Is Chipotle salad bowl healthy?

With its burritos, tacos, bowls, and salads, Chipotle has become one of the most popular fast-casual restaurant chains. Many health-conscious consumers view Chipotle as a healthier alternative to traditional fast food. But is a Chipotle salad bowl actually good for you? Let’s take a detailed look at the nutritional content of Chipotle’s salad bowls to find out.

Chipotle Salad Bowl Ingredients

Chipotle salad bowls start with a base of romaine lettuce, mixed greens, or spinach. You can then add your choice of toppings, including:

  • Beans (pinto, black, or fajita)
  • Rice (white or brown)
  • Salsa (mild tomato, medium tomato, or corn)
  • Meat (chicken, steak, carnitas, barbacoa, or sofritas)
  • Cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Guacamole

The variety of ingredients allows you to customize your salad bowl based on your preferences and dietary needs. In general, salad bowls made with lots of veggies, beans, rice, and salsa tend to be healthier than ones loaded with meat, cheese, guacamole, and sour cream.

Calories in a Chipotle Salad Bowl

The calorie content of a Chipotle salad bowl can vary dramatically based on your choice of ingredients. Here’s a look at the calorie counts for some common salad bowl combinations:

Salad Bowl Calories
Romaine lettuce, pinto beans, tomatillo salsa 185
Romaine lettuce, brown rice, chicken, tomatillo salsa 405
Spinach, fajita veggies, carnitas, cheese, guacamole 750

As you can see, a veggie salad bowl with beans and salsa provides under 200 calories. But load up your bowl with meat, rice, cheese, guacamole and sour cream, and the calorie count quickly skyrockets. In general, Chipotle salad bowls with less than 500 calories are a healthier choice.

Fat, Carbs, and Protein

Beyond calories, the macros – fat, carbs, and protein – are important factors in evaluating the healthiness of a Chipotle salad bowl. Here’s a nutrient breakdown for three sample bowls:

Salad Bowl Calories Fat Carbs Protein
Romaine, pinto beans, salsa 185 1g 36g 10g
Romaine, chicken, brown rice, salsa 405 6g 57g 28g
Spinach, carnitas, cheese, guac 750 50g 40g 30g

Bean and veggie based bowls are lowest in fat, while meat and cheese heavy bowls can contain 50g of fat or more. Bowls with rice, meat, and cheese tend to be higher in protein. Look for a good balance of carbs, fat and protein based on your own dietary preferences and needs.

Sodium Content

Sodium is an important nutrient to pay attention to, as excess sodium intake has been linked to high blood pressure. Here are the sodium counts for some popular Chipotle salad bowls:

Salad Bowl Sodium (mg)
Romaine, pinto beans, salsa 485
Romaine, chicken, rice, salsa 1,120
Spinach, steak, cheese, guacamole, sour cream 1,720

Sodium levels can vary widely depending on ingredients. Meat, cheese, guacamole, and sour cream boost the sodium numbers substantially. To keep sodium in check, build your bowl around veggies, beans, rice, and salsa.

Fiber Content

Getting enough fiber promotes good digestive health and can help lower cholesterol. Here are the fiber counts for some Chipotle salad options:

Salad Bowl Fiber (grams)
Romaine, black beans, salsa 12g
Romaine, chicken, brown rice, salsa 6g
Spinach, carnitas, cheese, guacamole 8g

Bean based bowls provide an excellent fiber boost, with 12g or more. Getting extra veggies like spinach instead of just lettuce also ups the fiber content. For a fiber rich meal, load your bowl with beans, brown rice, and lots of fresh veggies.

Vitamins and Minerals

In addition to macro nutrients, Chipotle salad bowls can provide vitamins and minerals like:

  • Vitamin C – from tomatoes, peppers, and guacamole
  • Vitamin A – from spinach, romaine lettuce
  • Folate – from beans and veggies
  • Potassium – from beans, guacamole
  • Iron – from beans, spinach

Getting produce like fresh spinach, romaine, tomatoes, and guacamole packs more nutrients into your bowl. Choosing brown rice over white provides extra vitamins and minerals as well.

Dressing and Toppings

Chipotle offers four salad dressing choices:

  • Chipotle Honey Vinaigrette – A sweet and tangy dressing with 110 calories, 10g fat, and 150mg sodium per 2oz serving.
  • Vinaigrette – Tart and tangy with 60 calories, 6g fat and 115mg sodium per 2oz.
  • Cilantro Lime – Bright and fresh with 20 calories, 0g fat and 105mg sodium per 2oz.
  • Tomato Chili Salsa – Savory and mild with 15 calories, 0g fat and 250mg sodium per 2oz.

The lighter salsa and cilantro lime dressings help keep your salad bowl healthy. But the creamy honey vinaigrette and regular vinaigrette add more calories, fat, and sodium.

As for toppings, fresh salsa is a healthy choice that provides extra flavor without much added sodium or fat. Cheese, sour cream, and guacamole significantly increase the calories, fat, and sodium in your salad bowl.

Is Chipotle Salad Healthy For Weight Loss?

Chipotle salad bowls can be an excellent choice if you are trying to lose weight, depending on how you build your bowl.

A salad made with romaine lettuce, pinto beans, chicken, fresh tomato salsa, and a light dressing provides protein, fiber, and nutrients with under 500 calories. This makes for a balanced, nutrition meal for weight loss.

On the other hand, a bowl loaded with cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and creamy dressing can pack 750 calories or more. That’s not the best option if you are closely counting calories for weight loss.

In general, keep your salad bowl around 500 calories or less by limiting high calorie toppings and dressings. Also opt for lean proteins like chicken or steak over fattier meats like carnitas to trim fat and calories.

Low Carb Chipotle Salad Bowl

For a low carb Chipotle bowl suited to a keto or low carb diet, follow these guidelines:

  • Base – Choose spinach, romaine lettuce or mixed greens. Skip the rice and beans.
  • Protein – Stick with lean options like chicken, steak or carnitas.
  • Healthy Fats – Add small amounts of guacamole, cheese, and sour cream.
  • Toppings – Load up on salsa, tomatoes, peppers and other fresh veggies.
  • Dressing – Opt for salsa or a lightly dressed salad with vinaigrette.

This type of salad bowl minimizes carbs from rice and beans and focuses on low carb veggies, proteins and fats. You’ll end up with less than 30g net carbs in most cases.

Vegetarian and Vegan Salad Bowls

Chipotle makes it easy to order vegetarian and vegan salad bowls:

  • Base – Choose your lettuce greens.
  • Protein – Go with fajita veggies, black or pinto beans instead of meat.
  • Toppings – Add tomatoes, peppers, salsa, and guacamole for flavor.
  • Dressing – Stick with salsa or cilantro lime dressing.

Avoide cheese, sour cream or creamy dressings to keep your bowl vegan. With all the plant-based protein options, it’s simple to build a hearty and healthy meatless salad bowl at Chipotle.

Food Safety at Chipotle

Chipotle has faced food safety issues in recent years, including E. coli, salmonella and norovirus outbreaks at some locations. However, the chain has revamped its food safety procedures to try to prevent future problems.

Here are some of Chipotle’s new food safety policies:

  • Improved supplier standards and testing for high-risk ingredients like produce.
  • Blanching produce like onions and lemons to kill germs.
  • Marinating meat at central kitchens instead of in-store.
  • No longer adding cilantro in-store, instead adding pre-chopped cilantro.
  • Following FDA guidelines for safely storing and preparing food.

While there are no guarantees with any restaurant, Chipotle’s updated food safety regimen aims to lower risks. If you have concerns, you can minimize risks by avoiding the highest-risk ingredients like romaine lettuce.

Is Chipotle Salad Nutritious?

Overall, Chipotle salad bowls can be a nutritious option depending on your ingredient choices. Some tips for building a nutritious salad bowl include:

  • Get plenty of veggies like lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, and onions.
  • Choose beans and brown rice for fiber.
  • Add fresh salsa for extra flavor and nutrients.
  • Pick a lighter dressing like salsa or cilantro lime.
  • Avoid heavy amounts of cheese, sour cream and guacamole.
  • Keep meat portions moderate in size.

A salad packed with lots of fresh produce provides vitamins, minerals and important nutrients. Just go easy on high-calorie toppings to keep your nutrition intact.


Chipotle salad bowls can be a smart nutritious option, but they can also turn into a high-calorie meal if you pile on cheese, sour cream and dressing. In general, building your bowl around greens, beans, salsa, and veggies makes for a fresher, healthier meal. Limit high-calorie toppings and creamy dressings, and opt for leaner proteins to keep your salad nutritious as well as delicious.

Leave a Comment