Chili Brined Red Hot Piri Piri Chicken Thighs

The inspiration

Before I met my husband and before I moved to Malaysia, I was completely unaware of what “Nando’s” chicken was and never heard of the term Piri Piri chicken.  He explained to me that it was a spicy Portuguese chicken joint popular in the UK. Chicken? Spicy? YES, PLEASE!

Piri Piri Chicken thighs on a plate with red chiles

Keep it moist

As much as I like Nando’s and their spicy chicken, I have to say that I was a little disappointed when I found out that nothing was fried but instead grilled.  It’s not that I don’t like grilled, roasted or rotisserie chicken, it’s just that I never had any great experiences with that method of cooking chicken in the past.  In my experience, many people often overcook poultry to the point where it is dry, chewy and stringy (aka ‘squeaky’). It was only after I started brining all things poultry and cooking with darker pieces of meat, such as thighs and legs when I really started to appreciate the succulent art form that is non-fried chicken.


Take the time to brine

Much like a marriage, the art of keeping it juicy relies on treating it well.  Take it from someone who has learned their lesson, pamper your chicken like you would your own child or loved one.  Cure darker pieces with salt and sugar and brine everything else.  Speaking of which, I can not truly express my gratitude for the cooking hack that is brining.  Not only does it keep everything juicy and tender but it also adds SO MUCH flavor to the meat, especially when it’s as spicy as this one.  As for the coating, you can drench the outer layers in a mild hot sauce or you can do what I do and go extra hot.  For those that like drier and crispy chicken skin, just roast it naked with a little bit of smoked paprika dusted on top.  The choice is yours but for the love of all that is spicy chicken, DON’T FORGET TO BRINE!



crispy piri piri chicken thighs

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Piri Piri Chicken thighs on a plate with red chiles

Chili Brined Red Hot Piri Piri Chicken Thighs

  • Author: Spicepaw
  • Total Time: 60
  • Yield: 6-8 thighs 1x


Piri Piri chicken thighs are soaked in a spicy lemon and thyme brine then coated in hot sauce and roasted to juicy and fiery perfection. #chicken #poultry #spicy  #recipes


For Roasting

68 chicken thighs

a bottle of your favorite Piri Piri sauce or similar hot sauce

For brining

100g (about 1/2 cup) salt

100g (about 1/2 cup) sugar

1 tbsp peppercorn

1 lemon (zest grated and juiced)

1 head of garlic (garlic cloves crushed)

34 bay leaves

1 tbsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp thyme

2.5 L (8 1/2 cups) water


  1. Brine the chicken overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 220C/425F.
  3. Take chicken out of the brine and pat dry, removing any brine debris that still may be sticking to the chicken.
  4. Place on an oven tray and coat in your favorite Piri Piri sauce or whichever hot sauce you prefer.
  5. Bake in the oven at 220C/45F uncovered for 45 min-60 min or until thoroughly cooked, making sure to baste with fresh hot sauce as you go.
  1. Grate the zest of one lemon and add it to a large pot along with the juice.
  2. Add salt, sugar, crushed garlic cloves, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, thyme and 1 L of water and bring to a boil over high heat.
  3. Boil for 10 minutes, making sure the brine mixture does not boil over onto the stovetop.
  4. After 10 min, remove from heat and let cool.
  5. Once room temperature, add the remaining 1.5 liters of water.  The mixture should taste like a salty soup.  If you find it to be too salty, add a mug or two of water but not much more as you don’t want to dilute the brine too much.
  6. Add poultry to room temperature brine and let soak overnight or up to 2 days in the refrigerator.
  7. When ready to cook, remove poultry from brine, pat dry and remove any herbs that might remain on the meat.
  8. Discard brine once poultry has touched it and do not reuse.


For those that like a drier and crispy chicken skin, just roast it naked with a little bit of smoked paprika dusted on top.

Grill for an added smokiness

  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 60
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: roasting
  • Cuisine: Western

Keywords: Chicken thighs, spicy, poultry, peri peri, piri piri, chili brine, spicy chicken

Spicy chicken recipes that will keep you sweating:

Andy’s Restaurant Style Spicy Chicken Balti

Spicepaw’s Spicy Garlic Fried Chicken Wings

Extra Crispy and Spicy Malaysian Chicken Chop


Author: Natasha

I'm just a busy expat mom who has a psychological need to feed people. I enjoy learning about new cultures, (especially the food) and enjoy experimenting with new ingredients and spices

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.