Update, January 4, 2022: Though the post-holiday season can be a drag, January is exciting because it’s the month when all the exciting press releases of 2021 that promised new food and drinks “early next year” are coming to fruition. Case in point: Chipotle’s plant-based chorizo, which rolled out only to select test markets in Denver and Indianapolis last year, is now available nationwide for a limited time.
According to a press release, customers can add plant-based chorizo to their burritos and bowls starting today. If you order through the Chipotle app, you can get a $0 delivery fee through January 9. It’ll be interesting to see whether longtime customers are endeared to this product; Chipotle fans are very particular about their proteins. We should know.
Original story, August 19, 2021: The plant-based meat trend is continuing its rise, with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. We’ve seen everything from meat substitutes for Italian beef to Beyond Meat chicken tenders and even plant-based tuna, so don’t be surprised if you see more and more fake meat on the menu at major chains and in the refrigerator aisle at supermarkets. Hopefully all this innovation means that meat substitutes will taste better and better in the long run, since so many companies are pouring money and focus into it.
Chipotle is now taking up the torch by testing out a new meat substitute: plant-based chorizo. I’ve seen a few varieties of plant-based chorizo available at my local grocery stores for years now, so this seems like a good bet. Denver and Indianapolis will be the first test markets for the new protein option, the first new plant-based offering at Chipotle since it added tofu-based Sofritas to the menu in 2014. (Tofu is so seven years ago.)
The chorizo, designed by Chipotle’s culinary team, is seasoned with ancho and chipotle pepper, tomato, garlic, smoked paprika, and extra virgin olive oil (all of which sound like great flavors to add to your burrito bowl). The protein component is pea-based, and the “chorizo” is certified vegan. It has 20 grams of protein per serving and is grain-, gluten-, and soy-free.
“Plant-based lifestyles have continued to accelerate in popularity, and as a longtime leader in the category, we are exploring ways to give more variety to our fans,” said Chief Marketing Officer Chris Brandt in a press release sent to The Takeout. “We used real ingredients to create a plant-based protein with a deep, rich Chorizo flavor that can be enjoyed by everyone.”
I’ve had versions of soy-based chorizo before; they’re pretty good, and I’m wondering if the pea kind will be much different. The one thing that I really wish would improve is the texture—I’ve noticed that vegan versions have a lot of bounce to the chew, making each bite a little rubbery. It does well when it’s in more of a supporting role versus a starring one, so it’ll be interesting to see how it fares in a burrito. We’ll likely see this new protein roll out nationwide sometime soon based off current trends, so keep an eye out in the coming months, Chipotle fans.