Low Carb El Pollo Loco Options for Keto Dieters
Fun Fact: El Pollo Loco set the record for the World’s Longest Burrito in 1995. The monster was 3,112 feet long and weighed over 2 tons.
Fun Fact #2: Brad Pitt’s first job in LA was handing out flyers for El Pollo Loco while wearing a chicken suit.
Funnest Fact of All: There was once a El Pollo Loco at Foxwoods Casino where you could play tic tac toe against a live chicken who had spent 6 months at a “Chicken University” learning how to play. (No joke.)
Started in Mexico in 1975, the founder of El Pollo Loco was a visionary who saw the trend away from beef toward poultry. Partly due to cost and partly due to ease of preparation (nuked steak just doesn’t cut it), chicken is now the meat of choice in the USA. There are more than 25 billion chickens on the planet these days, and a bunch of them end up on the grill at El Poco Loco.
Its first US location opened in LA back in 1980 and it was an immediate hit, earning over $2 million that year, and that’s in 1980 dollars. It now has over 400 restaurants, mostly located in the south and west United States.
El Pollo Loco’s ‘citrus-marinade’ recipe is a highly-guarded secret and the chicken is cooked in four stages. With such an elaborate preparation method, it should come as no surprise their chefs aren’t plain old hash slingers, but ‘Grill Masters’ with three levels of mastery.
Moving on to the menu, ingredients like rice, beans and corn are not typical keto fare, but there are lots of other things at El Pollo Loco you can enjoy, namely chicken, but also shrimp, avocados, cheese, and salsa.
El Pollo Loco lists itsonline by item (meaning you’ll have to do a lot of clicking) and it also has a downloadable pdf. Read on to get your best options.
Keto-Compatible Starters at El Pollo Loco
- Guacamole, side (3 net carbs) No chips needed to enjoy. (11g fat, 2g protein) The ‘individual’ portion is 4 net carbs, 23g fat and 3g protein (total).
- Chicken Tortilla Soup, small (7 net carbs) Not a typical keto pick, but if you ask to leave off the tortillas, it’s acceptably low-carb. (4.5g fat, 14g protein)
- Queso, small (3 net carbs, 14g fat, 7g protein)
Chicken at El Pollo Loco for Keto Dieters
Fire-grilled and zero carbs. Following is the macro breakdown for each piece.
- Breast (0 net carbs, 9g fat, 36g protein)
- Leg (0 net carbs, 4g fat, 12g protein)
- Thigh (0 net carbs, 15g fat, 21g protein)
- Wing (0 net carbs, 5g fat, 12g protein)
Ketogenic Diet-Friendly Salsas & More
- Jalapeño Hot Sauce, packet (0.5 net carbs, 0g fat, 0g protein)
- Sour Cream (1 net carb, 6g fat, 1g protein)
- Pico de Gallo (1 net carb, 0g fat, 0g protein)
- House Salsa (1 net carb, 0g fat, 0g protein)
- Avocado Salsa (1 net carb, 2.5g fat, 0g protein)
- Sliced Jalapeño Peppers (1 net carb, 0g fat, 0g protein)
- Salsa Roja (2 net carbs, 0g fat, 0g protein)
Low Carb Salads at El Pollo Loco
Most of their salads contain non-keto items like beans and corn. Ask to leave those out. Carb counts are for salad as listed on the menu.
- Classic with chicken, no dressing (14 net carbs, 8g fat, 26g protein)
- Classic with shrimp, no dressing (15 net carbs, 16g fat, 13g protein)
From the ‘Under 500 Calories’ menu:
- Double Avocado Salad with Chicken, no dressing (8 net carbs, 14g fat, 48g protein)
- Double Avocado Salad with Shrimp, no dressing (10 net carbs, 27g fat, 19g protein)
The Mexican Cobb as is contains 26 net carbs, but if you request no beans or corn, you’ll save considerably on carbs.
Keto-Friendly Dressings at El Pollo Loco
Their sauces are kind of carb-y. All the specialty ones like the Chile-Lime, Chipotle BBQ and Tropical Habanero are all way too sugary. Stick with these two:
- Ranch (2 net carbs, 24g fat, 1g protein)
- Gravy (1 net carb, 0g fat, 0g protein)
Tacos at El Pollo Loco for Low Carb Diets
In case you’re curious and/or out for a treat, a chicken or shrimp taco with the shell (regular or grande) will run you 16 net carbs.
If you’re considering a burrito and are looking at their online menu and want to do a little math, each flour tortilla contains 14 net carbs and one corn tortilla has 11 net carbs.
Keto-Compatible Sides at El Pollo Loco
Extra fiber and micronutrients are always a good idea.
- Broccoli (4 net carbs, 0g fat, 2g protein)
- Loco Side Salad (6 net carbs, 25g fat, 3g protein)
- Cole Slaw (7 net carbs, 10g fat, 1g protein)
What to Drink at El Pollo Loco for the Ketogenic Diet
Water, unsweetened iced tea (including flavored), Vitamin Water Zero or diet soda if you can’t resist. El Pollo Loco serves Coke products.
To borrow from the post office’s motto, neither rice nor beans nor corn tortillas can keep you from succeeding with your keto diet. Make a plan, stick to it, and you’ll be happier and healthier for it. Always keep in mind that fast food should not be a major component of any healthy diet.