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Spicy Peri Peri Seasoning

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Hot peri peri seasoning that you can mix in just a few minutes. It keeps well and has many uses; this spice mixture shouldn’t be missing from your cupboard.

jar of hot spice mixture for nando's peri peri dishes.

If you are into Nando’s peri peri chicken or any other of the South African restaurant’s dishes, this peri peri seasoning is for you. A flavorful spice blend that allows you to add heat to your dishes.

What is peri peri?

A kind of hot pepper. And peri peri seasoning is of Portuguese origin, a chili blend that has been around for centuries and contains other ingredients like garlic and lemon. Portuguese settlers discovered the bird’s eye chilies (or pili pili chilies), but the peri peri dishes were made famous by the South African restaurant chain Nando.

Also known as peri peri masala, this spice rub makes it into many of my dishes, not only those inspired by the restaurant chain. I love it with pork or chicken; I add it to fries or oven-roasted potato wedges, to curries or soups.

For more Nando-inspired recipes, check out Nando’s Peri Peri Chicken Thighs, Spicy Peri Peri Dip, Peri Peri Chicken Livers, Nando’s Spicy Rice, or Nando’s Butterfly Chicken.

Recipe ingredients

many different spices for peri peri seasoning on a small silver plate.

The recipe contains lots of spices, but probably stuff you already have in your cupboard.

Tanginess:

  • Lemon zest: The secret ingredient, the flavor kick I love the most in this peri peri rub, is lemon zest. I grate and dry the zest myself (it takes about a day) and add it to the blend –amazing!
    • Use an organic and unwaxed lemon.
  • Citric acid: Make sure you use food-grade citric acid (Amazon affiliate link). It’s usually easy to find in most supermarkets. Otherwise, try pharmacists and health food stores. You will find it online. Ensure it is labeled food grade; not all products are suitable for consumption.

Sweetness:

  • Icing sugar: It might sound unusual, but the peri peri seasoning needs a touch of sweetness. Icing sugar also ensures that the spice mix remains more of a powder, without the feel of granulated sugar in your mouth.

Hotness:

  • Black pepper powder: Meaning very finely ground black pepper.
  • Cayenne pepper: I use more for this recipe than for any other recipe – 1 ½ teaspoon. That’s a lot of cayenne pepper, making this mixture hot. If you think that might be too much, start with ½ teaspoon and add more to taste.
  • Red chili flakes: Try to find some that are slightly finer cut. It’s not mandatory but works well, keeping the peri peri mix finer.

For the flavor: garlic powder, onion powder, sweet paprika, smoked sweet paprika, coriander, ground ginger, cardamom, dried oregano, and fine sea salt.

Step-by-step instructions

  • Start one day ahead.
  • Lemon zest: Wash and dry the lemon. Finely grate only the yellow part of the skin. Spread the zest on a small plate (1) and leave it uncovered at room temperature (in a slightly warmer part of the kitchen) until completely dry (2).
    • Go with your fingers through the zest occasionally to unclump it once it starts drying and to help it dry quickly and evenly. It should be completely dry before using it to make the seasoning.
collage of two pictures of drying lemon zest on a plate.
  • Mix the dried lemon zest and all the remaining spices in a bowl. Press with a spoon and whisk the mixture to break all the tiny clumps that ground ginger and paprika might have (3).
  • Transfer the peri peri seasoning to a jar.
mixed spices for making peri peri masala.

Expert Tips

  • Lemon: Make sure you use an organic and unwaxed lemon, as you will need its zest.
    • Only grate and use the yellow part of the lemon’s skin; the white part is bitter, making your spice mixture bitter.
  • Spiciness: This mixture is very hot, hotter than a regular chili powder you might frequently use! If you like to make a milder version, reduce the cayenne pepper you use. Start with ½ teaspoon and only add more to taste.

Recipe FAQ

What does the seasoning taste like?

A combination of hot, sour, salty, and sweet.

How much does the recipe yield?

About 6 tablespoons or ½ cup.

How long does it keep?

The spicy rub will be fine for about 6 months. Keep it in a cool dark cupboard.

Is the homemade version cheaper than the store-bought one?

It depends. If you have lots of spices in your cupboard, spices that you frequently use in your everyday cooking, then yes – the homemade version is cheaper. Not to mention healthier because it contains less sugar and no additives.
However, if you need to buy all these spices just to make the blend, then it will be more expensive than buying a ready-made jar of peri-peri spices.

How to use the peri peri seasoning mix?

The spice mixture is super versatile; you can use it to spice up any Nando-inspired dish but not only. I use it liberally in my cooking; it imparts heat and flavor to just about anything.

  • You can add it (to taste) to any soup you like. I find it particularly delicious when added to bean soups, chilies, or stews.
  • Mix it with sour cream, Greek yogurt, or mayonnaise to make a spicy dip.
  • Use it for marinades. It’s great with chicken or pork. Use it as a dry rub for meat, or mix it with other ingredients (like olive oil, lemon juice, soy sauce, etc.) to make marinades.
  • It’s also great when added to vegetables. Coat the veggies with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle them with the peri peri mix before roasting or grilling.
overhead view of jar of homemade spice blend.

More spicy recipes

Do you like this recipe?

Please leave a good rating in the recipe card below. Stay in touch through social media: Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram. Don’t forget to tag me #whereismyspoon when you try a recipe!
jar of hot spice mixture for nando's peri peri dishes.

Spicy Peri Peri Seasoning

Hot peri peri seasoning that you can mix in just a few minutes. It keeps well and has many uses; this is a spice mixture that shouldn’t be missing from your cupboard.
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Dips, Sauces and Dressings, Preserves and Canning Recipes
Cuisine: African, Portuguese, South African
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 minute
Servings: 6 tablespoons
Calories: 19kcal
Author: Adina

Equipment

  • 1 small jar

Ingredients 

  • 1 lemon Note 1
  • 1 teaspoon icing sugar
  • ½ teaspoon citric acid food-grade, Note 2
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons smoked sweet paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cayenne pepper more to taste Note 3
  • 1 ½ teaspoon red chili flakes Note 4
  • 3 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt or Kosher

Instructions

  • Start one day ahead.
  • Dry the lemon zest: Wash and dry the lemon. Finely grate only the yellow part of the skin; the white pit is bitter. Spread the zest on a small plate and leave it uncovered at room temperature until completely dry (Note 5).
  • Mix 1 ½ teaspoon of the dried lemon zest and all the remaining spices in a bowl. Press with a tablespoon and whisk the mixture to break all the tiny clumps that ground ginger and paprika might have.
  • Transfer to a jar and keep in a cool dark cupboard. It will keep for about 6 months.

Notes

  1. Use an organic, unwaxed lemon. You will only need 1 ½ teaspoon of the dried zest.
  2. You will probably find food-grade citric acid in most supermarkets. Otherwise, try pharmacists, health food stores, and online. Check that it is labeled food grade; not all products are suitable for consumption.
  3. Cayenne pepper is very hot; please use it to taste. This mixture is hot; if you want to make a milder version, start with less cayenne pepper and add more as required.
  4. Red chili flakes are usually not as hot as cayenne pepper, but make sure you know your product. If you think the flakes are very hot, reduce the amount you use.
  5. Go with your fingers through the zest occasionally to unclump it once it starts drying and to help it dry quickly and evenly. It should be completely dry before using it to make the seasoning.

Nutrition

Serving: 1tablespoon | Calories: 19kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.4g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 797mg | Potassium: 90mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1048IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 1mg
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