12 Fast Food Burritos That Aren't As Unhealthy As The Rest

Nothing satisfies a hungry appetite quite like a burrito. Stuffed with beans, cheese, meat, salsa, guacamole and pretty much anything else you want to pack in there, these rolled packages of goodness provide comfort and satisfaction in a snap. Their convenience and portability of also make them a go-to fast food item, made to be eaten on the run (unless you prefer a wet burrito style). 

Of course, a fast food version also comes with a few nutritional downsides, as burritos are likely nobody's idea of a healthy food. A large tortilla full of melted cheese, refried beans, and meat is a pretty easy way to reach (or exceed) your recommended daily allowance of calories, sodium, and fat. However, this doesn't mean you can't opt for somewhat healthier choices when a craving strikes. 

There are a lot of fast food burritos out there, with some being leaner than others and coming out more towards the healthy side compared to many other quick-service burritos. What's more, you can also take advantage of customization options to further cut calories and manage other nutrients. So, if you're for hankering for burrito but want to keep an eye on your nutritional intake, we looked into 12 fast food burrito options that are healthier than much of the competition.

1. Baja Fresh Burrito Mexicano with Steak and Black Beans

Baja Fresh wears its philosophy on its sleeve, emphasizing the fresh part of its name by avoiding frozen ingredients. The fast-casual Mexican food chain also claims that its current slate of 80 locations don't use can openers, microwaves, or freezers, and the menu features a variety of salads, vegan and vegetarian options in addition to its standard tacos and burritos. This doesn't mean everything on its menu is strictly healthy, though.

The chain's Dos Manos Burrito lives up to its name, presenting a sizeable gut-buster of an average 1,220 calories that will likely require you to use two hands to manage it. At about 1.5 pounds (688 grams) in weight, it's hard to imagine getting hungry after polishing one of these off. Still, health-conscious customers might wish to opt for the chain's Burrito Mexicano instead. This option is customizable with your choice of rice, beans and protein. For what's likely to be the healthiest version for you, order black beans and steak, and forgo the rice — after all, you've already got carbs in the tortilla. 

Given that it typically comes in at 490 calories and 19 grams of fat, this burrito is a more manageable one-hander than its Dos Manos sibling. If you're tempted to order it Enchilado Style — that is, smothered in sauce and cheese — be aware that this choice will add on considerably more calories.

2. California Tortilla Fajita Burrito

Though it's smaller than a giant franchise like Taco Bell or Chipotle, California Tortilla is one burrito chain that's slowly taking over the U.S., with over 30 locations in the eastern U.S., growing heartily since its founding in 1995 in Bethesda, Maryland (which you may note is not California). The company emphasizes fresh ingredients and recipes made from scratch daily, in addition to avoiding preservatives and additives whenever possible. 

For the most part, this chain's burritos are under 1,000 calories apiece, with two exceptions: the bacon chicken club burrito and the blackened chicken Caesar burrito, neither of which sound all that healthful to begin with. Meanwhile, California Tortilla's fajita burrito with grilled chicken, fajita veggies, guacamole, sour cream and fresh salsa is a good bet, and you can forgo the rice to slim it down even more. At 656 calories, it had around half the caloric content of the blackened chicken Caesar burrito — just so long as you don't add bacon.

3. Chipotle Make Your Own Burrito: Steak

Chipotle has built its brand as one of the healthiest fast food chains in the U.S., featuring low-calorie menu offerings and fresh, oftentimes organic ingredients. For the most part, it lives up to that promise, with few extra-greasy, deep-fried snacks to choose from among its selection of tacos, burritos, salads and lifestyle bowls — which also easily cater to vegetarians, vegans, and other dietary needs. The catch is choosing the right ingredients. Load up a carnitas burrito with rice, queso, sour cream, beans, cheese, guacamole, and a side of tortilla chips and, before you know it you could have over 2,000 calories in a single meal.

But substitute steak for carnitas, pass up the rice, and add black beans and fajita veggies to cut back on calories while retaining the flavor. Top it off with tomatillo-red chili salsa for an added kick — or green if you prefer mild salsa — and it still adds up to only 650 calories. Just think twice about ordering a side of chips, a single serving of which is typically a full 540 calories.

4. Del Taco 8 Layer Veggie Burrito

Del Taco is known more for its low prices and signature snacks like crinkle-cut fries than healthy dining options. For instance, you can order the Epic Cali Bacon Burrito, which already comes with crinkle cut fries and queso sauce. That being said, don't be surprised when that consumes at least half of your daily recommended calories (broadly, 2,000 calories a day for adult males and 1,600 for adult females) at a hefty 1,050 (for the carne asada version), not to mention 22 grams of saturated fat and a whopping 2,600 grams of sodium.

A relatively healthier option is the chain's 8 Layer Veggie Burrito, which comes loaded with beans, guacamole, fresh tomatoes and lettuce, grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and cilantro lime rice. It's vegetarian friendly and low in both calories (520) and fat (17 grams, 7 grams of which are saturated). However, extra-hungry patrons should note the difference in size between Del Taco's burritos and Epic Burritos, which tend to be a bit more ample by about 100 grams apiece.

5. El Pollo Loco Classic Chicken Burrito

El Pollo Loco's claim to fame is its fire-grilled chicken, which is the main attraction on menus at its 495 locations throughout seven states. But the Southwestern chain has diversified its menu over the years, bringing to the lineup an array of tacos, tostadas, nachos, salads, bowls and, naturally, burritos — nearly all of which feature its famous chicken, but with a variety of other ingredients on shuffle.

Most of the burritos at El Pollo Loco are reasonably healthy by fast food standards, but it's still hard to beat the simple classic chicken burrito. With chicken, pinto beans, cheese and rice, it's comfort food in a tortilla — just add salsa. And it's only 480 calories, which offers a comfortable buffer if you want to add guacamole or sour cream. On its own, the burrito brings just 5 grams of saturated fat, though it does have a rather substantial 1,440 mg of sodium (the FDA wants you to keep it below 2,300 mg per day). The more indulgent chicken avocado burrito is just about double that at 960 calories, but if you opt out of the cilantro dressing, it drops down to a more reasonable 820.

6. Moe's Build Your Own Burrito: Steak, Pinto Beans

When it first launched in Atlanta, the concept behind Moe's Southwest Grill was a little bit like Chipotle meets the Hard Rock Café. Its name is an acronym, which stands for "Musicians, Outlaws, and Entertainers," and the interior of its restaurants featured pictures of musicians and other music-related décor. Since then, it's pared back the music-themed concept while expanding its reach into 37 states with 619 locations, as of this writing.

One of the premier menu items since its founding is the Homewrecker, an extra-beefy burrito that you can customize to your liking. This means that it can include some decidedly unhealthy options like pieces of bacon or a goopy serving of queso. When building your own burrito, you can still end up with a much healthier option, however. Fill your tortilla with steak, pinto beans, jalapeños, pico de gallo, and guacamole instead for a filling, protein-rich meal that adds up to fewer than 720 calories.

7. Qdoba Chicken Burrito

Qdoba, which was once known as Zuma Fresh Mexican Grill and briefly Z-Teca Mexican Grill in the late '90s, built its reputation on serving Mexican fast-casual food with high quality ingredients — though maybe not necessarily more manageable portions. Its burritos are pretty hefty and plenty filling, but some of them, like the Surf and Turf Burrito, surpass 1,100 calories. That's more than half of the FDA's recommended daily allowance for an adult man in just one item.

Not all Qdoba burritos are so calorie-rich, however. Take the citrus lime shrimp burrito, which features shrimp, black beans, pico de gallo, chile crema, and cotija cheese. While it comes standard with cilantro lime rice, it's the most carb- and calorie-rich ingredient other than the tortilla, and by excluding it, the total is only about 660 calories. That's low enough that a little of Qdoba's famous queso on the side can join the party, too.

8. Rubio's Ancho Citrus Shrimp Burrito

For more than 40 years, Rubio's has made Baja-style fish tacos its staple. In fact, the whole of the Southwestern regional chain's menu leans heavily on seafood — from its Guajillo lime shrimp bowl to its Puerto Nuevo burrito, featuring wild-caught langostino lobster, which, despite a semantic argument that caused a controversy in 2005, is still an item you don't see at too many other fast-food restaurants.

The Puerto Nuevo burrito isn't the least healthy burrito on the Rubio's menu — that would likely be the California Impossible Burrito, featuring Impossible meat and french fries (and which is curiously higher in calories than the version with meat). If you're looking to keep calories in check, instead opt for the ancho citrus shrimp burrito, which features shrimp, guacamole, black beans, citrus rice, pico de gallo and roasted chipotle salsa and contains 830 calories. Hold the rice to cut another estimated 180 calories. Just keep in mind that a side of tortilla chips adds another 210 calories, so plan your meal accordingly.

9. Taco Bell Chicken Enchilada Burrito

Taco Bell holds the unique distinction of being one of the healthiest fast food chains out there, in spite of some of the more outrageous items that have appeared on its menu, including the Doritos Cheesy Gordita Crunch and the jalapeño popper quesarito. Steer clear of the stunts, however, and you'll find a menu that's friendlier to those who are seeking to cut down on calories and non-meat-eaters alike. That surprising slate includes many of the chain's signature burritos.

Taco Bell's Chicken Enchilada Burrito is the best of the bunch, calorically-speaking, at only 380 calories and 12 grams of fat. Stuffed with chicken, rice, a three-cheese-blend, red sauce and sour cream, it doesn't skimp on ingredients either. If you're looking to cut back on dairy, you can also order it Fresco style, which replaces the cheese and sour cream with pico de gallo (and which adds zero extra calories). Just think twice about pairing it with a large Mtn Dew Baja Blast Freeze, which is packed with 51 grams of sugar in a 20-ounce cup, well over your daily recommended value for added sugars.

10. Taco John's Bean Burrito

The signature dish at Taco John's is its Potato Olés, a serving of deep fried potato nuggets which you can dip into a side of nacho cheese, sour cream, or guacamole. A small order contains 460 calories and 30 grams of fat (5 grams saturated fat), and along with its fried chicken taco, super nachos and Mexican donut bites, they're some of the least health-conscious items to order at its current 365 locations in 23 states. And that's even before an upgrade to Super Potato Olés, which come smothered in beef, cheese, guac and sour cream, and will tally up to 1,070 calories and 18 grams of saturated fat (though at least you can get a small version at 610 calories).

Taco John's burritos aren't quite as unhealthy as the chain's sometimes goopy, oftentimes deep fried sides, though some are better than others. The grilled beef burrito — which includes Potato Olés — contains 700 calories and 13 grams of saturated fat, which is more than half of the FDA's recommended allowance. Tempting as those crispy spud nuggets might sound, keep it simple: Order the bean burrito, stuffed with refried beans, cheese, tomatoes and diced onions for only 410 calories. It's a classic for a reason, and adding ground beef only bumps the calorie count up to 460.

11. Taco Bueno Big Ol' Burrito

A fast food Tex-Mex institution founded in 1967 in Abilene, Texas, Taco Bueno's brand is recognizable enough to be referenced on "King of the Hill." It's expanded beyond the borders of the Lone Star State, with locations in Arkansas and Oklahoma, but it remains a Texas staple, with over 80 locations in that state alone. Featured among its menu are items like the Muchaco, a taco served in a warm and fluffy pita, as well as the B.O.B. (Big Ol' Burrito), with an extra large tortilla to hold its many fillings.

Despite the name and its hefty size, the B.O.B. isn't as unhealthy as it may sound. The entire burrito — loaded with ground beef, spicy chili sauce, cheddar and pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and sour cream — is only 650 calories. You can also substitute chicken to pare it down to 590 calories and cut the fat from 34 grams in the beef version to 21.8 grams (though the sodium remains a rather high 1,325.9 mg even with chicken). Even if everything really is bigger in Texas, that doesn't necessarily mean the calorie count has to be sky-high.

12. Wahoo's Mr. Lee's SCReaM'n Chicken Burrito

Wahoo's has won over some high-profile fans on the strength of its seafood-heavy offerings — its fish tacos are one of Bill Hader's favorite foods. Popular among Southern Californians, where the majority of its 46 current locations can be found, Wahoo's has expanded its presence to far-flung spots in Tokyo and New Jersey. Its unique mixture of flavors takes inspiration from Asian and Brazilian cuisine in addition to Baja-style Mexican food, including burritos. Though its unique fusion is typically friendly to the health-conscious, it also sometimes results in heftier creations like the 1,287-calorie Hawaiian onion ring burrito, which includes teriyaki steak and, just as the name indicates, Maui onion rings.

By comparison, Mr. Lee's ScreaM'n Chicken Burrito contains only 568-580 calories, excluding the deep fried and teriyaki glazed ingredients. It instead cranks up the heat with spicy chicken, mushrooms, rice, melted cheese, and Mr. Lee's spicy chili sauce. So, whatever cold drink you add to your order, you may want to make it a large.


We compared the nutrition facts of many different fast food burritos to narrow down the list to 12 of the healthiest available in the U.S. right now. Each fast food restaurant chain we looked at featured a menu with several different burritos, some of which were much higher in calories and fat, even among the establishments that advertised fresh, natural ingredients. Even so, we usually found at least one burrito that was healthier overall.

It's important to note that most fast food restaurants offer the choice of adding or removing ingredients, which means you can potentially make each burrito even healthier. Ingredients such as rice or queso often added considerably to the calorie count and other nutritional information, so we did the math on how that would affect the overall nutritional content of each burrito where applicable. And while we did look up how much common sides such as tortilla chips would affect those numbers, they were not counted towards each individual burrito.