How Do Nando’s Cook Their Chicken?

Nando’s might have had humble beginnings in 1987, but today this restaurant enjoys huge success all over the globe. Today there are 1000 outlets in 30 countries. This is an international restaurant chain from South African boasting Portuguese and Mozambican flavours.

Marinated chicken dishes are the speciality of the restaurant, featuring lemon and herb, peri-peri or mango and lime marinades. There are additional flavour options in some countries, and the peri-peri can be medium, hot, extra-hot, or extra-extra hot for those who like it truly spicy!

Nando’s began in Johannesburg, South African, in Rosettenville, a mining suburb. A Portuguese-born audio engineer called Fernando Duarte went to Chickenland, a Portuguese takeaway, with his entrepreneur friend called Robert Brozin. They enjoyed the peri-peri chicken and purchased the restaurant for the equivalent of about £25,000 at the time, renaming it Nando’s. There were four outlets just two years later, and of course the rest is history.

Flame-grilled peri-peri chicken is what Nando’s is famous for, and you can get whole chickens, quarters, halves, or butterflied chicken breasts. Burgers, salads, wings, pitas, and wraps are also on the menu. Peri-peri, which is also known as African bird’s eye chilli, is a type of chili pepper grown in South and East Africa. So now you know what Nando’s is and why they are famous, you might be wondering how exactly they cook their distinctive chicken.

Chicken Cooked the Nando’s Way

Bite into Nando’s chicken and you will notice two things right away – first, the chicken is really succulent and moist, and second it is really flavourful. Nando’s does not freeze its chicken, which means it is fresh. The chicken is marinated for a whole day before being cooked and it is basted with peri-peri sauce during cooking, to add more flavour and help keep it moist.

Although Nando’s chicken usually arrives at the restaurant cooked by boiling the chicken, it is then finished off on the grill to heat it up, crisp up the skin, and add those attractive grill marks. Precooking the chicken in this way means it retains it moisture and it also keeps it safe from contamination. It also means you can get your delicious chicken just a few minutes after ordering.

How to Make Nando’s Style Chicken at Home

What You Need:

2 whole, butterflied chickens, cut in half
Salt, to taste

For the Marinade:

125 ml olive oil
70 ml white vinegar
5 peeled garlic cloves
1 seeded, chopped red bell pepper
Juice of ½ lemon
2 tablespoons dried oregano
3 – 5 chopped bird’s eye chillies
3 chopped red chillies
2 teaspoons salt

How to Make It:

Put the oil and vinegar in a pan over a medium heat and bring it to a simmer. Add the garlic and red bell peppers, the stir in the lemon juice. Simmer this mixture for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat and stir in the chillies (with their seeds as well) and the oregano. Stir in the salt and then let this sauce cool for 15 minutes. Puree it until smooth and creamy in a blender.

Rub the chickens with some salt and then pour about half the sauce over them. Marinate in the fridge overnight, or for at least 3 hours. Preheat the oven oven to 200 degrees C then bake the chickens for half an hour. Turn the heat down to 180 degrees C and cook for another 15 minutes or until completely cooked through. You can either pour the remaining sauce over the chicken (for an extra-spicy kick) or keep it in an airtight container for up to a month in the fridge for making your next batch of Nando’s chicken. You can use this marinade on chicken breasts, quarters or wings if you like.