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Piri Piri Chicken and Prawn Kebabs

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Adjust Servings:
Piri Piri Sauce
3 Red Chilli
1 clove Garlic
75ml Olive Oil
50ml Red Wine Vinegar
1 tsp Paprika
0.5 tsp Oregano
0.5 tsp Salt
1 Lemon Juice
2-3 Chicken Breast
16 King Prawns
Pinch Rock salt For sprinkling over the chicken
1 Lemon

Piri Piri Chicken and Prawn Kebabs

Portuguese Surf and Turf on the BBQ


    Fiery churrasco-style piri piri chicken and prawn kebabs

    • 30
    • Serves 4
    • Medium


    • Piri Piri Sauce

    • Kebabs



    The first time I ever experienced authentic Piri Piri was in São Martinho do Porto, a town in the Western Region of Portugal. We were in a small churrascaria, a restaurant with a huge grill known as a churrasco, this roughly translates to ‘barbecue’ and in Portugal, this usually means chicken but in other parts of the world you would see steak being served there (think Brazil or Argentina and their propensity for beef).

    In this recipe when I say Piri Piri, I don’t mean the saucy chicken from a well-known restaurant chain we’re used to here. Sure, we all love testing how spicy we can go and challenging our friends with heat but frankly these sauces aren’t very authentic and “lemon and herb” is not Piri Piri.

    Piri Piri is a salty, dry and fiery hot sauce which goes on the chicken as it’s cooking. You grill the chillies on their own first to soften them up and get their juices flowing. In Portugal, if you were to enter a churrascaria there would generally be two things on the menu “Frango Assado” and “Frango Assado com Piri Piri”; “grilled chicken” and “grilled chicken with piri piri”. They cook chickens on the rotisserie and when they are almost done, they brush them with the fiery piri piri sauce for the last few minutes of cooking. We’re doing the same thing here. Because you add the sauce as the chicken is cooking, there is no marinating needed. This makes it ideal for camping or for an impromptu BBQ at home.

    I’ve only ever seen this done with whole chickens in Portugal, in a Churrascaria or restaurant you might see a full, half or quarter chicken on the menu. I’ve also successfully used this sauce to cook a spatchcocked chicken on the BBQ. If you are going to try that, double this recipe should be enough to coat your whole chicken.

    In this recipe I’m changing it up a bit to use the slightly smaller BBQ and going with chicken breast and prawn piri piri kebabs. Cook them separately and give the chicken ones a good bit more time than the prawn ones. They won’t take as long. Squeeze the grilled lemons over the prawns just before serving. In Portugal, you would eat your piri piri either on its own out of the tin foil box it came in, or it would come with chips and salad.  I’m choosing to serve my surf and turf, chicken and prawn piri piri with a fresh  salad.

    I’m always surprised at how tasty this lip-smacking sauce is. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll want to make it again and again. And, if you ever find yourself in some of the smaller towns in Portugal and you see the sign “churrascaria“, I really would advise you to give it a go.

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    It's time to get your multitasking hat on. On the BBQ start to grill your three (or more or less) chillies to get a nice char on. This will start to build up the first layer of flavour in your sauce. While these are charring, dice up your chicken into bite-sized chunks. I'm using metal skewers but if you're using wooden ones, make sure you soak them for a half hour first so they don't catch fire.


    Before the chillies start to burn take them off the heat and set them to the side until they are cool enough to handle. Thread your chicken onto the skewers and sprinkle with a little rock salt. Next do the prawns. I like to dice a lemon up into big chunks and thread them in between the prawns.


    Top the chillies and discard the green bits. Chop them up with the garlic until you have a paste and mix it with a fork in a cup with all the other sauce ingredients.


    Grill the chicken kebabs for around 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through but for the last few minutes brush liberally with the piri piri sauce. Any that drips into the coals may flare up a bit so watch for that. Ensure you cook the sauce through because the second you dip the brush from the raw chicken to the sauce, it's contaminated.


    The prawns will take about 3 minutes to cook on the BBQ. Again, apply the sauce liberally. Turn once half way through cooking.


    Set everything that's been used with the raw chicken aside for washing up. Serve these delicious piri piri chicken and prawn kebabs with a nice salad or flat breads. Don't forget to squeeze the grilled lemon chunks over the chicken and prawns. Enjoy.

    Mark T

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