Healthy Options at Chipotle

Chipotle Burrito

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) OK
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

Black Beans OK
120 cal, no sat fat, 1g total fat, 250mg sodium, 23g carbs, 11g fiber, 7g protein

Beans – Worst Choice

Higher in sodium.

Pinto Beans
120 cal, no sat fat, 1g total fat, 330mg sodium, 22g carbs, 10g fiber, 7g protein

Salsa – Better Choices

Green Tomatillo Salsa (2 ounces) OK
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) OK
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 X indicates the “worst-of-the-worst,” more or less.

Chipotle Nutrition Info

Photo by chilcott.

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June 13, 2012 12:37 pm

just came across your blog and I love it! I just started a new job in a city area and a lot of our lunches are catered, or we are taken out. coming from a small rural town, I have never really been to any of these chain restaurant places we are taken, so thank you for the quick reference on what to/what not to order!

Elizabeth Newlin
May 5, 2012 11:31 am

wow! I love this. I usually get the salad (no dressing), with fajita veggies, steak, black beans, pico, medium salsa and corn salsa. I didn’t realize the corn and medium salsa’s were high in sodium, but I feel pretty vindicated in my other choices. 😀

Amanda Cowan
Amanda Cowan
January 7, 2013 2:23 pm

I guess I’m stalking your blog choices! I usually add sour cream to my salad too.. it’s the best! But if I’m planning ahead I just bring a dollop of my plain greek yogurt from home. But otherwise that looks identical to my order!

April 16, 2012 3:29 am

I’m wondering why you put so much emphasis on saturated fat as being bad for you. Most experts any more will tell you that the recommended daily values are wrong. Your saturated fat daily intake should be tripled to about 60g, while your carb daily intake should be cut in 1/3 down to around 100G.

March 22, 2012 10:33 am

I love Chipotle, and there’s one fairly convenient to my house. My favorite Chipotle dish–I order the salad, so I get a nice bunch of lettuce, then get a little bit of the brown rice, the black beans, extra fajita veggies, the tomato salsa, a little corn salsa, and light cheese. If I’m eating in, I usually go with the dressing, as I love the flavor and usually want the thinner consistency. If I’m taking it home, I’ll get the guac, and at home, I’ll add some lime juice if I need more liquid. I also usually re-plate my salad at home, so I can mix the ingredients up more and don’t wind up eating all the goods first and then have a bunch of romaine to finish.

December 27, 2011 9:57 am

You should include the Better and Worse Choice between White Rice and Brown Rice, since many Chipotle Restaurants are now serving healthier Brown Rice.

November 29, 2011 8:17 pm

This is fantastic I actually work at chipotle and although we take great care of our food people sometimes still don’t have boundaries. A lot of our foods have a lot of fat in it and sodium as well but this guide is a grreat tool to use wen ordering in order to see ow fast everything adds up.

Great job

September 25, 2011 7:05 pm

After gym, I always get a salad bowl with black bean (extra) – for the protein. Fajita peppers, Chicken, green tomatilla, tomato salsa, and lettuce. It’s incredible because that meal has 370 calories, 8 grams of fat, and 50 grams of protein! I split the meal in to two sittings so I can fully ingest the protein. Thanks for the extra insight btw.

July 30, 2011 9:39 am

My husband and I love Chipotle! What we do to keep calories under control is order one burrito bowl, load it up with rice, black beans, carnitas, and a few condiments, and split it between the two of us…half the calories, all the taste, and we usually leave plenty full.

July 22, 2011 12:55 am

I loveee your Menu Mondays!! Keep them coming pleaseee, this is such a help 🙂 I’m trying to lose weight this summer and although it is super difficult, websites like these make it a bit less painful 🙂 Could you do one for Sweet Tomatoes? Pretty please!

February 8, 2011 11:16 am

I can see that I’m going to really appreciate reading your blog. Love it! Thanks for the recommendation. Sadly, the tortilla is my favorite part. Oh, healthy eating, sometimes I despise you.

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