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 2020! 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.

We also contacted them directly to find out the dairy-free options. They were very responsive in the past, which enabled us to compile this general list of options. Unfortunately, in 2020 they didn’t want to go to the effort. So the list below is from 2018, but not much has changed on their core menu. There are many more dairy-free options on the menu if you special order no cheese and no sour cream. But double check in store to make sure these options are still dairy free. We’ve always found their restaurant staff very helpful.

El Pollo Loco - Dairy-Free Menu Items and Allergen Notes

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

Please Note: The following list was provided in 2018. Their staff is compiling a new 2020 list for us, but then decided it was too much work for them. Nonetheless, most of the options below are still available. Many menu items can be ordered dairy-free at El Pollo Loco if you ask them to hold the cheese, sour cream, and dressing (substitute the vinaigrette listed below).

  • Meats & Meat Alternatives – Flame Grilled Chicken, Mexican Chicken, Vegan Chickenless Pollo
  • Entrees – Chicken Taquitos, Taco al Carbon, Pollo Bowl, Avocado Bacon Tostada Salad, Vegan Chickenless Pollo Burrito, Vegan Chickenless Pollo Taco
  • Sides – Pinto Beans, Coleslaw, Steamed Broccoli (without margarine), Flour Tortillas, Corn Tortillas
  • Condiments – Salsas, Citrus Vinaigrette
  • Dessert – Chocolate Chunk Cookies (Their customer service specifically stated “The chocolate chip cookies do not list dairy as an allergen alert.”)

Other Allergen Notes

  • We received a message from a concerned viewer about soy. They had heard that all chicken from El Pollo Loco is marinated in oil that contains hydrolyzed soybean oil. However, we contacted the company directly, and their customer service promptly responded, “No, it is just marinated in fruit juices, herbs and spice.” They confirmed that their chicken is soy-free.
  • El Pollo Loco also has Gluten Information available online.

News: El Pollo Loco  Offers Chickenless Vegan Menu Items Nationwide

July 2020 – 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 two full vegan options: the Vegan Chickenless Pollo Taco and 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 and Creamy Cilantro Dressing).

El Pollo Loco launches Vegan Burritos and Tacos with Chickenless Pollo simmered in adobo sauce (certified vegan!)

More Details from El Pollo Loco

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: January 6, 2020

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Pretty darn good dairy-free food

5.0 rating
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.

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!!