This sauce is super simple, spicy and delicious. Piri piri means pepper pepper in Swahili, and this sauce is composed of hot peppers, citrus, lemon, onion, herbs, and more. Here, it's used as a kick-in-the-pants marinara on top of pita breads, with a little bit of cashew spread or vegan cream cheese to cool things down.

Piri Piri Pepper Sauce [Vegan]

Save Trees. Print Less. But if you must, we charge $2.99 to encourage less waste


For the Sauce:

  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored and seeded
  • 1 or 2 bird’s eye chilis, cored and seeded
  • Generous handful sugar plum tomatoes (the equivalent of a medium regular tomato)
  • 1 small red onion, trimmed, peeled, and quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked sea salt
  • 1 heaping teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves or 2 teaspoons fresh oregano
  • 2 teaspoons double-concentrated tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or grapeseed oil
  • Juice from 1 lemon

For the Pit-zas:

  • 8 8-inch whole-wheat or regular vegan pita breads
  • 1/2 cup vegan cream cheese
  • 2 teaspoons white miso

For the Topping:

  • Dried kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • Soft sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • Peppers, as desired
  • Thinly sliced mushrooms, as desired
  • Fresh herbs, as desired


To Make the Sauce:

  1. Place the bell pepper, chili, tomatoes, onion, garlic, salt, paprika, oregano, tomato paste, olive oil and lemon juice in a food processor or blender. Process until combined and mostly smooth.
  2. Transfer to a large saucepan and heat on medium-high heat. Once the mixture starts to get bubbly, lower the heat and cook on medium-low for 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust the heat as needed. The mixture should lose most of its juices and be quite thick. Set aside.

To Make the Pit-zas:

  1. I like to use the broiler to do what follows, but you really must keep an eye on the pit-zas for it to work without scorching them. Alternatively, preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Place the pita breads on a baking sheet. Combine the spread with the miso, stirring well to thoroughly combine. Add 1 tablespoon evenly on each pita bread. Top with 1 1/2 tablespoons of piri piri sauce.
  3. Apply the toppings that need to be cooked evenly on top of each pita bread.
  4. If using the broiler, baking will take approximately 5 minutes. If using the regular oven, this will take approximately 10 minutes. Keep a close eye no matter which method you choose.


There will be leftover piri piri sauce. Use it to make more pit-zas, or serve it with roasted potatoes, vegetables, and more. Reprinted with permission from Bold Flavored Vegan Cooking by Celine Steen. Copyright 2017 by Page Street Publishing Co. Photographs copyright 2017 by Celine Steen.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.