Are The Beans At Chipotle Vegan?

There are plenty of vegan options at Chipotle, but you might be wondering if the fast casual chain's beans are vegan or not. The confusion is understandable because Mexican restaurants cook beans with ingredients that aren't even vegetarian, like lard and chicken stock. The good news for people who don't eat animal products is that the beans at Chipotle are 100% vegan. 

This wasn't always the case. Back in 2011, a man named Seth Porges who had been eating at Chipotle for years learned that its pinto beans were made using bacon — despite there being no mention of the ingredient on store menus. As someone who avoided pork for religious reasons, Porges was shocked, as well as sickened, and took to social media to air his dismay. Surprisingly, and perhaps to avoid a major PR nightmare, the company took immediate action to rectify the oversight. At first, signs were put up in stores to notify customers that the pinto beans contained pork. Two years later, the brand removed pork from its beans entirely. A company spokesman confirmed stating, "We are phasing in a new bacon-less pinto bean recipe [...] we simply didn't think the bacon added anything and, by removing it, we make the pinto beans vegetarian" (via Consumerist).

Today, both of Chipotle's bean options, pinto and black beans, are pork-free. They're made using similar recipes and get their flavors from bay leaf, black pepper, chipotle chili, cumin, garlic, lemon juice, lime juice, onion, oregano, rice bran oil, and salt.

All of the vegan ingredients you can order at Chipotle

Chipotle's black beans are made from five different varieties, including Condor and Black Magic beans, which likely contributes to their mild yet complex taste. The light-colored, beige pinto beans are equally delicious, with a smoky depth of flavor that pairs well with any of the other ingredients available for you to build your dishes with. If you're feeling indecisive, you don't even have to choose between black beans vs. pinto beans ... you can pick both!

Along with the beans, there are many other vegan options on the menu from which to create your meal. Opt for lard-free tortillas (crispy corn or soft flour), cilantro-lime rice (white or brown), guacamole, and fajita veggies (a blend of onions and green bell peppers). All of the restaurant's salsas are vegan as well. These include fresh tomato salsa (it's a basic pico de gallo), tomatillo-green chili, tomatillo-red chili, and roasted chili-corn salsa.

One topping that you might expect would be vegan but actually isn't, is the salad dressing. The chipotle-honey vinaigrette is made with wildflower honey, which many vegans consider to be an animal product. Unfortunately, it's the only salad dressing on offer, so if you're ordering a salad but want to keep it vegan, dress it up with salsa and/or guacamole instead. Or level things up with this secret menu pro tip — you can add fresh cilantro to any dish at Chipotle at no charge.

Chipotle's sofritas are also made from beans

Chipotle has another bean-based option which serves as its main plant-based protein. The sofritas are made from tofu, which is derived from soybeans. The company has partnered with Hodo Soy to supply U.S. grown, non-GMO, organic soybeans. To make the mildly spicy filling, shredded tofu is braised with tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and spices. In 2022, Chipotle introduced a vegan chorizo made from pea protein, but the short-lived option was discontinued in 2023.

All the main options at Chipotle except for the quesadilla can be made vegan by ordering them with either beans, sofritas, or fajita veggies. You can choose from the burrito, burrito bowl, salad, and tacos. If you order any of these with the veggies or just beans, you can also add guacamole for no extra charge. If you get them with the sofritas (or meat), however, guac will cost you extra. You could also go for the Chipotle kids' meal hack that will save you money every time. There are two options on the kids' menu — one is for a cheese quesadilla, while the other is for build-your-own tacos, which you can veganize as easily as the regular menu.

For an easy way to order vegan at Chipotle, try one of the two plant-based lifestyle bowls. Both come with white rice, fajita veggies, fresh tomato salsa, roasted chili-corn salsa, and guacamole. The Veggie Full Bowl is made with black beans, while the Plant Powered Bowl comes with lettuce and sofritas.