Peri peri or Piri Piri sauce has a whole lot of fresh flavors that could really explode on the palate. So, in this episode, let’s get to know what are the peri peri sauce ingredients that make this condiment so distinctively delicious!

The base flavor of this sauce is gotten from crushed chilies. And it also contains spices like garlic, paprika, and black pepper. In addition, this sauce usually has onion, lemon, vinegar, oil, salt and is sometimes flavored with herbs like fresh or dried oregano, basil, or cilantro.

So, let’s see what we have got for you about this savory African relish!

What Is Peri Peri Sauce?

Peri peri sauce, also known as “Piri Piri” or “Pili Pili,” is a hot sauce made from pureed chilies, spices, and other flavorings. It usually packs a bunch of flavor with a hint of warmth, earthiness, and sweetness.

The origin of this sauce is quite debatable. Some believe this was made by Portuguese explorers in Mozambique (who discovered the African bird’s eye chili pepper) and made a marinade with garlic, red wine vinegar, paprika, and other European ingredients. 

Peri Peri Sauce - SpiceRally

It is then known to be extended to other Portuguese territories under the term “piri-piri.” The name “peri-peri” is derived from Swahili. ‘Piri-piri’ indicates “pepper-pepper.” 

However, the peri peri marinade still exists. And the difference between this marinade and sauce is that the marinade is made with the same ingredients but used uncooked while the sauce is simmered for an hour or so.

What Spices Are In Peri Peri Sauce?

The key flavor and the heat level of peri peri sauce are based on the type of chilies used. And the spicy, savory, warm taste is achieved mainly by the other spices used.

01- Chilies

Traditionally, African bird’s eye chilies (also known as peri peri or pili pili chilies) are used to make this sauce. These chilies hold a serious punch of heat, registering from 50,000- 175,000 SHU on the Scoville heat scale.

The reputed brands producing this sauce commercially use African bird’s eye chilies and habanero peppers as well. Moreover, we see that most homemade recipes also use an assortment of chilies like red bell peppers, green chilies, jalapeno peppers, and other varieties of mild red chilies.

However, as mentioned previously, the heat levels vary from recipe to recipe, depending on the type of chilies used. All the other ingredients, like garlic, black pepper, paprika, lemon, etc., are chosen to suit and balance the flavor profile of these chilies. Thus, you get a lovely, unique burst of flavors that you don’t typically get from a regular hot sauce.

Premade ones are better, but homemade options are even better! So, if you are interested in making your own batch of fresh peri peri sauce at home, click here and get the complete step-by-step guide for an awesome recipe!

02- Garlic

Garlic is a staple ingredient in the recipe as it adds a beautiful garlicky note to the hot and spicy nature of the chilies. Most premade peri peri sauce options contain a decent amount of garlic, while you can adjust the amount you use when you make this condiment at home. Nevertheless, this spice pairs well with the hotness of the chilies, tart notes of lemon, and the peppery bite of black pepper.

03- Paprika

With a depth of flavor, paprika usually gives a beautiful color to this sauce. The flavor this spice could add actually depends on the type of paprika used. Accordingly, this spice could either bring a smoky touch or extra hotness if smoked paprika or hot paprika are used.

04- Black Pepper

Earthy, woody, and piney black pepper adds a unique peppery hint to our topic leader. This is one of the essential peri peri sauce ingredients that most recipes won’t omit but sometimes substitute with white pepper.

Most homemade recipes call for a sound amount of freshly ground black pepper. The flavor profile of this spice gets along well with the taste notes of the chilies, garlic, paprika, and herbs like oregano (if used), complementing the tart notes of vinegar or lemon juice.

The motto of West African cooking is that if the food doesn’t set fire to the tablecloth, the cook is being stingy with the pepper

Ben Aaronovitch

Herbs In Peri Peri Sauce

We are not really sure if the store-bought per peri sauce options contain any herbs since they don’t mention any in their list of ingredients. But we found a few homemade options made by expert chefs, including fresh or dried herbs like basil, oregano, bay leaves, and cilantro. However, the herbs obviously enhance the taste of this sauce and give a lovely aroma as a bonus!

Cilantro is also used in most chipotle sauce recipes. If you are intrigued about trying different sauces, our article on chipotle sauce will have some exciting facts for you- go check it out!

Other Peri Peri Sauce Ingredients

Aside from the spices and herbs mentioned above, peri peri sauce could contain the following ingredients depending on the recipe:

  • Lemon juice
  • Onion
  • Oil (vegetable oil/ olive oil/ sunflower oil)
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Vinegar (white vinegar/ sherry vinegar/ red wine vinegar)
  • Red chili flakes
  • Other additives and preservatives (in store-bought options)

Is Peri Peri Sauce Vegan-Friendly?

Traditionally, peri peri sauce does not contain any animal traces. Therefore, this sauce can be considered something safe to consume by vegans. But, we always suggest you read the list of ingredients if you are concerned before buying any store-bought product.

Pad Thai sauce is the ultimate addition to Pad Thai, which gives life to the dish. So, if you are interested in learning more about this delightful sauce, click here and check out this post.

Peri Peri Sauce Is One Of A Kind, Indeed!

Packed with flavors, peri peri sauce just brings the right amount of spiciness to your table. It is rich with crushed chilies, garlic, black pepper, paprika, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, etc., and has a great consistency thanks to its oil content. This sauce is an excellent complement to chicken, fish, and a wide variety of other dishes.

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