Grilled Shrimp with Piri-Piri Sauce

Grilled shrimp with piri-piri sauce is a Portuguese classic. One taste and you'll understand why. Big flavor in mere minutes.

Portuguese Shrimp with Piri Piri Sauce

Hit most any seaside joint in Portugal, and you’ll find these grilled shrimp with piri-piri sauce on the menu. Heck, you’ll even find them in many backyards as well as swank city eateries. But I like them best on the beach, sitting under a huge Sagres umbrella (Sagres is a brand of Portuguese beer), with a hunk of bread and a cool drink to douse the fiery heat. Originally published May 10, 2012.David Leite

What Are Piri-Piri Peppers?

Piri-piri. Just sorta rolls off the tongue, eh? It’s actually Swahili for “pepper pepper” although “piri-piri” is also how it’s pronounced in Portuguese. These hot peppers came to Portugal by way of Africa. Much controversy surrounds the specifics, but suffice it to say, anyone who’s experienced the namesake sauce is grateful the peppers found their way to Portugal, however that happened. We think you will be, too. Although don’t look for the fresh piri-piri peppers stateside as you won’t find them. You can substitute Thai bird, red jalapeño, santaka, arbol, cayenne, or Tabasco peppers instead.

Special Equipment: Skewers

Portuguese Grilled Shrimp with Piri-Piri Sauce Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 3 H
  • Serves 4 to 6


  • 2 1/2 pounds jumbo shrimp (1.14 kg), shelled and deveined
  • 3/4 cup Piri-Piri Sauce or store-bought hot sauce (177 ml), plus more for serving
  • 2 lemons, cut into wedges
  • Kosher salt


  • 1. Combine the shrimp and piri-piri sauce in a large resealable plastic bag and toss to coat. Place the bag in a shallow dish and place it in the fridge to marinate, turning it a few times, for several hours.
  • 2. Heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium arranging for indirect heat. Thread the shrimp and lemon wedges on skewers and season with salt. Grill the shrimp over indirect heat, turning several times, until just opaque, about 6 minutes. For an extra spike of flavor, brush the skewers with fresh piri-piri sauce just before serving.
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  1. We made this last night, using an entire small bottle of Calvé piri-piri sauce obtained from Amazon [where else?]. It was absolutely delicious! We sprinkled the finished dish with shredded Persian basil from our garden, which added a really nice note to the dish.

  2. My mother is Portuguese and I remember her using mostly piri piri sauce, parsley for garnish, lemon and lots of Portuguese extra virgin olive oil. Minced garlic and a little coarse salt and coarse pepper for seasoning. A dash of good dry white wine as well. She would combine it together and marinade her chicken, or shrimp before bbqin it. I tried this recipe and can honestly say it’s just as good as Mom’s. Thank you for such a nostalgic recipe for me.

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