Chipotle’s New Plant-Based Chorizo

Chipotle’s advertisement for their new plant based chorizo for vegan Chipotle lovers.


Chipotle’s advertisement for their new plant based chorizo for vegan Chipotle lovers.

Chase Kim, Photojournalist

After trial runs in Denver and Indianapolis this summer, plant-based chorizo has finally arrived at Chipotle stores across the nation, albeit for a limited time. Rather than teaming up with Beyond or Impossible as most fast-food chains have, they’ve instead chosen to develop their very own recipe based on peas. According to Chipotle’s press release, the new chorizo is “made using all real, fresh ingredients grown on a farm, not in a lab.”

As a Chipotle fan, I had mixed feelings when I heard way back in August that they were testing a new plant-based protein. I was mostly excited to go out and try it for myself, but apprehension still lingered because I was hugely disappointed by sofritas when I first tried them. Sofritas became lost in all of the far more present flavors that made Chipotle so good and contributed little to the taste of the food. For the past couple of years, I’ve rarely strayed from chicken and so Chipotle has remained one of my favorite places to eat.

Going into this, I had a couple of goals that I wanted this chorizo to meet. First and foremost, I wanted it to become a viable option along with sofritas, extra credit awarded if it was an even better option. Second, it had to feel, taste, smell like meat – it had to convince me that I was eating real chorizo, not a thrown-together clump of peas like a veggie burger. Finally, I wanted to see that turning down offers from the big fake-meat companies was the right move to make. While I prefer the fresher path that Chipotle chose, I could care less about where my food was grown as long as it tasted good.

On January 9th, I went to my local Chipotle and picked up my usual order, but with chorizo as my protein.

It had a great taste, with just a touch of sweetness and a delicious smoky flavor that’s reminiscent of most things Chipotle. It has a deep, full-bodied flavor with a little spiciness to it. The intense spices that chorizo tends to have undoubtedly played a role in making this taste more like meat rather than plants. When eaten on its own, I could just barely tell that I wasn’t actually eating pork, but when I mixed it in with the rest of my order, it would be fair to say that I couldn’t notice it at all. The chorizo felt clean – significantly less greasy than normal chorizo would be and even felt healthier than a lot of Chipotles own options: carnitas, for example. A lot of food reviewers mentioned a slight aftertaste, but I tasted none, especially when mixed in. One thing I was surprised about was the texture – the chorizo had a little bit of a chewy bite to it that I wouldn’t see with normal pork chorizo. It was a noticeable enough difference that it was one of the largest separators comparing this product to real meat. However, the chunks were small enough (think smaller than a grain of rice) that they were easily swallowed and mostly unintrusive. 

The new plant-based chorizo checked all of the boxes for me that I set before I tasted it. First, I enjoyed it much more than sofritas and it is without a doubt a viable option for vegan Chipotle lovers. Second, I’d be lying if I said that I could tell the difference between it and actually meat. Finally, I loved the taste of it and think Chipotle marketing this as a fresher option than Impossible was an excellent choice, even given how competitive the plant-based meat market is now.

Would I order it again? In a heartbeat. Even if it wasn’t plant-based, a chorizo release from Chipotle would have me salivating. Because it is, it feels healthier and as a result, I feel much more inclined to order it again.

I’m glad that Chipotle finally made their move into the plant-based meat world, following so many other companies that have done so already. As Derek Moore (9) put it, “It’s great to see more restaurants introduce plant based meat alternatives not only for different diets, but also to help the environment.” While it may seem like a quick flash in the pan that’ll fade in a couple of years, I am adamant that the popularity of these vegan-based products is here to stay. 

I have only one request for Chipotle: take the chorizo off the limited time list.