The Role of Spices in Portuguese Chicken and How to Balance The Flavors


Portuguese chicken, or frango assado, is a beloved dish in Portugal and around the world. One of the key factors that set Portuguese chicken apart from other roasted chicken dishes is the use of a variety of flavorful spices. The spices used in Portuguese chicken are not only used for taste but also for their health benefits. In this article, we will explore the role of spices in Portuguese chicken and how to balance the flavors for the perfect dish.

The Role of Spices in Portuguese Chicken

Portuguese cuisine has been influenced by various cultures over the centuries, and the use of spices is one of the defining features of the cuisine. The use of spices is not only for their taste but also for their medicinal properties. Some of the common spices used in Portuguese chicken include Piri Piri, paprika, garlic, bay leaves, and oregano.

The Role of Spices in Portuguese Chicken

Piri Piri, a type of chili pepper, is known for its spiciness and adds heat to the dish. Paprika adds a smoky and sweet flavor to the chicken while garlic adds a savory taste. Bay leaves are used to give the chicken a slightly sweet and floral aroma, while oregano adds a slightly bitter and pungent taste.

Balancing the Flavors in Portuguese Chicken

Portuguese cuisine is known for its balance of flavors, and this is especially true for Portuguese chicken. Achieving the perfect balance of flavors in Portuguese chicken is key to creating a delicious and memorable dish. Balancing the spices in Portuguese chicken involves using the right combination of spices and not overpowering the chicken with any one spice.

Balancing the Flavors in Portuguese Chicken

The key to balancing the flavors is to use spices in moderation. It is also important to use fresh spices to achieve maximum flavor. When using whole spices, it is recommended to crush them before using them to release their flavor. When using ground spices, it is important to use them within six months for maximum flavor.

Tips for Cooking with Portuguese Chicken Spices

Choosing the right spices for Portuguese chicken is crucial to achieving the right flavor profile. When preparing the chicken, it is recommended to season the chicken with salt and pepper before adding the spices. This will help to ensure that the spices are evenly distributed and that the chicken is seasoned properly.

Using fresh spices is important for maximum flavor, as is proper storage to maintain freshness. For example, whole spices can be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to a year. Ground spices should be stored in a dark and cool place in an airtight container.

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Pairing Portuguese Chicken with Side Dishes and Drinks

Portuguese chicken is often served with traditional side dishes such as roasted potatoes, rice, and a variety of vegetables. The acidity of these side dishes helps to cut through the spiciness of the chicken and balances out the flavors.

Portuguese wines, such as Vinho Verde or Douro, are excellent choices to pair with Portuguese chicken, as are other Portuguese drinks like port or ginjinha. If you prefer beer, a light pilsner or lager is a good choice.


In conclusion, the use of spices is an essential aspect of creating delicious and flavorful Portuguese chicken. Balancing the flavors of the spices is key to creating a cohesive and memorable dish. With the right combination of spices, proper storage, and a few simple tips, anyone can create an authentic and delicious Portuguese chicken dish that is sure to impress. The use of spices not only adds flavor to the dish but also provides health benefits. Therefore, next time you are in the kitchen, add some Portuguese spices to your chicken and experience the deliciousness of Mediterranean cuisine.

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