Chipotle is testing smoked brisket

The new protein is currently available at 64 locations in Cincinnati and Sacramento, Calif.
Chipotle testing brisket
Photo courtesy of Chipotle

Chipotle Mexican Grill is testing smoked brisket at select restaurants in Cincinnati and Sacramento, Calif., the chain announced Monday.

The new protein is seasoned with a “special” spice blend, seared on the grill and finished with a sauce made from Mexican peppers. It is available for a limited time at 64 locations.

Chipotle said that there are no details on a national rollout of the smoked brisket as the “full timeline” for the test is still being worked out.

Adding a new protein to the menu is frequently challenging for Chipotle, which has strict sourcing standards around sustainable farming that does not use antibiotics or growth hormones.

“We’re thrilled to offer a new, responsibly sourced brisket that tastes terrific and meets our industry-leading Food with Integrity standards,” Chipotle CMO Chris Brandt said in a statement.

The brisket is available via all of the chain’s channels, including in-restaurant dining, online, mobile and delivery, for a limited time.

Chipotle’s last protein addition came last year when it put carne asada on the menu after testing. It became the chain’s fastest-selling new protein launch ever—four times as popular as the chain’s previous protein LTO.

More than 10 million people tried carne asada during its first run, with about half of those customers being first-time Chipotle diners. The chain brought the item back in September, giving digital rewards members early access to it.

Chipotle has previously said that just 5% of U.S. beef meets the chain’s strict sourcing requirements. The chain has formed partnerships with new farmers, ranchers and other suppliers who are able to work within its standards.

As with other new menu introductions, Chipotle is using its “stage-gate” process to test the item, guided by customer feedback.

Carne asada was Chipotle’s first new protein addition since chorizo joined the menu in 2018.

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


Should Cracker Barrel get out of the gift shop business?

Reality Check: The retail component of the family dining concept drew off sales and profits during the brand's most recent quarter. Maybe it's time to leave the shops out of future Cracker Barrels.


Wendy's, whose chairman is an activist, may be getting an activist

The Bottom Line: Activist investor Blackwells apparently plans to nominate “several directors” to the burger chain’s board, according to Reuters.


Yes, there is such a thing as too fast in the quick-service world

The Bottom Line: In a world of digital orders and drive-thrus, friendly service actually matters more than speed.


More from our partners