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A Wrapped-and-Ready Caloric Breakdown of Your Average Burrito

Please, please tell me this beefy meat tube won’t burst my gaskets

Burritos are culinary perfection at its finest. They’re handheld. They’re customizable. If they’re wrapped well, every bite should be a rainbow of flavors. But all that excellence comes at the cost of many, many calories. Exactly how many, though?

Fix yourself a bean ‘n cheese as we make some calculations.

How Many Calories in a Burrito: The Numbers

Here are the most common ingredients you’ll find in a meat log, along with their estimated calorie counts:

  • The Tortilla: 210 calories.
  • The Meat: A plump burrito contains about four ounces of meat, which means beef arrives at 310 calories, pork at 274, chicken at 272 and shrimp at 162.
  • The Rice: Four ounces of Mexican rice, which is cooked in tomato sauce and spices, comes to 122 calories. The same amount of brown rice has 108 calories, and white rice has 103.
  • The Beans: No matter which beans you choose — black, pinto or refried — four ounces is about 104 calories.
  • The Salsa: Pico de gallo has five calories per tablespoon, so a few dollops should land you near 15 calories. It’s the same for just about any other salsa, too. 
  • The Cheese: A quarter cup of shredded Mexican cheese has 100 calories.
  • The Guacamole: Two tablespoons comes to 45 calories.
  • The Sour Cream: 23 calories per tablespoon.

Adding all this together, a classic (but pretty hefty) burrito — beef, rice, beans, cheese and all the accompaniments — comes to 929 calories. That’s about half of what your average woman should eat in a day and just over a third of what your average dude should send down his pipe.

Calories in Your Favorite Fast Food Burritos

If you’re wondering how that compares to your favorite Chipotle order or that late-night Taco Bell you love, here’s what their most popular burritos come to:

  • Chipotle’s Chicken Burrito: 1,315 calories if you add cheese, guacamole and sour cream
  • Taco Bell’s Beefy 5-Layer Burrito: 490 calories
  • Baja Fresh’s Baja Burrito: 820 calories if you go with chicken
  • Del Taco’s Macho Combo Burrito: 950 calories
  • El Pollo Loco’s Chicken Tinga Burrito: 760 calories

Yikes. Those Taco Bell burritos are kinda wimpy, huh?

How to Build a Low-Calorie Burrito

If all that sound like too many calories, chef Maru Dávila, author of The Mexican Food Diet, did a public service by sending me her low-calorie (around 200 calories, according to my calculations), meat-free recipe:

  1. Sautée chopped onions and garlic for three minutes in one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.
  2. Add cooked black beans and sea salt, then sautée for another 10 minutes.
  3. Use a potato masher to mash the beans, and combine them with the other ingredients.
  4. Cook up some quinoa, following the directions on the package. “Quinoa is a nutrient-dense, high-protein, gluten-free grain that’s a much better choice than rice,” Dávila says.
  5. Wrap ⅓ cup of vegetables and beans, ¼ cup of quinoa, some chopped tomato, shredded lettuce and avocado slices in butter or romaine lettuce instead of a tortilla. (You can use a tortilla if you want, but Dávila suggests opting for a low-calorie one, so you’ll have to read the back of the packaging at your local grocery store.)
  6. Drizzle with green salsa and/or coconut cream.

As for me, I’ll be having a Chipotle and dealing with the calories later.