Chipotle spent all of 2022 rolling out new protein options on their not particularly change-prone menu. It was wonderful and a few of those new additions like the guajillo steak, pollo asado, and smoked brisket dunked on the meats that enjoy permanent status on the menu. The new options were such a success that at the end of last year, we gave Chipotle our coveted Golden Bag Award for best overall fast food brand. If you would’ve told me three years ago (when I started heavily covering fast food for Uproxx) that Chipotle would win an award for best fast food brand, I would’ve laughed in your face.
Unfortunately for all of us, all of these delicious and flavorful new protein options were limited, and now Chipotle is back to its base menu of options. We’re not sure what Chipotle has in store for this year, but so far all the brand has announced is some TikTok quesadilla hack set to join the menu next month. That news is… fine, but what would be better is a quesadilla hack with some of that guajillo steak! Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world.
The removal of short-term items means that last year’s ranking of Chipotle proteins is now obsolete and we need to update it. And since Chipotle is a fast food restaurant with a lot of variables (all realized in their purest form with this burrito build) we figured the easiest and most transparent way to rank all of these proteins is to eat all of them completely naked. No sauce, no extra ingredients, just a forkful of meat or veg or tofu!
Here are the best protein options you can order at Chipotle in 2023 (so far).
I feel bad about ranking Chipotle’s only plant-based protein option last, but…this stuff sucks. To be fair, when it comes to flavor, the sofritas aren’t half bad. They have a great blend of peppery and cumin-dominant notes that really cut nicely through your burrito add-ons and give you that savory meat vibe. That in and of itself is a commendable achievement. If you’re a vegetarian, straight up, this is a great meat substitute. Don’t feel bad about ordering it or think of it as an excuse to skip Chipotle entirely.
What I don’t like about the Sofritas is everything else.
First of all, they’re incredibly wet. Is wet not a strong enough word? Should I say “moist”? What’s the deal with people not liking the word moist? Moist is great. You gonna tell me you don’t want to eat a moist brownie? Anyway, I digress — the sofritas are so wet that they will soak through your tortilla, which will totally ruin your meal. Aside from the wetness, the sofritas also have a terrible mouthfeel, the tofu is really chunky and chewy to the point of distraction, and it becomes very obvious that you’re not eating meat. In a loaded burrito or bowl there are enough other ingredients going on that you aren’t going to notice that mouthfeel, but in something like a taco, forget it.
Perhaps more importantly, because the sofritas are also Chipotle’s least popular meat option, they don’t get changed out enough so they are almost always served a little stale and lukewarm. That doesn’t do any favors to the overall experience.
The Bottom Line:
If you don’t abstain from eating meat, there is no reason to even look at the sofritas. It isn’t the flavor that’s the problem it’s the wet consistency and the awful rubbery mouthfeel that ruin this option.
I’ve heard people swear by the carnitas at Chipotle, and I’m not going to sit here and tell you that Chipotle carnitas are not “real” or “proper,” but these are without a doubt consistently the worst carnitas I’ve ever had. If you love the Chipotle carnitas, sorry, but you have bad taste in carnitas — you’re playing on my homecourt here and I’m telling you: not good.
Where to start with these things? They’re dry, over-salted, and so fatty-sinewy that you’ll constantly be picking sh*t out of your mouth because it’ll end up sticking around even after you’ve already swallowed the rest of your food. What makes carnitas special is the slow-cooking, this helps the pork reach a level of tender juiciness that is downright orgasmic. Flavors of cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper are supposed to dance across the tongue with each bite.
Chipotle’s carnitas has none of that.
The juicy tenderness is replaced with a bone-dry texture that enables you to feel each strand of pork in your mouth as you chew through it. Tooth floss. It can even double as floss, which is a point in its favor considering it’s going to get stuck in every crevice between your teeth. The earthy flavors of cumin and oregano are instead replaced with a small ocean’s-worth of salt. I’m almost amazed that Chipotle could fail at carnitas this hard. If you told me this was Taco Bell’s new meat, I’d believe it.
The Bottom Line:
When people say “Chipotle isn’t real Mexican food” it’s because they’re offended by this poor excuse for carnitas.
Does guacamole count as a protein option at Chipotle?
Not in the “protein” sense, no. But we’re using the phrase to mean: “main item featured in an entree” and in that sense, it certainly fits the bill. So what the hell, we’ve decided to include it!
People go nuts for Chipotle’s guacamole, and if you’re comparing it to Taco Bell and Del Taco guac, sure, it’s downright amazing. But if you’ve ever eaten at a local taqueria or crushed your own avocados, this is nothing worth obsessing over. This is pretty standard stuff at every Mexican joint in California, and if anything Chipotle goes a little heavy with the onion here.
Aside from the dominant flavor of red onions, we have some consistently ripe avocado here acting as our base, mixed with lime juice (a little too much — someone on Chipotle’s board must be heavily invested in lime groves), cilantro, and diced jalapeno bits throughout. The diced jalapeno is my favorite feature, it adds a nice subtle kick that lingers on the palate after each bite and leaves you wanting more. It’s a great trick, and I wish they would’ve focused more on the peppers than the onion, but I get that they’ve got to please the average consumer who probably can’t handle the spice.
The Bottom Line:
Chipotle’s guacamole is astoundingly consistent. I’ve yet to have a serving that tastes like it was using over or under-ripened avocados, and though this is more onion-dominant than I like, I’d still order a veggie burrito over getting the sofritas and carnitas — so we’re ranking this higher.
Even though it’s not really a protein option.
Chipotle’s steak is probably the most frustrating meat option the chain has on offer. On the one hand, when it’s good it’s great — tender chunks of medium-cooked steak with a perfect caramelized outer and a simple seasoning blend of salt, black pepper, cumin, and finished with what I’m assuming is butter to help achieve that crunchy glaze. But when it’s bad — which, unfortunately, is most of the time in my experience — it’s grainy, chewy, and tough. An absolute chore to eat.
So my advice is to give the steak a good look when you’re ordering it. If it glistens with rising ribbons of steam like in the photo above, get it — it’ll be excellent. But if it looks like it’s been sitting around for a while and they’re about to change it up with a new batch, ditch it because you might as well be eating rocks.
The Bottom Line:
Because of its hit-or-miss quality, we’re giving this one the bronze medal, even though sometimes it’s at least worthy of a silver.
Chipotle’s chicken doesn’t suffer from the same consistency issues that plague the steak. Even when the chicken has been sitting in the bin for a while, it’s still packed with flavor. The only thing you lose with time here is how hot the meat is, and considering you’re eating at Chipotle I’m just going to assume you don’t care about whether your food is hot or not. Because at Chipotle it rarely is.
Chipotle’s chicken is flame-grilled and features a flavor profile that is dominated by the smokey qualities of ancho chilis and the savory zest of adobo sauce. I have no doubt the restaurant spends a good amount of time marinating this meat. Because Chipotle uses grilled chicken thigh rather than breast, each bite is juicy and tender, never suffering from the dry tendencies of over-cooked white meat. If you’re wincing at the idea of dark meat over white, you must hate flavor. Just kidding (kind of), but if chewy fat generally keeps you away from ordering dark meat, that’s not a problem here. The meat is still remarkably lean, you almost can’t tell it’s dark meat aside from the fact that it’s so consistently tasty with each bite.
The Bottom Line:
Flavorful, juicy, and most importantly, consistent. It’s hard to get a bad serving of chicken at Chipotle. If this is your first time, this is your second-best meat for a positive experience overall. If you want the best experience, go with our number one choice while you still can.
The strength of this meat is in its insanely tender texture — each bite bursts with juicy savory goodness. For this barbacoa, Chipotle uses shoulder-cut meat, (rather than the more traditional cabeza) which keeps it tender, helping to soak up Chipotle’s marinade, which it spends overnight bathing in. Putting in that extra time marinating really helps this meat soar above the rest of Chipotle’s options, and while I miss the silky sumptuous qualities that I’ve come to expect from traditional barbacoa, this comes way closer than I’d expect a national chain to ever get to the real thing.
The barbacoa is dominated by the earthy notes of oregano and cloves, I’m also getting a bit of bay leaf in there and Chipotle’s usual pepper and adobo-forward flavor. It works great in each of Chipotle meal form factors, whether you’re crunching on tacos, putting together an epic burrito, or you’re looking for the best salad of your life.
The Bottom Line:
On most days, Chipotle’s most flavorful protein and almost as good as the traditional barbacoa you’ll get at a classic SoCal taqueria. Almost. Seriously, if you’ve ever left Chipotle thinking the chain is seriously lacking in flavor, you must not have tried the barbacoa yet. Ask for a spoonful of extra liquid if you’re getting a bowl!
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- Dr. Mike Molloy: Double chicken burrito bowl. ...
- Jaclyn London: Steak burrito bowl without rice. A Chipotle salad bowl with carnitas and guacamole. ...
- Uta Boellinger: Black bean burrito bowl with brown rice.
A new, craveable protein from Chipotle, Plant-Based Chorizo is certified vegan, packed with 16 grams of protein per 4oz serving, and is made without artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, grains, gluten, or soy. Chipotle's new Plant-Based Chorizo has the deep, rich flavor and a slight kick that chorizo fans crave.What is Chipotle's most popular menu item? ›
- Chicken Burritos. Topping the list of the best Chipotle menu items are the chicken burritos. ...
- Guacamole. The next item to make the list of the best Chipotle menu items is none other than guacamole. ...
- Queso Blanco. ...
- Carnitas Bowl. ...
- Barbacoa Bowl.
"Add your choice of meat, preferably chicken or steak, as these are the leanest options. Top with more lettuce, salsa, and guacamole," she suggests. The result: a tasty yet healthy Chipotle bowl that checks off all your dietary requirements.What is in a high protein Bowl at Chipotle? ›
Powering for a workout or for the day is easy with our High Protein Bowl. It comes loaded with White Rice, Double Chicken, Black Beans, Red Salsa, Cheese, and Romaine Lettuce.What's the healthiest meal at Chipotle? ›
The Lighter Bite:
If you're really trying to reduce your calorie intake, order a salad with steak, black beans, fajita vegetables and tomatillo-green chili salsa (and no dressing).
Overall, I was really impressed with the extent of Chipotle's vegan options on its menu. Chipotle's other vegan meat option, Sofritas, has a much softer texture. If you are searching for something a little heartier with a deeper flavor, I would recommend the plant-based chorizo over the Sofritas option.What is Barbacoa Chipotle protein? ›
Chipotle Barbacoa Burrito (1 burritto) contains 0g total carbs, 0g net carbs, 32g fat, 41g protein, and 845 calories.What is the newest meat at Chipotle? ›
Culinary Innovation In The Metaverse
Users grill Garlic Guajillo Steak following Chipotle's exact culinary process and then virtually taste Garlic Guajillo Steak's robust flavors. The fun, in-depth introduction to Garlic Guajillo Steak in the metaverse is designed to enhance guests' tasting experience in real life.
Protein: The choices here include the following: Braised carnitas. This is pork that is rubbed with spices, marinated overnight, and then braised for many hours until it is tender enough to be shredded by hand. It is the least spicy of all the meats.
Dragon sauce is a Chipotle secret menu item that's made by mixing sour cream with Chipotle's tomatillo-red chili salsa. Sour cream lovers will probably like it, and we'd venture to say that sour cream haters might actually like it, too. As spice and sour cream lovers, we were excited to try this.What is the Chipotle secret order? ›
Chipotle Secret Menu 3-Point Burrito: $5.20
The Chipotle 3-Point Burrito is cheaper than a regular burrito because it only has rice, beans, and chicken. All you need to do to order this burrito is ask for a “3-Point Burrito.” If they don't know what that is, just ask for a burrito with rice, beans, and chicken.
Business Insider's analysis confirms that you get substantially more food by ordering the bowl instead of a traditional burrito. Ask for a tortilla on the side.Who is Chipotle's biggest competitor? ›
Taco Bell is the biggest fast-food chain that competes directly against Chipotle. With over 7,300 locations, Taco Bell is a giant that towers over Chipotle waiting for the right opportunity to grab its market share.
Chipotle offers healthy carbohydrates such as black and pinto beans, but there are less nutritious options we tend to default to. “I would avoid the refined carbohydrates, the white rice, tortillas, and tortilla chips,” says Tamar Samuels, M.S., R.D., cofounder of Culina Health.What's healthier barbacoa or steak? ›
All in all, barbacoa can be a healthier option than steak for those looking for a leaner cut of meat. Despite popular belief, steak does not contain the most protein of any food.Is Chipotle more healthier than McDonald's? ›
By analyzing calorie counts, sodium level and overall nutrients in a basic entree, you may realize Chipotle may not be the best option when compared against other fast-food heavyweights, such as McDonald's. The main problem when eating at Chipotle comes with sodium intake.Can you ask for extra protein at Chipotle? ›
Now for the best trick of them all, just ask for a “little more” meat right after they finish the full scoop and 99.7% of the time they will basically give you double protein for the price of one. Using all this knowledge when you go to Chipotle next, keep in mind the macros to avoid putting on weight.Is Chipotle chicken or steak healthier? ›
Marinated in the same chipotle pepper and grilled, the steak contains just 10 more calories and milligrams of sodium, but less half a gram of fat and one gram of saturated fat. But because of its protein and sugar counts, chicken is still at a slight advantage.What is a double protein Bowl at Chipotle? ›
Double Protein Bowl: White rice, black beans, chicken (full portion), steak (full portion), red salsa, romaine lettuce, and sour cream. Vegan: Sofritas, brown rice, black beans, tomato salsa, roasted chili-corn salsa, and romaine lettuce.
Brown rice is generally more nutritious than white rice. It's higher in fiber, magnesium, and other nutrients, and it isn't artificially enriched with nutrients like white rice is. If you'd like to add rice to your diet but aren't sure if it's right for you, talk to your dietitian.Which is healthier brown or white rice at Chipotle? ›
Choose brown rice instead of white rice
At Chipotle, one serving of brown rice may only provide one extra gram of fiber per serving than the classic cilantro-lime white rice, but another selling point is that it also has 16o milligrams less sodium.
Free Chipotle Burritos On Us
The rumors are true. As a Chipotle crew member, you will receive one free meal for every daily shift. That means one entrée, one drink, and one side.
Today I'm going to share with you my favorite sources of protein for a plant-based diet.
- Sprouted Whole Grain Bread. ...
- Quinoa. ...
- Hemp Seeds. ...
- Peanut Butter Powder. ...
- Oats. ...
- Nutritional Yeast. ...
- Broccoli. ...
- Elm & Rye Protein Supplements.
- Ritual Essential Protein.
- Instant Knockout Complete.
- Garden Of Life Sport Organic Plant-Based Protein.
- Vega Sport Premium Protein.
- Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein.
- Coffee Mushroom Epic Protein Organic Plant Protein.
Diets high in plant protein are linked to many benefits
Furthermore, studies suggest that people eating a vegetarian diet also tend to have lower body weight, lower cholesterol levels, and lower risk of stroke, cancer, and death from heart disease than people who eat meat ( 11 ).
Yes, sofritas are healthy. This low-calorie and low-fat tofu-based dish is an excellent alternative to meat.Is Barbacoa pig or cow? ›
In the United States, barbacoa is usually associated with beef. However, in Mexico, barbacoa is made from beef, goat, lamb or mutton. In the southern region of Yucatan, there is even a variation of barbacoa called cochinita pibil, which is made from pork.What is Chipotle's least spicy meat? ›
The braised Carnitas are the least spicy meat option at Chipotle, with a more savory flavor. Carnitas at Chipotle are made from spiced pork that has been marinated overnight and slowly cooked until tender and able to be shredded into smaller pieces.What is the most popular Chipotle order? ›
- Chicken Bowl.
- Queso Blanco.
- Barbacoa Bowl.
- Carnitas Burrito.
- Carnitas Taco.
- Cheese Quesadilla.
- Chicken Burritos.
The Barbacoa has always been the juiciest and most tender Chipotle protein, and it's still the juiciest, but the pollo asado is equally tender, and much more savory.Is Chipotle barbacoa cow tongue? ›
Our Barbacoa mainly comes from the shoulder, because those cuts have enough fat to keep the meat moist during our long braising method, making the end result seriously juicy and tender.What is Chipotle's weakness? ›
Sodium content in the food is very high, which can be bad for the people who have health issues or are allergic. Chipotle has limited food items compared to other known brands. This lack of variation is a huge problem for the company. They mainly sell brand specific source food.Does Chipotle have fake meat? ›
The future of plant-based meats
Recognizing this demand for tasty plant-based meats, in 2022, Chipotle added another "flavorful option" for the burrito bowls and tacos of vegans and vegetarians — plant-based chorizo.
“Some producers of 'natural' meats may be honorable, but you have to take what they say on faith.” Chipotle's version of responsibly raised meat has three main requirements: Animals have received no added hormones, no antibiotics ever, and were humanely raised.What is a 3-pointer at Chipotle? ›
A two-pointer and a three-pointer is a burrito that only consists of two or three items, with every ingredient except for protein and guacamole being one point. Ordering these secret menu items at Chipotle significantly lowers the cost of a standard burrito.What is the mystery code 3 at Chipotle? ›
The 3-pointer is a burrito that only has three toppings/fillings in it. It's on the secret menu because it's known to be cheaper than a standard Chipotle burrito.How can I get $3 at Chipotle? ›
In a recent video titled "how to get a chipotle burrito for 3 dollars," TikTok user @wyaleena shows us how to DIY a burrito by ordering a single taco from the chain. The secret is you order extras on the side and then assemble the burrito yourself.What is Chipotle's enemy? ›
Qdoba operated and franchised eateries in over 700 locations in 2021. 2 As a large Mexican fast-casual restaurant chain, it is one of Chipotle's most significant competitors.What was the Chipotle scandal? ›
The two Chipotle E. coli foodborne illness outbreaks in October and December 2015 proved massive as the outbreak quickly spread to over 13 states. This brought a lot of attention of the federal public health officials to Chipotle and its working processes.
"Seafood is difficult in our case because we don't have freezers and it doesn't hold very long unless it's frozen," Chipotle representative Chris Arnold told Business Insider.What is the most expensive thing at Chipotle? ›
New York now has the most expensive Chipotle burritos.
|City (Stores)||Price (Average)|
Ask for 'Half and Half' Meat
They will charge you for the more expensive meat, but you usually won't get charged for double meat.
Number of Chipotle stores in the United States in 2023
The state with the most number of Chipotle locations in the US is California, with 459 stores, which is about 15% of all Chipotle stores in the US.
In October 2006, McDonald's fully divested from Chipotle. This was part of a larger initiative for McDonald's to divest all of its non-core business restaurants — Chipotle, Donatos Pizza, and Boston Market — so that it could focus on the main McDonald's chain.Is Chipotle still owned by McDonald's? ›
In 2006, McDonald's decided to get out of the Chipotle business and sold all its shares of Chipotle back to the chain. According to Steve Easterbrook, who McDonald's CEO from 2015 through 2019, the burger chain had decided to focus on its core business.Is Chipotle Chicken Good for protein? ›
100g of Chipotle Chicken Breast contains 16.3g of protein, which is about the same as 2.7 eggs, 0.6 chicken breasts, or 1.2 cups (317g) of black beans.Which Chipotle beans have more protein? ›
The bean options (black or pinto) happen to be the same amount of protein being around 8g per serving. WOW! The move is to do a half scoop of rice (conserve the calories) and do more beans = gains.What is the difference between Chipotle carnitas and barbacoa? ›
Carnitas and barbacoa at Chipotle are primarily made of shredded pork, with the barbacoa made of beef. Carnitas are shredded pork that has been brown or cooked until crispy in a bowl of tortillas. The most important distinction between barbacoa and carnitas at Chipotle is their use of meat. Barbacoa is made from beef.Is Chipotle the healthiest fast food? ›
Chipotle is one of the healthier fast-food joints: they use fresh ingredients with no processed or artificial additives. That's pretty impressive for a restaurant chain of their size. But even though Chipotle's ingredients are better than most, you can still rack up the calories on a typical order.
Chipotle Barbacoa Burrito (1 burritto) contains 0g total carbs, 0g net carbs, 32g fat, 41g protein, and 845 calories.Does Chipotle barbacoa have protein? ›
Chipotle Barbacoa Burrito Bowl (1 bowl) contains 31g total carbs, 30g net carbs, 28g fat, 39g protein, and 520 calories.What is the unhealthiest thing at Chipotle? ›
One part of this side is the worst thing you can order from that part of the menu — and it's not the guacamole! With 540 calories, 25 grams of fat, 73 grams of carbohydrates, and about as much sodium as four McDonald's chicken nuggets, the regular size chips are the unhealthiest side at Chipotle.What bean is highest in protein? ›
With nearly 26.12 g/100 g, it's the legume with the highest protein content. Fava beans are a nutritional powerhouse, providing ample carbohydrates, protein, fiber and vitamins, even when dried!
Nutritional Value in Pinto and Black Beans
Pinto and black beans are extremely similar in their nutritional values. They both offer protein, fiber, calories, iron, vitamin B1 and more. However, pinto beans have slightly more calories, carbs, fiber and fat content.
Signs have gone up in about 600 Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants, informing customers that no carnitas will be served. The fast-growing restaurant chain announced on Tuesday that it had suspended a major pork supplier after a routine audit found that it had failed to meet the company's standards for animal welfare.Why did Chipotle remove carnitas? ›
Chipotle has had to take their deliciously calorific carnitas off the menu for an unspecified amount of time after a pork supplier was found to have violated their company standards.Why did Chipotle get rid of carnitas? ›
Why Does Chipotle Not Have Carnitas? According to a statement issued by the company, it has stopped serving pork in hundreds of its restaurants after a supplier was found to have violated its food safety standards.