With fresh, responsibly-sourced ingredients, Chipotle makes healthy eating on the go easy. But yummy chips, toppings and tortillas Also Make it easy to turn your order into an unintentional cheat meal. So what should you order at Chipotle? We asked two nutrition experts to break down tips for finding healthier options.
(Nutritional information provided by the Chipotle Nutrition Calculator.)
1. Start with the basics
When you’re deciding what to order at Chipotle, skip the burrito — the large flour tortilla has 320 calories, and that’s before you add any toppings. “Go for a taco, salad or bowl instead,” says Christian Morey, RD, LDN, and clinical dietitian at The Center for Endocrinology at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore.
Here’s how these options stack up:
- A bed of supergreens is your best bet with a salad with only 15 calories.
- If you order a burrito bowl, choose brown rice over white. A typical serving of rice (in a burrito bowl, burrito or three-taco meal) has 210 calories, so request a “light” portion in person or on the app when ordering — or skip it altogether.
- If you order tacos, choose the crispy corn on the cob — an order of three has 200 calories and zero sodium, compared to 250 calories and 480 milligrams of sodium for three soft flour tortillas.
2. Add lean protein
Next, add some healthy protein to your order. Black beans and pinto beans both contain an average of 130 calories and 8 grams of protein, so choose whichever bean you like.
For the main protein event, choose chicken or sofritas (shredded with spices). “Both are lower in saturated fat than red meat,” says Sophia Norton, RD of Kiss My Keto. Sofritas clock in at 150 calories, 8 grams of protein, and 1.5 grams of saturated fat per serving. The chicken option has 180 calories and 3 grams of saturated fat, but 32 grams of protein per serving.
3. Go heavy on vegetables
Norton recommends including plenty of vegetables, so add some fajita veggies, tomatillo salsa, pico de gallo, roasted chile corn or extra super greens to your meal. (Go easy on the corn, which has 80 calories per serving.)
4. Watch out for saturated fat
Don’t overdo it with shredded cheese, queso blanco sauce, and sour cream—they can add a lot of saturated fat and calories to your meal. (Chipotle shredded cheese has 5 grams of saturated fat per serving, queso blanco has 6 grams and sour cream has 7 grams.)
Chipotle’s salsa options — both fresh tomato salsa and tomatillo green-chile salsa — are great, low-cal, flavorful options. But if you want a creamy topping or dip, choose one and request a lighter portion. Better yet, order it on the side so you can control how much you add to your meal, Morey says.
5. Spring for guac
Avocados “contain valuable nutrients like fiber, B vitamins and potassium,” Norton says, along with healthy fats that are believed to benefit heart health. And Chipotle’s guacamole includes only the real stuff — avocados, cilantro, jalapeño, lemon juice, lime juice, red onion and salt — no funny business like preservatives or artificial flavors. Just remember that a helping of guac adds 230 calories to your meal, so you might want to order it on the side so you can eat half now and save the rest for later.
6. Skip the chips
The chips are tempting, but put them off your order. “The smallest option clocks in at over 500 calories,” says Morey. “That’s practically the price of a meal for some people.” And a large order of chips with a side of queso blanco will run you 1,290 calories and contains 28 grams of saturated fat.
7. Take advantage of the nutrition calculator
Before you order, Morey recommends running your order through the handy nutrition calculator on the Chipotle website — it calculates the full nutritional information of your meal. If you choose to go “Extra,” “Normal” or “Light” in any of your selections, you’ll also see a difference in the nutritional stats. For example, you can quickly see that choosing a light serving of cilantro-lime brown rice instead of a regular serving will cut 105 calories.
A simple alternative to ordering at Chipotle
Still not sure what to order at Chipotle? Here are a few options that provide plenty of nutrients. (Keep in mind that the sodium content can be significant, even in Chipotle’s healthier options—so try to limit your sodium intake for the rest of the day.)
Salad with chicken
Add black beans, fajita vegetables and fresh tomato salsa.
- Calories: 360
- Fat: 9 grams
- Protein: 41 grams
- Sugars: 32 grams
Burrito Bowl with Sofritas
Add cilantro-lime brown rice (light), pinto beans, fajita vegetables, tomatillo green-chile salsa, and romaine lettuce.
- Calories: 425
- Fat: 15 grams
- Protein: 19 grams
- Sugars: 58 grams
Opt for two crispy corn tortillas instead of three and add black beans, fajita veggies, fresh tomato salsa, guacamole and romaine lettuce.
- calories: 406
- Fat: 22 grams
- Protein: 10 grams
- Sugars: 46 grams
If you’re following a specific diet plan, you can choose one of Chipotle’s pre-designed Lifestyle Bowls — available in Whole30, Paleo, and vegetarian-friendly versions.