Chipotle started off the new year with a bang. The Mexican-inspired fast-food chain has added vegan chorizo to its menu for a limited time.
The company spent a year perfecting its meatless version of the spiced sausage. Traditional chorizo, a staple in Spanish and Mexican cuisine, features ground and heavily seasoned meat.
Chipotle’s version features pea protein, chipotle peppers, tomato paste, crushed garlic, olive oil, and smoked paprika. The plant-based sausage is packed with 16 grams of protein per serving and is free from artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, gluten, and soy.
“Creating a delicious plant-based protein that sizzles on the grill with the robust flavor and texture profile chorizo-lovers expect was a real challenge,” Nevielle Panthaky, the company’s Vice President of Culinary, said.
“Our culinary team has worked relentlessly for years to develop this breakthrough Plant-Based Chorizo recipe that is uniquely Chipotle,” Panthaky continued.
Chipotle also added three new Lifestyle Bowls to its menu, which cater to various nutritional preferences. Its new Whole30 Salad Bowl contains a supergreens lettuce blend, tomato salsa, fajita veggies, and guacamole. The Vegetarian Bowl features the same lettuce blend, pinto beans, tomato salsa, fajita veggies, and cheese. And the Vegan Bowl contains white rice, black beans, corn salsa, tomato salsa, and shredded romaine lettuce. All three bowls feature the chain’s new meat-free chorizo.
Vegan chorizo comes to Chipotle
The new chorizo crumbles join Chipotle’s signature sofritas (braised and spiced tofu), which the chain first launched back in 2014. In-house chefs typically prioritize ethically sourced and environmentally-friendly ingredients menu-wide, and the company went GMO-free in 2015.
Chipotle originally tested the plant-based chorizo at approximately 100 stores in Indianapolis, Orange County, and its home city of Denver last August. The new vegan chorizo replaces the pork and chicken-based version that the company ditched in 2017 for the sake of efficiency.
In a 2019 interview with Bloomberg, Chipotle’s Chief Marketing Officer Chris Brandt said that typical plant-based meats are “too processed” to include on the brand’s menu, which boasts a total of just 53 ingredients. With that in mind, the company created its own product in-house instead of partnering with external brands.
“We definitely see a lot of interest in it,” he said. “Some people for the health benefits, some people for the environmental benefits.”
Brandt added: “I don’t think people will miss the meat at all.”
To order plant-based and meat-free options only, customers can select the V+ icon as a preference on the Chipotle website. Menu staples such as beans, rice, salad, vegetables, guacamole, lime-spiked tortilla chips, and salsa, are all vegan-friendly.
Want to know exactly how to order vegan at Chipotle? Here’s LIVEKINDLY’s complete guide.