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Piri Piri Chicken. Delicious, piri piri chicken cooked in the air fryer. You will love the Portuguese way of cooking piri piri chicken and how it converts so well to the air fryer.

The air fryer makes this Portuguese BBQ chicken so crispy. It is tender, it is juicy, and it is perfect for a more flavoursome way to enjoy your air fryer chicken. After making this, you will understand where Nando’s got its Portuguese inspiration.

We originally shared with you how to make Portuguese chicken in the air fryer back in 2016 and wanted to update it today for you with new photos and extra ideas.

air fryer piri piri chicken recipe
Air Fryer Piri Piri Chicken Recipe
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Piri Piri Chicken

After 13 years living in Portugal the one food, we consumed the most was Piri Piri chicken. We would sit outside at a café in the Portuguese sunshine and enjoy Portuguese barbecue chicken served with a delightful green salad and a side of either fries or Portuguese rice.

It was always amazing and what was even better was the low price. You would often have change from $30 including white wine for a family of four.

But as the years passed, we soon discovered that our air fryer was also equally capable of cooking delicious piri piri chicken and that soon became our way of enjoying it.

You could cook a whole chicken in the air fryer, that was loaded up with piri piri seasonings, air fry and then slice it up into the same chicken cuts that you get served at a Portuguese restaurant.

During our last week in Portugal, we did ourselves two leaving treats:

We bought local supermarket chicken – If you think in the US & the UK you can often buy rotisserie chicken as you shop. Well, here in Portugal you can buy just cooked and chopped Frango Piri Piri (as they call it in Portuguese) and then have it for dinner with your favourite sides. Often the Portuguese will be seen enjoying it with cheese and freshly cooked bread like this:

piri piri chicken in portugal

We bought a small whole chicken – The same size as they use in Portuguese restaurants and at Portuguese supermarkets and made our own Portuguese chicken. These chickens are of a similar size to the ones you associate with our air fryer Cornish hens and are ideal for one chicken to feed two people for dinner. Or you can convert this recipe with a larger chicken to feed more people.  

If you have ever wanted to make Nando’s or Portuguese roast chicken at home, this is the recipe we are sharing with you today to show you how it is done.


Plus, as well as our free newsletter, we also have a free air fryer mini course. It is ideal for air fryer beginners or those that want to get more confident with their air fryer. The free course runs for 5 days with a new lesson delivered each day to your inbox.

What Is Piri Piri Chicken?

Piri piri chicken is a Portuguese chicken that is marinated and cooked in a spicy seasoning.

The piri piri seasoning can be mixed with tomatoes to make a wet rub or kept as a dry rub to be added to various foods.

In Portugal you can get piri piri in either a dried spice jar or as a piri piri sauce. Though many refer to it as a Portuguese hot sauce.

It is also referred to as either Frango Piri Piri or Frango Piri-Piri when ordering it at a local restaurant.

Can You Cook Portuguese Chicken In The Air Fryer?

Yes, you can, and you will love the results. You can cook Portuguese chicken in a similar way to a whole chicken. Just altering it to add Portuguese flavourings and then slicing it at the end to make the classic chicken sold in restaurants.

Nando’s Origin

If you have not been to Portugal, chances are you will be wondering how Nando’s origin comes into the history of piri piri chicken and how the flavours and recipes differ.

Well, Nando’s origin is all about African-Portuguese NOT just Portuguese. Hence why Nando’s is referred to as Peri Peri and NOT Piri Piri.

I note that the African influence is stronger on the spices and that many times when you eat at a Portuguese style bbq it is not that spicy. Its like a very mild heat and the kind of spices that your grandma could eat.

For example, I have only ever had spicy Portuguese bbq chicken, yet I have always found the heat when eating Nando’s.

But you can make this recipe spicier by using Nando’s spices instead of classic Portuguese.

Old Fashioned Piri Piri Recipe

Portugal is also known as being a poor country. With a low cost of living in central and northern Portugal.

In the countryside its well known that many Portuguese grandmas will raise their own chickens, slaughter them, and then cook them.

They will then proudly serve them at the dinner table after they have been cooked on the grill.

The leftovers will then be consumed over a few days and over the years the old school method of cooking the chicken has been improved to create the best barbecue chicken I have ever tried.

Our version is a quicker version and thanks to the air fryer you will love the simplicity of this recipe.

Piri Piri Recipe Ingredients

portuguese chicken ingredients

Chicken – The easiest way to make this in the air fryer, is to use a small whole chicken (below 1kg/2.2lbs) and then chop it up once cooked. Or you can use a mix of chicken drumsticks and chicken thighs or bone in breasts instead.

Wet – The wet ingredients are essential for ensuring that you don’t have a dry chicken and that it is full of flavour. I mix in a ramekin extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and garlic puree and this goes on the chicken first before the piri piri.

Seasoning – Its all about the delicious piri piri chicken rub. You can use Nando’s or use a jar of dried piri piri. Note you only need a small amount because its very high in spice. Then you can rinse and repeat and make this recipe as often as you like.

Then for the kitchen gadgets that we have used in this piri piri chicken recipe, it has just been our Philips Air Fryer. We have this one and its wonderful for many types of air fryer chicken recipes and perfectly fits a whole chicken in it.

How To Cook Piri Piri Chicken?

how to air fry piri piri chicken
  • Seasonings. Start by mixing together your garlic, lemon and extra virgin olive oil. This is the coating that will go on your chicken first and will stop the chicken from drying out whole cooking and adds a lovely flavour.
  • Coat. Add your seasonings to your chicken starting with the seasoning mix, and following up with salt, pepper, and piri piri.
  • Load. Add to the air fryer and air fry breast side down first for 25 minutes, turn and season again, then cook for a final 20 minutes.

How To Chop Piri Piri Chicken?

If you want chicken like the Portuguese, its all about barbecuing a whole chicken and then slicing it length ways into chicken pieces.

Firstly, you chop your whole just cooked chicken down the middle like this:

chopping piri piri whole chicken down the middle

Then you chop it width way into thirds which results in six pieces of bone in chicken to enjoy like you see below:

Portuguese Piri Piri Chicken

What To Serve With Your Portuguese Chicken?

I recommend that you serve our Portuguese roast chicken with our instant pot vegetable brown rice and our air fryer cajun fries.

Air Fryer Portuguese Piri Piri Chicken

Piri Piri Chicken. Delicious, piri piri chicken cooked in the air fryer. You will love the Portuguese way of cooking piri piri chicken and how it converts so well to the air fryer.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4
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Kitchen Gadgets:

Piri Piri Chicken Ingredients:


  • Mix lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and garlic together and then brush half over the chicken whilst the chicken is breast side down. Then season with salt, and pepper and then half the piri piri seasoning.
    Can You Cook Portuguese Chicken In The Air Fryer?
  • Place in the air fryer and cook for 25 minutes breast side down at 180c/360f.
    Can You Cook Portuguese Chicken In The Air Fryer?
  • When the air fryer beeps, turn over and add the same ingredients to the breast and then air fry for another 20 minutes breast side up at the same temperature.
    Can You Cook Portuguese Chicken In The Air Fryer?
  • Once cooked remove from the air fryer and slice down the middle and then each half into thirds to make six pieces of chicken.
    Can You Cook Portuguese Chicken In The Air Fryer?


Turning. The easiest way to turn a chicken over in the air fryer, is to place a fork in the inside of the chicken and then turn. It wont burn you and it makes it so much easier.
Thanks for reading our air fryer piri piri chicken recipe on Recipe This. We have many more air fryer recipes for you to check out next. Though if you would like more chicken ideas, I recommend you check out our air fryer KFC chicken which is better than a bucket from KFC.


Calories: 368kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 90mg | Sodium: 85mg | Potassium: 251mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 169IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 1mg
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piri piri chicken in air fryer

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About Sam & Dom

Hi! I am Sam and along with my chef hubby Dom we love sharing with you easy everyday recipes using kitchen gadgets. We are also the authors of The Complete Air Fryer Cookbook, an amazing air fryer cookbook filled with 140+ everyday air fryer recipes.

Beyond the air fryer we also love the instant pot, slow cooker, soup maker, ninja foodi, pie marker and several other kitchen gadgets.

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    1. Hi Melissa,

      If you do give it a try let us know what you think, We love piri piri chicken as well but we can´t get it as good as the little place down the road which does unbelievable piri piri chicken.


      Dom & Sam