Make Your Own: Chipotle Burrito Bowls

I don’t really get the appeal of Chipotle. Maybe it was because I grew up in Southern California where you could find really great Mexican food on every corner, but I’ve never eaten anything at Chipotle and thought, “Wow, this was really good!” I’ve left full, and I suppose that is good enough.

But perhaps I’m in the minority because I know plenty of people who are obsessed with Chipotle, and consider me a Mexican food snob (which, okay, fine, I probably am). I once had a boss who ate Chipotle every single day for lunch, and more than anything, I thought about all that money spent on food I found so unsatisfying. In New York, a chicken burrito or burrito bowl with guacamole will run you $10.50, which is a pretty outrageous amount of money to pay for a lunch you think is only “okay.” I was sure I could make the same thing at home for much cheaper—and better! So I made my own Chipotle, and you guys, it was good. And easy!

It took 30 minutes to do everything, and I had enough food to feed at least four people. I got all my ingredients from Trader Joe’s because they were cheap, and I trust their meat products more than the average grocery store:

I used 1/3 of the rice I bought, 1/3 of the salsa, 1/4 of the sour cream, 1/8 of the cheese, and 1/2 of the cilantro. My calculations showed that each of my “chicken burrito bowls” would cost about $4.03 each. Not too shabby.

The first thing I did was make the cilantro-lime rice. I cooked two cups of rice in a pot, and while that was on the stove, I put a fistful of cilantro, two garlic cloves, juice from half a lime and a little bit of olive oil into a food processor (you could also mince and mix by hand). Once that was blended, I mixed the mixture into the cooked rice. That’s it! It gave the rice a really good flavor, and you could eat this by itself as a side dish.

I mixed the can of corn, the can of black beans and two diced tomatoes in a bowl. Easy.

I took the avocado and mashed it with a fork and added a little bit of lime juice so it could retain its green color.

I seared both sides of the chicken breasts in a pan on high heat with some salt and pepper and a little bit of olive oil to give it a nice brown crust, and then finished cooking it in the oven at 350 degrees for seven minutes. I then sliced the breasts on a cutting board. Two breasts should be enough for four people after it’s been diced. Chipotle is certainly not giving you a full chicken breast.

Get a plate or bowl and layer the bottom with the cilantro-lime rice. Add a second layer on top with the corn/bean/tomato mixture. Add a serving of chicken. Top with salsa, the mashed avocado, sour cream, and sprinkle with cheese. Eat. Be satisfied.


Note: I skip the tortilla because it’s made of lard and has 300 calories in it, but you can wrap all of this in one if you want. That’s what Logan did when I brought her leftovers the next day for lunch. It’s great with Cholula hot sauce.

If you have your own terrific “make your own meal for less” to share, let me know!


Photo: Flickr/ishane


20 Comments / Post A Comment

Tatiana (#194)

Ha! Marissa and I do this all the time. Always a great option for a yummy, cheap meal.

Marissa (#467)

@Tatiana This is true. I’m bad in the kitchen but it’s so easy! Mmmm, cilantro lime rice.

Leslie (#423)

I was planning on doing this tonight! I buy larger cuts of meat (pork shoulder) slow roast it with some spices. Freeze the leftovers. Chicken breasts can be expensive.

melis (#42)

A good substitute is to take all of the cilantro and throw it into the nearest body of water instead of putting it in your mouth. Or a trash can will do in a pinch, if you do not live near a river or estuary or slough of some kind.

Mike Dang (#2)

@melis Yes, the Barefoot Contessa also says this. But I like cilantro!

Skeletor (#450)

Valentina hot sauce or bust.

hero worship (#447)

And Chipotle charges a ton just to add guacamole to a burrito. I miss you Santa Ana with your delicious and inexpensive Mexican food.

jfruh (#161)

More like this please! I want to know how to make Rice-a- and/or Pasta-Roni with real ingredients.

Megano! (#124)

We were literally talking about Chipotle’s mehness at lunch today. Also the thing I really love about Mexican food is you can just get all that stuff and slop it together and it is delicious. I saved this to make on the weekend because I really wanted Mexican food after talking about it at lunch. YOU WERE IN MY BRAIN MIKE DANG.

Laura (#454)

I have been literally consumed with trying to find the exact sour cream they use at Chipotle (because the consistency is so thin and delicious) and I asked a friend who used to work there: it’s Daisy brand! They just stir it excessively.

Pistachio (#378)

@Laura Ah, now I know what to avoid because I really dislike it. Thanks (for the opposite reason)!

Thanks for the dinner suggestion! I already have half these ingredients in my kitchen. Cheap dinners for the rest of the week!

sony_b (#225)

I’ve never eaten at Chipotle, but I do something similar in the crockpot on a larger scale. 2-3 pounds of boneless, skinless thighs; two big things of fresh salsa from Costco; 1-2 ccans of beans; 1-2 cans of corn;some salt and a slug of vodka to bring out the flavor in the tomatoes on low. At about six hours in add a little bit of water and 2-3 cups of rice. Keep an eye on it and add liquid if it needs it before the rice is done, or leave the lid off for a bit if the rice is done and it’s too soupy. I make bowls and freeze them, or sometimes add a block of cream cheese and make a giant batch of burritos to freeze. The cream cheese doesn’t add significant flavor but is a great binder. I haven’t worked out the price per serving, but usually it works out to 10-15 servings, and it freezes really well, reheats in 3 minutes in the micro.

doug (#461)

A “Mexican food snob” eating Cholula instead of Tapatio!!?? Pfsht.

probs (#296)

Ah, I remember I think in high school people started getting obsessed with Chipotle, and the first time I had it I was actually angry. Chipotle and Olive Garden make me mad with their existence, which is ridiculous, but I can’t stop. Good on you, Mike Dang, for providing a cheaper/better alternative.

I bought the ingredients for cilantro lime rice last week but hadn’t looked up a recipe yet, so this is pretty fortuitous. Also I bought 4 limes because I didn’t know how many I’d need. Ha. Eight times the lime(s).

Megano! (#124)

@backstagebethy That is why you always look at the recipe first man

ru_ri (#217)

Dude, it takes a little more time (soaking overnight and 1-2 hours cooking in the morning) but fresh beans are sooo much better than canned. I use pinto beans and the magic ingredient, –>salt pork<–. Soak the beans, rinse them, cover them with about 4 inches of water, add maybe 50g of salt pork and simmer until they are soft. You can add garlic and/or chopped onions when they are almost done, and also ground cumin, salt/soy sauce, a teeny bit of cider vinegar, and/or fresh cilantro if you don’t hate it, at the end. They’d probably b e great over cilantro lime rice which I will make this weekend, thank you for the excellent idea.

mouthalmighty (#165)

Add a little garlic and a bit of the diced tomatoes to the mashed avocado and let it rest while you’re doing everything else. Yum!

Brunhilde (#78)

I miss So Cal mexican food! I live in Washington now where it’s pretty much all terrible. Also, I never see Cholula around, it’s all Tapatio everywhere, which is wierd to me.

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