Grilled Piri Piri Chicken

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6

Piri piri is a popular Portuguese spicy and sweet sauce made from chiles and fresh herbs. Here it adds beautiful color and flavor to grilled chicken. Butterflying (also known as spatchcocking) chicken means the whole bird is split by removing the backbone and flattening the bird (ask your butcher to do it if you like). This exposes more of the skin to the heat, creating a crispier and juicier bird. Serve with crusty bread for soaking up the sauce.


  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 3 serrano chiles, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (3/4 oz./20 g) loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup (3/4 oz./20 g) loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) olive oil
  • 1 chicken, 4 to 5 lb. (2 to 2.5 kg), butterflied


In a food processor, combine the bell pepper, chiles, garlic, cilantro, parsley, lemon zest and juice, paprika and salt. Pulse until the mixture is uniformly chopped, using a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and process just until well combined.

Put the chicken, breast side up, in a large glass baking dish and pour the piri piri sauce all over the bird, reserving about 1/2 cup (4 oz./125 g) for basting while grilling. Using your hands, rub the chicken with the sauce to make sure all the surfaces are well coated. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.

Prepare a medium-hot fire for indirect grilling in a grill.

Place the chicken, skin side down, on the grill over the indirect heat area. Close the lid on the grill and cook for 15 minutes. Using tongs or a large metal spatula, turn the chicken. Close the lid and cook for 20 minutes longer. Baste the chicken generously with about half of the reserved piri piri sauce. Turn the chicken again, close the lid and cook for 5 minutes longer. Generously baste the chicken with the reserved piri piri sauce one more time, flip once more, and cook, with the lid closed, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh away from the bone registers 165°F (74°C), 5 to 10 minutes longer. Transfer to a carving board. Cut the chicken into pieces, arrange on a platter and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Chicken Night, by Kate McMillan (© Weldon Owen, 2014)

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