top of page
  • David Skarin

Smoked Peri Peri Spatchcock Chicken

Updated: Jan 21, 2021

I love bringing global flavors and techniques into my cooking. Peri Peri, also known as Piri Piri in some parts of the world, is a sauce that originated in South Africa. Some people say it originated in Portugal but the primary pepper is African Birds Eye which is grown where? You guessed it, Africa, not Portugal.

I first became aware of this amazing sauce when I studied abroad in South Africa while in graduate school. I was with a group of about 30 other students and we stumbled across a fast casual restaurant by the name on Nando’s and their specialty was Peri Peri chicken. Needless to say, we ate there every opportunity we could. Upon my return home, I wanted to recreate that sauce to the best of my ability. After researching many “original” recipes, I came up with this and it is really damn good! Just ask my neighbor Jamie, she raves about this sauce.

Please note, I adjusted this recipe for my kids. My son is 3 and daughter is 1 so heat doesn’t really sit well with them just yet. I’ll tell you where you can sub ingredients for more heat.


If you like Spatchcock Chicken, be sure to check these other recipes:


Fast Facts

Category: Poultry - Chicken

Weight: 3.5 Pounds

Grill: Traeger

Heat Source: Wood Pellets

Estimated Cook Time: 4 hours

Actual Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes

Time of Cook: 3:00 PM

Estimated Cooking Temperature: 225 degrees

Actual Cooking Temperature: 225 degrees, bumped to 300 for final 30 minutes

Location of Purchase: Costco

Cook Date: September18, 2020


Ingredient List


  • 10 cups water

  • 1 cup Kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons peppercorns

  • 2 sprigs of oregano

  • 1 lemon, quartered

  • 3 cloves of garlic

  • ½ tablespoon chili flakes

Tip: For a brine, a ratio of roughly 10-1 water to salt is good.

Chicken and Rub

  • 3-5 pound chicken

  • 1-2 cups Peri Peri Sauce (the linked recipe is really good!)

Supply List

  • Brining bowl

  • Stock Pot

  • Poultry Shears

  • Thermometer - These are critical tools to have there are two main types. First, instant read thermometer like this one or this one. The Thermapen is worth it's weight in gold and one I use almost every day. I know the price tag seems excessive but it's the best in the business for a reason. If you're looking for a dual temperature thermometer for both grill temperature and meat, this is the way to go. I use my Smoke for longer more specific cooks such as this.



Prep and Brining

Step 1: Make the brine. In a large stock pot, bring all ingredients to a boil and stir until salt is dissolved. Once dissolved, set aside to cool.

Tip: You can cool it down quickly with ice if you don’t have time to let it cool naturally but you’ll want to reduce the amount of water originally used.A quick ratio is about 8-10 regular ice cubes per cup of water.

Step 2: While the brine is cooling, place your chicken breast side down on a cutting board. Using poultry shears, cut the backbone out of the chicken. Trim off any remaining ribs. For a video of this, click here.

Tip: You can keep the backbone to make chicken stock…or you can discard, your call.

Step 3: Place the chickens breast-side up, then firmly press down with your hands to flatten. Trim off any excess skin. You want to ensure your chicken lays nice and flat. Again, click here for a video showing this process.

Step 4: Place the flattened chicken in a pot or marinating dish where the chicken can be covered with the brine. You can also use a large Ziploc bag if needed. Add the brine. If you didn’t make enough brine to cover the chicken, just add additional cups of water. Make note for future cooks. Refrigerate a minimum of 4 hours but overnight is preferred.

Step 5: For the best result, about 3-6 hours before the cook, remove the chicken from the brine, rinse under water and pat dry. Place the chicken on a baking rack, uncovered, and refrigerate for 1-4 hours. This will help the skin dry out and create a crispier skin while cooking.

Step 6: Remove from the refrigerator and allow the chicken to come to room temperature. This takes about 1-2 hours. Suggest covering with tin foil.

Seasoning and Cook

Step 1: Place chicken in a marinating tub and generously rub the Peri Peri Sauce all over the chicken. Cover and place in refrigerator for 2-8 hours to marinate.

Step 2: Fire up your smoker and bring to 225 degrees.

Tip: If you have a digital meat probe, I highly suggest inserting it to keep an eye on the temperature because you are cooking the chicken to a specific temperature. I use my Smoke thermometer and it always comes out perfect!

Step 3: Place the chicken on the smoker and cook to temperature (this can vary based on outside elements), typically lasts around 4 hours.

Step 4: Cook to 165 degrees in both the thigh and breast. Remove from the grill and let rest 10-15.

Dig into one of the best chickens you’ll ever have!!!

Lessons Learned (Note: I will update this section to include your lessons learned from the comment section)


bottom of page