JOIN! 12 Weeks for $1

Piri Piri Chicken Thighs

4 Servings

50 minutes

Made This Recipe? Write a Review.
Thank you for submitting your review! A member of our team is confirming the review meets our site's Community Guidelines. It will be posted on the site shortly.

Piri-piri can refer to a finger-staining chili pepper sauce—usually spiked with garlic, sugar and plenty of cayenne, lemon and paprika—or to whatever the sauce douses. Its origins are Portuguese, but it's found today in South Africa, Mozambique and Namibia. To make our version of the tangy-sweet sauce, we use pure New Mexico or California chili powder. If you can't find either, use ¼ cup regular (not smoked) sweet paprika. Avoid standard chili powder, which is a blend of ground chilies and other herbs and spices. Fresno chilies are fresh red chilies similar in size and shape to jalapeños, but with pointy tips. If they are unavailable, fresh cherry peppers are a good substitute. The thighs can be a bit spicy, so we like to serve them with a simple rice pilaf to soak up the heat and sauce, or a cooling cucumber salad. If you have leftovers, shred the meat and make chicken salad with mayonnaise and a dollop of the sauce.




Don't reduce the number of Fresno chilies; all are needed for flavor and color. To reduce spiciness, remove some or all of the seeds and ribs from the chilies before processing. Don't substitute Thai chilies for the Fresnos; they pack far more heat.

50 minutes


  • 3

    tablespoons New Mexico or California chili powder

  • 1

    tablespoon ground cumin


Pardon the interruption

You need to be a Milk Street Digital Member to see the full recipe


and get access to all of our recipes and articles online, as well as in print.

How we use your email.

Your email address is required to identify your subscription. We will use it for customer service as well as other communications from Milk Street. We will not share, or rent your email address.

Leslie B.
May 22, 2023
Easy and delicious
I felt this recipe was easy to prepare and the sauce is delicious. Will make again!
Kristan C.
May 7, 2023
How I discovered Fresno peppers and the only way I want to use them (for now)
This recipe is so easy and so good. I can only make it when I can bring fresno chilis home so I can only make it after I've traveled or have been to my dentist on the other end of upstate NY. I don't see how this dish can get ever get old so it's definitely been my go-to dish since I finally found fresno chilis at a grocery store nowhere near my home. I LOVE this dish.
Tricia S.

This recipe delivers great, balanced flavors. I used skinless, boneless thighs (organic) because that's what I had in the freezer, and I used 5 big, fat, seeded jalapeños because Fresnos are unknown to my small town grocery store. I also used limes instead of lemon because that's what I had. I cut the cooking time about 10 minutes because of the absence of bone and skin, and I put the spice mixture all over the skinned chicken before roasting. But I followed the proportions the first time through to see what we liked. Just delicious, as written. And it was just as fast as promised. BTW, my New Mexican chili powder on hand was the mild variety. Really good overall. We will use the leftover sauce on other yummy things. I served this with corn sautéed off the cob with carrot and green onion, a bit of cotija cheese. And cucumber salad from my garden. A summer festival of flavors.