Chipotle Mexican Grill has, for a long time, staked some of its reputation on their guacamole.
Chipotle doesn’t give their guac away for free (except sometimes) and, in fact, is staunch about not doing so. At time of publication, an order of small guac and chips at Chipotle is $4.20 (£3.05). Chipotle's guacamole is delicious and fresh, they argue, so you’ll pay for it.
Now if by chance you don’t like this whole “guacamole is extra” attitude, well, TOO BAD, because Chipotle’s guacamole hard-lining is pretty much mashed into the chain’s branding at this point.
Which kind of makes you wonder: Just what the heck makes Chipotle guacamole so special, anyway? What’s in the stuff? And, if it’s not all that complicated to make, why not just tell off The Guacamole Man and make your own damn Chipotle guacamole at home for a fraction of the cost?
It’s weird, that’s exactly what I was wondering when I set about trying to craft a copycat recipe of Chipotle’s guacamole at home. It was an experiment that, looking back on it now, I thought would be simple. How naive, I was.
Instead what I found in my guacamole-copycatting process was perplexing, frustrating, and even a little mind-bending. The good news is that if you continue to read on, you’ll eventually find a very delicious recipe for what we will call a “Chipotle-inspired” guacamole.
What you will not find, however, are clear answers from Chipotle.
What Ingredients Are in Chipotle Guacamole?
This depends on who you ask and where you look.
On April 23, 2020, Chipotle tweeted a recipe for their guacamole.
What to do:
1. Cut avocados in half and remove pits carefully
2. Scoop the avocados into a bowl
3. Toss and coat with lime juice
4. Add the salt and mash until it's a smooth consistency
5. Fold in remaining ingredients and mix
6. Taste the guac & adjust seasoning if necessary
— Chipotle (@ChipotleTweets) April 23, 2020
News sites went berserk, signal-boosting the recipe to legions of rabid Chipotle guacamole fans.
When I contacted a press representative of Chipotle to ask if the recipe was, in fact, the recipe still in use at the restaurant chain, they confirmed: ripe Hass avocados, lime juice, cilantro, red onion, jalapeño (with seeds), kosher salt.
And I had to take the rep at their word because nowhere on Chipotle’s website can you find the full ingredients list for their guacamole.
Armed with this information, I picked up the ingredients Chipotle told me was in their guacamole, along with a $4.20 small guac with tortilla chips from Chipotle itself, just for the sake of side-by-side comparison.
Then I got cooking.
What’s Chipotle's Recipe for Guacamole?
You'll see the recipe in the same Twitter thread above where Chipotle divulged the ingredients.
I followed the recipe pretty closely (admittedly I missed step 3, but just added the lime juice at step 4). The guacamole came out looking vibrant, fresh, and delicious.
For the sake of a fair experiment, I transferred the pre-purchased Chipotle guacamole to another bowl of the same style and placed both, along with the Chipotle tortilla chips, in front of my wife and 3-½-year-old son.
"Okay, take a bite from each bowl of guacamole and tell me which one came from a restaurant and which one Daddy made," I instructed.
My wife immediately ruined the sanctity of the experiment. "This one is the Chipotle one," she said, pointing to what was the bowl of admittedly pallid-looking, gloppy-texted guacamole.
Undeterred, my son dipped a chip into one bowl, tasted the guacamole, and repeated the process with the second bowl. After a pause he pointed to the Chipotle bowl, “I like this one because it isn’t spicy. The other one is spicy.”
It wasn’t quite what I was asking from either of them, but the results of the experiment were clear: The homemade Chipotle guacamole was completely different in flavour and texture from the actual Chipotle guacamole.
The homemade version had more heat, more onions, less salt, and less tang.
"The Chipotle one tastes like Sabra's guacamole," my wife said, the ultimate guacamole diss.
And so I was back to square one, looking for answers.
I emailed the Chipotle press representative again to ask for a full ingredients list for the guacamole (I mean, Taco Bell does it). They replied that no such list exists beyond what Chipotle already offers online, which is a list of all 53 ingredients the chain uses. It's on the consumer to click each ingredient individually to reveal what dishes the ingredient is used in. (If that sounds like the internet equivalent of touching your eyes after handling jalapeño seeds, you're correct.)
So I went back to my local, brick-and-mortar Chipotle requesting a full ingredients list for the guacamole. Same deal there, though they did divulge that the guacamole recipe included “citrus juices.” When pressed for more information as to the citrus at hand, they told me that they used lime and lemon juice.
Lemon juice! Aha!
After cross-verifying with Chipotle's 52 ingredients section on their website, it was true: They also put lemon juice into their guacamole.
I went back to my friendly Chipotle press representative to ask about the discrepancy, but they asserted: "The guac recipe only calls for lime juice and it is all freshly squeezed on site."
My head was starting to throb with a dull ache and as the rabbit hole opened further I had two options: to descend further or pull myself out.
So I decided to try two more tacts before standing down to Chipotle's insistence that the recipe they provided last year was the same recipe for the guacamole they served in stores even though it was clear by my measure it was not.
Experiment #1: Adding another "citrus juice."
This time, instead of 2 teaspoons lime juice, I went 50/50 on lemon and lime juice.
Based on the first trial, I also dialled back the red onion by half to 2 tablespoons, removed the seeds from the jalapeño, and bumped up the starting salt point to 1/2 tsp.
Out went the guacamole to the dinner table and, sure enough, the stuff tasted waaaaay closer to Chipotle's Twitter recipe.
"It has the tang," my wife said. "It's definitely better."
My wife and son agreed.
Yet, still, it was missing ... something.
Experiment #2: Letting it sit in the fridge a bit.
Because the guacamole I bought from Chipotle was to-go, the employee I ordered from had plucked a container from the small fridge behind the cash register. Could the fact that the guacamole was chilled have an effect on the flavour itself?
To cross-check this theory, I made another batch of the Chipotle Twitter recipe (adjusting the onion, jalapeño, and salt, but retaining the all-lime juice) and put half of the Plus-Lemon recipe into the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.
After re-testing, the results were clear.
What's the Real Chipotle Guacamole Recipe?
Look, due to a lack of ingredient transparency on their part and some mixed messaging, I don't know for sure if this is how Chipotle makes their guacamole. But this version tastes much, much closer to their to-go version than whatever they tweeted out last year.
This recipe includes lemon juice, uses less onion, no jalapeño, and more salt. It is chilled.
The recipe Chipotle tweeted out last year is delicious. But that's not what you're looking for, are you? If you're looking for a recipe that mirrors almost exactly how real Chipotle guacamole tastes, well, you've found it.
Real Chipotle Copycat Guacamole
What You'll Need:
2 ripe Hass avocados, halved, pitted, and peeled
1 tsp lime juice
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp diced red onion
1/2 jalapeño, seeds removed, diced
How to Make It:
In a medium bowl, add the avocados, lime juice, lemon juice, and salt. Mash until very smooth. Fold in the cilantro, red onion, and jalapeño. Chill at least 30 minutes before serving. Feeds 2 adults and 1 3-1/2-year-old, as an appetiser
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