Chipotle Mexican Grill, a fast-casual restaurant chain, introduced its first vegan chorizo protein option to all of its 2,700 locations nationwide yesterday. The nationwide rollout comes after a successful test of the vegan chorizo in 103 Chipotle stores in Indianapolis, Indiana, Denver, Colorado, and Orange County, California in August. As a minimally processed beef substitute, the new Plant-Based Chorizo was created in-house. The vegan-certified meat option is made with a base of pea protein (a common ingredient in other vegan meats like the Beyond Burger), ancho chilies and chipotle peppers, tomato paste, crushed garlic, Spanish smoked paprika, and extra virgin olive oil, and is flavored with ancho chilies and chipotle peppers, tomato paste, crushed garlic, Spanish smoked paprika, and extra virgin olive oil.
“We are thrilled to introduce guests to our new, flavor-packed Plant-Based Chorizo during a season when healthier options are top of mind… Plant-Based Chorizo is our best chorizo ever and proves that you don’t have to sacrifice flavor to enjoy a vegan or vegetarian protein.” stated Chris Brandt, Chief Marketing Officer at Chipotle.
The customizable chain’s Plant-Based Chorizo entrees start at $8.50 and include a range of vegan toppings and fillings such as veggies, beans, salsas, rice, and guacamole. From January 3 through January 9, Chipotle will provide free delivery on any Plant-Based Chorizo orders placed through the Chipotle app or Chipotle.com.
Chipotle’s New Vegan Chorizo
Following the 2014 debut of sofritas—an organic tofu-based shredded vegan meat seasoned with poblano pepper, cumin, and chipotle chiles—the new Plant-Based Chorizo is Chipotle’s second vegan meat offering. The sofritas-topped Vegan Bowl became a regular menu option in 2019 as part of Chipotle’s Lifestyle Bowls line, a collection of pre-configured menu dishes designed to cater to consumers who follow paleo, keto, and Whole30 diets.
Chipotle is now offering three new Lifestyle Bowls with vegan chorizo as the star ingredient: Whole30 Salad Bowl (supergreens lettuce blend, Plant-Based Chorizo, tomato salsa, fajita veggies, and guacamole); Vegetarian Bowl (supergreens lettuce blend, pinto beans, Plant-Based Chorizo, tomato salsa, fajita veggies, and dairy-based cheese); and Vegan Bowl (supergreens lettuce blend, vegan chorizo, tomato salsa (white rice, black beans, Plant-Based Chorizo, corn salsa, tomato salsa, and shredded romaine lettuce).
“Creating a delicious plant-based protein that sizzles on the grill with the robust flavor and texture profile chorizo-lovers expect was a real challenge,” stated Nevielle Panthaky, Vice President of Culinary at Chipotle. “Our culinary team has worked relentlessly for years to develop this breakthrough Plant-Based Chorizo recipe that is uniquely Chipotle and aligns with the brand’s industry-leading Food with Integrity standards.”
Chipotle is having a similar promotion for its Lifestyle Bowls, which can be purchased for free delivery through its website and mobile app between January 3 and January 31, including those with the new vegan chorizo.
Chipotle’s Plant-based Initiatives
Chipotle sold 7.5 million pounds of sofritas in 2018, making it the company’s first major vegan protein. Since then, the business has been experimenting with current menu items to come up with new alternatives for consumers with certain dietary requirements.
Chipotle tapped into the keto and vegan movements last year with the debut of Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice, one of five dishes that made it past Chipotle’s stage-gate procedure between 2019 and 2021. The low-carb rice is made from grilled and riced cauliflower and finished with hand-chopped cilantro, lime, and salt. It may be used in a number of meals.
Chipotle has pushed its vegan offerings in a variety of ways throughout the years. The Guac Is Extra, but Miley Burrito is Extra was introduced in December 2020. The white rice, black beans, fajita vegetables, roasted chili-corn salsa, tomatillo-red chili salsa, romaine lettuce, and guacamole option was created to replicate once vegan pop-star MIley Cyrus’ go-to burrito order. The vegan burrito’s name was inspired by a TikTok exchange between Chipotle, fans, and Miley Cyrus.
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