Great news! Except for flour tortillas, everything at Chipotle Mexican Grill is naturally gluten-free. While the Chipotle gluten-free menu is extensive, those of us with celiac disease still need to take steps to prevent cross-contamination, but Chipotle is an excellent option for gluten-free dining out!
Gluten-Containing Food at Chipotle
Chipotle maintains an extensive allergen guide on its website. Only two food items on the list contain gluten:
- Flour Tortilla (Burrito)
- Flour Tortilla (Taco)
These are the only items you have to avoid in the entire restaurant.
Gluten-Free Food at Chipotle
Everything else on the allergy list (except flour tortillas) does not contain gluten ingredients. That list includes:
- Black Beans
- Tortilla Chips
- Brown Rice
- White Rice
- Crispy Corn Tortillas
- Fajita Vegetables
- Fresh Tomato Salsa
- Monterey Jack Cheese
- Pinto Beans
- Queso Blanco
- Roasted Chili-Corn Salsa
- Romaine Lettuce
- Sour Cream
- Supergreens Lettuce Blend
- Tomatillo Green-Chili Salsa
- Tomatillo Red-Chili Salsa
- Chipotle Honey Vinaigrette
New Items at Chipotle: Are They Gluten-Free?
Chipotle occasionally introduces new products that don’t immediately show up on the allergy menu.
Some come and go and never even appear on the allergy menu before they are discontinued. Others stick around but take a while to show up on the list. In that case, you can inquire about ingredients at your local Chipotle or chat with a Chipotle rep online.
In the past, new items, like the discontinued lime-cauliflower rice and the current menu item queso blanco have turned out to be gluten-free, but you cannot count on it. Always verify the gluten-free status of new menu items before ordering.
I contacted Chipotle via chat regarding Garlic Guajillo Steak, which is new and not on the allergy list, and here is its response: “We cannot guarantee no contact with items containing gluten but the ingredients are: Beef, lime juice, vinegar, dehydrated garlic, cilantro, salt, guajillo chili pepper, smoked paprika, sunflower oil, cumin, black pepper, chipotle chili pepper.”
For Pollo Asado, Chipotle has the ingredients listed online: chicken, onion, garlic, paprika, guajillo peppers, red chili peppers, fresh lime, red bell pepper, fresh cilantro, olive oil, coriander, salt, cumin, vinegar, black pepper, sunflower oil, oregano, water.
Both the Garlic Guajillo Steak and Pollo Asado have no gluten ingredients, like everything else at Chipotle, except the flour tortillas.
This is where Chipotle stands out as an option for those of us needing to eat gluten-free. You only have to avoid one thing at Chipotle, flour tortillas. Thankfully, those gluten-y tortillas are manufactured off-site and sent to your local Chipotle in a sealed bag. So, there’s no flour flying all over the kitchen.
While Chipotle does not guarantee that there is no risk of cross-contamination between the flour tortillas and the rest of its menu items, it does have excellent cross-contamination prevention protocols.
Plus, you also have the distinct advantage of overseeing the preparation of your food, which helps prevent cross-contamination under your watchful eye.
Mobile ordering is not recommended if you have celiac disease or are otherwise needing to avoid cross-contamination.
There are a few parts of the assembly process that are at higher risk for cross-contamination. Let’s go over them, and how to reduce the risk of cross-contact with the gluten-containing, flour tortillas.
Because Chipotle employees are touching flour tortillas, pressing quesadillas, and rolling burritos, there is a high risk of gluten cross-contamination from those gloves.
At the start of your order, simply let the employee know you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity and request a glove change.
I usually say “gluten allergy” or simply that I am allergic to the flour tortillas because it is generally better understood, while inaccurate, and lets the Chipotle crew member know precisely what I need to avoid. Chipotle employees are already trained to change gloves for an allergy. As soon as you say allergy, they start pulling off the gloves.
Sometimes all crew members on the line will wash their hands and change gloves. Most often, just the first person will do the glove change and then follow your order all the way down the line.
Risky Employee Habit
As a habit, most Chipotle employees will rest their hands on the flour tortillas at the beginning of the assembly line while greeting each customer and starting each order.
I have seen employees wash their hands, change their gloves, and then automatically plop those fresh gloves right on top of the pile of flour tortillas.
To avoid this, after requesting a glove change, scoot down the line a bit and stand in front of the beans and meats, rather than staying in front of the tortilla press. It saves the employee from having to do a second glove change. This also allows another crew member to start the order of the person in line behind you.
As the burritos are filled, the spoons are sometimes tapped on the tortillas in the process.
I have observed this to be particularly true with the spoons used for rice, often the first ingredient in diner’s burritos. Anecdotally, I’ve noticed that the other spoons tend to touch the other ingredients already on the burrito, rather than the tortillas themselves.
As a precaution, you can ask the Chipotle employee making your meal to change the spoons.
Lettuce & Cheese
These two items are grabbed by hand (hands that have been touching flour tortillas). Request that new containers of lettuce and cheese are used for your meal.
Chipotle Gluten-Free Menu
Gluten-Free Lifestyle Bowls
These delicious bowls with fresh ingredients are designed to meet the needs of Chipotle customers’ special diets: Whole20 Salad Bowls, Keto Salad Bowls, High Protein Bowls, Paleo Salad Bowls, Vegetarian Salad Bowls, and Vegan Bowls. All are customizable and all are gluten-free.
Gluten-Free Burrito Bowls
Don’t be confused by the name. There’s no burrito in this bowl. Just the ingredients of a burrito, sans tortilla, in a bowl. Pick your protein (meat or plant-based) or guacamole. Add any combination you choose of rice, beans, and toppings. Everything is gluten-free.
This is a build-your-own salad. Starting with a base of salad in a bowl, choose your own protein (meat or plant-based) or guacamole, which is also available at an additional charge if you choose a protein and avocado. Add as many as you want of the following choices, all gluten-free: brown/white rice, black/pinto beans, fajita veggies, a variety of salsas, cheese, and queso blanco.
Gluten-Free Crispy Corn Tortilla Tacos
Fill your taco or tacos with your choice of meat (chicken, garlic guajillo steak, barbacoa, carnitas) or a plant-based option (guacamole or sofritas). Cover with any of the following toppings: rice, beans, fajita veggies, salsa (any and all varieties), sour cream, cheese, romaine lettuce, guacamole, and queso blanco. Everything is gluten-free.
This is my go-to meal at Chipotle. A full order is three tacos, which I find to be a bit too much, but you can also order a single taco or two. If you are ordering tacos, be sure to request a crispy taco shell, so the Chipotle crew member does not automatically reach for a soft flour tortilla to make a soft taco.
Gluten-Free Kid’s Meal: Build Your Own (with Crispy Corn Tortillas)
There are three options for Kid’s meals at Chipotle but only one is gluten-free: the build-your-own kid’s meal with two crispy tacos.
Fortunately, like adult meals, the kid’s meal still comes with a lot of options for gluten-free little ones. Everything comes deconstructed in divided sections on your child’s plate, for those kiddos who cannot have their food touching or for the child who wants to fill the taco as they see fit. All of the Chipotle taco fillings are gluten-free.
Kids get a choice of one meat, sofritas (plant-based), queso blanco, or guacamole. Then they choose up to two toppings: white or brown rice, black or brown beans, fajita veggies, any of the salsas, cheese, or romaine lettuce.
The gluten-containing kid’s meals are Kid’s Build Your Own with flour tortillas and a Kid’s Quesadilla, which is also made with a flour tortilla. Chipotle used to have a corn tortilla option for quesadillas, but that was discontinued several years ago.
The kid’s meal also comes with a choice of gluten-free sides (kid’s chips or kid’s fruit) and a beverage: milk, chocolate milk, soda, iced tea, or organic apple juice.
Great news! By default, Chipotle chips are fried in a dedicated, gluten-free fryer, because nothing else is made in the fryer.
For celiacs, restaurant-made, gluten-free tortilla chips and salsa are a unicorn.
The only side on the menu that’s off-limits is a “flour tortilla on the side”. Everything else is gluten-free. Here’s the full list of gluten-free sides at Chipotle:
- Chips & Guacamole
- Large Chips & Large Guacamole
- Side of Guacamole (regular or large)
- Chips & Fresh Tomato Salsa
- Chips & Tomatillo-Red Chili Salsa
- Chips & Tomatillo-Green Chili Salsa
- Chips & Roasted Chili-Corn Salsa
- Chips & Queso Blanco
- Large Chips & Large Queso Blanco
- Side of Queso Blanco (regular or large)
All beverages at Chipotle are naturally gluten-free and/or identified by their manufacturers as either gluten-free or not containing gluten ingredients.
The fountain beverages are Coca-Cola products, which Coke says do not contain gluten.
Chipotle has also introduced a line of beverages from Tractor, which makes lemonade, aguas frescas, seasonal beverages, and two bottled drinks (lemonade and black tea) sold at Chipotle, all of which are organic and noted as gluten-free on the Tractor website. Miss E loves these fresh beverages!
Bottled juices are from Nantucket Nectar and are gluten-free, according to the parent company, Keurig Dr. Pepper.
Other bottled beverages include water, sparkling water, and Izze products. While Izze does not make a gluten-free claim on its beverages, they have no gluten ingredients.
Kids’ gluten-free beverages also include Organic Valley Milk (regular and chocolate) and Tree Top Organic Apple Juice, which does not contain gluten.
Build-your-own gluten-free catering order! Options range from the under $10 “single”, which comes with 1 protein, 2 bases, 2 toppings, 2 salsas, and 1 type of tortilla (be sure to order crispy tortillas) all the way to the “triple” with 3 proteins, all the bases, all toppings, all salsas, chips, guacamole, queso blanco, and crispy corn tortillas. Again, be sure to select crispy tortillas when you order.
Crowd-sized orders of gluten-free Chips & Dips are available in packs that serve 10-15 with premium toppings (guacamole and queso blanco) and salsas. Order as many packs as you need to serve your guests, with the confidence that everything is gluten-free.
This is huge! Celiac disease usually means extra work around food. We are often not accustomed to easy options. But with Chipotle we have an affordable and easy alternative when ordering casual catering.
Even if you place your order online, call your local Chipotle to address the issue of cross-contamination.
Make a Difference!
Make a difference in the day of the Chipotle crew member serving you. They have slowed or stopped the assembly line to make you safe food. Be sure to thank them for the extra time and effort to make your meal safe. A smile and a few words of appreciation go a long way.
Make a difference for the gluten-free guests who follow. Taking a moment to say “please” and “thank you” and to offer a brief explanation of the cross-contact risk when making a special request (such as a new container for lettuce and cheese) can leave the Chipotle crew more informed and willing to help the next guest with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
Chipotle with Celiac Disease
100% gluten-free restaurants are ideal. Nothing is as reassuring as a 100% gluten-free kitchen.
But restaurants like Chipotle, with excellent protocols and employee training regarding allergies and cross-contact, are next in line and have an important role for celiacs like me and my daughter.
100% gluten-free restaurants are not always readily available, but Chipotle is pretty ubiquitous. On road trips, after a soccer game, for an impromptu lunch with friends, or just on a night I want a quick fast-food meal at a reasonable price for my family, Chipotle is reliably available and safe.
Chipotle is on our go-to list of chain restaurants with gluten-free options. I hope you add it to yours! If you are looking for more, check out my Guide to Gluten-Free at Chick-fil-A.