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BEST Peri-Peri Seasoning Substitutes

I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of peri-peri seasoning substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion. Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or want a swap that fits your diet, I’ve got the answers.

The best substitute for peri-peri seasoning is to make your own blend. The process is easy and the ingredients are accessible. Peri-peri sauce also works and is widely available. In a pinch, you can use Aleppo pepper flakes or Tajin seasoning.

The Experiment

I made a batch of crispy French fries to test out some peri-peri seasoning substitutes.

Peri-peri seasoning (also spelled piri-piri seasoning) is a spice blend with African origins and was made famous by Nando’s. It boasts a bold, spicy flavor with a subtle sweet, citrusy kick. It’s typically used to season steaks and other proteins, but you can sprinkle it over anything really. I love it over popcorn and roasted vegetables.

Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:

SubstitutesHow to SubstituteVerdict
Homemade Peri-peri SeasoningEasy to make with accessible ingredients10/10
Peri-peri SauceGreat flavor match, but in sauce form10/10
Aleppo Pepper FlakesMix with garlic and salt8/10
Tajin SeasoningMilder heat and more citrus-forward8/10

Homemade Peri-Peri Seasoning

Like other spice blends, you can’t go wrong with making peri-peri seasoning from scratch. It’s quick and easy, and it gives you complete control over how spicy you want your blend to be.

At its core, traditional peri-peri seasoning proudly uses the piri-piri pepper (hence the name). But my go-to recipe uses cayenne pepper, which is much easier to find. And don’t worry, this swap still delivers that spicy twist so you won’t be missing out on the real deal. The other ingredients include:

  • 2 tbsp sugar (brown sugar is preferred)
  • 2 tbsp paprika (mix of regular and smoked if possible)
  • 2 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp ground cardamon
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (for a mild blend, add up to 1 tbsp for a spicy blend)

Once you have everything, simply mix it all together to create your Peri-Peri seasoning.

Pro-tip: you can make a big batch of this spice blend because it lasts up to six months in an airtight jar. Just make sure to store it in a cool dry place.

And if you’re in a real pinch, you can simply replace peri-peri seasoning with cayenne pepper. Your meal won’t have anywhere as much depth of flavor, but it will be spicy!

How to Substitute: Replace peri-peri seasoning in a 1:1 ratio with the homemade version.

Peri-Peri Sauce

This isn’t a spice blend, but it’s still a great replacement for peri-peri seasoning. Much like the dry seasoning, peri-peri sauce has that balance of heat, tang, and savory depth, but it uses fresh ingredients instead of dried ones giving it a brighter flavor.

You can use it in most of the same ways you would the seasoning. You can use it as a marinade for meats, as a dipping sauce for things like French fries (what I did), or stir it into soups and stews.

Psst… while you can buy peri-peri sauce in stores now, I think it’s way tastier to make your own because you can customize the ingredients. Here’s a great basic recipe.

How to Substitute: Replace peri-peri seasoning with twice the amount of peri-peri sauce to achieve the same heat level.

Aleppo Pepper Flakes

Primarily celebrated in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes, these flakes are not an exact replica of peri-peri, but they have a similar zingy heat. The spice level is milder but it comes with a distinct citrusy undertone. 

Another thing I noticed with these pepper flakes is they lacked the garlicky kick of peri-peri. To bridge the gap, I mixed them with a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of garlic powder. It wasn’t perfect, but it was an easy fix to better replicate peri-peri seasoning’s flavor.

Pro-tip: if you want to use this substitute to season your proteins, mix it with a splash of olive oil.

How to Substitute: Replace peri-peri seasoning in a 1:1 ratio with Aleppo pepper flakes.

Tajin Seasoning

Last but not least, let’s talk about Tajin seasoning. A favorite in Mexican kitchens, Tajin seasoning combines chili peppers, salt, and dehydrated lime juice. It has the same spicy-sour kick as peri-peri seasoning, although the heat is milder and the tangy notes are more dominant.

Like Aleppo pepper flakes, Tajin isn’t a perfect substitute for peri-peri seasoning, but it will work in a pinch. You can also mix Tajin with a dash of garlic powder and a pinch of smoked paprika to bring it closer to peri-peri’s flavor profile.

You can use Tajin any way you would peri-peri. I think it’s superb with steak.

Psst… I also have a great article on the best substitutes for tajin seasoning.

How to Substitute: Replace peri-peri seasoning in a 1:1 ratio with Tajin seasoning.

Hot Sauces

Replacing peri-peri seasoning with hot sauce isn’t an ideal swap, but it will do if it’s all you have. Hot sauces like harissa or Mexican-style hot sauces will have similar complexity to peri-peri seasoning but the flavor will be different.

Or if you just want some heat, something like Tabasco or Sriracha will do.

How to Substitute: Replace peri-peri seasoning with hot sauce to taste.

Best Peri-Peri Seasoning Substitutes

I tested different peri-peri seasoning substitutes to find the best one. I was looking for alternatives that brought a similar spicy kick with hints of citrus notes and sweetness.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Ingredient
Cuisine: African
Keyword: peri-peri seasoning substitutes, substitutes for peri-peri seasoning
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 15 servings


  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper


  • Mix everything together well and store in an airtight jar.

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