- Best Things to Order at Chipotle, Cheesecake Factory & More
- Best and Worst Things to Order at Chipotle
- Best and Worst Things to Order at Applebee’s
- Best and Worst Things to Order at the Cheesecake Factory
- Best and Worst Things to Order at Panera
- Worst: The Italian on a Hoagie Roll
- Best: Steak and Arugula on Sourdough
- 1. Order a bowl, double everything, and get tortillas on the side.
- 2. Don’t ask for double anything until the first scoop is added.
- 3. Turn the kids’ taco into DIY nachos.
- 4. Always get taco shells on the side.
- 5. Two proteins are always better than one.
- 6. Give your burrito some TLC.
- 7. Stretch your burrito bowl over two salads.
- 8. Score free guac one of two ways.
- 9. Skip the insanely long line.
- 10. If you’re strapped for cash, stick to the essentials.
- 11. Take advantage of gift card promotions.
- 12. Keep it super simple.
- 13. Double up your tacos.
- 14. Skip the chips.
- I tried Chipotle’s secret menu to see what’s worth ordering — and what you should skip
- Your Best Bets
- How to Order Healthy at Chipotle
- Best & Worst Toppings
- Healthy Orders We Love
- Every Dish at Chipotle—Ranked!
- PROTEINS…FROM WORST TO BEST
- AND THE BEST PROTEIN AT CHIPOTLE IS…CHICKEN
- RICE…FROM WORST TO BEST
- CILANTRO LIME WHITE RICE
- CILANTRO LIME BROWN RICE
- BEANS…FROM WORST TO BEST:
- PINTO BEANS
- BLACK BEANS
- VEGGIES…FROM WORST TO BEST
- FAJITA VEGGIES
- ROMAINE LETTUCE
- SALSAS…FROM WORST TO BEST
- ROASTED CHILI CORN SALSA
- TOMATILLO RED CHILI SALSA
- TOMATILLO GREEN CHILI SALSA
- AND THE BEST SALSA AT CHIPOTLE IS…FRESH TOMATO SALSA
- FATS…FROM WORST TO BEST:
- SOUR CREAM
- AND THE BEST OPTION IN THE FATS CATEGORY IS…GUACAMOLE
- BURRITOS… From Worst to Best
- CARNITAS BURRITO
- WITH WHITE RICE, BLACK BEANS, FAJITAS VEGGIES, ROASTED CHILI-CORN SALSA, ROMAINE LETTUCE, SOUR CREAM, CHEESE, AND GUAC
- BARBACOA BURRITO
- WITH WHITE RICE, FRESH TOMATILLO-RED SALSA, PINTO BEANS, GUAC, ROMAINE LETTUCE, CHEESE AND SOUR CREAM
- STEAK BURRITO
- WITH BLACK BEANS, FAJITA VEGGIES, CHEESE AND ROASTED CHILI-CORN SALSA
- SOFRITAS BURRITO
- WITH FAJITA VEGGIES, ROMAINE LETTUCE, GUAC AND FRESH TOMATO SALSA
- AND THE BEST BURRITO AT CHIPOTLE IS… CHICKEN BURRITO WITH FAJITA VEGGIES AND CHEESE
- BOWLS…FROM WORST TO BEST
- CARNITAS BOWL
- WITH BROWN RICE, BLACK BEANS, ROASTED CHILI-CORN SALSA, SOUR CREAM, ROMAINE LETTUCE, GUAC AND CHEESE
- BARBACOA BOWL
- WITH BROWN RICE, BLACK BEANS, FAJITA VEGGIES, TOMATILLO RED-CHILI SALSA, SOUR CREAM, CHEESE AND GUAC
- SOFRITAS BOWL
- WITH WHITE RICE, PINTO BEANS, FRESH TOMATO SALSA, SOUR CREAM, ROMAINE LETTUCE AND CHEESE
- STEAK BOWL
- WITH WHITE RICE, PINTO BEANS, TOMATILLO GREEN CHILE SALSA, ROMAINE AND SOUR CREAM
- AND THE BEST BOWL AT CHIPOTLE IS… CHICKEN BOWL
- WITH BROWN RICE, FAJITA VEGETABLES, FRESH TOMATO SALSA, ROMAINE LETTUCE AND ½ SERVING OF GUAC
- TACOS…FROM WORST TO BEST
- SOFRITAS SOFT FLOUR TACOS
- WITH PINTO BEANS, WHITE RICE, FAJITA VEGETABLES, ROASTED CHILI-CORN SALSA, SOUR CREAM, CHEESE, GUAC AND ROMAINE
- BARBACOA SOFT CORN TACOS
- WITH BLACK BEANS, WHITE RICE, FAJITA VEGETABLES, TOMATILLO GREEN-CHILI SALSA, GUAC AND ROMAINE
- STEAK CRISPY CORN TACOS
- WITH PINTO BEANS, BROWN RICE, TOMATILLO RED-CHILI SALSA, SOUR CREAM AND ROMAINE
- CHICKEN SOFT FLOUR TACOS
- WITH BLACK BEANS, FRESH TOMATO SALSA, ½ ORDER OF GUAC AND ROMAINE
- AND THE BEST TACOS AT CHIPOTLE ARE… SOFT CORN TACOS WITH BLACK BEANS, BROWN RICE, FAJITA VEGETABLES AND CHEESE
- SALADS…FROM WORST TO BEST
- STEAK SALAD
- CHICKEN SALAD
- AND FINALLY…THE CHIPS!
Best Things to Order at Chipotle, Cheesecake Factory & More
September 10, 2018 / Emily Polson
When you’re making your own meals, it’s easy to know exactly what’s going into your body. But when you’re out to eat, where do you start? Even though most restaurants now list calorie counts on their menus, not all calories are created equal: carbohydrate content, sugar, sodium and fat can vary widely from dish to dish, sometimes in surprising ways.
To help guide you when you’re going out, we’ve researched options for four common chain restaurants across America. Here are the best things to order at Chipotle, Panera, Applebee’s, and Cheesecake Factory … plus the worst offenders to watch out for.
Best and Worst Things to Order at Chipotle
The average order at Chipotle contains over 1000 calories, as well as a full day’s worth of sodium, and 75% of your daily intake of saturated fat. The unlimited add-ins are a big culprit when it comes to unhealthy Chipotle orders, but another big offender is the tortilla itself. Check out the worst and best ways to get your burrito fix.
Worst: Fully-Loaded Carnitas Burrito
Fill your carnitas burrito with white rice, black beans, fajita vegetables, roasted chili-corn salsa, sour cream, romaine lettuce, and guacamole, and you’re in for a whopping 1315 calories, 144 g carbs, 59 g fat, and a full day’s worth of sodium. Not all add-ins are created alike: carnitas are the highest calorie meat on the menu, and the roasted chili-corn salsa packs the most sodium among the salsas.
Best: Chicken and Black Bean Burrito Bowl
The best way to cut the carbs is to ditch the tortilla enjoy a burrito bowl instead. Chicken (and steak) are the healthiest options for meat, and black beans pack in some extra protein. Opt for brown rice instead of white, then layer on romaine lettuce and fajita vegetables. Top off with the tomatillo-green chili salsa, which has the least sodium and calories per servings among the salsas. All this adds up to just 560 calories, 14.5 g fat, 1120 mg sodium, and a slim 68 g carbs–wrap it all in a tortilla, however, and you’d be up to 118 g carbs.
Best and Worst Things to Order at Applebee’s
If you want to enjoy traditional favorites at your friendly neighborhood bar and grill, you’re better off getting the classic burger than the fish and chips. Here, however, we’re comparing two salads to show that eating healthy is not as simple as ordering greens.
Worst: Oriental Crispy Chicken Salad
This fan-favorite dish may be full of greens, but it’s also full of calories: 1440, to be exact. The combination of breaded chicken tenders, rice noodles, and sweetened vinaigrette also adds up 93 g carbs. That’s more than athat Panera sandwich! Getting the chicken grilled isn’t much better–you save 130 calories and a dozen grams of fat, but the sodium hikes up to 2230 mg. Better to skip this one altogether.
Best: Thai Shrimp Salad
For a healthy salad that doesn’t sacrifice flavor, try this Thai-inspired option. It’s made up of chopped lettuce, shrimp, edamame, almonds, and a dressing that combines peanut sauce with a chili lime vinaigrette. Best of all, the whole meal is only 390 calories, 21 g fat, 31 g carbs, and 1470 mg sodium–while still giving you 25 grams of protein.
Best and Worst Things to Order at the Cheesecake Factory
While the Cheesecake Factory’s pastas are going to be obvious offenders in the quest for healthy dishes, others may take you by surprise. We’re comparing two chicken dishes to show the range of nutritional info you’ll find depending on how the meat’s prepared and what comes with it.
Worst: Crispy Chicken Costoletta
Between the breaded chicken and the mashed potatoes, this dish contains 103 g carbs and 2,630 mg sodium. It gets worse, though–this huge portion size packs in 2,550 calories and only has 42 g protein to show for it. If you don’t feel like maxing out on your daily caloric intake in one sitting, this is definitely a dish to split, or better yet, skip altogether.
Best: Mexican Chicken Lettuce Wrap Tacos
This chicken dish comes from the “Skinnylicious” menu, and it is nothing short of delicious. While they’re considered an appetizer, the nutritional content shows they’re plenty filling to serve as your meal. Get 24 g of protein from these three lettuce tacos for only 260 calories, 616 mg sodium, 12 g fat, and 49 g carbs.
Best and Worst Things to Order at Panera
Some dishes at Panera are obvious red flags (like the Mac & Cheese and New England Clam Chowder), but others may take you by surprise. We’re comparing two sandwich options to show how much of a difference what’s between the bread can make.
Worst: The Italian on a Hoagie Roll
The Italian deli meats in this sandwich drive the sodium content up to a whopping 2530 mg, which knocks out the 2400 mg daily maximum intakerecommended by the American Heart Association. It also contains 880 calories, 75 g carbs, and 47 g fat.
Best: Steak and Arugula on Sourdough
You don’t have to cut out bread completely to stick with a healthy diet at Panera. The full steak and arugula sandwich contains 24 g of protein and only 500 calories. Even with the addition of a garlic and herb cream cheese spread, the sandwich only has 18 g of fat, 51 g carbs, and 860 mg of sodium–by comparison, that’s only a third of the daily recommended amount.
Emily Polson Writer
Emily is a writer, reader, and traveler from Iowa who has visited twenty-one countries and lived in three. Her first publication was an article in Muse magazine about her summer job as a corn detasseler. She’s a Slytherin, an amateur ukulele player, and a Peter Pan enthusiast. You can follow Emily on Twitter @emilycpolson.
True Chipotle fans don’t care about forking over extra cash for guac or spending their entire “going out” budget on lunch there. But even the most dedicated Tex-Mex fans should know the shortcuts to saving cash and getting more burrito for their buck. Here are the best of the Chipotle ordering pro-tips on the internet:
1. Order a bowl, double everything, and get tortillas on the side.
Voila—you’ve instantly got two burritos for the price of one.
2. Don’t ask for double anything until the first scoop is added.
instagram / fuckjerry
3. Turn the kids’ taco into DIY nachos.
4. Always get taco shells on the side.
More fillings, less soggy mess.
5. Two proteins are always better than one.
Asking for half and half gets you more than normal.
Life hack: if you order half steak half chicken at chipotle you always get extra meat without paying for it
— steven (@S111V) August 2, 2016
6. Give your burrito some TLC.
Sick of getting a bite of all rice? Ask your server to mix things up a little bit before rolling it.
Life hack: ask chipotle to mix your burrito before they wrap it. It’s the little things in life 😍❤️
— Dana (@DanaKolker) June 6, 2016
7. Stretch your burrito bowl over two salads.
View this post on Instagram
Chipotle Life Hack: 1️⃣ Order favorite bowl to go. 2️⃣ Split into portions. 3️⃣ Serve over salad greens. 4️⃣ Make everyone jealous when you have Chipotle leftovers for the next day and they don’t. 👊 What’s your go-to at Chipotle? #iknowguacisextra
A post shared by Holly Shaw (@hollyshawtx) on Jul 8, 2016 at 2:47pm PDT
8. Score free guac one of two ways.
Either order a veggie burrito, bowl, or tacos—or go during busy hours and hope they forget.
Life hack: go to chipotle during busy times and they almost always forget to charge you for guac
— Salami Capicola (@SamiCappola) March 26, 2016
9. Skip the insanely long line.
Your local Chipotle is likely always mobbed during lunch time. Order ahead and pass everyone to the register.
@SollyeWest Life hack: Order Chipotle online, walk to the register and pick up. Then eat Chipotle while getting stared down by line-goers.
— Kylo Aaron (@AMBellJAX) January 2, 2016
10. If you’re strapped for cash, stick to the essentials.
Protein-rich beans and irresistible cheese—it’s all you need.
college life hack: bean & cheese burrito fr chipotle is $2.18.
TWO DOLLARS AND EIGHTEEN CENTS THATS POCKET/SOFA CHANGE FAM #surviving
— iamcardibrooke (@brookeadarnell) December 16, 2015
11. Take advantage of gift card promotions.
Chipotle often offers a “buy a gift card, get a free burrito” deal. And you can always keep the gift card for future dinners food babies.
View this post on Instagram
Buy a gift card and get the next burrito free. My kind of deal. #chipotlehack
A post shared by Randy Johnson (@ranplan) on Dec 12, 2012 at 12:20pm PST
12. Keep it super simple.
Burritos with fewer ingredients don’t cost as much and their souped-up counterparts.
Life hack: a burrito with only 3 things in it at Chipotle is a “3-pointer”, and it’s a couple bucks cheaper
— Hayden Schiff (@HaydenSchiff) September 15, 2015
13. Double up your tacos.
Sides of cheese and flour tortillas are on the house, yo.
View this post on Instagram
Day 122/365 #100daysofchipotle #365daysofchipotle @chipotlemexicangrill @postmates #chipotlehack I call it The Cheesy Chipotle Crunch. Order 3 hard tacos with a side of cheese and 3 side flour tortillas. #tacobell #betterthantacobell #chibukle #Chipotle #chipotlife
A post shared by Devin Cunningham (@devintyler_) on Nov 22, 2015 at 7:39pm PST
14. Skip the chips.
Ask for hard taco shells on the side—they’re free!—and break them up into “chips.”
View this post on Instagram
Don’t pay for chips at Chipotle! Just get taco shells. 😉 they are FREE! I can now afford guac! 😂 #chipotle #ilovechipotle #chipotlehacks
A post shared by 🎀💐tatty💐🎀 (@petuliah) on May 31, 2015 at 3:48pm PDT
Follow Delish on Instagram.
- Chipotle has an unofficial secret menu consisting of five items and infinite modifications.
- The five items are the Quesarrito, the Burritodilla, the quesadilla, double-decker tacos, and nachos.
- I tried all five items and found that not only is the secret menu real but there’s something on it for everybody.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Why are we fascinated with secret menus?
Is it the thrill of knowing a secret that others don’t? The novelty of trying something new? The power rush of consuming a fast-food monster à la Frankenstein that you brought into this world?
The answer, at least for me, is all three.
This week in the wacky world of secret menus: Chipotle.
The funky-fresh, Mexican-inspired fast-casual chain is the after-school go-to for many a student. And young minds are creative minds. Chipotle fans took burritos and made them cheesier. They conjured up quesadillas and made them burrito-ier. They took chips and turned them into nachos. They took tacos and turned them into double deckers.
Read more: I tried to order 9 things from the McDonald’s ‘secret menu’ — but it was a much bigger challenge than I expected
Longtime stans of Chipotle know its secrets: You can ask for cilantro on top. You can double-wrap your burritos, and you can ask for up to four scoops of toppings (except meat). You can also order the three-pointer, a three-filling burrito that’s cheaper than a standard burrito.
There are five secret menu items, however, that fans universally agree upon as real: the quesadilla, the Quesarrito, the Burritodilla, the double-decker taco, and nachos.
In the name of cheese, queso, and all that is guac, I volunteered myself as tribute and embarked upon the intrepid journey to the Chipotle several blocks away to retrieve these hallowed morsels.
Below is a completely totally 100% scientific, objective, and not at all subjective account of the ensuing trials:
You might’ve heard that the typical Chipotle order tops out at 1,000 calories, but if you’re wondering if there’s a way to still justify your love for the fast food chain, the short answer is yes.
Just like other chain choices, the fast casual restaurant offers some great and not-so-great options. If you’re trying to eat healthier, the main issue with ordering at Chipotle is that the portions of the less nutritious stuff are enormous, while the good-for-you items come in scarcer quantities. But that’s A-ok if you’re willing to shell out just a little bit extra for a better lunch. Double or triple helpings of fajita veggies, extra romaine lettuce, and all of the salsas add flavor that’s high in nutritional value but relatively low in calories.
As a rule of thumb, I always recommend that you skip the rice at Chipotle and the ilk, mostly because it’s the least flavorful item that can rack up calories quickly without providing any real nutrient-dense goodness found in the other toppings. Using beans as a base instead adds plant-based protein and fiber, plus minerals and antioxidants that help to boost immunity.
The other thing to watch out for: guac. It’s amazing, and I’m not here to rain on anyone’s Chipotle parade. But the key to ordering well is to either go all in on the guacamole (one serving is 4 ounces and about 230 cals) and skip cheese and sour cream, or to halve the guac and pick either cheese or sour cream.
The final thing to reconsider, sadly, is the burrito itself. The tortilla alone contains 320 calories, and they’re all from refined carbs. That’ll make you feel super full and sleepy rather than energized after lunch and throughout the day.
Your best bets are the salads, burrito bowls, and tacos — plus my favorite new discovery at Chipotle: the kid’s menu. All items on the kid’s menu halve the portion size, which sounds small at first but you can actually add so much extra. Triple the fajita veggies, add extra romaine, corn salsa, guac, and cheese, and you’ve got an amazingly satisfying lunch for just under 600 calories. (Although, again, you may have to pay more.) Plus, you’ll get ready-to-eat dessert in the form of oranges or blueberries.
Another great surprise at Chipotle: steak, one of the most nutritious options on the protein menu. It’s just 150 calories for a filling 4-ounce serving — the same amount as the vegetarian sofritas!
Your Best Bets
Steak Fajita Veggies Black Beans Guacamole Romaine Lettuce Fresh Tomato Salsa Roasted Chili-Corn Salsa Tomatillo Green-Chili Salsa
So next time you get a hankering for Mexican, try one of these five orders to avoid overdoing it. They’re are all around 650 calories or less and make for filling, delicious meals in a hurry:
1. A burrito bowl with any protein, plus beans, double fajita veggies, and extra salsa; skip the rice.
2. A steak salad with beans, guac, and extra salsa; skip the dressing and cheese.
3. Any vegetarian burrito bowl or salad (no meat or sofritas) with beans, double or triple fajita veggies, all of the salsas, guacamole, and cheese; skip the rice and extra dressing.
4. Corn tacos with either beans or meat; add all the veggies, salsas, and a half serving of guac and cheese. Again, pass on the rice.
5. Kid’s menu corn tacos with extra veggies, steak, guac, salsas, and cheese; skip the juice and order water or anything unsweetened and add a piece of fruit.
Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, Good Housekeeping Institute Director, Nutrition Lab A registered dietitian with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northwestern University and a Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University, Jaclyn “Jackie” London handles all of Good Housekeeping’s nutrition-related content, testing, and evaluation.
How to Order Healthy at Chipotle
Can you go to Chipotle and still eat healthy? We break down how to order-from start to finish-and save you up to 900 calories.
Chipotle is one of the healthier fast-food joints: they only 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.
Image zoom Photo courtesy of Chipotle
Related: Chipotle Introduces ‘Lifestyle Bowls’ for Keto, Paleo and Whole30 Diets
By using Chipotle’s Nutrition Calculator, we found that a Chipotle burrito can easily weigh in at over a thousand calories. For example, if you ordered a burrito with carnitas, brown rice, pinto beans, fresh tomato salsa, cheese and guacamole, you’d be consuming a whopping 1,235 calories. Depending on your needs, that could be a day’s worth of calories, in just one burrito.
At EatingWell, we love Chipotle as much as the next person. But even the best-intentioned customer can go overboard if they’re not careful about their choice of ingredients. Here’s our guide to ordering the healthiest meal-that’s still darn tasty-at Chipotle.
Related: Almost Chipotle’s Guacamole (a copycat recipe!)
Image zoom Photo courtesy of Chipotle
1. Choose a bowl or salad
Opt for the bowl or salad, as a large flour tortilla alone contains 320 calories and 600 mg of sodium. The corn and flour taco shells aren’t much better, coming in at 200 and 250 calories, respectively, just for the shell. Don’t waste your calories here; save ’em for the good stuff on the inside.
2. Pick your favorite protein
There isn’t a huge range of calories in this category-the lowest are steak and sofritas (both with 150 calories) and the highest is carnitas (210 calories). We say go ahead and order your favorite; however, keep an eye on the sodium content, which is pretty high in these ingredients. For example, the sofritas has 560 mg per serving.
3. Eat your beans
Beans provide a substantial 8 grams of plant-based protein to your order. Black and pinto beans, both 130 calories, are virtually nutritional equals, so choose your preferred taste here.
4. Choose brown rice
The brown rice contains less sodium and more fiber than the white rice. If you did choose the burrito or tacos, skip the rice (210 calories) altogether since you’re getting your grains in your shell.
Image zoom Photo courtesy of Chipotle
Best & Worst Toppings
Load Up on These
Double up on the fajita vegetables, sautéed peppers and onions. They’re low in calories-just 20 per serving-and high in fiber, plus vitamins and minerals (yay, veggies!).
Romaine lettuce adds only 5 calories while providing lots of freshness and crunch.
When it comes to the guacamole, we think it’s worth the splurge (we know guac is extra!). Avocados are nutrient-dense and filled with heart-healthy fats, but the guacamole does deliver 230 calories. If you love guac, it can be worth the extra $$$ and calories for the nutrition and flavor boost.
Choose These Sparingly
Dairy: Sour Cream, Queso, Cheese
The sour cream (110 calories), queso (120 calories), and shredded Monterey Jack cheese (110 calories) can quickly cause your total calorie count to rocket. If you really can’t go without something creamy or cheesy, choose just one. Hot tip: you can always ask for a half-order of these toppings.
Chipotle offers four different salsas: fresh tomato, roasted chili-corn, tomatillo-green chili, and tomatillo-red chili. Fresh tomato is light in calories (25 per serving), but packs in the sodium-550 mg per serving! The corn salsa contributes 80 calories and 330 mg of sodium, so we recommend choosing either of the tomatillos. We love the green chili version (15 calories and 260 mg sodium), which packs enough spice to boost the flavor and maybe even your metabolism (capsaicin, a compound in hot chile peppers, can rev your metabolism).
The vinaigrette slips in 220 calories and 850 mg of sodium. If you’ve loaded on the toppings, give your salad or bowl a quick toss to mix up the ingredients, and it shouldn’t need any extra dressing. If you’re hankering for dressing, ask for it on the side and use it sparingly.
A single serving contains 540 calories, which could end up doubling the calories of your entire meal.
Image zoom Photo courtesy of Chipotle
Healthy Orders We Love
Here are some combos you can feel good about ordering, plus how they compare to that monster burrito. While we’ve worked to trim the calories, know that the sodium on all these orders is a little high, which is typical for restaurant food. Compare the following to the “Calorie-Bomb Burrito” we created: a burrito with carnitas, brown rice, pinto beans, fresh tomato salsa, cheese and guacamole. That burrito weighs in at 1,235 calories, 51 grams of protein, and 2,560 mg of sodium.
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).
Protein: 31 g
Sodium: 955 mg
The Protein Powerhouse:
Extra-hungry after a hard workout and need some extra protein? This combination has got you covered: a bowl with chicken, brown rice, pinto beans, shredded cheese, and tomatillo-red chili salsa.
Protein: 50 g
Sodium: 1,400 mg
Do you follow a vegan diet? Order this: a bowl with sofritas, brown rice, pinto beans, fajita vegetables, roasted chili-corn salsa and guacamole.
Protein: 26 g
Sodium: 1,810 mg
If you find yourself ordering with your eyes, unable to resist piling on a spoonful of everything (it happens to the best of us) order ahead of time with their app. You can choose a healthy meal before you’re tempted by the options and skip the line.
Related: Healthy Taco Recipes
How to Make Chipotle Chicken Quinoa Burrito Bowls
Every Dish at Chipotle—Ranked!
For those who want their food healthy, delicious, and ethically unassailable, the news hit hard: Chipotle, the non-GMO burrito palace with the sustainable food policies that made it OK for even Bernie Sanders voters to eat fast food again, had been sideswiped by an e. coli outbreak.
The bacteria, which comes from livestock and causes severe stomach cramps and other symptoms too gross to mention, sickened at least 43 people who ate in 17 different Chipotle restaurants between October 13 and November 6—primarily in Oregon and Washington state, but also in California, Minnesota, New York, and Ohio.
But while the company and investigators at the Centers for Disease Control monitor the situation—and report that no one has reported getting sick in the last several weeks—we recommend exercising caution when you’re ready to return to the Mexican grill. Not because of e. coli—that situation looks pretty well in hand. But rather, because some of Chipotle’s burritos can pack as many calories as not one, not two, but three fast-food burgers! Even though calorie counts are clearly posted, it can be easy to lose track in the face of so many yummy options just beyond the plexiglas grill. And sometimes, the sodium counts rival that of even the Big Mac—especially if you order the chips.
To discover the best and worst meals at Chipotle, Eat This, Not That! ranked them by category, from meats to fixings, burritos to salads, and the best and worst combos in each category. Read on for the eye-opening results, and while we’re on the subject of fast food, don’t miss our essential list of McDonald’s menu—ranked!!
PROTEINS…FROM WORST TO BEST
Chipotle won raves for offering a vegetarian protein. But read on to find out which filling is the best for you.
If you’re looking for a meatless option at Chipotle, we’ve got bad news. This spicy organic tofu contains the highest amount of fat, sodium, carbs and sugar of all their proteins. Although it has the fewest calories, it also contains the least protein. The bottom line: You’re better off sticking with veggies.
NUTRITION: 145 calories, 10 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 555 mg sodium, 9 g carbs, 3.5 g fiber, 4.5 g sugars, 8 g protein.
Chipotle touts this as antibiotic- and hormone-free shredded pork, seasoned with salt and pepper, juniper berries, thyme and bay leaves, braised and shredded by hand. These trail barbacoa for one reason—they contain 12 grams of fat (6.5 of which are saturated). Read on for things fast food chains don’t want you to know!
NUTRITION: 210 calories,12 g fat (6.5 g saturated), 450 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugars, 23 g protein
This seasoned beef, marinated overnight and hand shredded, contains fewer calories than both the chicken and steak—but more sodium and less protein.
NUTRITION: 165 calories, 7 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 530 mg sodium, 2 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugars, 24 g protein
Surprisingly, Chipotle’s steak and chicken are neck-and-neck. 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.
NUTRITION: 190 calories, 6.5 g fat (2 g saturated), 320 mg sodium, 2 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 1 g sugars, 30 g protein
AND THE BEST PROTEIN AT CHIPOTLE IS…CHICKEN
Chipotle prides itself on obtaining meats that are raised on a pasture or in deeply bedded pens and are both antibiotic and hormone-free. Their chicken is marinated in spicy chipotle pepper and grilled. It contains 180 calories, the lowest amount of sodium of its counterparts and 32 grams of protein. This is your best choice. Speaking of proteins, click here for best proteins for weight loss!
NUTRITION: 180 calories, 7 g fat (3 g saturated), 310 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0.5 g fiber, 0 g sugars, 32 g protein
RICE…FROM WORST TO BEST
You know brown is better, but do you know why? Whole wheat contains three parts of the grain, all nutrient rich and fiber-filling. And although both Chipotle’s brown and white rice are healthfully prepared—steamed, seasoned with lemon and lime and sprinkled with cilantro—and 210 calories, go for the brown. It contains 150 less milligrams of sodium, 4 fewer grams of carbs and 1.5 more grams of belly-flattening fiber. Click here to discover the other secret best carbs for weight loss!
CILANTRO LIME WHITE RICE
NUTRITION: 210 calories, 4 g fat (0.5 g saturated), 345 mg sodium, 40 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugars, 3.5 g protein
CILANTRO LIME BROWN RICE
NUTRITION: 210 calories, 5.5 g fat (1 g saturated), 195 mg sodium, 36 g carbs, 2.5 g fiber, 0 g sugars, 4 g protein
BEANS…FROM WORST TO BEST:
Chipotle’s bean options vary only slightly. Both are rich in satiating fiber and low in fat and sugars. When it comes down it, black beans pull ahead with 40 fewer milligrams of sodium and one more gram of protein.
NUTRITION: 115 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 300 mg sodium, 21 g carbs, 10 g fiber, 1 g sugars, 6 g protein.
NUTRITION: 120 calories, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 260 mg sodium, 22 g carbs, 12 g fiber, 1 g sugars, 7 g protein
VEGGIES…FROM WORST TO BEST
Although the fajita veggies contain 170 milligrams of sodium, they’re more nutritionally dense than romaine lettuce. Both are safe choices and won’t wreak havoc on your waistline. But if you’re watching your sodium, go with romaine. And if you’re pairing that with a soda, read this list of diet sodas—ranked!!
NUTRITION: 20 calories, 0.5 g fat (0 g saturated), 170 mg sodium, 4 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 2 g sugars, 1 g protein.
NUTRITION: 5 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 0 mg sodium, 1 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugars, 0 g protein.
SALSAS…FROM WORST TO BEST
Think you can’t go wrong with a little tomato dip? Think again.
ROASTED CHILI CORN SALSA
Chipotle’s worst salsa option is the Roasted Chili-Corn, which contains white sweet corn, poblaño peppers, jalapeños and cilantro. Sounds healthy, right? The calorie and fat counts say otherwise.
NUTRITION: 80 calories, 15 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 300 mg sodium, 16 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 4 g sugars, 3 g protein.
TOMATILLO RED CHILI SALSA
Next comes Green’s sibling: Pureed tomatillos and red chiles, with pepper, garlic, cumin and Tabasco. It’s a low-calorie, high-sodium addition to any dish.
NUTRITION: 30 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 500 mg sodium, 4 g carbs, 1.5 g fiber, 0 g sugars, 0 g protein.
TOMATILLO GREEN CHILI SALSA
This salsa isn’t far behind the #1 choice. In fact, if it weren’t for its sodium content, this guy might have taken first. Seasoned roasted tomatoes, tomatillos and jalapeños have just 15 calories with 4 grams of carbs.
NUTRITION: 15 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 255 mg sodium, 4 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 1.5 g sugars, 0 g protein.
AND THE BEST SALSA AT CHIPOTLE IS…FRESH TOMATO SALSA
When it comes to salsas, the simpler the better. Fresh Tomato contains the basics— vine-ripened tomatoes, red onion, cilantro and spices. It also has the least amount of sodium of the bunch.
NUTRITION: 20 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 210 mg sodium, 5 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 3 g sugars, 1 g protein.
FATS…FROM WORST TO BEST:
When it comes to fatty toppings, a little bit goes a long way — the calories, fat and sodium add up fast. Because Chipotle tends to pile on the guac (mmm, guac), ask for a half portion to keep calories in check. Better yet, ask for a half portion on the side.
Despite the moderate calories and sodium, this a big fat mistake.
NUTRITION: 115 calories, 9.5 g fat (7 g saturated), 30 mg sodium, 1 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 2 g sugars, 2 g protein.
Shredded white cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses create a high saturated fat and sodium count.
NUTRITION: 100 calories, 7.5 g fat (5 g saturated), 190 mg sodium, 1 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugars, 6 g protein.
AND THE BEST OPTION IN THE FATS CATEGORY IS…GUACAMOLE
Yes, the guac! The green goop is your healthiest choice. Avocados are rich in healthy monounsaturated fats. According to a study in the journal Diabetes Care, a diet rich in monounsaturated fat may actually prevent belly fat by switching off certain fat genes!
NUTRITION: 230 calories, 22 g fat (3.5 g saturated), 375 mg sodium, 8 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 1 g sugars, 2 g protein.
BURRITOS… From Worst to Best
No matter how healthy you keep your burrito fillings, there’s no way to shake off the salt. Why? The tortilla itself is packed with 690 mg of sodium — just under a half a day’s recommended intake! Still, we compiled a list of options, from worst to “best.” Order one, and you’re falling prey to the bad habits that lead to a belly fat.
WITH WHITE RICE, BLACK BEANS, FAJITAS VEGGIES, ROASTED CHILI-CORN SALSA, ROMAINE LETTUCE, SOUR CREAM, CHEESE, AND GUAC
This fully loaded burrito has just under two days’ worth of salt, six days’ RDA of saturated fat and nearly an entire day’s recommended allowance of fat! Not to mention that it serves up more carbs than you’d find in nearly eight whole-grain dinner rolls! Although almost everything in this burrito is carb-heavy, the tortilla (46 grams) and white rice (40 grams) tip the scales.
NUTRITION: 1,390 calories, 68 g fat (23.5 g saturated fat), 2,810 mg sodium, 139 g carbs, 27 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 54.5 g protein.
WITH WHITE RICE, FRESH TOMATILLO-RED SALSA, PINTO BEANS, GUAC, ROMAINE LETTUCE, CHEESE AND SOUR CREAM
Seasoned BBQ beef and all the fixings adds up to a whopping 1,270 calories, 61 grams of fat, 124 grams of carbs and nearly two days’ worth of sodium! Surprisingly, this isn’t the worst Chipotle burrito combination you could make, but it’s pretty darn close.
NUTRITION: 1270 calories, 61 g fat (19.5 g saturated fat), 2,960 mg sodium, 124 g carbs, 23.5 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 50.5 g protein.
WITH BLACK BEANS, FAJITA VEGGIES, CHEESE AND ROASTED CHILI-CORN SALSA
This steak wrap has 91 grams of carbs and 1,980 milligrams of sodium. On the bright side, it’s under 1,000 calories, has 54 grams of protein and the black beans contribute 19 grams of gut-friendly fiber, making it far from the worst option. If you must order a steak burrito with cheese, opt for the Tomatillo-Green Salsa and save 65 calories, 15 grams of fat and 12 grams of carbs.
NUTRITION: 810 calories, 27 g fat (8 g saturated), 1980 mg sodium, 91 g carbs, 19 g fiber, 8 g sugars, 54 g protein.
WITH FAJITA VEGGIES, ROMAINE LETTUCE, GUAC AND FRESH TOMATO SALSA
Despite this burrito’s healthier fillings, the 2,000-milligram sodium count — primarily from the tortilla (690 mg) and tofu (555 mg) — is a big white flag. And the carb content is far from moderate. However, this burrito contains half the carbs and calories of our worst option and has 16 grams of satiating fiber.
NUTRITION: 720 calories, 42.5 g fat (6 g saturated), 2000 mg sodium, 73 g carbs, 15.5 g fiber, 10.5 g sugars, 19 g protein
AND THE BEST BURRITO AT CHIPOTLE IS… CHICKEN BURRITO WITH FAJITA VEGGIES AND CHEESE
If you’re looking for the lowest-calorie option, a chicken burrito with fajita veggies and cheese has 600 calories and 25 grams of fat — only one-third the damage you can do with the other fat-laden burritos. The combo also can boast 46 grams of muscle-building protein. Just beware that this meal nearly taps out your daily sodium allowance, so if you’re watching the salt, ditch the tortilla and opt for a bowl. And don’t do these other things slowing your metabolism!
NUTRITION: 600 calories, 25 g fat (9 g saturated), 1360 mg sodium, 51 g carbs, 4.5 g fiber, 2 g sugars, 46 g protein.
BOWLS…FROM WORST TO BEST
Aside from being a total salt bomb, the tortilla is basically a flavorless, nutritionally void carb blanket. You don’t need it. We suggest ordering a burrito bowl instead. It has all the flavors of a classic burrito for a fraction of the calories and salt. Add a protein, a carb and a healthy fat to keep your meal lean and nutritionally balanced. Rules of thumb: Pick a rice or a bean, because they both provide carbs. Choose just one fatty add-in such as guac, cheese or sour cream. We opted for the guac, because it’s rich in monounsaturated and oleic fatty acids, which have been shown to spot-reduce abdominal fat.
WITH BROWN RICE, BLACK BEANS, ROASTED CHILI-CORN SALSA, SOUR CREAM, ROMAINE LETTUCE, GUAC AND CHEESE
The fat and meat choices make this one of the worst Chipotle combos. Sour cream, cheese, guac and pork contribute to 51 grams of fat, and even without the salt-laden white tortilla, this bowl still has 89 grams of carbs and 1,970 milligrams of sodium. You might as well get a burrito. (But don’t.)
NUTRITION: 1090 calories, 59.5 g fat (23 g saturated fat), 1970 mg sodium, 89 g carbs, 25.5 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 48 g protein.
WITH BROWN RICE, BLACK BEANS, FAJITA VEGGIES, TOMATILLO RED-CHILI SALSA, SOUR CREAM, CHEESE AND GUAC
Before you order this one, consider skipping the sour cream and the cheese or guac (not both). That can save you up to 355 calories, 23 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat and 405 milligrams of sodium. If you must order sour cream, ask for it on the side and use it sparingly. Ordering this bowl as-is means you’ll tap your entire daily sodium quota and half your calorie bank.
NUTRITION: 990 calories, 53 g fat (19 g saturated fat), 2250 mg sodium, 78 g carbs, 24 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 46 g protein
WITH WHITE RICE, PINTO BEANS, FRESH TOMATO SALSA, SOUR CREAM, ROMAINE LETTUCE AND CHEESE
Sofritas is salty enough without a flour-rich blanket. But even with addition of white rice, pintos, salsa, sour cream and cheese, this bowl is just 710 calories with 17 grams of fiber. Clean this order up by swapping the white rice for brown.
NUTRITION: 710 calories, 32 g fat (14 g saturated fat), 1630 mg sodium, 78 g carbs, 16.5 g fiber, 10.5 g sugar, 26.5 g protein.
WITH WHITE RICE, PINTO BEANS, TOMATILLO GREEN CHILE SALSA, ROMAINE AND SOUR CREAM
Although it’s not our first bean choice, legumes such as pinto beans are a virtually fat-free source of potassium, protein and belly-filling fiber, which help slow digestion and stabilize blood sugar. In total, this bowl has two-thirds of the average man’s protein RDA with 12 grams of fiber. For 650 calories and 21 grams of fat, you can enjoy steak without added carbs and fat.
NUTRITION: 650 calories, 21 g fat (9.5 g saturated), 1250 mg sodium, 69 g carbs, 12 g fiber, 5.5 g sugar, 41.5 g protein.
AND THE BEST BOWL AT CHIPOTLE IS… CHICKEN BOWL
WITH BROWN RICE, FAJITA VEGETABLES, FRESH TOMATO SALSA, ROMAINE LETTUCE AND ½ SERVING OF GUAC
Steamed whole-grain brown rice, fajita veggies, protein-rich grilled chicken and flab-fighting guacamole make for one nutrient-packed bowl! And with just 550 calories and one-third the carbs of a burrito, this meal won’t demolish your diet. Plus, you’ll get 49 grams of metabolism-boosting protein. Just skip the soda and order a large water to help counteract that sodium count. Consuming too much sodium could be the reason you’re not losing belly fat!
NUTRITION: 550 calories, 23 g fat (5.25 g saturated), 1,072 mg sodium, 49 g carbs, 9 g fiber, 5.5 g sugar, 39 g protein
TACOS…FROM WORST TO BEST
The first decision you need to make when you order tacos is the tortilla. Chipotle offers three options: crispy corn, soft corn and soft flour. You already know the soft flour tortilla is loaded with salt, calories and fat. So let’s focus on the crispy corn and the soft corn tortillas: Both have 210 calories, 30 milligrams of sodium, 3 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber, and their carbs vary by just 5 grams. However, soft corn tortillas contain no fat, while both the soft flour tortillas and crispy corn tortillas have 7.5 grams (3 grams saturated). Go for the soft corn tortillas, and save the fat and sodium for fillings! And then read these ways to lose 10 pounds!
SOFRITAS SOFT FLOUR TACOS
WITH PINTO BEANS, WHITE RICE, FAJITA VEGETABLES, ROASTED CHILI-CORN SALSA, SOUR CREAM, CHEESE, GUAC AND ROMAINE
This is by far one of the worst options. In fact, these soft-flour tacos are a health disaster. They’re sky-high in fat, carbs and sodium—nearly two days’ worth of salt, to be exact—and contain 14.5 grams of sugar! According to a 2015 article in Nutrition Review, which surveyed dozens of studies conducted between 1972 and 2012, the more added sugar you consume, the less healthy food you’ll eat the rest of the day. Steer clear, unless you want man boobs!
NUTRITION: 1,275 calories, 63.5 g fat (20.5 g saturated fat), 2,835 mg sodium, 140 g carbs, 27.5 g fiber, 14.5 g sugar, 37.5 g protein
BARBACOA SOFT CORN TACOS
WITH BLACK BEANS, WHITE RICE, FAJITA VEGETABLES, TOMATILLO GREEN-CHILI SALSA, GUAC AND ROMAINE
Although this order contains some of our first-choice ingredients, the final product is anything but diet friendly. You get three tacos for just under 1,000 calories, 1965 milligrams of sodium and 125 grams of carbs. If it sounds like a high cost for such a small amount of food, it is! Save more than 300 calories by choosing rice or beans and asking for half an order of guac.
NUTRITION: 970 calories, 34.5 g fat (6.5 g saturated fat), 1965 mg sodium, 125 g carbs, 27 g fiber, 5.5 g sugar, 40.5 g protein
STEAK CRISPY CORN TACOS
WITH PINTO BEANS, BROWN RICE, TOMATILLO RED-CHILI SALSA, SOUR CREAM AND ROMAINE
If you prefer your tacos crunchy, you’ll probably opt for the crispy corn tortillas. This combo includes iron-rich steak, belly-slimming pintos, fiber-dense brown rice and fiery, metabolism-boosting salsa. On the other hand, it also contains nutrient-lacking romaine and diet-sabotaging sour cream, adding up to way too much saturated fat, sodium and carbs. Opt for a half-order of guac instead! In a study published in Nutrition Journal, participants who ate half a fresh avocado with lunch reported a 40 percent decreased desire to eat for hours afterward!
NUTRITION: 875 calories, 30 g fat (13 g saturated fat), 1375 mg sodium, 95 g carbs, 21 g fiber, 4.5 g sugar, 45 g protein
CHICKEN SOFT FLOUR TACOS
WITH BLACK BEANS, FRESH TOMATO SALSA, ½ ORDER OF GUAC AND ROMAINE
Kill the soft flour tortillas, and this is a healthful meal. It contains our top-choice meat, fiber-filled black beans, fresh tomato salsa, and half the usual portion of heart-healthy guac. With them, however, you get an entire day’s worth of sodium and an extra 7.5 grams of fat and 39 grams of carbs. Swap in soft corn tortillas instead for another ETNT-approved Chipotle taco order.
NUTRITION: 705 calories, 26.5 g fat (7.3 g saturated fat), 1538 mg sodium, 71 g carbs, 19.5 g fiber, 4.5 g sugar, 47 g protein
AND THE BEST TACOS AT CHIPOTLE ARE… SOFT CORN TACOS WITH BLACK BEANS, BROWN RICE, FAJITA VEGETABLES AND CHEESE
These meat-free tacos are your best option, at 660 calories and 21 grams of protein. Although full-fat cheese packs more calories, it’s also more filling, which aids weight loss. A 2013 study review in the European Journal of Nutrition found that people who eat full-fat dairy are less likely to suffer from obesity than those who opt for low-fat dairy. (To add this benefit to your total diet, check out our list of the Best Full-Fat Foods)! Celebrate Taco Tuesday any day of the week with this flavorful and nutrient-dense order.
NUTRITION: 660 calories, 14.5 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 845 mg sodium, 108 g carbs, 21.5 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 21 g protein
SALADS…FROM WORST TO BEST
Chipotle’s salads are composed of their signature ingredients over a bed of romaine lettuce. Unlike the Bowls, whose base may be rice or beans, the majority of this dish is the green stuff. However, that doesn’t mean that calories, fat, and sodium counts can’t creep up, because they do—fast. A serving of vinaigrette dressing is 2 ounces, or almost 4 tablespoons, which has 270 calories, 25 grams of fat and 850 milligrams of sodium. Ask for the dressing on the side and use about half. Here are our picks for the best and worst salad.
##WITH WHITE RICE, BLACK BEANS, FAJITA VEGGIES, ROASTED CHILI-CORN SALSA, SOUR CREAM, CHEESE, GUAC AND VINAIGRETTE
If you’re an avid ETNT reader, you know that the word “salad” can be a trick. So you won’t be shocked to learn that the worst Chipotle salad has more calories than the worst tacos and bowl — and more fat than the worst combo in all three prior categories! With 114 grams of carbs and 22.5 grams of saturated fat, the salad’s whopping 56 grams of protein won’t benefit your body. (Think that’s bad? Read this to discover the most horrifying things found in food!)
NUTRITION: 1,345 calories, 77.5 g fat (22.5 g saturated fat), 2840 mg sodium, 114 g carbs, 26 g fiber, 24 g sugar, 56 g protein
##WITH BLACK BEANS, FAJITA VEGGIES, FRESH TOMATO SALSA AND ½ ORDER OF VINAIGRETTE
Chipotle’s antibiotic- and hormone-free grilled chicken pairs with brain-boosting black beans to pack this salad’s 43 grams of protein. We opted for fresh tomato salsa because dozens of studies suggest a relationship between regular intake of lycopene (an antioxidant found in tomatoes) and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, skin damage and certain cancers. Plus they’re super low-cal! For under 500 calories, you get 17 grams of slimming fiber and just 21 grams of fat.
NUTRITION: 485 calories, 21 g fat (3.3 g saturated fat), 1,375 mg sodium, 42 g carbs, 16.5 g fiber, 13 g sugar, 42.3 g protein
AND FINALLY…THE CHIPS!
Oh, we so want to tell you to eat the chips. But there’s the truth is, they have 8 more calories than a Big Mac, with only 5 grams less fat and twice the carbs—and a third of the protein. You’d be better off dipping some chicken into a half-order of guac. Hey, that sounds pretty good right about now!
Nutrition: 570 calories, 27 g fat (3.5 g saturated), 420 mg sodium, 73 g carbs, 8 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 8 g protein
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