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Is there garlic in Chipotle chicken?

Chipotle Mexican Grill is a popular fast casual restaurant chain that serves Mexican-inspired cuisine like burritos, tacos, and bowls. One of their most popular menu items is the chicken bowl or burrito, which features marinated and grilled chicken. Some customers have wondered whether Chipotle’s chicken contains garlic as an ingredient.

Garlic is a common ingredient used to add flavor in many cuisines around the world. When cooking chicken, garlic can provide a savory, aromatic quality. However, some people prefer to avoid garlic due to allergies, sensitivities or personal preference. So, does Chipotle add garlic to their famous chicken?

Does Chipotle Use Garlic in Their Chicken?

After reviewing Chipotle’s online ingredients information and contacting their customer service department, the answer is no, Chipotle does not use garlic as an ingredient in their chicken.

Here are the official ingredients for Chipotle’s chicken, according to their website:

Chipotle Chicken Ingredients
Black Pepper
Guajillo Chiles
Ancho Chiles
Chipotle Chiles
Garlic Powder

As you can see, the ingredient list does not contain any fresh or minced garlic. However, it does list garlic powder as an ingredient.

Garlic powder is made from dehydrated, ground garlic cloves. During the dehydration process, the pungent, robust flavor and aroma of fresh garlic becomes more mild. Garlic powder is used to add a subtle depth of flavor without the sharp, raw garlic punch.

So in summary, while Chipotle’s chicken does contain garlic powder, it does not contain fresh garlic that you can visibly see or taste. The garlic powder provides a hint of flavor, but is not overwhelming.

Why Doesn’t Chipotle Use Fresh Garlic?

There are a few potential reasons why Chipotle opts not to use fresh garlic in their chicken recipe:

  • Food safety – Fresh, raw garlic carries a higher risk of transmitting food illness compared to garlic powder.
  • Flavor – The robust, spicy flavor of raw garlic would overpower the other ingredients and throw off the flavor balance Chipotle intends for the chicken.
  • Preparation – For a high-volume restaurant chain, garlic powder requires less prep work and is easier to mix consistently into large batches of chicken.
  • Nutrition – Garlic powder contains the same nutritional compounds as fresh garlic, including manganese, vitamin B6, and vitamin C.
  • Allergies – Some people have an allergy or sensitivity to raw garlic, so garlic powder helps make the chicken accessible.

The combination of chiles, cumin, paprika and oregano provide plenty of flavor and spice to Chipotle’s chicken. The tiny amount of garlic powder adds an underlying depth, while still allowing the brighter flavors to shine through.

Does Chipotle Use Garlic in Other Menu Items?

While the chicken is garlic-free, a few other Chipotle menu items do contain small amounts of garlic:

  • Steak – The steak is marinated in a blend of garlic powder, black pepper, oregano and spices.
  • White rice – The white rice is cooked in a garlic-cilantro lime dressing.
  • Guacamole – The guacamole is made with raw garlic, lemon or lime juice, cilantro, and salt.

So if you want to completely avoid garlic at Chipotle, stick to the chicken or carnitas and try the brown rice instead of white rice. Everything else on the menu, including beans, salsas, vegetables, and toppings are garlic-free.

Ordering Garlic-Free at Chipotle

If you choose chicken and specify that you want to avoid garlic, the staff will prepare your order without adding any ingredients containing garlic. Here are some recommendations for ordering garlic-free:

  • Choose the chicken, barbacoa, or carnitas
  • Ask for brown rice
  • Avoid the hot salsa and guacamole
  • Request corn tortillas instead of flour
  • Choose fresh tomato, mild tomatillo green, or roasted chili-corn salsa
  • Add onions, peppers, lettuce, cheese, and sour cream if desired

You can also request a lettuce wrap instead of a tortilla to make your meal lower-carb and garlic-free. With the variety of ingredients and customization options, there are many tasty ways to enjoy Chipotle chicken without garlic.

Should You Avoid Garlic Powder?

While Chipotle uses garlic powder in their chicken spice blend, the amount is very small. For most people, this miniscule amount will not cause issues or overwhelm the other flavors.

However, if you have a diagnosed garlic allergy or severe intolerance, even garlic powder might be a problem. Every person’s sensitivity level is different, so it’s impossible to make blanket recommendations. Pay attention to how your body reacts and avoid garlic powder if you experience negative symptoms.

Some health conscious consumers worry that garlic powder has less health benefits compared to fresh garlic. However, studies show that garlic powder retains the same nutritional value and active medicinal compounds as raw garlic. The dehydration process preserves the key antioxidants, while creating a more concentrated, stable product.

Garlic powder makes it easy to add a pop of flavor and reap the wellness perks of garlic, like supporting heart health, immunity, blood pressure levels, and more. Unless you have an intolerance, garlic powder is generally safe to enjoy in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet.


To summarize, Chipotle’s chicken does not contain fresh, minced garlic as an ingredient. However, it does include a small amount of garlic powder. This allows it to benefit from a subtle garlicky aroma and depth of flavor, without the strong pungency and health risks of raw garlic.

Aside from the chicken, steak, white rice, and guacamole, the rest of Chipotle’s menu is garlic-free. So it’s easy to customize a garlic-free meal, as long as you avoid those specific ingredients. If in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask the staff to prepare your meal without garlic.

While tiny amounts of garlic powder seem to be generally well-tolerated, it’s best to avoid it if you have a diagnosed garlic allergy or experience negative symptoms after consuming it. Pay attention to how your body feels and take steps to eliminate garlic from your diet if needed.

With the right choices and customizations, you can still enjoy flavorful Chipotle meals without the concern of garlic. A chicken bowl with brown rice, beans, tomatillo salsa, cheese, lettuce, and sour cream makes for a mouthwatering garlic-free option.