Piri Piri Chicken

I love chicken but getting old means I have had chicken about every way it can be prepared. This recipe works for a whole spatchcocked chicken and chicken thighs. When I first heard about this chicken and started my research, I found it was highly recommended that the chicken be brined before hand. I have added their brine recipe, as well.


1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbs peppercorn
1 lemon (zest grated and juiced)
1 head of garlic (garlic cloves crushed)
3–4 bay leaves
1 Tbs red pepper flakes
1 tsp thyme
8 1/2 cups water

Chicken and Rub
3 Tbs New Mexico or California chili powder
1 Tbs ground cumin
1 Tbs ground coriander
1 Tbs smoked paprika
1 1/2 Tbs kosher salt
1 4- to 4½-pound whole chicken, spatchcocked Or 3 lbs of chicken thighs
2 Tbs white sugar
8 medium Fresno chilies, seeded and stemmed and quartered (or 1/2 jar of “Tamed” Jalapeño Peppers ~8 oz.)
3 medium garlic cloves
1/3 cup lemon juice (2 to 3 lemons)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, finely chopped


  1. Assemble and mix the brine. Brine chicken overnight in a covered container.
    In a medium bowl, mix together the chili powder, cumin, coriander, paprika and salt. Transfer 2 Tbs of the mixture to a small bowl, setting the rest aside.
  2. Spatchcock the whole chicken, if you are doing that.
  3. Loosen the skin over the chicken’s breast and thighs by gently working your fingers between it and the flesh. Using a small spoon, evenly distribute the 2 Tbs of spice mixture under the skin, then rub it into the flesh. Set the chicken on a baking sheet.
  4. In a food processor, combine the reserved spice mixture, the sugar, chilies and garlic. Pulse until finely chopped, scraping down the bowl as needed. With the machine running, pour in the lemon juice and vinegar; process until smooth, scraping down the bowl once or twice.
  5. Measure out ¼ cup of the sauce, reserving the rest for later, and brush evenly over the chicken, including the bone side. Let stand at room temperature for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare a grill for indirect, high-heat cooking. For a charcoal grill, spread a large chimney of hot coals evenly over one side of the grill bed; open the bottom grill vents. For a gas grill, set half of the burners to high. Heat the grill, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes, then clean and oil the cooking grate.
  7. Set the chicken skin side up on the cooler side of the grill. Cover and cook for 25 minutes. Using tongs, rotate the chicken 180 degrees to bring the far side of the chicken closest to the heat. Cover and continue to cook until the thickest part of the breast reaches 160°F and the thighs reach 175°F, another 25 to 35 minutes.
  8. Brush the chicken with 2 Tbs of the reserved sauce, then use tongs to flip it skin side down onto the hot side of the grill. Cook until the skin is lightly charred, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer skin side up to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes.
  9. Stir the cilantro into the remaining sauce, then baste the chicken once more. Serve with the sauce on the side.