5 from 1 vote

Nando’s Mac and Cheese Recipe (Peri Peri)

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This homemade version of Nandos mac and cheese is flavor-packed, creamy, and spicy. It’s the perfect fakeaway option for a comforting meal!
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
£2.12
Makes: 5
mains
Portuguese
Freezable

If you’re craving Nandos mac and cheese, but don’t have a restaurant near you, make this fakeaway version! This homemade peri mac and cheese is creamy, spicy, and flavour-packed with juicy chicken bites.

Glass meal prep containers with mac and cheese on a blue background.

Why you’ll love this recipe

Made with a velvety sauce and smokey cheese, it’s the ultimate comfort meal. Plus, since it has chicken, red peppers, and macaroni noodles, you can enjoy this one-dish recipe as a full meal!

Crowd favourite – With its bold flavours and creamy sauce, this Nandos fakeaway is a favourite in our house!

Bold flavors – Smokey cheese and peri-peri sauce help create bold and delicious flavours in this mac’n’cheese dish.

Comforting – The uber-creamy sauce in this Nandos mac and cheese creates a cosy feel when eating this recipe.

Loads of protein – This peri-peri mac and cheese features chicken breast, milk, and cheese, which are all good sources of protein.

Great for a side/main – This delicious mac and cheese (Nandos-inspired) can be eaten as a side dish or a main meal, depending on your preference.

Satisfy creamy pasta cravings with these other recipes; Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta, Cottage Cheese Pasta and Ground Turkey Pasta

What is a Peri Peri?

A PERi-PERi is a type of chilli pepper. Also called piri piri, or African Bird’s Eye Chilli, is a spicy red pepper which grows in Africa. It’s the pepper used by Nandos to create peri peri seasoning and sauce. I used a peri peri sauce to make my ; Peri Peri Chicken Wings

What is Nandos?

Nandos is a global restaurant that serves Portuguese-style flame-grilled chicken. It’s famous for its peri-peri sauce, which includes deliciously fiery seasoning. The fast-casual restaurant chain has locations throughout the world, including the US and UK.

My version of Nandos mac and cheese fake-away takes their creamy mac and cheese and boosts the flavour with a peri sauce and smokey cheese. As a copycat recipe, it includes the best elements of their classic dishes and seasoning.

If you love a Nandos, you’ll need to try my ; Nando’s Spicy rice, Nando’s Fino Pitta and Nandos Peri Peri Chicken

Ingredients

Ingredients to make the nando's chicken with pasta laid out on a pale blue background and labelled.

Chicken Breasts – I love adding chicken breasts to this peri peri pasta casserole, as they boost the protein content. Feel free to use boneless skinless chicken thighs or other protein like shrimp/salmon.

Skimmed Milk – Nonfat milk helps keep this recipe a bit lighter. However, you can swap it out with full-fat or even cream to create a more decadent version of Nandos mac and cheese.

Smokey Grated Cheese Mix – Adding smokey cheese helps create a complex flavour in this premium mac and cheese. You can also use other cheese mixes like Mexican-style or even an Italian blend.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

Variations/ Adaptations

Try these variations to alter this Nandos mac and cheese recipe to your preferences. Instead of using spirali noodles, try macaroni or penne. Any kind of short noodle will work for this recipe. I like using chicken breast to help keep the dish a bit lighter, but boneless skinless chicken thighs will also taste great with this peri mac.

If you enjoy mac and cheese with a crispy topping, you can add panko breadcrumbs to the top of each dish before placing it under the grill.

I recommend using skimmed milk to keep this recipe lighter. However, use full-fat milk if you want a more comforting version of this Nandos peri mac. It will create a more decadent version of mac and cheese. You can also make this a gluten-free mac recipe by swapping out the noodles with a gluten-free option.

Consider making these other delightful cheesy dishes during the week; Cheesy Mashed Potatoes, Boursin Cheese Baked Pasta and Vegan Red Pepper Macaroni and Cheese

How to make Nandos mac and cheese

  1. Add a few sprays of oil to a non-stick pan over a high heat. Add the chicken and peppers into the pan. Season with salt and pepper (Image 1).
  2. Fry over a high heat for around 7 minutes and set aside (Image 2).
2 step by step photos, the first with finely sliced peppers and chicken in a pan and the second with these fried in the pan and stirred with a wooden spoon.

3. Using the same pan, reduce the heat to low. Add the olive oil and flour to the pan and cook for around 3 minutes (Image 3).

4. Next, slowly add a splash of milk whilst whisking vigorously. Continue to slowly add whilst whisking to ensure that you don’t get a lumpy roux and ensuring the milk is fully incorporated (Image 4).

2 step by step photos, the first with flour and water mixed with a whisk in a pan and the second with a roux being stirred with a spatula.

5. Then add your spirali to heavily salted water. Set your timer to the packet time minus 1 minute (Image 5).

6. When the roux has thickened slightly, add 200g of the grated cheese mix, onion and garlic powder and a pinch of salt and pepper (Image 6).

2 step by step photos, the first with pasta in water in a saucepan and the second with the sauce with grated cheese on top.

7. Stir the cheese to combine, then add and stir in the peri peri sauce (Image 7). 

8. Transfer the al dente pasta into pan, along with the chicken and pepper. Stir until well combined and loosen with a few ladles of pasta water (Image 8).

2 step by step photos, the first with cheesy sauce in a pan with a whisk and the second withpastat, peppers and chicken added to the sauce in the pan.

Divide into 5 oven-safe meal prep containers and add the remaining cheese as a topping.  When you’re ready to eat, place under the grill for 6-8 minutes and enjoy once heated through and bubbly. 

5 meal prep containers with mac and cheese on a blue background with a jar on sauce in view.

Tips for the best result

Make sure your milk is warm to hot before adding it to the mixture
There are a few reasons you’ll want to add warm milk when making this recipe. For one, it helps prevent clumps in the sauce. It also helps shorten the time it takes to thicken the sauce since the milk is already warm/hot.

Add the milk slowly
When making Nandos mac and cheese, be sure to add milk slowly. This step ensures you have a velvety smooth sauce instead of a lumpy one.

Add cheese off the heat
This step is important when creating Nandos peri mac. If you heat the cheese too much, it becomes stringy instead of a cheesy sauce.

Serving Suggestions

This Nandos mac and cheese is great on its own. You can also serve it with a side salad, additional protein options (like BBQ ribs), and coleslaw.

Here are some high protein ideas; Air Fryer Chicken Bites and Easy Turkey Steak Recipe. For the salad try my; Simple Tricolore Salad

Leftover Storage and Reheat Instructions

I highly recommend enjoying this Nandos mac and cheese fresh, as it will have the best flavour. If you have leftovers, you can store them via the below methods.

Refrigerator
Let the peri mac (Nandos inspired) fully cool before packing it into airtight containers. Then, keep it in the fridge for up to three days.

Freezer
I would skip freezing this recipe, as the noodles and cheese sauce will not freeze well. Instead, make only the amount you plan to eat.

Reheat
You can either zap the leftover mac and cheese in the microwave until warmed. Or, reheat each portion in an oven-safe bowl at 350°F (177°C) for about 10-15 minutes. Be sure not to bake the mac and cheese for too long, or you’ll be left with a dry dish.

Macaroni cheese with lots of sauce, some red peppers and chicken.

FAQs

Is peri mac n cheese a meal or a side?

Perhaps you’re wondering, “Is mac and cheese a meal or a side?” If that’s the case, know that this Nandos mac and cheese can be either. Usually, mac and cheese only includes milk, cheese, seasoning, and noodles, so it’s not very filling.

This version also includes veg and chicken, which makes it suitable for a main meal.

Can you make this mac and cheese ahead?

Yes, you can make this recipe ahead of time. I recommend only making it a day in advance as it only lasts 2-3 days in the fridge. Follow the recipe through step six (including a sprinkle of cheese on top of each bowl), then refrigerate the mac and cheese.

When you’re ready to eat it, continue with the last step. You will need to add a few extra minutes, as the mac and cheese will be cold right out of the fridge.

Can I make this dairy free?

Yes, you can make this recipe dairy-free. You’ll need to use unsweetened, non-dairy milk and dairy-free cheese. Use a 1:1 ratio for each swap and follow the directions noted below.

Explore More Recipes

If you tried this Peri Peri Mac and Cheese recipe, it would be mean so much to me if you could leave a review & a star rating to let me know how you found it! I love hearing about your experiences – it motivates me to keep creating more and more recipes for you guys 💛 Let’s get cooking! – Mimi x

Nando’s Mac and Cheese Recipe (Peri Peri)

Print
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
£2.12
mains
Portuguese
Freezable
Servings: 5
This homemade version of Nandos mac and cheese is flavor-packed, creamy, and spicy. It’s the perfect fakeaway option for a comforting meal!

Ingredients

  • 600 g chicken breast, sliced into thin chunks (£4.00)
  • 500 g spirali (£0.75)
  • 700 ml skimmed milk (£0.69)
  • 250 g smokey grated cheese mix (£2.50)
  • 3-4 tbsp hot peri peri sauce (£1.00)
  • 3 mixed peppers, thinly sliced (£1.69)

Cupboard Essentials

  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp olive oil +some oil spray

Method

  • Add a few sprays of oil to a non-stick pan over a high heat. Add the chicken and peppers into the pan. Season with salt and pepper and fry over a high heat for around 7 minutes.
  • Set aside, then reduce the heat to low. Add the olive oil and flour to the pan and cook for around 3 minutes. Next, slowly add a splash of milk whilst whisking vigorously. Continue to slowly add whilst whisking to ensure that you don’t get a lumpy roux.
  • Once the milk is fully incorporated, add your spirali to heavily salted water. Set your timer to the packet time minus 1 minute.
  • When the roux has thickened slightly, add 200g of the grated cheese mix, onion and garlic powder and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to combine, then stir the peri peri sauce into the pan.
  • Transfer the al dente pasta into the pan, along with the chicken and pepper. Stir until well combined and loosen with a few ladles of pasta water.
  • Divide into 5 oven-safe meal prep containers and add the remaining cheese as a topping.
  • When you’re ready to eat, place under the grill for 6-8 minutes and enjoy once heated through and bubbly.

Notes

  • Add warm milk when making this recipe, as it helps prevent clumps in the sauce. It also helps shorten the time it takes to thicken the sauce since the milk is already warm/hot.
  • Be sure to add milk slowly. This step ensures you have a velvety smooth sauce instead of a lumpy one.
  •  Add the cheese off the heat as it becomes stringy if on too higher heat.


Nutrition

Servings: 5 servings
Fat: 23g
Calories: 603kcal
Carbohydrates: 47g
Protein: 51g

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Thank you so much for trying my recipe! I hope you loved it. I’d be so grateful if you could leave a comment/rating - it makes my day hearing your feedback!

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Comments

  1. Mike Webb | 4 days ago

    Who doesn’t love a Mac and Cheese and doesn’t disappoint! Thank you5 stars

    1. Mimi Harrison | 2 days ago

      I know right?! Thanks Mike!

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