The Healthiest and Worst Dishes at Nando’s Peri-Peri

The African-Portuguese restaurant pays close attention to its chicken, but at what price?

By: Jazelle Hunt

The African/Portuguese eats at Nano’s Peri-Peri are boldly flavored and filling. Nando’s serving style is a bit different: You order your chicken by size and level of heat, and it’s grilled to order, then paired with your choice of sides. You can also opt for a sandwich, wrap, pita, or even a salad if you want a lighter lunch.

Nando’s signature chicken is carefully chosen, trimmed of fat, marinated in peri-peri chili sauce, butterfly cut, and grilled over an open flame (plus it can be ordered skinless). But does all this attention to detail make for healthier food?

Registered dietitian Allison Marco says, “Overall they have some good options, and with the chicken they do a good job of trimming the fat. It’s basted, grilled, and maybe more healthily prepared than most fast food restaurants. But there should probably be more vegetables on the menu.”

Read on for her breakdown of the offerings.

SANDWICHES, WRAPS, AND PITAS

• Worst—Steak sandwich AND double chicken breast sandwich: The steak sandwich offers 659 calories (almost half from fat) and 33 grams of fat (11 saturated). “Eleven grams of saturated fat is almost as much as what’s recommended for a day,” Marco says. A double chicken breast sandwich doesn’t sound so threatening, but 1,660 milligrams of sodium is definitely a red flag.

• Better—Chicken breast sandwich: It’s only 445 calories and is a great source of protein, but sodium (1,173 milligrams of it) rears its ugly head again. Marco recommends ordering a vegetable side to feel a bit better about this meal.

• Best—Chicken pita: Pita is great because it immediately slashes calories and sodium by offering less bread. This simple lunch offers 384 calories and a less-harmful 968 milligrams of sodium. “It has the lowest calories, lowest fat, and, especially important, the lowest saturated fat,” our expert says.

REGULAR AND FINO SIDES

If you do decide to go the chicken-meal route, Nando’s offers 12 sides in two categories: regular and fino. Of the regular sides, our expert says one ear of corn or a plain Portuguese roll are your best bets. “They’re the lesser of the evils. There aren’t too many nutrients in these options, or if there are, they have lots of fat or extras,” Marco explains, citing the coleslaw as an example.

The vegetable-heavy fino sides—particularly the mixed-leaf side salad or butternut squash and grilled corn—are a better choice overall, and are similarly priced.

Aside from the chicken, Nando’s calling cards are its peri-peri sauces, ranging from zesty lemon and herb to extra-hot. If you choose to dine in, you can grab full bottles of these sauces to take back to your table, which makes it easy to overdo an otherwise tame treat.

Marco says, “There’s not too much in them in terms of fat, calories, or nutrients—sodium is the only concern.” You may also spot Perinaise and chili jam on the menu, which are the ones you may want to stay away from—just two ounces add 158 and 85 calories, respectively.

“Be mindful. Sometimes the chicken itself has enough calories, fat, and sodium to make a full meal,” our expert warns. “Eat until satisfied, eat proper portions, and listen to your hunger cues.”

For more nutritional menu breakdowns of local restaurants, visit Well+Being's Lunch Break page.