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Chipotle tries a new queso

After the fast-casual chain’s first cheese sauce was widely criticized for being lumpy and prone to congeal, the company is testing a revamped recipe.
Photograph courtesy of Chipotle Mexican Grill

Chipotle Mexican Grill is hoping the third time’s a charm when it comes to queso.

The fast-casual chain is testing a new Queso Blanco in 52 restaurants in three markets, the company announced Thursday.

The all-natural cheese sauce, currently available in Dallas, Detroit and San Diego for a limited time, comes nearly two years after the chain first launched a widely panned queso that many called grainy and prone to congeal.

A few months after rolling out the cheese sauce in 2017, Chipotle tweaked its recipe to create a smoother queso that would hold up better over time.

This latest queso iteration is made with Monterey Jack and white cheddar cheeses, along with serrano, poblano and chipotle peppers. The previous cheese sauce had aged cheddar, tomatillos, tomatoes and several varieties of pepper, according to a Chipotle spokesperson. 

It has a “perfectly smooth texture and bold cheese flavor,” according to a Chipotle press release.

“We listened to our guests and worked tirelessly in our kitchens to make an even better tasting queso,” said Nevielle Panthaky, Chipotle’s vice president of culinary, in a statement.

The Queso Blanco is being tested via Chipotle’s new “stage-gate process,” which allows the company to test, learn, listen to customer feedback and tinker with the product before deciding whether to roll it out nationwide.

Chipotle said initial customer reviews of the Queso Blanco have been positive and that sales of the product have been up across all test markets after the first week.

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