Chipotle to start testing cauliflower rice at dozens of locations this week

The chain says customers have been asking for the lower-carb base for years.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Aly Walansky

Chipotle Mexican Grill rarely makes changes to its core menu, but the latest addition to the chain's roster of test items is something customers have been asking about for years.

Starting Wednesday, Chipotle will begin testing a version of its cilantro-lime rice that uses riced cauliflower at 55 restaurant locations in the Denver area and throughout Wisconsin.

Chipotle will start testing cauliflower rice at dozens of locations this July.Chipotle

The new cauliflower rice base starts with grilled cauliflower that's seasoned with freshly chopped cilantro, lime juice and salt. It's 100% grain free and contains 4 grams of carbs per serving, making it a good option for those following low-carb diets, like South Beach or the ketogenic diet. The riced cauliflower is also 100% vegan.

“To date, one out of three new menu item requests from Chipotle customers is for cauliflower rice,” Chris Brandt, Chipotle's chief marketing officer, said in a statement to media. “We’ve answered the call from fans and created a better-for-you option that puts a delicious twist on our classic white rice recipe by using the same fresh cilantro and lime ingredients and culinary techniques.”

While cauliflower rice has been around for about two decades now (one of the earliest known recipes popped up in 1998 when chef Ben Ford — Harrison Ford’s son! — used something he called “cauliflower couscous” in a dish), it’s become even more trendy as low-carb eating plans surged in popularity over the past five years. Trader Joe’s released its own version of cauliflower rice in 2016 and California Pizza Kitchen even developed a cauliflower pizza crust in 2017.

Previous Chipotle test items released in recent years, like its carne asada and queso blanco, have already progressed past the testing process and were ultimately rolled out nationally. So will the same be true for this new spin on rice?

"We don't have a date for a national rollout yet as we’ll evaluate the results of the test to determine a timeline," a representative for Chipotle told TODAY via email.

For now, those living in Denver and Wisconsin will be able to try the new cilantro-lime cauliflower rice for an additional $2 starting this week.