Is the sour cream at Chipotle healthy?

Sour cream is a popular condiment added to many menu items at Chipotle Mexican Grill, including burritos, tacos, salads and more. But is the sour cream served at Chipotle actually good for you? As a health-conscious fast food chain, Chipotle makes an effort to use high-quality ingredients. However, even natural sour cream is high in calories and fat. This article will examine the nutritional content of Chipotle’s sour cream to help you determine if it fits into a balanced diet.

What is Sour Cream?

Sour cream is a cultured dairy product made by fermenting regular cream with lactic acid bacteria. The bacteria sours and thickens the cream, giving it a tangy, rich flavor. Sour cream has a smooth, spoonable texture and is white in color.

Traditional full-fat sour cream contains approximately 18-20% milk fat. It may also have added milk solids to improve texture. Sour cream gets its signature tang from the lactic acid created during the fermentation process.

In addition to milk fat, sour cream provides a small amount of protein. However, it does not naturally contain significant amounts of vitamins, minerals or fiber.

Sour cream is used as a condiment or cooking ingredient to add flavor, moisture and richness to dishes like baked potatoes, tacos, chili, dips and more. Its acidic taste helps balance out the flavors of savory foods.

Nutrition Facts for Chipotle’s Sour Cream

According to Chipotle’s website, a 2-tablespoon serving of their sour cream contains:

  • 60 calories
  • 6g fat
  • 2g saturated fat
  • 0g trans fat
  • 5mg cholesterol
  • 25mg sodium
  • 1g carbohydrates
  • 0g fiber
  • 0g sugar
  • 1g protein

Chipotle’s sour cream is made with cultured cream, milk, enzymes and onion powder. It does not contain any preservatives, artificial flavors or colors.

Compared to regular full-fat sour cream, Chipotle’s version is lower in fat and calories. Regular sour cream contains about 45 calories and 5 grams of fat per tablespoon, while Chipotle’s has 30 calories and 3 grams of fat.

This means Chipotle’s sour cream is a “lighter” version – however, it is still relatively high in calories and saturated fat given the small serving size.

Is Chipotle’s Sour Cream Healthy?

Below are some key factors to consider when determining if Chipotle’s sour cream fits into a healthy diet.

It is high in calories and fat for the serving size

While Chipotle has created a lower-fat version of sour cream, a typical 2-tablespoon serving still packs 60 calories and 6 grams of fat. The majority of the fat content is saturated fat.

This represents nearly 10% of the daily value for saturated fat per serving. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat intake to no more than 13 grams per day. Excess saturated fat intake is linked to higher LDL “bad” cholesterol levels and increased risk of heart disease.

Additionally, 60 calories in just 2 tablespoons can add up quickly. Adding sour cream to a 400 calorie entree blows the total calorie count up to nearly 500 calories. For someone following a standard 2000 calorie diet, that single serving of sour cream represents 3% of their total daily calorie needs.

Given the small serving size, Chipotle’s sour cream is quite dense in calories and saturated fat. Adding it sparingly is key to keeping your meal relatively balanced.

It contains no fiber or nutrients

Sour cream is made from cream, so it provides almost no fiber or micronutrients. You will get a small amount of protein from the milk ingredients, but no vitamins, minerals or fiber.

This makes it a source of “empty calories” that are not very nutritious on their own. From a nutrient density standpoint, you are better off getting those 60 calories from foods that also provide fiber, vitamins and minerals, such as vegetables.

It may increase the sodium content of your meal

While a 2-tablespoon serving of Chipotle’s sour cream itself is low in sodium at just 25mg, adding it to an entire Chipotle meal can cause the sodium content to climb quickly.

For example, a standard burrito with chicken, rice, veggies and salsa already contains about 1200mg sodium before adding sour cream. Another 60mg of sodium from sour cream may seem small, but it further increases the total sodium content of your meal.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting sodium intake to less than 2300mg per day. Heavy additions of sour cream to already salty foods can make it tricky to stay within this limit.

It contains no artificial ingredients

One benefit of Chipotle’s sour cream is that it is made with simple, natural ingredients. According to their website, it contains just cultured cream, milk, enzymes and onion powder.

Many commercial sour cream brands contain additives like modified food starch, carrageenan, and sugar. They may also include artificial flavors or preservatives.

So while Chipotle’s sour cream is still high in fat and calories, it does not contain any artificial additives.

How Much Sour Cream Can You Eat at Chipotle While Staying Healthy?

Sour cream is high in fat and can quickly tip the scales on an otherwise balanced Chipotle meal. But with mindful portions, enjoying it occasionally as part of your meal may be fine for most healthy eaters.

Here are some tips for keeping your sour cream intake moderate:

  • Stick to the standard 2-tablespoon serving size listed on the Chipotle website. This contains about 60 calories and 6 grams fat.
  • Only add sour cream to your meal 1-2 times per week. Avoid adding it every time you go to Chipotle.
  • Skip the sour cream on meals that already contain high fat ingredients like guacamole, cheese or vinaigrette dressing.
  • Order a salad instead of a burrito bowl and add just 1 tablespoon (30 calories) of sour cream as a lighter option.
  • Substitute plain Greek yogurt for half of the sour cream to cut the calories and fat in half.

Being mindful of portion sizes and frequency is key to enjoying sour cream without going overboard on fat, calories and sodium.

Healthier Substitutes for Chipotle’s Sour Cream

If you are looking to lighten up your Chipotle order, here are some healthier substitutions for sour cream:

Plain Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt has a creamy, tangy flavor similar to sour cream but contains less fat and more protein. Choose plain nonfat Greek yogurt to maximize the nutrition benefits. 2 tablespoons provides about 40 calories and 7-8 grams protein.


Avocado can mimic the rich, cool texture of sour cream. Although high in fat, avocado offers heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and fiber. Mix in a little lime juice to mimic the tang. Use about 2 tablespoons mashed avocado in place of sour cream.


Mashed or pureed beans have a smooth, thick consistency similar to sour cream. White beans, chickpeas or black beans work well. Beans offer extra fiber, protein and nutrients. Puree them with lime juice and seasoning for extra flavor.

Low-Fat Plain Yogurt

Low-fat or nonfat plain yogurt is lower in calories than sour cream. While the texture is thinner, the yogurt still provides a tangy dairy flavor. Look for yogurts without added sugars.

Salsa Verde

Chipotle’s green tomatillo salsa packs a bright, tangy punch that can stand in for sour cream. It contains just 10 calories and 110mg sodium per 2-tablespoon serving. Add some extra salsa verde in lieu of sour cream to bump up the flavor without the added fat.

How Does Chipotle’s Sour Cream Compare to Other Fast Food Restaurants?

Chipotle uses a lower-fat sour cream than many other fast food chains. Here’s how it compares nutrition-wise:

Taco Bell

2 tablespoons of Taco Bell sour cream has:

  • 45 calories
  • 4.5g fat
  • 3g saturated fat
  • 10mg cholesterol

Taco Bell’s regular full-fat sour cream is higher in calories and saturated fat than Chipotle’s lighter version.


2 tablespoons of McDonald’s sour cream has:

  • 60 calories
  • 6g fat
  • 4g saturated fat
  • 15mg cholesterol

McDonald’s sour cream matches Chipotle’s in calories but is higher in saturated fat per serving.


2 tablespoons of Wendy’s sour cream has:

  • 80 calories
  • 8g fat
  • 5g saturated fat
  • 20mg cholesterol

Wendy’s serves a full-fat sour cream that is significantly higher in calories and fat than Chipotle’s lighter option.


2 tablespoons of Subway’s sour cream has:

  • 45 calories
  • 4.5g fat
  • 3g saturated fat
  • 10mg cholesterol

Subway’s sour cream matches up closely with Taco Bell in nutrition content. Both are regular full-fat sour cream.

The Bottom Line

Chipotle’s sour cream is made from cultured cream and milk, without artificial additives. While it’s lower in fat than full-fat sour cream, each 2-tablespoon serving still packs 60 calories and 6 grams of saturated fat.

Added sparingly just a couple times a week, a small amount of Chipotle’s sour cream can fit into an overall healthy diet. But sour cream lacks nutritional value on its own, so heavy use can drive up fat, sodium and calories of your meals.

To keep your meals balanced, stick to the standard 2-tablespoon portion and consider substituting plain Greek yogurt, mashed avocado or salsa for a lower-fat option.

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