Since its inception in 1993, Chipotle has been generous with its vegan options. Plant-based patrons could always rely on a solid meal of rice, beans, fajita veggies, salsa, and guac for the first 20 years of this chain’s existence, but in 2013, Chipotle introduced the vegan sofritas—a game-changing option of spicy braised tofu. This build-your-own Mexican-style concept has become a staple in our diets. Here is all you need to know about eating vegan—and eating well—at Chipotle.
You can veganize (almost) anything
The appeal of Chipotle is the variety of vessels it offers. Those leaning into a light lunch can opt for a salad, whereas a famished customer can easily find enough sustenance with a colossal burrito. Every option—excluding the quesadilla—can be veganized with the ingredients below. So, decide what you’re in the mood for (tacos, burrito, salad, or bowl), and let’s start to build it.
Chipotle offers three variations of rice, and all of them are vegan. Choose to pack your bowl or burrito with the chain’s standard Cilantro-Lime brown or white rice or opt for the new Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice. Yes, even Chipotle is riding the cauliflower rice trend. It’s here to stay.
Beans and proteins
No worries about non-vegan beans here—both the pinto and the black beans are animal-free (pro tip: you can get both). For extra protein and a spicy kick, add the tofu-based sofritas. If you’re really hungry, you can double your protein portion for $2.60.
If you order a build-your-own option and ask for Veggie, guacamole is included at no charge. We needed to say that upfront. In addition to this coveted green condiment, Fajita Veggies (a mix of sautéed peppers and onions) are also stellar add-ons to any burrito, taco, or bowl.
These extras add essential flavor, spice, and texture to any Chipotle meal. Pile on shredded romaine and dollops of guac, then choose from a wide assortment of vegan-friendly salsas including Roasted Chili-Corn, Tomatillo-Red Chili, Tomatillo-Green Chili, and Fresh Tomato (pico de gallo). Remember, there’s no “or” here—you can get as many salsas as you like. A Roasted Chili-Corn and Fresh Tomato is a solid combination.
Do these chips taste different? Yes, in a good way. Chipotle’s chips are lightly seasoned with salt and lime juice for an added zing to the basic tortilla chip. They’re vegan, and they can be ordered as an individual side, with guac, or with your choice of salsa for an additional charge.
Whether you go taco or burrito, flour or corn, all of Chipotle’s tortilla options are vegan. Have you done the tortilla on-the-side trick? If you like to build your tacos as you go, order a bowl and ask for three taco tortillas on the side. They’ll come warm and wrapped in foil. The same goes for the large flour tortillas—all those who love nibbling on a plain, hot flour tortilla, you know who you are.
Besides offering vegan cheese, the one thing Chipotle could do to be more inclusive is to diversify its salad dressing options. Currently, the chain only offers a Chipotle-Honey Vinaigrette, which is not vegan-friendly. If you order a salad, use salsa or guacamole as your dressing.
Like this celebrity’s experience with veganism, Chipotle’s Miley Cyrus burrito was a limited-time engagement. However, it still offers the Vegan Bowl for those with decision anxiety. The option includes a base of Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice, sofritas, black beans, Fresh Tomato Salsa, Roasted Chili-Corn Salsa, and shredded romaine lettuce. The Vegetarian Bowl is almost vegan-friendly. Made with Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice, Supergreens Lettuce Blend, black beans, Fresh Tomato Salsa, Fajita Veggies, and guacamole, the only non-vegan ingredient is the Chipotle-Honey Vinaigrette. Given the flavorful cauli-rice, salsa, and guac, you really don’t need it.
For more guides on how to eat vegan at popular chain restaurants, see here.
Tanya Flink is a Digital Editor at VegNews as well as a writer and fitness enthusiast living in Orange County, CA.