl and transfer it to the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight if desired. Set the rest of the marinade aside to serve with the chicken once it's cooked. Brookes points out that doing so "helps to add even more flavor and spice to the dish."

Bake and serve this peri peri chicken dish

When the chicken is almost done marinating, preheat the oven to 425 F. Transfer the chicken from the bowl to a baking sheet and place it on an oven rack to roast for 40 minutes. Once the chicken is ready, serve it with extra marinade and your favorite sides. Brookes suggests rice and corn on the cob, two simple sides that are an excellent complement to the bold flavors of this spicy smoky peri peri chicken.

If you have any leftovers, our recipe developer recommends storing them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. When you're ready for more, pop the thighs into the microwave or oven to reheat.

Spicy Smoky Peri Peri Chicken Recipe
5 from 27 ratings
Spice up dinner with the help of this spicy, smoky peri peri chicken recipe.
Prep Time
Cook Time
peri peri chicken rice corn
Total time: 2 hours, 55 minutes
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, divided
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 pounds chicken thighs, skin-on and bone-in
  • 6 fresh red chiles, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  1. Mix together 1 tablespoon of smoked paprika, garlic powder, oregano, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
  2. Pat the chicken thighs dry with a paper towel then rub the spice mixture over the meat, and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor, add the fresh chiles and garlic, blitzing until broken down.
  4. Add 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika, paprika, onion powder, olive oil, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and salt to taste, then blitz until smooth.
  5. Add the chicken to a large bowl and pour half of the marinade on top, mixing well to coat. (Set aside the other half of the marinade.)
  6. Cover the bowl and leave it in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  7. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
  8. Place the chicken on a baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes.
  9. Serve the roasted chicken with the rest of the marinade spooned over top.
Calories per Serving 724
Total Fat 56.5 g
Saturated Fat 12.9 g
Trans Fat 0.2 g
Cholesterol 222.3 mg
Total Carbohydrates 15.6 g
Dietary Fiber 3.8 g
Total Sugars 5.1 g
Sodium 777.5 mg
Protein 40.3 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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