Chipotle has over 1,000 locations across the country, and claims that 100% of their pork and chicken and 50% of their beef is raised humanely, without the use of antibiotics or hormones. Check out these humanitarian remarks to the Senate by founder Steve Ells; I’m impressed.
They claim you can put together over 65,000 different combinations from their menu, so I’m going to offer just a few thoughts on some specific menu items. If you have any other ideas or suggestions on how to put together a healthy meal at Chipotle, please post in the comments!
The biggest problem with Chipotle is the portion sizes. A chicken burrito with beans, rice, cheese, corn salsa, and sour cream can hit 1,030 calories!
The single most caloric item in a burrito is the flour tortilla, weighing in at 290 calories (with a surprising 9 grams of fat, too).
Add a side of chips (560 calories) and you’ve eaten nearly a day’s calories.
So, my advice is to get a bowl instead of a burrito, skip the tortilla, and go easy on the rice. Load up that bowl with a little bit of rice, black beans, lots of fajita vegetables, and perhaps some chicken or beef (avoid the barbacoa or carnitas; they’re higher in sodium and fat). You’ll cut the calories significantly, and have a much more nutrient-dense meal.
Vegans and Vegetarians, take note:
Avoid the pinto beans (they’re made with bacon), and vegans may want to skip the chipotle-honey vinaigrette (they don’t say why, but I’m guessing it’s because of the honey). Both their Pinto and Black Beans are now vegan. Chipotle also notes that their cheese is made with a vegetable-based rennet, and the sour cream is 100% cultured cream. Here’s Chipotle’s list for allergens & special diets.
Meat & Veggies – Better Choices
Fajita Vegetables (2.5 ounce serving)
20 cal, no sat fat, 0.5g total fat, 170mg sodium, 4g carbs, 1g fiber, 1g protein
Chicken (4 ounce serving)
190 cal, 2g sat fat, 6.5g total fat, 370mg sodium, 32g protein
Steak (4 ounce serving)
190 cal, 2g sat fat, 6.5g total fat, 320mg sodium, 30g protein
Meat – Worst Choices
170 cal, 2.5g sat fat, 7g total fat, 510mg sodium, 24g protein
190 cal, 2.5g sat fat, 8g total fat, 540mg sodium, 27g protein
Beans – Better Choice
120 cal, no sat fat, 1g total fat, 250mg sodium, 23g carbs, 11g fiber, 7g protein
Beans – Worst Choice
Higher in sodium.
120 cal, no sat fat, 1g total fat, 330mg sodium, 22g carbs, 10g fiber, 7g protein
Salsa – Better Choices
Green Tomatillo Salsa (2 ounces)
15 cal, 0.5g fat, 230mg sodium, 3g carbs, 1g protein
Tomato Salsa (3.5 ounces)
20 cal, no fat, 370mg sodium, 4g carbs, 1g protein
Salsa – Worst Choices
Corn Salsa (3.5 ounces)
80 cal, no sat fat, 1.5g total fat, 410mg sodium, 15g carbs, 3g fiber, 3g protein
Red Tomatillo Salsa (2 ounces)
40 cal, no sat fat, 1g total fat, 510mg sodium, 8g carbs, 4g fiber, 2g protein
Other Condiments and Dressing – Better Choice
Although higher in calories, it’s from unsaturated “good for you” fats. I’ll take guac over sour cream any day.
Guacamole (3.5 ounces)
150 cal, 2g sat fat, 13g total fat, 190mg sodium, 8g carbs, 6g fiber, 2g protein
Other Condiments and Dressing – Worst Choices
If you get a salad, consider getting the green tomatillo salsa as a dressing rather than the vinaigrette. It’ll save you a ton of calories, fat, and sodium.
Sour Cream (2 ounces)
120 cal, 7g sat fat, 10g total fat, 30mg sodium, 2g carbs, no fiber, 2g protein
Vinaigrette Dressing (2 ounces)
260 cal, 4g sat fat, 24.5g total fat, 700mg sodium, 12g carbs, 1g fiber, no protein
Cheese (1 ounce)
100 cal, 5g sat fat, 8.5g total fat, 180mg sodium, no carbs, no fiber, 8g protein
Yeah, I love the cheese too. If you do get some, promise me you’ll go easy on it, okay?
Menu Mondays are my recommendations for the most healthful options at chain restaurants. Although it may be tough to find “perfect” options when eating out, it’s important to choose “better” whenever possible, and I hope these guides will help make that easier for you.
indicates the “best-of-the-best,” and indicates the “worst-of-the-worst,” more or less.
Photo by chilcott.
Portion sizes at Chipotle too large? Nobody ever said you had to eat it all in one sitting. Every time I come here I ask for a bowl with extra brown rice and beans and load up on all the other stuff that comes with it. Now it’s perfect for lunch and dinner or vice-versa depending on what time you buy it.
If you are trying to lower sodium intake, sour cream is a much better choice than the guacomole.
Chipotle DOES NOT make their pinto beans with bacon.
True; the article should be edited to correct that. They changed a couple of years ago.
Thanks for pointing out this change! I just updated the post to reflect that both types of beans are now vegetarian. 🙂
“and perhaps some chicken or beef (avoid the barbacoa or carnitas; they’re higher in sodium and fat).”
Barbacoa 530mg sodium to Chicken 310mg sodium. What you failed to mention is the Chicken has 125mg of cholesterol to the Barbacoa whichi only has 65mg of cholesterol. So if cholesterol is your issue the chicken is the worst choice and if high blood pressure is your issue than you may want to stay away from the barbacoa. Also, barbacoa has a 1/2 gram less of saturated fat. Your figures are wrong, and you should really not leave out these important details when talking about healthy options.
What a great breakdown! I just bookmarked this page and your nutrition breakdown of Panera! Thanks for all the great info!