Is the white rice from Chipotle healthy?

Chipotle is a popular fast-casual Mexican restaurant chain known for its burritos, tacos, bowls and salads. One of the staple ingredients offered is white rice, which customers can add to their entrees. With health and nutrition being top of mind for many consumers, a common question is whether the white rice served at Chipotle is considered a healthy option.

Nutritional profile of Chipotle’s white rice

At first glance, white rice may seem like a fairly benign ingredient. However, depending on how it is prepared, white rice can either be a nutritious choice or a source of empty calories and carbohydrates.

Here is the nutritional profile for a standard serving of Chipotle white rice (4 oz or 1/2 cup):

Calories 200
Total Fat 0.5 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 44 g
Dietary Fiber 0 g
Sugars 0 g
Protein 4 g

As you can see, a serving of Chipotle white rice is low in fat, sodium and cholesterol. However, it is high in refined carbohydrates with 44g per serving, which accounts for most of the calories. There is also minimal fiber and protein.

So without any additional nutritional enhancements, the white rice at Chipotle is fairly lacking in nutrients and is mostly just empty calories.

How the rice is prepared

Understanding how Chipotle prepares their white rice sheds some light on its nutritional value.

According to Chipotle, they rinse the rice several times before cooking to remove excess starch. This makes the rice fluffier with separate, distinct grains.

The rice is then cooked in water with a touch of lime and salt for flavor. After cooking, the rice is spread out to cool and dry. Chipotle says this process gives the rice a fresh, clean taste.

So while the rice is not technically instant white rice, the preparation process still removes much of the nutrition. The fiber and minerals wash away when the rice is rinsed repeatedly. Any B vitamins are also reduced when the rice is exposed to heat and water.

The lime and salt add a bit of flavor at least but do not provide significant nutritional value.

Serving size matters

Another important consideration is the serving size of the white rice at Chipotle.

The nutrition information provided above is based on the standard 4 oz (1/2 cup) serving. However, Chipotle portions can be rather generous.

It’s not uncommon to receive 6-8 oz of rice in a burrito bowl after factoring in spillage. This would essentially double or triple the calories, carbohydrates and nutrients compared to the stated amounts.

So while a single serving may be reasonable, most customers likely get 2-3 servings of rice in one bowl or burrito. That adds up quickly, going from a modest 200 calories to 400-600 calories.

Compare to brown rice

To better evaluate the white rice from Chipotle, it helps to compare it to the alternative brown rice option.

Here is the nutrition data for a serving of Chipotle brown rice:

Calories 210
Total Fat 2.5 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 44 g
Dietary Fiber 4 g
Sugars 0 g
Protein 5 g

The brown rice is very comparable to the white in terms of calories and carbs. However, it contains 4g of dietary fiber versus 0g in the white. It also has slightly more protein.

So while the brown rice is not necessarily lower in calories or carbs, the extra fiber confers some nutritional advantages. Fiber plays an important role in digestive health, heart health, stabilizing blood sugar, and keeping you feeling fuller for longer.

Rice alternatives at Chipotle

If you are looking to limit calories, carbs or increase nutrition, there are alternatives to the white and brown rice at Chipotle:

Cauliflower rice

Cauliflower rice contains just 25 calories and 5g carbs per serving. It’s made from riced cauliflower, so it provides nutrition from vegetables. However, some find the taste and texture less appealing compared to regular rice.

No rice

You can also opt for no rice at all in your burrito, bowl, taco or salad at Chipotle. This cuts around 200 calories and 40g carbs for a typical serving. It’s an easy way to reduce the carbs and calories of your meal.

Extra veggies or salsa

Instead of rice, ask for extra fajita veggies, lettuce or salsa in your bowl or burrito. You’ll add more fiber, vitamins and minerals compared to rice. Going heavy on the salsa can also add lots of flavor without many calories.


Black or pinto beans can make a filling, fiber-rich substitute for rice that offers protein and healthy carbs. Beans contain antioxidants and lower the glycemic impact compared to rice.

Healthier ways to enjoy Chipotle rice

If you still want to include the white rice from Chipotle in your meal, there are some simple ways to make it a healthier choice:

– Ask for a side portion of rice instead of the full serving to limit calorie and carb overload. A side of 2 oz rice contains 100 calories and 22g carbs.

– Mix cauliflower rice and regular rice for a lower carb option with more nutrition.

– Load up on extras like salsa, lettuce, grilled veggies and beans to balance out the rice and add fiber.

– Opt for brown rice when possible to get a modest fiber boost.

– Enjoy the rice as just one component of a bowl or burrito filled with lean protein, veggies, beans, salsa, etc.

– Avoid doubling up on rice and tortillas in burritos, which piles on refined carbs.

– Drink water instead of sugary soda to avoid unhealthy carbohydrates.

Nutrition of other Chipotle menu items

To get a better feel for the overall nutrition at Chipotle, here is a quick look at some other popular menu items:

Chicken bowl with rice

– 640 calories
– 32g fat (6g sat fat)
– 74g carbs
– 3g fiber
– 44g protein

Steak burrito with rice

– 1000 calories
– 42g fat (14g sat fat)
– 94g carbs
– 12g fiber
– 58g protein

Carnitas burrito with rice

– 1050 calories
– 43g fat (15g sat fat)
– 102g carbs
– 12g fiber
– 52g protein

Sofritas bowl with brown rice

– 500 calories
– 19g fat (3g sat fat)
– 75g carbs
– 10g fiber
– 21g protein

Vegetarian salad with guacamole

– 440 calories
– 26g fat (4g sat fat)
– 46g carbs
– 12g fiber
– 16g protein

So while items like burritos and bowls offer protein, fiber and nutrients, they can still be quite high in calories, fat and refined carbs overall. Vegetarian options like salads and sofritas tend to be lower in calories and higher in nutrients by comparison.

Is Chipotle’s white rice healthy?

Based on the nutritional information and ingredients, Chipotle’s white rice would not be considered the healthiest option on the menu.

On the positive side, it is low in fat, sodium and cholesterol with a reasonable number of calories for a modest serving.

However, the white rice lacks fiber and nutrients. And servings are typically much larger than the stated 4 oz portion.

Brown rice provides a bit more nutritional value thanks to the fiber content. But the calories and carbs are nearly identical to white rice.

Loading up on items like veggies, beans, salsa and leaving rice off altogether can result in a healthier Chipotle meal with fewer refined carbs.

Or you can stick with a sensible portion of brown or white rice as part of an otherwise balanced bowl or burrito with lean protein and produce.

Overall, enjoying Chipotle in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet is perfectly fine. Be mindful of portions, get brown rice when possible, and balance out the rice with more nutritious ingredients.


Chipotle’s white rice is fairly neutral in nutrients and essentially provides empty calories and carbohydrates. It lacks fiber and protein compared to brown rice or other grain alternatives.

Portion sizes also tend to be generous, so a single order of rice can contain 2-3 servings worth of refined carbs. This can lead to unwanted spikes in blood sugar.

That said, Chipotle’s rice won’t make or break your diet. Enjoy it in sensible portions as part of an otherwise balanced meal with veggies, beans, salsas and lean protein. Or leave the rice off altogether in favor of cauliflower rice or extra veggies for a lower carb option.

Overall, white rice is one of the less nutritious choices at Chipotle compared to items like beans, salsa, and fajita veggies. But it can still be part of a healthy fast casual meal in moderation. Just be mindful of portion size and aim to balance it out with more fiber and nutrients from the rest of your bowl, burrito or salad.

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