Chipotle is one of my favorite restaurants. I eat there all the time without compromising my gluten-free diet. It’s easy to get a tasty, gluten-free meal at Chipotle, but you still must take a few precautions to avoid getting glutened. In this post, I’ll share what’s gluten free at Chipotle and how to successfully place your order. I’ll also share the results of my hidden gluten test with the Nima Sensor. This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosures.
I often find myself at Chipotle. I love the food and my kids love it too. It’s an easy, go-to place that our entire family enjoys, both gluten-free eaters and gluten-eaters alike.
There are plenty of gluten-free options at Chipotle, and, with a little knowledge and know-how, you can mitigate your risk of cross contamination when eating at the fast casual restaurant.
While I eat at Chipotle often and feel fine, I decided to put the restaurant to the gluten detecting test with my trusty Nima Sensor.
In 2020, the Nima Sensor went out of business, but in September 2021, a new company revived the beloved gluten-detecting device, which can test a small portion of your food for hidden gluten.
I encourage you to learn more about the Nima Sensor before investing in one, as well as learn more about a few new gluten-detecting devices coming to market in 2022 – ALLIS Sensor and The Allergy Amulet.
What’s Gluten Free at Chipotle
Before I put Chipotle to the hidden gluten test, I first want to share what items at Chipotle do not contain any gluten ingredients.
Fortunately, just about everything on the menu is gluten free – except for the flour tortillas – according to Chipotle’s allergen menu.
The following menu items are listed as gluten free:
- Black Beans
- Brisket (available for a limited time)
- Carne Asada
- Cauliflower Rice (available for a limited time)
- Chips (tortilla chips) – cooked in a dedicated fryer
- Cilantro-Lime Brown Rice
- Cilantro-Lime White Rice
- Crispy Corn Tortilla
- 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
Any of these items can be combined to make yourself a tasty salad or filling burrito bowl.
The Potential for Cross Contamination at Chipotle
While much of the menu at Chipotle is considered gluten free (except for the flour tortillas), this doesn’t mean you can eat at the restaurant free and clear.
In fact, the flour tortillas are a key ingredient in the large burritos Chipotle makes for its customers, and the flour from those tortillas can get everywhere.
This is why the main point of concern when eating at Chipotle is cross contamination. Cross contamination occurs when a gluten-free item comes in contact with bits of gluten during the preparation or handling process.
To minimize your risk of cross contamination at Chipotle, follow these precautions:
- Ask the server to change his or her gloves. Once they change gloves, make sure they don’t handle the flour tortillas.
- Order a bowl vs. burrito. You can enjoy a hearty burrito bowl or light salad. Avoid the burritos, tacos, or anything that would be prepared in the tortilla press.
- Ask for fresh ingredients. The staff can help you get fresh, untouched ingredients for your bowl. I’m usually fine with them scooping all sorts of ingredients into my bowl, but what I’m not fine with is the cheese and lettuce. Have you ever noticed how they grab those items with their hands vs. spoons? Request fresh lettuce and cheese taken from untouched containers. They always have containers of fresh ingredients in the back they can pull from.
- Ordering online (from the app). The Chipotle app is a very convenient way to order Chipotle to go, especially when the restaurants were closed due to the pandemic. Unfortunately, the app does not allow you add any notes or specify an allergy. I name my order “GLUTEN ALLERGY!!” and then call the restaurant to alert them to change gloves and use fresh ingredients. So far so good. One staffer once wrote me a message on my pick-up order that said, “Yes, I changed my gloves.” Sweet!
Putting Chipotle to the Hidden Gluten Test
I used my Nima Sensor to put several Chipotle menu items to the hidden gluten test.
Here’s what my Nima Sensor found:
(1) Is the Burrito Bowl Gluten Free?
I put a small sample of the chicken, beans and cheese into my Nima Sensor. Nima Sensor was all smiles, which means it did not detect gluten.
(2) Are Chipotle’s Chips Gluten Free?
I tested a single Chipotle chip and it, too, came back negative for gluten. Nima is all smiles.
Please note the chips are cooked in a dedicated fryer, making Chipotle tortilla chips completely celiac safe.
(3) Is Chipotle’s Queso Gluten Free?
The queso, interestingly enough, came back with the wheat symbol and the message, “Gluten Found.” While the queso is made without gluten ingredients, it’s possible the spot I tested was cross contaminated with gluten due to the presence of flour tortillas in the restaurant.
Tips to Placing a Gluten-Free Order
When you order at Chipotle, it’s important to disclose that you cannot eat gluten, and then ask the staff member to change his or her gloves.
You can then order anything on the menu except the flour tortillas (although I’m a bit wary of the queso now).
Two items I’m also wary of cross contamination are the cheese and lettuce because staff use their hands to grab those items whereas the rest of the items are dished out with a spoon.
When I order at Chipotle, I always ask for the cheese and lettuce to be taken from a fresh source, and the staff has always obliged this request.
Watch me test my food for hidden gluten in this video:
Overall, you can feel confident eating gluten free at Chipotle. Almost every menu item is gluten free, except for the flour tortillas.
By asking the staff to change gloves and get you fresh ingredients from the back, you can minimize your risk of cross contamination and accidental gluten exposure.
Like to eat out? Read these articles:
- The Ultimate Guide to Eating Out Gluten Free
- Two Restaurants Make Things Right After a Nima Sensor Test Goes Awry
- 13 Things to Know About the Nima Sensor
- What’s Gluten Free at the Cheesecake Factory?
- How Did 20 Restaurants Fare When Tested for Hidden Gluten?
- What’s Gluten Free at the Olive Garden?
- 7 Ways to Recover from an Accidental Gluten Exposure
Want to eat out like a gluten-free champ? Download my ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Eating Out Gluten Free, to help you eat out more safely when following a strict gluten-free diet.
Gerald Demonts says
If you have Celiac you CANNOT be eating out off Gluten free menus. You must only eat from dedicated gluten free bakeries where everything there is gluten free. You will be eating gluten if you eat at restaurants from gluten free menus because you will always eventually get cross contamination.
First I would like to say thank you for helping the gluten free community! You give really sound advise and recommendations. And love that so many people are able to eat a chipotle! However, just telling the servers about your allergy, sensitivity or intolerance and changing their gloves is not enough. Cross contamination is very likely if you think about it. After all, the flour tortillas start at the beginning of the assembly. And they are carried along the whole buffet line! And those serving utensils aren’t immune from touching the flour wrap and going back down into the dish to contaminate it. So accepting anything on the front line definitely puts one at risk, even with clean gloves. They only way a gluten free individual can eat here safely, is if the their food is all from a fresh source.
Yes I would avoid too if that happened. Feel well.
I have a corn sensitivity as well as gluten. I have gotten sick 3 separate times about 12 hours after eating at Chipotle (always salad with chicken, brown rice, and guac, no dairy). The last time, in September, the diarrhea was just horrible. Sadly, I think I have to avoid Chipotle all together.
Yes thank you
Drew Stoke says
Hi Jenny, thanks for this. I ate at Chipotle in Norcal last week and had the burrito bowl which I have had before. I did not have lettuce but did have cheese. A few hours afterwards I had stomach cramps which I had not experienced before so I can only assume cross-contamination….
Kathie Anderson says
Do you mean wary ? You can’t be weary of the queso unless you really mean you are tired of it. Is that what