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.–David Leite


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.

Two skewers of grilled shrimp with piri-piri sauce in a dish on the side.

Portuguese Grilled Shrimp with Piri-Piri Sauce

5 / 3 votes
This Portuguese grilled shrimp with piri-piri calls for the shrimp to be marinated in a hot pepper sauce then grilled. A classic recipe and a quick weeknight dinner.
David Leite
Servings4 to 6 servings
Calories297 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time6 minutes
Total Time3 hours


  • Skewers


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


  • 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.
  • 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.
The New Portuguese Table Cookbook

Adapted From

The New Portuguese Table

Buy On Amazon


Serving: 1 portionCalories: 297 kcalCarbohydrates: 3 gProtein: 58 gFat: 4 gSaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 714 mgSodium: 3393 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 1 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2009 David Leite. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I’m always looking for new ways to have shrimp, and this simple grilled shrimp recipe is a winner. Piri-piri sauce can be quite spicy, and my store-bought was quite hot, so once I give the shrimp a squirt of fresh lemon juice just before I grilled them, and the result was the perfect balance of heat with the sweetness of the shrimp. I used 13-15 count shrimp, so they were quite large to stand up to the grill. I served it with a homemade fennel slaw. I can easily see placing these shrimp in a flour tortilla with an avocado crema and some crunchy pickled veg!

This grilled shrimp with piri-piri sauce recipe is really quick to prepare if using already shelled and deveined shrimp like I did so it made the perfect weeknight meal. The addition of the lemon wedges on the skewers was a first for me and a definite addition to future grilling. The only thing I would mention is that if someone is using a store-bought Piri-Piri sauce to make sure it’s a good quality sauce and not high in sodium. I made this recipe twice because the first time I used Nando’s medium sauce and the shrimp were way too salty. So I made it again but this time using Macarico Piri-Piri which was lower in sodium and the shrimp turned out perfectly.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    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.

    1. Sara, thank you! It’s always a pleasure to hear our recipes taste like home. And you are more than welcome. Enjoy!

  2. 5 stars
    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.

    1. Linda, I’m deleted you like the recipe. It’s one of my favorites in my book, and one of the easiest and quickest to prepare!