Nando’s is a popular restaurant chain that specializes in peri-peri style chicken dishes. For people with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease, an important question is whether Nando’s chicken is gluten-free.
Most Nando’s chicken is gluten-free. Nando’s states that their chicken, including their peri-peri marinated chicken and grilled chicken, is gluten-free. However, some menu items contain other ingredients that are not gluten-free, so it’s important to check each menu item carefully.
Is Nando’s Chicken Gluten-Free?
According to Nando’s nutritional information, their chicken does not contain any gluten. This includes:
- Peri-peri chicken – Nando’s signature dish of marinated chicken in peri-peri sauce
- 1/4 Chicken – Grilled quarter chicken
- 1/2 Chicken – Grilled half chicken
- Whole Chicken – Grilled whole chicken
- Wings – Grilled chicken wings
- Livers – Grilled chicken livers
- Burgers – Chicken burgers using grilled chicken fillets
The chicken itself is gluten-free, but it’s important to note that some menu items contain other high-gluten ingredients like breading or wheat-based sauces. You need to check each menu item carefully to see if it contains any gluten.
Gluten-Free Sides at Nando’s
Many of the side dishes at Nando’s are naturally gluten-free, including:
- Corn on the cob
- Mixed leaf salad
- Coleslaw (without dressing)
Some of the other sides may contain gluten or be cross-contaminated during preparation, like chips/fries cooked in shared oil. So check with the staff to be sure.
Gluten-Containing Items on Nando’s Menu
While the grilled chicken itself is gluten-free, some Nando’s menu items contain gluten:
- Breaded chicken – This includes items like chicken strips, chicken livers, and chicken burgers that use breaded chicken. The breading contains gluten.
- Perinaise – Nando’s perinaise sauce contains wheat flour and is not gluten-free.
- Pita wraps – The pita bread and wraps contain gluten grains.
- Chicken pitas/sandwiches – Any sandwich on pita bread or another bread contains gluten.
- Salads with croutons or dressings – Some salads may be topped with croutons or dressings containing gluten.
- Coleslaw with dressing – The creamy coleslaw dressing often contains wheat.
- Corn on the cob with butter – The butter may have gluten cross-contamination.
It’s important to emphasize that while the grilled Nando’s chicken itself is gluten-free, menu items with breading, wraps, dressings or sauces may contain gluten. Some cross-contamination may occur during preparation as well.
Ordering Gluten-Free at Nando’s
Here are some tips for ordering gluten-free food at Nando’s:
- Opt for grilled peri-peri chicken, grilled chicken burgers or wings.
- Avoid breaded chicken items, chicken sandwiches, pitas and wraps.
- Choose naturally gluten-free sides like fries, rice, salad without croutons.
- Ask for sauces and dressings on the side.
- Request that your meal be prepared in a clean area and with fresh oil to avoid cross-contamination.
- Tell the staff you need a gluten-free meal when ordering.
Being very clear with the staff about needing gluten-free options is key when ordering at Nando’s. With the right choices, you can enjoy peri-peri chicken and sides gluten-free!
Nando’s Allergen Information
On their website, Nando’s provides allergen information guides for their menu items. These list ingredients and call out items containing wheat/gluten. The Nando’s allergen guides are helpful for seeing which dishes contain gluten.
Nando’s also notes that some items may not have complete allergen info listed. There is a chance of cross-contamination with ingredients like wheat flour in their open kitchen environment. So caution is still advised when ordering.
Can Celiacs Safely Eat at Nando’s?
For people with celiac disease, it’s generally recommended to avoid Nando’s. Even if you order grilled gluten-free chicken and sides, there is a high risk of cross-contamination in their facilities and with shared cooking oils.
Several celiac forums strongly advise avoiding Nando’s, even though some menu items don’t directly contain gluten. Just a tiny amount of cross-contamination can make someone with celiac quite sick.
If you do decide to eat at Nando’s with celiac disease, be aware it carries a high risk of cross-contamination. Carefully check allergen info and notify staff to take extra precautions in the kitchen.
Gluten-Free Chicken Options at Other Restaurants
While Nando’s chicken is gluten-free, the potential for cross-contamination makes it risky for celiacs. Here are some other restaurant options for gluten-free chicken:
Chick-fil-A offers breaded and grilled chicken options. Their grilled chicken is marinated and prepared separately from breaded options. It’s a go-to gluten-free fast food option for many.
KFC fries their chicken in dedicated fryers separate from their breaded foods. Their fried chicken tends to be safe for those avoiding gluten. Just avoid breaded items and biscuits.
Boston Market prepares their rotisserie chicken in gluten-free marinades. Their meats are gluten-free, just avoid sides with wheat ingredients.
Chipotle has gluten-free tortillas and chicken marinated in just salt and lime. You can get tacos, bowls and salads using their gluten-free ingredients.
Is Nando’s Chicken Healthy?
Nando’s peri-peri grilled chicken is quite healthy, especially if avoiding fried items and high-calorie sauces or sides.
Some nutrition facts for Nando’s chicken include:
|1/4 Grilled Chicken||180||4g||31g|
Nando’s grilled chicken is an excellent source of lean protein. It’s lower in fat and calories compared to fried chicken from fast food chains. The peri-peri spice blend also provides antioxidants.
To make your Nando’s meal healthier, opt for the following:
- Grilled chicken instead of breaded/fried
- Fresh side salads or steamed veggies
- Olive oil or lemon wedge instead of perinaise
- Skip sugary drinks – choose water instead
With smart menu choices, you can enjoy flavorful peri-peri chicken as part of a healthy gluten-free diet at Nando’s.
Peri-Peri Chicken Nutrition
Nando’s peri-peri chicken gets its signature flavor from a sauce made with peri-peri chiles. Peri-peri peppers provide the following nutrients and health benefits:
- Vitamin C – A potent antioxidant that supports immune function
- Beta carotene – An antioxidant that converts to vitamin A, supporting eye and skin health
- Capasaicin – The compound that gives chiles their heat and may boost metabolism
- Flavonoids – Antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects
Many studies show capsaicin can temporarily boost metabolism and increase satiety after a meal. So peri-peri sauce may provide flavor along with health perks!
Making Gluten-Free Peri-Peri Chicken at Home
You can easily recreate gluten-free Nando’s grilled chicken and peri-peri sauce at home. Follow these steps:
- Chicken breasts, thighs or drumsticks
- Lemon juice
- Olive oil
- Garlic, minced
- Onion powder
- Chili powder
- Sea salt
- Peri-peri peppers or cayenne pepper
- In a bowl, mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and seasonings.
- Add chicken and turn to coat in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes up to overnight.
- Grill the chicken over medium heat for 8-12 minutes until cooked through. Discard leftover marinade.
- For the peri-peri sauce, blend peppers, garlic, oil, vinegar, salt and spices. Adjust flavors to taste.
- Serve chicken topped with the peri-peri sauce.
You can adjust the spices to your desired level of heat. Serve with gluten-free sides like rice, veggies, fries or salad. Now you can enjoy Nando’s-style peri-peri chicken gluten-free in your own kitchen!
Other Gluten-Free Portuguese Chicken Recipes
Beyond peri-peri grilled chicken, Portugal has some other delicious gluten-free chicken dishes. Try these recipes:
Portuguese Chicken Stew (Cozido à Portuguesa)
This hearty chicken stew is cooked in a flavorful broth along with potatoes, carrots, cabbage and smoked pork. It’s a gluten-free comfort food.
Algarve Grilled Chicken
Chicken marinated in garlic, piri piri, olive oil and citrus juice. Grilled and served over rice. A basic gluten-free recipe from the Algarve region.
Portuguese Chicken and Rice (Arroz de Frango)
Chicken and rice flavored with tomatoes, onions, garlic, olive oil and parsley. Very simple and naturally gluten-free.
Baked Chicken with Carrots and Potatoes
Chicken baked atop slices of lemon with carrots and potato wedges. An easy one-pan dinner.
Is Nando’s Portuguese Chicken Authentic?
Nando’s was founded in 1987 in South Africa, inspired by Portuguese flavor profiles and peri-peri chicken. But some wonder whether it constitutes true, authentic Portuguese cuisine.
Points regarding the authenticity of Nando’s Portuguese chicken include:
- Peri-peri chicken originates from Portuguese colonists bringing chiles from Brazil to Africa.
- Marinating and grilling chicken in spicy sauces is very typical of Portuguese cuisine.
- Side dishes like coleslaw and corn on the cob are not Portuguese.
- Some Portuguese dishes like frango no churrasco involve similar marinades.
- The chain ambiance and global reach is more fast casual than authentic Portuguese.
While inspired by Portuguese flavors, Nando’s has expanded and adapted the peri-peri chicken concept for a fast casual dining experience. The chicken itself stays true to its Portuguese roots, even if other menu aspects don’t.
Nando’s peri-peri flame-grilled chicken is gluten-free, making it an option for gluten-free and celiac diners. However, some menu items contain hidden gluten in sauces, dressings and breading. There is also a risk of cross-contamination in store kitchens.
With careful menu choices like grilled chicken, plain rice and salad without croutons, a meal at Nando’s can be gluten-free. But caution is still advised, especially for those highly sensitive. Checking allergen info and notifying staff is important.
While not 100% gluten-free safe for celiacs, Nando’s chicken provides tasty Portuguese flavor in a gluten-free protein option. With smart precautions, many gluten-free eaters can enjoy peri-peri chicken at Nando’s.