Food & Drink

Piri-Piri Sauce

West Africa’s contribution to the world of hot barbecue sauces is piri-piri—a sort of fiery vinaigrette ignited with a tiny African chili. Don’t let its size fool you, because the piri-piri pepper is a real scorcher. Piri-piri chilies may be hard to come by in the United States, unless you live near an African Iberian market. (This sauce is very popular in Portugal, too.) Fortunately, you can substitute fresh Thai chilies, Mexican pequin chilies, or even red Scotch bonnets, serranos, or jalapeños. To keep the proper heat level, I use whole chilies, but you could remove the veins and seeds if a milder sauce is desired.

The mustard and garlic aren’t strictly traditional, but I like the way they round out the flavor. Purists can leave them out.

This fiery sauce is popular on three continents, so you could serve it with Portuguese, Brazilian, or African-style barbecue. Spoon it sparingly over your favorite grilled seafood, chicken, pork, or beef.

Piri-Piri Sauce

Makes 1 cup


  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea)
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh red chili peppers
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil, preferably Portuguese


Place the garlic and salt in a bowl and mash to a paste with the back of a spoon. Add the chilies and continue to mash. Add the mustard. Whisk in the vinegar in a thin stream. Whisk in the oil; the sauce should thicken slightly. Or combine the ingredients in a jar and shake to mix. Transfer to a jar, placing a sheet of plastic wrap between the top of the jar and the lid, cover, and refrigerate. The piri-piri sauce will keep for several days at room temperature. Stir before serving.

Barbecue! Bible Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades, Bastes, Butters, and GlazesBarbecue! Bible Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades, Bastes, Butters, and Glazes
by Steven Raichlen

Barbecue! Bible Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades, Bastes, Butters, and Glazes is an in-depth celebration of those cornerstones on which unforgettable live-fire flavors are built.

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