If you like Portuguese food, then you should try eating at Nando’s. But with so many starchy dishes available such as rice and ancient grains, it can be hard to indulge in traditional Portuguese favorites without over-consuming carbs.
We’ll show you how to enjoy Nando’s on a low-carb diet so you don’t get kicked out of ketosis or accidentally consume more carbs than you’d like. In this article, you will learn how to order low-carb at Nando’s Peri Peri in the US and Australia.
Nando’s Peri Peri is a casual food chain that originated in South Africa. It’s known for its delicious grilled chicken over fire dishes.
They have more than 1,000 different restaurant locations spreading throughout three dozen countries, including all over Africa, Asia, several Middle Eastern countries, several Canadian provinces, Australia, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. You can also buy Nando’s signature hot sauce all over the United States.
Nando’s is the type of restaurant where you order at a counter, take a seat, and wait for your food to be brought out to you.
Every location and menu is unique, but the specificity is grilled chicken over fire with Portuguese spices that range from mild to extreme heat.
Inside the restaurant, you’ll find lots of Portuguese-inspired artwork with warm and vibrant colors to support the South African community.
Although Nando’s offers a low-carb main dish, we always recommend eating at home whenever you can. This allows you to be in complete control over what (and how much) you eat.
Tips For Ordering Low-Carb At Nando’s
If you’re not in the mood to cook or you want to enjoy a night out, then you can’t go wrong when you order the Peri Peri grilled chicken. It has a unique flavor that you probably won’t be able to replicate at home. But you’ll have to be careful what you order it with.
In addition to the fire-grilled chicken, Nando’s has sandwiches, salads, and bowls that you can pick from. They also have side dishes that include corn, potatoes, rice, and ancient grains, which are off-limits on a low-carb diet.
Here are some tips to help you keep it low-carb at Nando’s.
#1. Go with the fire-grilled chicken.
You can’t go to Nando’s and not order the grilled chicken. After all, it’s the primary reason why Nando’s is so popular! But you’ll want to be careful what sauce you order it with.
The Nando’s grilled chicken is marinated for 24 hours before it is grilled. This allows the meat to become rich and flavorful.
If you want the lowest carbs option, choose your chicken without any sauce. Sauces may contain anywhere from 0.2g of carbs to 2 grams of carbs per 20g serving.
This doesn’t seem like a lot, but it can add up. The meat will be so flavorful that you won’t need sauce anyway!
If you’re on the ketogenic diet, then we recommend ordering the chicken with the skin on and going with dark meat to increase your fat intake.
#2. Choose your sides carefully (or opt for none at all).
If you order the chicken as a main dish, it will likely come with your choice of sides. Here is a list of your side dish options:
- Mixed green side salad
- Caesar salad
- Red skin mashed potato
- Portuguese rice
- Macho peas
- Garlic bread
- Flame-grilled corn on the cob
- Peri chips (fries)
- Brussels sprouts
The only safe side dish that you can order on a low-carb diet is a side salad without dressing. If you order the Caesar salad, then be sure to hold the croutons.
Nando’s recently added Brussels sprouts to their side dish lineup. They contain 309 calories per serving and come with red onions, chili, and garlic. This could also be a good option for a low-carb side dish if you don’t want a side salad.
However, at the time of this update, there was no nutrition information for the Brussels sprouts listed on the Nando’s nutrition PDF. You’ll want to keep your portion size small if you decide to order this to keep the carbs down.
The mashed peas might also be OK as peas contain lots of fiber and fewer carbs than other legumes. However, peas are not recommended if you are on a strict keto diet.
According to Nando’s nutrition information, a regulars-ized serving of macho peas contains 11 grams of net carbs. The large serving contains 22 net carbs.
Before you order the mixed vegetables, it’s a good idea to find out what’s in the mix first. Most vegetable mixes include squash, corn, beans, and other high-carb vegetables. These might be OK for a low-carb diet, but not for strict keto dieters.
#3. Use the nutritional calculator.
The Nando’s website has a nutritional calculator tool that you can use to measure the carbs and sugar in your dish. You can view it here.
When you choose a dish, it will give you options for how you want it prepared. Always ask for the dish to be prepared as plain as possible if you want the least carbs, which means holding all sauces.
Here is a list of the dishes we found that are lowest in carbs, according to the calculator:
- Half chicken (plain flavor) – 0 carbs
- 1/4 chicken- leg and thighs (plain flavor) – 0 carbs
- ¼ chicken- breast and wings (plain flavor) – 0 carbs
- 1/2 chicken (plain) – 0 carbs
- Boneless chicken breast (plain) – 0 carbs
- Chicken thighs (plain) – 0 carbs
- Wing platter (plain) – 0 carbs
- Jumbo platter (plain) – 0 carbs
- Full platter (plain) – 0 carbs
- 12 Peri Peri wings (plain) – 0 carbs
- Chicken livers (plain) – 1 carb
- Nando’s peri peri sauce – 0.2g of net carbs per serving size of 20 grams. Most of the carbs will come from garlic puree
Keep in mind that these dishes are only low-carb if you do not order any sauce or side dishes with them! You can safely order a side salad as a side dish, but make sure it does not contain dressing. Or ask for olive oil and lemon juice/vinegar instead.
You can also download the nutrition guide on the website. The current edition was updated in the fall of 2020. It will tell you the macronutrient breakdown of each dish offered.
This guide is especially handy when it comes to comparing the different sauces and add-ons offered at Nando’s. Here are some safe sauces and add-ons that you can include in your dish:
- Olive oil (0 grams carbs)
- Caesar dressing (one ounce) (0 grams carbs)
- Hot sauce (two ounces) (2 grams carbs)
- Lemon and herb basting (1 gram carbs)
- Medium basting (2 gram carbs)
- Cheddar cheese (0 grams carbs)
- Grilled halloumi cheese (1 gram carbs)
What To Order at Nando’s
We’ve gone over every dish on the US and Australia menus and broken them down so that you can order them low-carb. We’ve also put together a list of menu items from these countries that you should avoid.
Here’s what (and how) to order at Nando’s to keep it low carb:
- Herb and garlic chicken meatballs (this dish has 7 grams of carbs, which is OK for low-carb but not keto dieters; you may want to ask your server if this dish contains breadcrumbs before ordering; if it does, do not order, especially if you have a gluten intolerance) (Australia menu)
- 6 Peri Peri wings (US menu)
- Spicy mixed olives (this dish has 4 grams of carbs per serving) (US menu)
- 4 Churrasco BBQ Ribs (Australia menu)
- Grilled halloumi cheese with no dip (Australia menu)
Order all chicken dishes plain and with a side salad only:
- 1/4 chicken (both US and Australia menus)
- 1/4 chicken leg and thigh or breast and wing (US menu)
- 1/2 chicken (both US and Australia menus)
- Boneless chicken breast (US menu)
- Chicken thighs and chicken thighs skewers (US menu)
- Chicken livers (US menu)
- 4 grilled tenderloins (Australia menu)
- 8 Churrasco BBQ ribs (this contains 8.6 grams of carbs, so it’s not suitable for strict keto dieters) (Australia menu)
- 4 Churrasco BBQ thigh pieces (Australia menu)
- 12 Peri Peri wings (US menu)
Platters to share
Make sure you choose a side salad with olive oil/vinegar or lemon juice or a Caesar salad without croutons as your only side dishes:
- Whole chicken (Australia menu)
- Mixed platter (Australia menu) (this dish has 8 grams of carbs per serving, so it’s OK for low carb but not ketogenic dieters)
- Two’s a party (Australia menu) (this dish has 2 grams of carbs if you choose a salad)
- Wing platter (US menu)
- Jumbo platter (US menu)
- Full platter (US menu)
Sandwiches, Burgers, Pita and Wraps
For all sandwiches and burgers, choose a side salad in place of fries; hold the bun or bread and ask for a lettuce wrap instead; also hold any sauce that comes on each sandwich:
- Classic burger, wrap and pita (no bun, pita or wrap, hold the mayo) (Australia menu)
- Supremo burger, wrap and pita (no bun, pita or wrap; hold the herbed yoghurt & PERi-PERi chutney) (Australia menu)
- Supremo wrap, pita, and burger (no bun, pita or wrap; hold the herbed yoghurt & PERi-PERi chutney) (Australia menu)
- Halloumi burger, wrap and pita (no bun, wrap or pita; hold the creamy aioli & caramelised onion relish) (Australia menu)
- Smashed avocado and feta burger, pita, and wrap (no bun, wrap, or pita; hold the quinoa, gourmet lettuce & herbed yoghurt) (Australia menu)
- Chicken BLAT burger, wrap, and pita (no bun, pita or wrap; hold the light mayo & PERi-PERi chutney) (Australia menu)
- Double cheese and bacon burger (no bun or mayo) (Australia menu)
- The all-in burger (no bun or mayo) (Australia menu)
- The chicken burger (no bun or pineapple if you’re strict keto) (US menu)
- Nandoca’s choice (no garlic bread or coleslaw) (US menu)
- Chicken Caesar wrap (no pita) (US menu)
- Chicken breast sandwich (no bun or mayo) (US menu)
- Chicken breast wrap (no wrap or sweet chilli jam and tangy yogurt sauce) (US menu)
- Chicken breast pita (no pita or PERinaise) (US menu)
- The thigh and mighty sandwich (no rolls or PERinaise) (US menu)
For all salads, order without dressing and croutons; ask for olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice instead:
- Superfuel Salad With Grilled Chicken (no quinoa or sweet potato) (Australia menu)
- Mediterranean Salad With Grilled Chicken (Australia menu)
- Crispy Bacon & Avocado Salad with Grilled Chicken (no creamy cracked pepper dressing) (Australia menu)
- Feta, Avocado & Crispy Chickpeas Salad (hold the chickpeas) (US menu)
- Heirloom Tomato, Halloumi, and Chicken Salad (hold the grilled corn and house-made croutons) (US menu)
- Chicken Caesar salad (no croutons) (US menu)
- Side salad
- Side Caesar salad
- Seasonal veggies (this is OK for low-carb dieters but not for strict keto)
- Cucumber and Poppy Seed Salad (hold the dressing)
Foods To Avoid at Nando’s
Some foods aren’t worth the trouble because they can’t be made low-carb. Either that, or there are easier ways to order similar dishes that are low-carb.
We recommend avoiding the following foods because they contain too many carbs. Stick with the list we provided above.
- Creamy hummus with Peri Peri Drizzle and pita
- The hot duet
- Garlic sticks
- Peri Peri nuts (this dish has 31 grams of carbs!)
- Cheesy garlic mini pita
- Peri Peri chicken bowl
Platters to share:
- Tear and share platter
Sandwiches, Burgers, Pita and Wraps
- Veggie burger, wrap and pita (you could order this as a side of steamed vegetables instead)
- Feta, Avocado & Grains Wrap
- Portobello Mushroom with Halloumi Wrap
- Veggie burger
- Superfuel salad (this is OK to order with chicken and as described above)
- Ancient Grains, PERi Tomato, and Chicken Salad (order a grilled chicken salad instead)
Specialities (Australia only):
- Paella (this is a rice-based dish and is not allowed on a low-carb diet)
- Garlic bread
- Machos peas
- All dips and most sauces
- All sweetened beverages
- All desserts
- All alcoholic drinks
Nando’s is a Portuguese casual chain restaurant that is popular worldwide. They specialize in fire-grilled chicken with a variety of sauces that are sold all over the US.
Although we always recommend that you eat at home when following a low-carb diet, there are ways to eat low-carb at Nando’s. We recommend sticking with the fire-grilled chicken and adding a side salad without dressing.
If you’re on a high-fat diet, then go with the chicken thighs and be sure to order the skin on as it adds to the fat content. For a list of low carb foods to eat on this diet, check here!
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Photo credit: pio3 / depositphotos.com