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Is the chicken at Chipotle breast or thigh?

Chipotle is known for serving delicious Mexican fare like burritos, tacos, and burrito bowls. One of the main protein options at Chipotle is chicken, which can be added to any order. Many customers wonder whether the chicken at Chipotle is made from chicken breasts or chicken thighs. The quick answer is that Chipotle uses only chicken breast meat in their recipes. Chicken thigh meat is not used at all in Chipotle restaurants.

Why Chipotle Uses Chicken Breasts

There are a few key reasons why Chipotle chooses to only use chicken breast meat:

Leaner Meat

Chicken breasts are much leaner than chicken thighs. A 3 ounce serving of chicken breast has around 110 calories and 1 gram of fat, compared to around 140 calories and 5 grams of fat for a chicken thigh. Since Chipotle aims to provide lower calorie options, chicken breast is the optimal choice.

Versatile and Uniform Meat

Chicken breasts are more uniform in size and shape than chicken thighs. This makes them easier to accurately portion and slice or shred for use in entrees. The versatile nature of chicken breast also allows it to absorb the flavors of Chipotle’s marinades and spices.

More Customer Preference

Surveys indicate that the majority of customers prefer white lean breast meat over darker thigh meat when eating chicken. Therefore chicken breast has broader appeal and satisfies more customers.

How Chipotle Prepares Their Chicken

All of Chipotle’s chicken begins as fresh, raw chicken breast meat. Here is the process used to turn it into the delicious chicken customers enjoy:


After being trimmed of any excess fat or sinew, the chicken breast fillets are placed into large mixing bowls. Chipotle uses a special blend of herbs, spices, vinegar, lemon juice, and oil to marinate the meat for at least 2 hours. This imparts flavor and makes the meat tender.


The marinated chicken is grilled on a flat top grill at each restaurant location. It is cooked thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165°F. The grill provides nice char marks and caramelization on the outside while keeping the inside moist.


Once cooked, the chicken is chopped or shredded for use in entrees. It is portioned by weight to ensure each customer gets the amount of chicken ordered. Warming trays keep it hot until ordering.

Variations of Chicken at Chipotle

While the basic grilled chicken recipe remains the same, Chipotle does offer some variations:


Shredded tofu braised with spices and chilies provides a vegan chicken alternative. While not made from real chicken, the sofritas offer similar texture and spicy flavor.


Shredded spiced chicken braised in a mix of chipotle peppers, tomatoes, and spices yields the signature barbacoa chicken. It offers a smoky, richer flavor compared to the grilled chicken.

Fajita Veggies

This option mixes grilled chicken with sautéed peppers and onions for added flavor and texture. It is a popular choice for vegetarians who want to limit meat.

Chicken Type Description
Grilled chicken Classic grilled chicken breast seasoned with lime and herbs
Sofritas Shredded spiced tofu
Barbacoa Shredded chicken braised in a spicy chipotle sauce
Fajita veggies Chicken and sauteed peppers and onions

Nutrition Information

One important advantage of using only chicken breast is the healthy nutrition profile. Here are the nutrition facts for a standard 3 ounce serving of Chipotle grilled chicken:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 110
Fat 1g
Protein 24g
Carbs 0g
Sodium 75mg

As you can see, Chipotle chicken is high in protein and low in fat and calories. The sodium content is reasonable as well at just 75mg per serving. This fits well with Chipotle’s overall focus on fresh, wholesome ingredients.

Cost Comparison of Chicken Breast vs Thigh

One downside to exclusively using chicken breast is the higher cost compared to chicken thigh. Here is a cost comparison:

Chicken Type Average Cost Per Pound
Chicken Breast $4.99
Chicken Thigh $3.49

On average, chicken thigh costs about 30% less per pound than chicken breast. However, the advantages of consistent sizing and flavor for chicken breast outweigh the cost savings for a restaurant like Chipotle. The increased costs are passed along in the pricing of the final menu items.

Customer Perception of Chicken at Chipotle

Overall, most Chipotle customers are happy with the flavors and quality of the chicken. Here are some common opinions on the chicken:

Good Flavor

Reviews praise the chicken for having juiciness along with a citrus and spice marinated flavor. The char from grilling adds nice smoky notes.


Customers like that the chicken always tastes the same no matter what location you visit. Portion size is also consistent.

Could Use More Seasoning

Some customers feel the chicken on its own is a bit bland. They spice it up with hot salsa or other mix-ins. A more aggressively seasoned marinade could improve the flavor.

Healthy Protein Option

Those looking for healthier fare appreciate that the chicken offers a good source of protein without too much fat or sodium.


Chipotle opts to serve only chicken breast in their restaurants. Chicken thigh is higher in fat and not utilized at all in their recipes. Using chicken breast provides a versatile, lean protein option that aligns with their mission of fresh preparation and responsible sourcing. Though chicken thigh would be cheaper to purchase, chicken breast offers reliable texture and flavor. Overall the chicken receives positive marks for taste and quality from most Chipotle fans.