Health Facts Monday – Calories Face-Off: Chipotle vs McDonald’s

chipotle vs mcD

Fast-casual eateries, including Chipotle, do not offer full table service but promise a higher quality of food and atmosphere in fast food restaurants.  According to Bloomberg, fast-casual has became the fastest growing category in the restaurant business.  In 2012, fast-casual eateries boosted sales of 13% in the United States, which was doubled than the sales growth of fast food chains including McDonald’s. In Canada, fast-casual segment accounted for about 3% to 5% of all restaurant traffic in Canada in 2013, up from 1% five years ago according to market research firm NPD.

Chipotle pioneers the fast-casual category.  The restaurant sources organic and local produce when practical and use dairy from cows raised without the use of synthetic hormones.  In addition, the restaurant support and sustain family farmers who respect the land and the animals in their care.

Having said that, do food serve at fast-casual establishments healthier than typical fast food restaurants? In this episode of “Health Facts Monday,”  we will compare the calories on food served at Chipotle and McDonald’s.

1) Salad (McD WINS)!!

chipotle vs mcD salad

Chipotle’s Chicken with Black Beans, Fajita Vegetables, Fresh Tomatoes Salsa and Vinaigrette – 620 calories

McDonald’s Cashew Teriyaki Salad with Crispy Chicken – 400 calories (SCORE)

2) Burrito vs Wrap (Chipotle WINS)!!

chipotle vs mcD burrito

Chipotle’s Flour Tortilla Burrito with Chicken and Fajita Vegetable, Fresh Tomato Salsa and Romaine Lettuce – 525 calories (SCORE)

McDonald’s Chicken & Bacon Signature McWrap® with Crispy Chicken – 600 calories

3) Burrito Bowl vs Wrap (Chipotle WINS)!!

chipotle vs mcD burrito bowl

Chipotle’s Steak Burrito with Chicken and Fajita Vegetable, Fresh Tomato Salsa, Cheese and Romaine Lettuce – 335 calories (SCORE)

McDonald’s Steak ’N Caesar Signature McWrap® – 560 calories

4) Taco vs Burger (McD WINS)!!

chipotle vs mcD BLT


Chipotle’s Soft Flour Tortilla with Steak and Fajita Vegetable, Fresh Tomato Salsa, Roasted Chili-Corn Salsa, Cheese and Romaine Lettuce – 670 calories

McDonald’s Quarter Pounder® BLT – 620 calories (SCORE)

5) Taco vs Burger (McD WINS)!!

chipotle vs mcD big mac

Chipotle’s Soft Corn Tortilla with Steak and Fajita Vegetable, Roasted Chili-Corn Salsa, Cheese and Romaine Lettuce –  605 calories

McDonald’s Big Mac® Sandwich – 540 calories (SCORE)

WHAT? McDonald’s food are healthier than Chipotle?

Well! Since you are able to assemble your burrito/taco/salad/burrito bowl at Chipotle, therefore it all depends on what filling and toppings you choose.  For instance, three soft flour tortilla with softritas have only 605 calories if you top them with corn salsa, tomato salsa, cheese and romaine lettuce, which is lower than the calories of McDonald’s Quarter Pounder® BLT.  

Ultimately, make sure you know what you order when you are at Chipotle next time!

Have you been to Chipotle before? What do you like to order when you eat there? Post your comments! Till next time!



10 thoughts on “Health Facts Monday – Calories Face-Off: Chipotle vs McDonald’s

    • Yes you are right! Chipotle offers more balanced options compared to McDonalds. But I guess the way Chipotle preps their vegetables have to do with the elevated calories. But then again, Chipotle’s portions are much bigger than McDonalds. Their burritos are twice the size as McDonald’s burgers. You have to take that into consideration as well.

  1. I’m not sure that calories is necessarily the best way to compare Chipotle and McDonalds. While they may have very similar caloric count, I’d have to think that the amount of fat in a McDonalds meal is significantly higher than that of a Chipotle meal.

    Unrelated: You and I were talking back and forth about your grammar and what not on 20SB. This is a really well done post, in my opinion. Of course, talking about a subject near and dear to me (Chipotle) doesn’t hurt my interest either.

    • First of all, thanks for your comment about my grammar.

      Regarding to my post, I do agree McDonald’s meals may have higher fat content than Chipotle. It is just people look at calories first when they make meal choices (that why I only compare calories for all my Health Facts Monday for now). Also, Chipotle’s burritos are much bigger than McDonald’s burgers, so you have to take that into consideration. Perhaps in my future posts I will also compare fiber, trans fat, or sugar levels of different meals.

      • You’re absolutely correct about there being many more factors than just calories or the fat that I mentioned. Serving size is a HUGE factor in how healthy something is. For example, rice is really good for you, unless you eat six pounds of it in a single sitting.

      • Another thing is because healthy food are in higher price point, customers obviously want more food in their serving. As a result, the portions are bigger, which lead to increase in calories per serving.

        Therefore, people may think healthy food have higher calories, but they have to understand what they are eating and how much they are eating as well.

  2. I so so love Chipotle…It’s lucky the nearest one to me is kind of a pain to get to, otherwise I would be there probably 3 times a week (Before I moved I passed one on my way home from work, dangerous!) My only concession since attempting a healthier diet is to get either sour cream OR cheese and not both on the same burrito, it’s pretty shameful.

  3. As someone who sometimes counts calories (I say sometimes because I’m really bad at keeping up with it), this is interesting to know.
    But, like others said, I’m guessing that McDonalds has a higher fat count, and McDonalds food is probably more processed than Chipotle (although they are both chain restaurants so really the “healthy” options are only so healthy).

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