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Piri Piri Chili

Piri Piri Chili

The name Piri piri means “pepper pepper” in Swahili. Probably from Mozambique this chili variety came to Portugal. Still today in Spain and Portugal hot, small chili peppers are called Piri Piri. They are processed into powder, sauces and pickled. A chilli chicken with these pods is on menus often only as a Piri Piri dish. From there everything is right.

Capsicum frutescens

Piri Piri plants are typical representatives of the Capsicum frutescens species. The chillies are thin-walled and about 2 to 5 cm long. Like Tabasco, the fruits on the shrub point in all directions. Some stand upright, grow horizontally or hang down slightly. The pods are harvested when they are ripe and red. Perennial Piri Piri plants grow bushy and rarely reach a height of more than one meter.

Because of the smaller root space, plants on balconies and windowsills remain slightly smaller at half a meter. Piripiri is also known as African red Devil and African Bird’s Eye. Fact: African bird’s eye chillies are devilishly sharp.


You don’t even see the diabolical spiciness of the small chilli peppers at first. Piri Piri can easily crack the 100,000 Scoville mark. Depending on how and where the pod has grown, it contains different amounts of hot matter. The range goes from 30,000 SHU (sharpness grade 7) to 100,000 SHU (sharpness grade 9). We expect the Piri Piri to have 50,000 SHU on the Scoville scale, which corresponds to a sharpness level of 8.


Pickling in vinegar

Piri Piri Chili are perfect for pickle in vinegar. Wash the small red chillies under water. Cut off their stems and crown.

To remove some water from the chillies, soak them in brine for one day. To make a brine, add two small cups of salt per liter of water. The next day rinse the salt water under running water. So that the pods absorb the vinegar better, prick small holes in the chillies.

The prepared chillies are now placed in a slightly simmering vinegar bath. Distilled vinegar is mixed with water 1 : 1. Add herbs and spices such as mustard seeds. About 50 g common salt or Himalayan salt round off the brew.

Put the chillies in a pot with the hot vinegar stock for a few minutes. Then the whole thing is placed in sterilized preserving jars. After cooling, keep in the refrigerator. During the meal you will enjoy the great taste experience of sour, hot and salty.

Piri Piri spice powder

In Portugal Piri Piri is often dried in the air. Since the pods are small and thin-walled, it’s also easy with us. To hang them up, thread the chillies on a thread or roasting string. Just under the crown you pierce with a thick needle.

The right place to tie the chili line is airy and warm. Not in the blazing sun, otherwise healthy ingredients will be destroyed. After about 5 weeks the chillies are dry enough to break through. In the coffee grinder or mortar the dried pod is ground to Piri piri powder.

Instead of drying the pods in the air for 4 – 6 weeks, you can read here how easy it is to dry them in the oven or drying machine.

Piri Piri Hot Sauce

Whether bought or homemade Piri piri hot sauce, a spicy sauce from their fruits is delicious. When seasoning on the table or as a basis for other dishes.
You can change this recipe to suit your taste buds. We recommend using grilled or smoked pods. The preparation takes only 15 minutes.

  • 1 cup (0.24 l) of chopped Piri Piri
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 4 shallots or 2 onions
  • 3 dried tomatoes
  • 3 teaspoons oregano
  • 4–6 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup sunflower oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1–2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 dash of lemon juice
  • 1 pinch of pepper
  • 1 pinch Chipotle powder

Put piri piri, garlic, onions, oregano and basil in a mixer or mortar. Mix the ingredients to a puree. Add oil and balsamic vinegar. Season to taste with the spices. The sauce goes well with white meat such as fish, prawns and chicken. The Finest hot stuff, promised!

Piri Piri chili plant

Small plant with lots of pepper. Adult specimens of the perennial plant grow between 0.5 and 1 meter high. Widely branched and bushy specimens feel at home in a five to ten litre flower pot. Ideal for balconies and borderline indoor all year round. The small, narrow and thin-walled pods remain quite small at two to five centimetres. Great plant for chili fans.


You need patience with the African chilli variety. It will take about 14 days from planting the seeds to germination.

At a higher temperature the germination rate of the chili seeds increases. About 27 °C has led to good rates. Once the delicate green stretches towards the sky, you will enjoy this fast-growing variety very much. The compact shrub, which later adorns your chili growing, is beautiful


Heat, sun, no water logging and a growing fertilizer. This is the basis for healthy “African Red Devil” plants. Keep an eye on chili pests.


Supply with organic fertilizer until the first half of the season. Once your plant has reached the end of its growth, switch to fruit and flower fertilizers. You can find out more about this in a separate article on the subject of chillies.


A Piri Piri is too bad for one year. If there is little space, cut the plant back to a minimum. On the windowsill the plant can be wintered well. If you take the trouble to create an indoor chili cultivation with artificial lighting, you will also be supplied with hot vegetables in the cold season.


You can also enjoy the many ripe red pods. Very hot, tasty and versatile. Harvest Piri Piri fruit after changing its ripe color to red for a few days.

Variety name Piri Piri
Species Capsicum frutescens
Origin Africa, Portugal
plant size 50 - 100 cm
Maturing time 80 days
Scoville 50,000 SHU
Germination period 8 - 14 days
Germination temperature 25 - 28 °C
Planting distance min. 50 cm