This piri piri chicken (peri peri chicken) dinner is full of flavorful spices and cooked on just one sheet pan by using the spatchcock method of removing the backbone so the chicken lies flat on the baking sheet.
This reduces the cooking time significantly and allows all the ingredients to be cooked on the same baking sheet.
Served with green beans and sweet potatoes, it’s an easy complete meal in just 35 minutes!
Piri piri is a newer to me spice blend that I didn’t really know anything about until about 2 years ago and a visit to the D.C. area with a dinner at Nando’s for their famous peri peri sauce (an alternate spelling) and delicious chicken.
Ever since, I’ve been hooked. I’ve made and shared peri peri potatoes and use the spice blend often when I’m just throwing together dinner at home.
Piri piri seasoning is great because while it brings a lot of spice, it’s not overly hot.
If you have people sensitive to heat/spice in your family, they’ll likely be ok eating this. It’s more flavor forward than heat forward.
So I decided to take one from Nando’s book and use the piri piri spice blend a friend just brought me back from Europe (don’t worry, you can easily find it here in the states too or like always, on Amazon) on a roasted chicken.
This isn’t just your typical roasted chicken though.
This is a complete chicken dinner made entirely on a sheet pan, just like the other two recipes from this week: Sheet Pan Pork Chops with Cabbage, Apples and Potatoes and Sheet Pan Meal Prep Tofu.
The trick to cooking an entire chicken on a sheet pan in the same time the vegetables cook is to spatchcock the chicken.
Or, use Cornish hens which cook quicker than an entire chicken since they’re only 1.5 to 2 pounds. Check out this sheet pan Cornish hen recipe or use the air fryer! Air fryer Cornish hens are even easier and quicker!
Or, if you’re not using an entire chicken, this sheet pan maple mustard chicken is a great recipe to try!
How To Spatchcock Chicken
Spatchcock is a funny word that sounds overly complicated for what it really is.
To spatchcock is to simply remove the backbone of the bird and press down on the chicken so it’s able to lie flat on the baking sheet.
To remove the backbone, all you need is a pair of kitchen scissors. If they’re sharp shears even better but I just used my regular kitchen scissors and with some force was able to do this just fine.
Flip the chicken over so the breast side is down and cut down each side of the backbone with the scissors to remove it. Flip the chicken back over and press forcefully on the breast to crack the small bones allowing the chicken to lie flat.
That’s it. You can watch the video above of me making this sheet pan peri peri chicken recipe to see the spatchcock process in the beginning.
What Is Piri Piri Seasoning?
Piri piri (or peri peri) seasoning is a mixture of many spices. The spice blend I used contains:
- chili powder
- black pepper
- dried chilies
- lemon peel
- bay leaves
All piri piri spice blends are pretty similar with a few variations here and there. As you can see, it’s definitely got a spicy side to it but there are lots of other savory/non-spice forward herbs in there as well to round things out.
How To Make Piri Piri Chicken
This roasted chicken is really simple. Don’t be fooled by thinking just because it’s a whole chicken, it’s hard because it’s anything but difficult!
- After you spatchcock the chicken, place it on the baking sheet. Make sure to use a heavy duty baking sheet that won’t warp under high heat. I love my USA pan for this kind of recipe. Season the chicken with kosher salt and ground black pepper. Make sure to do this on all sides, even the bottom/cavity.
- Drizzle some avocado oil over top of the chicken and gently rub it all over the skin.
- Rub the piri piri spice blend all over the top of the chicken. Make sure to get into the crevices where the legs meet the breast and the wings.
- Scatter the chopped sweet potatoes around the chicken on the baking sheet then place into a 450°F oven. I like to use my convection roast setting for extra crispiness.
- Roast for 5 minutes then reduce the heat to 425°F and roast another 25 minutes.
- Remove the sheet pan from the oven, add the green beans to the pan and drizzle the rest of the avocado oil over the green beans and sweet potatoes. Use the remainder of the piri piri spice to season the vegetables and return to the oven for 10 more minutes.
- Remove from oven and let rest for about 10 minutes before carving and serving.
What If I Don’t Have Convection On My Oven?
Use the same temperatures as the recipe states, just broil on high for the last 2-3 minutes to get the skin on the chicken nice and browned and crispy.
If you have an air fryer, those are just mini convection ovens! While you likely won’t be able to cook a spatchcocked chicken in an air fryer due to size constraints, you can always make these air fried chicken leg quarters instead and use the piri-piri seasoning!
What Does Piri Piri Chicken Taste Like?
I like to describe piri piri as sort of like a Tex-Mex/taco seasoning taste without the smokiness and with a touch of citrus and freshness.
So imagine those flavors on a crispy roasted chicken. The great thing about piri piri spices is that they pair really well with vegetables and potatoes too so they’re a great fit for the green beans and sweet potatoes on this sheet pan chicken dinner.
I’d suggest serving this meal with a lemon wedge on each plate to highlight the citrus in the spice blend and liven things up with a pop of freshness.
How Many Does This Serve?
With a 4 pound chicken, you will get about 6 servings of meat. The green beans and potatoes with this piri piri chicken, however, will be good for 4 servings.
If you have a family of 6, just make some extra green beans and sweet potatoes on another baking sheet at the same time.
If you just need to feed your family of 4, this will be the perfect amount plus, you’ll have enough leftover chicken to use in other recipes during the week.
Can I Use Chicken Breasts or Thighs Instead Of A Whole Chicken?
You get way more bang for your buck when buying a whole chicken versus breasts or thighs and now that you know how to spatchcock a whole bird, there’s no reason not to!
That said, if you have breasts or thighs on hand, you can definitely use them. I would suggest thighs over breasts and preferably bone-in and skin on for either. Chicken drumsticks are another good option too.
Suggested cooking times:
If using bone-in thighs – about 20 minutes
If using boneless thighs – about 15 minutes
If using bone-in breasts – about 15 minutes
If using boneless breasts – about 10 minutes
This will vary based on whether you are using convection or not and even from oven to oven so the best idea is to use an instant read meat thermometer and check for an internal temperature of 165°F for cooked chicken.
With all those cooking times above, I would place the green beans on the baking sheet from the beginning unlike in the recipe for the whole chicken where you add them during the last 10 minutes.
More sheet pan dinner recipes to try:
Sheet Pan Piri Piri Chicken
- 4 lb. whole chicken spatchcocked (*see note)
- salt & pepper
- 2 tablespoons piri piri spice divided
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil divided
- 1 large sweet potato chopped
- 1 pound green beans trimmed
- Preheat oven to 450°F convection roast (**see note).
- Season all sides of the spatchcocked chicken liberally with salt and pepper.
- Place the chicken on a heavy duty baking sheet breast side up and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the avocado oil.
- Rub 1 1/2 tablespoons of the piri piri spice all over the chicken.
- Arrange the chopped sweet potatoes around the chicken on the pan.
- Place in the oven and roast for 5 minutes.
- Reduce temperature to 425°F convection and roast for 25 minutes.
- Remove from oven, add the green beans to the pan arranging around the chicken with the sweet potatoes. Drizzle the green beans and sweet potatoes with the remaining 1 tablespoon of avocado oil and 1/2 tablespoon piri piri spice. Toss to combine and return to oven to roast another 10 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let rest for 5-10 minutes before carving the chicken and serving.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.
Gina Matsoukas is the writer, founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients as much as possible. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.