Does Nando's Bag & Bake chicken taste as good as a takeaway? We tried it
With no mess and no fuss, this product's 'bake it in the bag' concept seems like a winner for busy home cooks
The list of Nando’s products available on supermarket shelves is growing, and given the strength of the brand’s name, fans will need little encouragement to try their latest offering.
Called Bag & Bake, it’s a 20g sachet of spices to add to chicken breasts, which are then baked in the accompanying parchment cooking bag.
Cleverly, the three available flavours carry over from Nando’s famous flame-grilled chickens. There are medium and hot variants of the ever-popular peri-peri, plus lemon and herb; they’re priced at R21.99 each.
The opportunity to replicate the taste of a takeaway at home has great appeal, but how does the resulting meal stack up to the real deal?
To find out, two members of the Sunday Times Lifestyle team put Nando’s Bag & Bake to the test.
FOOD EDITOR HILARY BILLER:
I chose the medium peri-peri flavour and for a chilly evening the lure of a spicy chicken meal was most tempting.
The instructions given on the box are for 4 chicken breast fillets, approximately 500g in weight, but there’s also the suggestion to “get adventurous using any type of chicken, meat, fish or veggies”.
I did just that and used mixed chicken portions, adding a sliced onion and some butternut and baby marrow pieces.
The Bag & Bake concept is a nifty idea; it was fun popping the chicken in the bag, sprinkling over the spice, sealing the bag and placing it onto a baking tray. Best of all, this method of preparation means there’s little to wash up.
The directions said to bake the chicken at 210C for 30 minutes, but as I was using portions rather than breasts, I reduced the heat to 180C and baked it for 50 minutes to allow all the pieces and veggies time to cook through.
My version didn’t look like the appetising picture on the box; the chicken pieces were pale and anaemic looking. The saving grace was the spice blend, which had mingled with the juices of the chicken to create a lovely puddle of sauce in the bottom of the packet. Spooning this sauce over the chicken brightened the whole dish up nicely.
That said, next time I’ll use chicken breasts as this method of cooking — steaming — will offer a tender and succulent result. To finish it off, I’d tear the bag down the centre and pop it under the grill for a couple of minutes to brown the chicken, taking care not to dry it out.
The best part of this product is the convenience, served with a salad it makes a complete meal — and knowing that the paper bag, unlike foil, is recyclable makes the chicken taste even better.
LIFESTYLE JOURNALIST SANET OBERHOLZER:
I, too, opted for the medium peri-peri option — or rather, my husband did. He’s a big Nando’s fan and was excited to try their Bag & Bake. Who doesn’t want Nando’s flavours at home for the small additional cost of R21.99?
I added slightly more than 4 chicken breasts to the bag, but otherwise followed the instructions carefully including placing the bag seam-side down on the baking tray.
I had to bake it for more than 30 minutes, but that was to be expected as I'd added extra chicken; the directions are also clear that cooking times may vary.
The idea of adding all your ingredients to a bag, shaking it and baking it with little to no mess (unless your bag tears like mine did) is great for a weekday cook.
We served the chicken with a side of veggies cooked on the stove, which made for a satisfying dinner.
The taste of the chicken was good — my husband agreed with me — but we both felt that it wasn’t quite as good as proper Nando’s. If you’re expecting that deliciously charry, golden brown, flame-grilled flavour you’ll be left wanting given that the chicken essentially steam cooks in the bag.
I do think it’s worth a second try, however, if only to try the hot peri-peri spice pack.
Next time though, I think I'd finish the chicken on the braai to give it an added smokey flavour. That said, this will add another step in the cooking process, and one that's not necessarily convenient during the week. I think this will help, but honestly I still don’t think it will taste quite the same as Nando’s chicken.