El Pollo Loco – Crazy Good Chicken for Dairy-Free & Soy-Free Diners

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Eat Dairy Free - Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and SweetsUpdated 2021! El Pollo Loco, Inc. is a fast food chain specializing in Mexican-style grilled chicken. They have several hundred restaurants, but are mostly located in the Southwestern U.S. They do not have an allergen chart, but do have some other special diet information online. They’ve also added new chickenless vegan menu items, which you can read more about below.

Last year, we were unable to get a proper update from the El Pollo Loco staff, but this year, they’ve gone above and beyond to help. They don’t have allergen information online, but have been happy to answer our questions on specific menu items.

El Pollo Loco Dairy-Free Menu Guide with Gluten-Free and Soy-Free Notes and Vegan Options

No Dairy (Milk-Based) Ingredients (see disclaimer below)

The list below includes Menu Items that are dairy-free as is, or are dairy-free (and still good!) with simple custom orders (as noted). It’s followed by a list of the components that are made without dairy to help you customize your own order as needed.

Menu Items

  • Chicken Meals – All Sizes (choose from dairy-free sides below)
  • Street Tacos – Baja Shrimp, Taco al Carbon, Chicken Avocado (no cheese, sub vinaigrette), Keto (no cheese, sub vinaigrette)
  • Burritos – Vegan Chickenless Pollo, Classic Chicken (no cheese), Chicken Tinga (no cheese), Original BRC (no cheese), Keto (no cheese, sub vinaigrette), Chicken Avocado (no cheese, sub vinaigrette), Chipotle Chicken Avocado (no cheese, no sour cream)
  • Bowls – Original Pollo, Double Protein Avocado Pollo Fit (no cheese, choose vinaigrette), Double Chicken (no cheese, no sour cream)
  • Tostada Salads – Classic Tostada Salad (no cheese, no sour cream, sub vinaigrette), Double Chicken Tostada Salad (no cheese, no sour cream, sub vinaigrette)
  • Sides – Rice, Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice, Black Beans, Pinto Beans, Charro Beans (TX only), Steamed Broccoli (without margarine), Coleslaw, Rice & Bean Cup
  • Soup – Tortilla Soup (no cheese), Chicken Pozole (seasonal)
  • Extras – Chips and Guacamole

More Components to Help Customize Your Order

  • Proteins – Flame Grilled Chicken (leg, wing, thigh, and breast), Chicken Tinga, Baja Shrimp, Vegan Chickenless Pollo
  • Tortilla Products – Tortilla Chips, Flour Tortillas (all sizes), Corn Tortillas (all sizes), Corn Blend Tortillas, Keto Tortillas, Tostada Shell
  • Condiments – Guacamole, Baja Sauce,  Jalapeno Hot Sauce, House Salsa, Avocado Salsa, Salsa Roja, Pico de Gallo, Mexican Vinaigrette

Other Allergen Notes for El Pollo Loco

  • The Creamy Cilantro Dressing, Ranch Dressing, Corn, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Side Salad, and Cinnamon Churros at El Pollo Loco each contain dairy.
  •  The Fire-Grilled Chicken at El Pollo Loco does not contain any of the Top 8 allergens. It is “marinated in just fruit juices, herbs, and spices,” according to their staff. But it is is prepared on a platform using soy oil. Most of their dairy-free items are soy-free, but might be prepared with soybean oil. Check with the staff if this is a concern for you.
  • El Pollo Loco does have gluten-free information online, but it is very outdated. From the above menu items, they did tell us that the flame-grilled chicken, cauliflower rice, and beans are gluten-free. All of their dairy-free sides and toppings might also be gluten-free (aside from the flour tortillas) – check in store.

Vegan Options at El Pollo Loco

Early in 2020, El Pollo Loco launched their Chickenless Pollo, but it wasn’t vegan since it was simmered in a sauce that contained a small amount of egg. So they went back to the kitchen, and created a non-GMO soy “chicken” that is simmered in egg-free adobo sauce. The new Chickenless Pollo is now certified vegan, by the American Vegetarian Association, and available at their restaurants throughout the U.S.

El Pollo Loco’s menu now includes the Vegan Chickenless Pollo Burrito. Vegan diners can also ask staff to “Make it Vegan” when ordering other menu items with Chickenless Pollo, and they will hold all dairy products (cheese, sour cream, and Creamy Cilantro Dressing).

We have confirmed with the staff that the Pinto Beans, Black Beans, and Cauliflower Rice are also vegan. In fact, most of the dairy-free sides and sauces above are vegan-friendly. Just avoid any mayo-containing items, like the coleslaw, swap chickenless pollo for the chicken, and double check to make sure your order is vegan.

El Pollo Loco Dairy-Free Menu Guide with Gluten-Free and Soy-Free Notes and Vegan Options

More Details from El Pollo Loco

Allergen Disclosure from El Pollo Loco: Please keep in mind El Pollo Loco does not segregate food contact surfaces; frying oil; grills; cutting boards; etc. for allergens/ingredients.  Therefore, it is possible that allergens/ingredients may be transferred from one food to another through contact with the same utensils or equipment. Depending on the guest’s level of sensitivity, this may or may not be a consideration.

Restaurant Website: www.elpolloloco.com

*The above information was supplied by a Go Dairy Free viewer, is not representative of our own findings, and should be used for informational purposes only. Ingredients and menu offerings are constantly changing in the food service industry, and can be subject to interpretation. For this reason, Go Dairy Free does not guarantee nor take responsibility for the accuracy of this information. If severe allergies or intolerances are a concern, contact the restaurant directly before purchasing or consuming one of their products. Cross-contamination of potential food allergens should always be considered a possibility in a fast food restaurant.

Last Updated: February 26, 2021

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Rated 5 out of 5
January 5, 2021

I called to check if their chicken, fries and cauliflower rice had eggs, dairy & soy. They confirmed those items didn’t. What a lifesaver!!😄

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D

Pretty darn good dairy-free food

Rated 5 out of 5
January 6, 2020

Many times, when we’ve been running about town, my husband and I have popped into El Pollo Loco (usually with coupon in hand!). I’m pretty loyal to their salads, which are always boisterous, have a generous amount of chicken and even avocado. If I get a bowl with beans and rice, I’m usually a bit too full, but my husband likes the Pollo Bowl. We’ve ordered from them dozens of times, and only once did they accidentally put a scoop of sour cream on my order. They were apologetic, and immediately started a brand new order. Their ingredients are segregated fairly well, but like with any fast food restaurant, I would be leery with a very severe milk allergy.

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Alisa Fleming

About Author

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

17 Comments

  1. Elmer & Barbara Baumgarten on

    What items contain soy or soybean oil. I have severe allergy to soy. Bought a container of pinto beans.
    Barbara Baumgarten

    • See our Other Allergen Notes above, and see the website listed above for further details. You might need to contact the company directly for this information.

  2. Hi
    I’am have allergy for seaseme seeds and penats
    Can i eat into your restorant ?
    Thnaks

  3. Not true about the marinade. I contacted them today and they use soybean oil for frying their foods.

  4. Thanks for list. Based on my experience, the rice does have dairy in it. Made me terribly sick for a couple of days afterwards. Looking forward to going back though just without the rice

    • I can’t fully confirm or deny this! As mentioned in the post above, they do not have an allergen chart or ingredient info available. Those are the items that I was told are dairy free, and the rice was not on the list. I’ve got another inquiry into them for an update, but no response as of yet.

  5. I just called and was told their flame grilled chicken IS cooked in soybean oil. I pressed her on it because I was confused after reading this…and she seemed like she wasn’t 100% sure of her answer…so she may have been wrong. But anyone who is also sensitive to soy might want to call first to see if their cooking methods have changed since this post.

  6. My nut and dairy allergic daughters eat the chicken, tortillas, chips and guacamole. One used to eat the rice until one of the managers told us they wouldn’t trust that the rice is dairy free. Thanks for posting this info!!