Crispy Air Fryer Piri Piri Chicken Drumsticks In Under 1 Hour

For today’s recipe, I will show you how to make the ultimate quick busy weeknight dinner recipe; air fryer Piri Piri chicken!

This recipe is very easy and stuffed with savory spicy flavors. And what makes it even better is that you can pair it with virtually any accompaniment! You can even use leftover ingredients to create a quick side dish.

Crispy Air Fryer Piri Piri Chicken Drumsticks

What Is Piri Piri?

There are numerous spellings for this specific flavoring. Piri Piri is correct Portugese spelling of the words. But, in many other countries, it also goes by Peli-Peli or Peri-Peri.

And depending on which specific varietal you have, you may also know it as the African Red Devil or the African Bird’s Eye.

So, what exactly is it? Piri Piri is a chili that was cultivated by Portuguese explorers in Southern Africa. Mozambique is especially well-known for growing this chili. After a couple of centuries, this chili has spread globally and can now be found on almost every continent.

An immature Piri Piri chili is green, whereas a mature one is a bright red. When harvested, they usually measure between 3/4 to 1 1/4 of an inch in length (2-3cm).

While this isn’t a very large chili, it definitely is extraordinarily hot! There are a few different varieties of Piri Piri chilies, but they generally range between 30 000 to 100 000 in Scoville Units with a sharpness between 7 and 9.

Now, these chilis are processed in every way imaginable. They are most often made into a hot sauce. But, they can also be worked into various spice mixes. You will even be able to find ground or flaked Piri Piri peppers.

Crispy Air Fryer Piri Piri Chicken Drumsticks

How To Make My Crispy Piri Piri Chicken Recipe In An Air Fryer

The process of making air fryer crispy Peri Peri chicken is extremely easy. 

To start, you will need to marinate your chicken with the spice mix, olive oil, and lemon juice. This step is optional but highly recommended. If you don’t want to wait for the meat to marinate, you can just coat the chicken pieces with the marinade and cook them immediately.

Once the chicken is cooked in the air fryer, you can remove it and serve it immediately.

It is as simple as that! This recipe is easy and relatively hassle-free.

How to serve air fryer Piri Piri chicken?

Piri Piri chicken is an extremely easy dish to pair with accompaniments.

It goes very well with a yogurt sauce (or plain yogurt) to help balance the spiciness of the chicken. But, you can also serve it with more hot sauce. 

Then, Peri Peri chicken is also a fantastic accompaniment with more neutral side dishes. Your best choices are things like mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, coleslaw, or flatbread.

However, some people love to push the envelope and pair Piri Piri chicken drumsticks with mac and cheese, coconut rice, broccoli and cheese bake, and a tomato salad.

At the end of the day, choosing an accompaniment that works is incredibly easy. And you can utilize what you already have in your kitchen. You can make something basic and traditional (like potato wedges or fries) or try some fancier and more daring flavor pairings. It’s really up to you.

Here are some easy and delicious side dishes you can try with my air fryer crispy Piri Piri drumsticks. The first is delicious Steven Universe Potato Bites, and the second is tasty Homemade Garlic Bread

Crispy Air Fryer Piri Piri Chicken Drumsticks

Tips And Tricks For This Air Fryer Piri Piri Chicken Recipe

  • I highly recommend marinating the chicken for at least 30 minutes. It helps soften the meat and adds a ton more flavor to it. You can also marinate the meat for a lot longer. After about 12 hours the meat won’t tenderize any more than it already has.
  • I really like my Piri Piri chicken to be uber spicy. So, if you’re like me, you can always add more Piri Piri seasoning or chili powder to the marinade. And, if you prefer less spicy chicken, you can also reduce the number of spicy ingredients.
  • To store these Piri Piri chicken drumsticks, you will need to place them inside an airtight container. Store them inside the fridge for up to 3 days. If you’d like them to be crispy when you reheat them, you will need to place them back inside the air fryer to re-crisp.


How spicy is Piri Piri chicken?

Piri Piri chicken comes with varying levels of spiciness. However, I can say that it is generally very spicy. It isn’t the hottest seasoning that exists, but it’s definitely not mild. 

To put it into perspective, tabasco chili sauce is between 30 000 to 50 000 Scoville units. Piri Piri sauce and seasoning start at 50 000 SHU and can easily go up to 100 000.

Is Peri Peri chicken Portuguese or African?

Piri Piri chicken comes from Mozambique, which is a country in Africa. However, it is believed that the Portuguese cultivated Piri Piri chilies here. They shipped it back to their country, which is why it is such a prominent flavor in Portuguese cuisine to this day.

Can you use Piri Piri sauce instead of Piri Piri spice?

For this recipe, using Piri Piri sauce as a marinade will work. However, the texture that the spice mix add is what I love about this method. The flavors are also less processed than what you get in pre-made Piri Piri sauces.

More Delicious Recipe

Close up of the Air Fryer Crispy Piri Piri Chicken Drumsticks.

Crispy Air Fryer Piri Piri Chicken Drumsticks In Under 1 Hour

This is one you are going to love, I promise you! Gorgeously crispy on the outside and juicy, perfectly cooked meat on the inside, all marinated in an incredibly rich, aromatic Piri rub. You can’t go wrong!
5 from 13 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Marinating Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine African
Servings 3
Calories 280 kcal


  • 6 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground garlic powder
  • 3 tbsp Piri-Piri spice mix
  • 1 tsp chili Flakes
  • Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish
  • Yogurt dipping sauce, for serving


  • To start, place the chicken drumsticks inside a large mixing bowl. Then, squeeze some lemon juice over it.
  • Drizzle your chicken drumsticks with some oil. Make sure it is very well coated. Then, add all of the spices over the oil-covered drumsticks.
  • Once you have added the spices, start working them onto the chicken. Toss the drumsticks to ensure they are evenly coated with the spices and oil.
  • After your chicken is coated well, place it inside the fridge and allow it to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Preheat your air fryer to 400ºF (200ºC).
  • Next, place your seasoned Peri Peri chicken drumsticks inside the air fryer. Stack them in a single layer.
  • Fry the chicken drumsticks for 20-25 minutes in total. Halfway through the cooking time, make sure that you flip the Piri Piri chicken drumsticks over.
  • Once your chicken is cooked, remove it from the air fryer and serve it immediately. Garnish it with some freshly chopped parsley and a delicious yogurt sauce.


Serving: 1 portionCalories: 280kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 27gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 139mgSodium: 551mgPotassium: 363mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 334IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 18mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!

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