We Know Exactly Why Chipotle's Red Salsa Is Spicier

If you've enjoyed some chips and salsa at Chipotle lately, you might have noticed that the red salsa seems hotter than usual. Countless Reddit users have suggested that Chipotle changed its recipe, with some even saying they've had to stop eating the salsa altogether to preserve the sanctity of their digestive tract. "I KNOW there is a difference, they 100% changed the recipe," one impassioned commenter insisted.

However, in a statement to TODAY, Chipotle said that it had not changed its salsa recipe. The chain then went on to say that the chiles de arbol used in its salsa are "sourced seasonally from varying regions that can have a range of different heat levels." These chili peppers are grown in Mexico, India, and China, and can range in heat from 15,000 Scoville units (SHU) to 40,000 SHU. Chipotle's salsa samples may not have reached these levels of spiciness, but nevertheless, customers weren't entirely wrong in thinking something was different.

No two Chipotle red salsas have the same heat level

While Chipotle's salsa recipe technically didn't change, the chain did increase the number of chile farmers it was working with during the pandemic to keep its supply up. As a result, Chipotle received a wider variety of chiles de arbol, possibly on a wider SHU spectrum.

The Wall Street Journal sent samples of Chipotle's salsa out for testing at Southwest Bio-Labs and found that the chiles de arbol used ranged in heat from 2,730 SHU to 3,420 SHU. For comparison, Tabasco Chipotle hot sauce usually registers at about 2,700 SHU, whereas El Yucateco Chipotle hot sauce registers around 3,400 SHU. Sauces at the hotter end of even this segment of the spectrum are usually enjoyed in small amounts, not heaped onto chips as many Chipotle customers are used to doing.

That being said, while we advise everyone to give their salsa a taste before diving in, we realize sometimes you just can't wait. Instead, you can balance out spiciness by adding citrus, something sweet, or even a neutralizing food like peanut butter.