AfricanChicken & PoultryHealthyMain Dish

South African Piri-Piri Chicken

A delicious recipe for South African Piri-Piri chicken, featuring tender chicken breasts simmered in a spiced lemon and onion sauce. Easy and different!

So, what is Piri Piri Chicken?

South African Piri Piri Chicken (chicken simmered in a spiced lemon-onion sauce). So easy and different!

Basically, it’s a delicious South African chicken recipe which features chicken simmering in a spiced sauce of onion and lemons.

Looking for chicken recipes south africa? This is a great one! South African Piri Piri Chicken (chicken simmered in a spiced lemon-onion sauce). So easy and different!

It’s actually quite similar to the Poulet Yassa recipe I wrote about here, and even easier to make!

Just whisk together some spices, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, olive oil, and chopped onion in a large bowl. Add the chicken, give it a toss, and put it in the fridge to marinate.

When you’re ready to cook, heat a skillet over medium-high heat, brown the chicken on both sides, pour in the reserved marinade and then transfer to a hot oven to simmer and bubble until the chicken is done.

So easy, right?

South African Peri Peri Chicken (chicken simmered in a spiced lemon-onion sauce). So easy and different!

You’ll want to use a pan that is safe to put in the oven. I highly recommend using a cast iron skillet for this piri piri chicken recipe, like this one that I use.

The spices are all totally normal things, too – nothing you would have a hard time finding in your own spice cabinet (or at the local grocery store).

This recipe calls for salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder, paprika, oregano, and ground ginger. Compared to a lot of the recipes I post, this is a VERY normal ingredient list.

peri peri chicken African (chicken simmered in a spiced lemon-onion sauce). So easy and different!

The chicken piri piri comes out juice and tender, while the marinade cooks into a perfect little pan sauce. Serve with your grain or starch of choice and dig in!

A delicious piri piri chicken African dish (chicken simmered in a spiced lemon-onion sauce). So easy and different!

Look at that delicious South African Piri-Piri Chicken!

peri peri African chicken (chicken simmered in a spiced lemon-onion sauce). So easy and different!

Here’s the Recipe!

South African Piri-Piri Chicken Recipe

A delicious recipe for South African Piri-Piri chicken, featuring tender chicken breasts simmered in a spiced lemon and onion sauce. Easy and different!
4.4 from 33 votes
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Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: African
Prep Time: 3 hrs
Cook Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 3 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 4
Calories: 559kcal
Author: The Wanderlust Kitchen
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  • Juice of two lemons
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion - roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 pounds boneless - skinless chicken breasts


  • In a large bowl, whisk together everything except for the chicken. Add the chicken and toss with tongs to coat in the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or at least three hours.
  • When ready to cook, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat a oven-save skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Use tongs to transfer the chicken breasts out of the bowl and into the pan, reserving the marinade. Let cook for two or three minutes per side, until nice and browned.
  • Pour the reserved marinade into the pan and spoon the sauce onto the chicken. Turn off the stove, and use oven mitts to transfer the pan to the pre-heated oven.
  • Let cook in oven for 15-20 minutes (depending on thickness of chicken breasts), or until cooked through.


Recipe adapted from A Duck's Oven
Nutrition Facts
South African Piri-Piri Chicken Recipe
Serving Size
1 serving
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Please note that this South African Piri-Piri Chicken recipe is often spelled as: South African Piri Piri Chicken recipe, South African Peri-Peri Chicken recipe, South African Peri Peri Chicken recipe, South African Peli-Peli Chicken recipe and South African Peli Peli Chicken recipe.

About the Author


Hi, I'm Anetta! Welcome to The Wanderlust Kitchen, where I share recipes and travel stories from all around the world. Here you'll find a world of recipes you can have confidence in. These recipes celebrate authentic food heritage as well as modern techniques and ingredients. I believe that food brings us together as much as it sets us apart. Be brave, try something new!

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  1. 5 stars
    I found this recipe years ago and thought I should finally leave a comment cause this has been our favourite dish ever since. So easy and it tastes amazing. We usually toss everything in the slow cooker for 4 hours then serve the pulled chicken and sauce over rice. I also skip the chili powder to have less heat and add in some fresh coriander. Not sure how authentically South African, or even Portuguese this is cause it doesn’t taste anything like the peri peri chicken I’ve had in either country, but it’s delicious anyway!

  2. Made this last night and everyone loved it! I decreased both the Salt and Cayenne from 1 tsp to rounded half tsps, still had nice heat, it was perfect for us. Thank you for sharing!

  3. A huge success in my house. I was concerned it was going to be spicy (for the kids), but it was not at all. Very tasty and everyone loved it. They asked me to make sure I do it again. Thank you

  4. I’ve commented before and I tend to agree with Andy that this is Portuguese. I am South African and I’ve lived in South Africa for 30 years and I don’t think this is a South African recipe. At best it could be “South African Inspired”. South Africans have peri-peri chicken which is served at Nandos and Portuguese restaurants which does not look like the dish you have made. It is usually flame-grilled and served with a separately made peri-peri sauce.

  5. The Piri Piri is a small breed of hot (birds eye) chilli that grows in Africa. But, the sauce itself is of Portuguese origin I believe.

    1. Wow, who knew!? It’s amazing how if you trace a food back far enough, it almost always has origins from several different places.

  6. Anetta. this is absolutely delicious!!! And so easy to make! I’ve made it a few times for my family and we all loved it (including the picky 7 yr old 🙂 ). I’m making it again tomorrow for some of our friends. It never gets old! Thank you so much! Keep up the great work! 🙂
    PS I serve it over couscous, with roasted broccoli or asparagus. Yum!

    1. Sooo great, Stanca!! There’s nothing as good as finding a meal that even a picky 7 year old will eat 🙂

  7. Just made this for my family of eight and everyone loved it!! Kids are ages 5-17 so that doesn’t happen often! I followed your recipe except doubled it and threw in a bit of paprika. I loved how simple it was to make, how great my house smelled while it cooked and, of course, how incredibly flavorful and delicious it was. Thanks so much!

    1. I’m so glad you and your family liked it, Betsy!! There’s nothing like an easy dinner recipe, right? The leftovers are great, too. Thanks for letting me know how it turned out! 🙂

  8. I don’t have skillet for the oven. Can I do it in the skillet on the stove and then put it in a roasting pan or glass dish then into the oven.

    1. Hi, Kathy! Yes, you could transfer it to another dish if you needed to. If you have a Dutch oven that would work, too!

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