July 21, 2024


Than a Food Fitter

The 9 Best Fast Food Burritos, Ranked (Plus How To Make Them Better!)

17 min read

Does food get any better than the burrito? No. No, it does not. Hot, sumptuous proteins, fire-roasted veggies, gooey melted cheese, and deep and complex salsa wrapped in a warm flour tortilla that’s bigger than your face? Winner, winner carne asada dinner. It’s a fast and easy flavor bomb and if for some reason we had to choose to only eat burritos, burgers, pizza, or sandwiches for the rest of our lives, we’re choosing burritos in a walk.

Luckily we don’t have to live like that.

Point being, the burrito is a beautiful thing and in the vast fast food universe (and neighboring fast-casual and chain restaurant multiverses), it’s probably the least processed meal on any given menu. Beans are often slow-cooked (the good ones), over-processed and blended meats are generally ignored in favor of single cuts of juicy protein, the cheese is actually real cheese and not cheese product (looking at you, American cheese on burgers) and the salsa, when good, is known to display a level of craft and care that seems all but absent at the big chains.

It’s the most gourmet fast food can get.

Before we get into a ranking of the best burritos offered at the most popular fast food and fast casual restaurants, I’d like to take the opportunity to be “that guy” and remind you that if you want a truly great burrito, you’re more likely to find it at a small local Mexican eatery than you are at a place with a drive-thru. Support these businesses when you can, please. When you can’t… well, that’s why you have this ranking.

So here they are, the best fast food and fast-casual burritos around. And because they all need the help, we’re going to tell you how to make them even better by hacking the menu. Let’s get into it.

9. Baja Fresh — Mexicano Burrito

Baja Fresh

If you’re looking for the blandest Mexican food in the fast food universe, look no further than Baja Fresh. The Mexicano Burrito has almost no redeemable qualities aside from the tortilla, which I’ll admit is a cut above a lot of other tortillas on this list. It’s pliable, gummy, and warmed on the flat grill right before they wrap it for you, ensuring all your fillings are nice and warm, which is great, except this burrito doesn’t come with cheese and a burrito without cheese is just sad.

There is a fair bit of customization here, which is good. Baja Fresh’s Mexicano burrito allows you to choose your protein but I’m sorry to report that the chicken, carnitas, and steak are all incredibly dry, with the steak easily being the worst option thanks to its gristly texture.

Now admittedly, I’m not a big fish-in-my-burrito fan so I’ve never actually had Baja Fresh’s seafood, so maybe I’m being too hard on this burrito as the fast-casual chain also offers Crispy Wahoo, Grilled Wahoo, and Shrimp. But as far as land-roaming proteins are concerned, they’re all lacking in flavor, which is a problem that extends to the beans and the rice. Baja Fresh’s beans have a great texture, but almost no flavor, and their Spanish rice — which they call “Baja Rice” for some reason — is also devoid of any discernible flavors. You think you’re going to get notes of bright tomato and onion but instead, it’s all texture, which is to say, dry.

How To Make It Better:

This is an easy one, add cheese.

The Bottom Line:

Why are you going to Baja Fresh and spending money on something Taco Bell does better and for cheaper? Don’t go here.

Find your nearest Baja Fresh here.

8. Taco Bell — Beefy Five Layer Burrito

Taco Bell

Calories: 490

Generally, when we run fast good rankings we keep each chain to one entry only, but we’re going to make an exception for Taco Bell because of its insane level of popularity. I get that the Beefy Five Layer Burrito has its rabid fans, but if you like food, run as far away from this as possible.

This thing is straight-up foul and its five layers feel like a real missed opportunity to give us something decadently delicious. Instead, the Beefy Five Layer combines all of Taco Bell’s worst ingredients into one overly mushy burrito.

First, we have the salty seasoned beef, which is so greasy it leaks orange, resting on a bed of Taco Bell’s very dry powdered beans. Then Taco Bell just gives up with the rest of the layers, offering sour cream, a sadly sparse sprinkling of cheese, and a layer of Nacho Cheese Sauce spread across the tortilla, which is a nice idea that supplies a trail of melty cheese between every bite, but it doesn’t taste good. So with five layers, Taco Bell decided to double up on cheese, neither of which is good, and then just threw sour cream in there and called it a day. It’s an over-salted mess that you’re forced to taste over and over again throughout the day as you burp it up.

Even your body wants to reject this sh*t. Also, I have a major gripe with the name, yes the lack of actual ingredients gives more room for beef, but it’s not nearly as beefy as the photo would suggest. So you don’t really get the sense of eating through five layers of flavor and it doesn’t deliver on the beef.

How To Make It Better:

Oh, where to start. Ditch the nacho cheese sauce and cheese for Taco Bell’s three cheese blend, add tomatoes, jalapeños, and onions, you know, actual layers, and for less than two bucks more you’ve got a burrito that is at the least edible.

The Bottom Line:

It’s popular and it has an appetizing name, but that doesn’t mean you should eat it. This burrito requires so much customizing that you’re better off ordering any of Taco Bell’s other burritos.

Find your nearest Taco Bell here.

7. El Pollo Loco — Chipotle Chicken Avocado Burrito

El Pollo Loco

It pains me to see El Pollo Loco ranked so low, as I think it’s one of the best Mexican-inspired fast food restaurants out there. That said, they’re just not great at making burritos. While El Pollo Loco’s flame-grilled chicken is great with its nice charred texture and delicious citrus-y glaze, it can be pretty hit or miss, and when it’s over-cooked and dry it’s almost inedible.

Like Baja Fresh, El Pollo Loco has a pretty great tortilla, and the toasted texture is a nice touch that adds a pleasing crunchy mouthfeel, and I love the use of shredded Monterey Jack cheese, it provides a great melt. But El Pollo Loco’s Spanish rice is one of its weakest menu items. It has a great in your face tomato-forward flavor, but the texture is awful, it’s not fluffy, it’s dry and consistently uncooked. Couple that with the weird inclusion of cabbage and the whole thing has an off-putting grainy texture that no amount of sour cream, melted cheese, and red salsa can mask.

The highlight of the burrito is the slices of avocado and El Pollo Loco’s slightly spicy salsa, which they make fresh in-house but on the off chance you get an overcooked breast of chicken, or an over/under ripened avocado, or worse, both, the avocado and salsa aren’t good enough to make this thing worth picking up.

How To Make It Better:

Ditch the rice and the cabbage, they’re nothing more than filler and they add to the dryness. This might sound crazy because I mentioned that it was a highlight, but we’re also going to suggest you ditch the salsa roja for El Pollo Loco’s spicier avocado salsa. Is that too much avocado? There is no such thing. If you don’t want to double up on the avocado, grab the creamy chipotle dressing instead.

The Bottom Line:

Yes, El Pollo Loco does have burritos, but that doesn’t mean you should order one. They’re too dry to be worth your time.

Find your nearest El Pollo Loco here.

6. Rubio’s — Burrito Especial With Grilled All-Natural Chicken

Baja Fresh

Calories: 1080

I’ve lived most of my life thinking Baja Fresh and Rubio’s were the same thing but now that I’ve compared both burritos, I have to give the edge to Rubio’s. While not as customizable, Rubio’s instantly sets itself apart from Baja with the quality of its grilled chicken. It’s not the juiciest, but it’s not distractingly dry and has a great charred flavor that you can actually taste, which convinces me it’s grilled on-site.

Rubio’s guacamole is also pretty solid, it has a nice balance of onion, garlic, lime, and salt and tastes remarkably fresh. Because you’ve got prominent lime in the avocado, I don’t think the citrus rice is necessary and would’ve preferred a more tomato-based Spanish rice. The burrito is also lacking in cheese, which can be easily added but we wish we didn’t have to.

How To Make It Better:

You might be noticing a slight trend here but, ditch the rice. The combination of citrus rice and the citrus in the guacamole adds a bit of a sour undertone to this burrito. Sub out that citrus rice for Rubio’s Mexican rice and you’ve instantly got a better-tasting burrito.

I’d also suggest subbing out the black beans for Rubio’s pinto beans, which have a distinct peppery flavor that pairs perfectly with cheese, which you should also add to this thing.

The Bottom Line:

If you’re going to go to one coastal-inspired fast-casual burrito spot, choose Rubio’s over Baja every time.

Find your nearest Rubios here.

5. Qdoba — Burrito


Calories: 720-1080

I’m going to go less into the details with Qdoba than I did with the burritos preceding it in this ranking because the menu is completely customizable, and while Qdoba has some pre-made burritos, I’m going to end up telling you how to customize it anyway. So in an effort to spare a Qdoba employee from having to deal with you, I’m going to suggest you completely ignore the fast casual chain’s pre-made burritos and start with the custom burrito.

My big problem with Qdoba is that they make an entirely forgettable burrito. If you’ve been living your life thinking Chipotle is bland, I promise you, try Qdoba, your mind will be blown by the lack of flavor. Having said that, the quality of ingredients is a significant step up from the burritos preceding it, they just never really come together in a way that’s harmonious.

With this burrito you have the option of Grilled Adobo Chicken, Adobo Steak, Slow-Braised Pulled Pork, Seasoned Ground beef, and even Impossible meat, so go ahead and pick your poison but I’m going to suggest the new Cholula-doused Hot and Sweet chicken, which combines Cholula sauce and honey and adds a whole lot of flavor to some otherwise bland meat. Then you’ve got your beans (black or pinto) and your cilantro lime rice, which isn’t nearly as intense as Chipotle’s rice, so for once I’m going to suggest you don’t skip it.

Qdoba’s salsas are great. For the spice averse, I suggest the Chile Corn Salsa which is mild and more seasoned corn than it is a salsa, but if you can handle the heat definitely ask for the Salsa Verde or the Salsa Roja. If you’re not big on onions, do the Salsa Roja, it’s way spicier and actually brings some heat that excites the palate.

How To Make It Better:

This is another easy one. You’re at Qdoba and the one thing they do excellently is queso, so definitely add that three-cheese queso to your burrito. It’s cheesy and smokey with the slightest hint of spice with a smooth almost-velvety texture to it and instantly adds some complexity to Qdoba’s very bland flavors.

The Bottom Line:

Customize to your heart’s content but understand that the queso is a must, even if you don’t love queso. Without it, the burrito is too bland for you to ever develop a craving for.

Find your nearest Qdoba here.

4. Taco Bell — Loaded Taco Fries Burrito/ Burrito Supreme

Taco Bell

Calories: 590

Taco Bell’s best burrito is easily the Burrito Supreme, which combines Taco Bell’s salty seasoned beef, cheese, tomatoes, onions, red sauce, beans, sour cream, and lettuce into a flavor bomb. But instead of including that burrito, which I love, I’m going to suggest you grab the new Loaded Taco Fries because it does some of the customizing work for me and it’s almost as good as the Supreme. With a little customizing we’re going to take it to the next level, don’t worry.

Fries in a burrito are a beautiful thing when done right, and of the Loaded Taco Fries burritos I’ve had, it seems like Taco Bell can’t mess this one up. Taco Bell’s delicious and crispy French fries deserve the credit for making this so good, they’re crunchy on the outside, keeping the burrito from getting too mushy and have a great flavor that combines onion powder, paprika, and salt.

The crunch doesn’t stop at the fries either, the burrito also contains red tortilla strips, which give the burrito a great textured mouthfeel that keeps your bites crunching once you’ve broken through the surface of the fries into the hot buttery inner. Like the Supreme, this burrito also has lettuce (which isn’t really needed), tomatoes, a spicy ranch sauce, cheese, and nacho cheese sauce.

Because Taco Bell wanted to differentiate this burrito slightly from the Supreme, it suffers a bit, but once you swap some of those Supreme ingredients back in, you’ll have Taco Bell’s best burrito in your hands.

How To Make It Better:

Always sub Taco Bell’s cheese for the three-cheese blend. Ditch the Spicy Ranch and sub in jalapeños, that’ll give you a better sense of spice without the wetness of the ranch. Forget about that nacho cheese sauce too, it’s way too salty and we’ve already got a good deal of salt from the fries, so in its place add Taco Bell’s red sauce to help glue the flavors together and keeps the ingredients from being too dry.

The Bottom Line:

Taco Bell’s best burrito just got better thanks to the Bell bringing back their off-and-on French fries. Get it while you can!

Find your nearest Taco Bell here.

3. Del Taco — Epic Fresh Guacamole Burrito

Del Taco

Calories: 730-760

I really wanted Del Taco to win this one because if I had to suggest one Mexican-inspired chain to frequent, it would be this one. Del Taco slow cooks their beans and the difference shows. They’re tender, fluffy, and well seasoned with a mix of garlic, pepper, oregano, and cumin, the way beans should be.

In fact, Del Taco makes one of the best bean and cheese burritos in the fast food galaxy, but this isn’t a ranking of bean and cheese burritos so Del Taco’s lackluster meat offerings really hold this one back.

You have the choice of grilled carne asada, marinated chicken, or Beyond meat. Go for the marinated chicken, it’s the juiciest of the three thanks to the marinating process but its lack of flavor makes me question just what they’re marinating this with. Is it water? Because the chicken offers mostly texture and nothing else.

Rounding out this burrito is cilantro lime rice, guacamole (which is great but heavy on the tomatoes), and pico de gallo. What I love about Del Taco’s Epic line of burritos is the huge flour tortilla, it’s very reminiscent of one of those large taqueria burritos and the way the flavors gravitate towards the bottom and seep into the folds create a final bite that is pure ecstasy. This burrito finishes strong, which will endure itself to you and actually make you develop a craving for the thing.

But like all of the burritos in this ranking, it needs a little help to take it to the next level.

How To Make It Better:

It needs cheese. Cheese, like beans, should automatically be included in every burrito. Rather than going for Del Taco’s freshly shredded cheddar (which is great and has a nice sharp and nutty flavor) ask for the pepper jack cheese instead. It provides a better melt as it’s grated thicker, providing you with more cheese coverage and has a spicy edge to it.

Del Taco’s green sauce is also delicious so definitely add that and if you’re in need of some extra crunch, sub out that rice for some crinkle-cut fries.

The Bottom Line:

Huge and flavorful with a strong final bite that lingers on the mind as well as the palate. Some of fast food’s best beans can be found at Del Taco. If you think Del is just another Taco Bell, you couldn’t be more wrong.

Find your nearest Del Taco here.

2. Moe’s Southwest Grill — Homewrecker Burrito


This burrito ranking gave me an excuse to trek out to a Moe’s Southwestern for the first time. And even though I’ve had the Homewrecker just once, it’s made quite the impression on me. Moe’s ingredient quality is in line with Qdoba but they remembered to actually add some flavor to their ingredients, which I appreciate.

For the Homewrecker, you’ve got a choice between white meat chicken, adobo chicken, ground beef, pork, tofu, or sirloin steak. I grabbed the white meat chicken so I can’t speak on the other meats, but the chicken was juicy with a citrus-forward flavor and notes of garlic and black pepper. Instead of the cilantro-lime rice, Moe’s uses rice that’s seasoned with what tastes like cumin and cayenne, adding a more complex flavor that pairs harmoniously with the citrus-marinated chicken rather than clashes.

Moe’s Homewrecker also features black beans, diced tomatoes, pico de Gallo, guacamole, a shredded cheese blend, and shredded lettuce. I take issue with some of these ingredients. The guacamole, while good, features tomatoes in it, which I’ve always viewed as filler. Great guacamole doesn’t need tomatoes, not to mention the burrito already comes with diced tomatoes and pico de gallo, which also has tomatoes! There are too many damn tomatoes in this burrito and it weighs it down and masks some of the more interesting flavors.

Moe’s makes a point of mentioning that their guacamole is included and doesn’t require an up-charge. I never understood people complaining about guacamole costing extra, avocados are f*cking expensive and when isn’t guacamole an upcharge? Answer: When it’s filled with tomatoes, that’s when!

Sorry, rant over.

How To Make It Better:

Ditch those diced tomatoes and the pico de gallo! Without the pico de gallo you’re missing some spice which is easily remedied by including Moe’s tomatillo salsa. It would’ve been nice to have more salsa options but Moe’s other two, the El Guapo and the Kaiser, also feature diced tomatoes so unless you really really like tomatoes, the jalapeño-focused tomatillo is your only respite.

The Bottom Line:

Moe’s almost has the best chain restaurant burrito around but its obsession with tomatoes and lack of salsa options really hold it back from being truly great.

Find your nearest Moe’s Southwestern Grill here.

1. Chipotle — Burrito


Calories: 700-1230

It’s hard for me to admit this, because outside of this fast food ranking I shit on Chipotle so often you’d think I just ate… well, Chipotle. As someone who has grown up in Los Angeles, arguably the burrito capital of America, I’ve watched friends and family obsess over Chipotle when for half the price they could get a much better burrito on literally every corner. But when I really break it down and think about the individual flavors and the quality of the ingredients, I have to say Chipotle is just operating at another level compared to its fast-casual and fast food competition.

Like Qdoba and Moe’s, the burritos here are customizable and each of Chipotle’s protein offerings is good. The steak is juicy with a great flame-grilled flavor and a texture devoid of gristly bits. The carnitas are tender and well seasoned and the barbacoa is even better. But my favorite Chipotle option is the chicken, which features dark meat cuts that make the chicken supremely juicy. Of all the burritos on this ranking, Chipotle has the best meat, and the best chicken by a mile.

Chipotle’s beans are fine, both the black and pinto are tender and fluffy but I wish Chipotle would go heavier on the seasoning. That’s nothing salsa can’t remedy and each of Chipotle’s salsas, which include a mild tomatillo-based green chili salsa (it’s heavy on the onions be warned), a spicy tomatillo red chili salsa, and pico de gallo are delicious, offering a lot of complexity and heat. I also have to give credit to Chipotle’s guacamole, while heavy on the onions which give it a bit of a bite, the inclusion of jalapeños peppers and cilantro add a great depth of flavor and spice. It’s part of what makes this guacamole so damn addicting.

The weakest link on this burrito is Chipotle’s ridiculous cilantro lime rice. By now it’s no secret that I think most fast-casual and fast food Mexican-inspired eateries just don’t know how to make rice but Chipotle takes it to another level by including way more lime than any sane person can handle. Like Chipotle’s chips, the use of lime here is overwhelming unless you have the strange desire to eat a lime. Luckily you can skip the rice, and that will leave more room for a better wrap.

I also really like Chipotle’s cheese, which is a blend of Monterey Jack and white cheddar cheese. If they could figure out a way to make it melt, they might have something that rivals the corner taqueria.

How To Make It Better:

I’ve seen this time and time again and Chipotle, just because you have the option to add all of these ingredients, it doesn’t mean you should. I love the customizable aspect of Chipotle, but that puts a little too much power in the hands of the consumer and sometimes let’s face it, we don’t know what we’re doing. That’s why were eating at Chipotle in the first place.

Know what you want, what you need, and don’t try to include it all. The last thing you want is a burrito that falls apart while you’re eating it. The more you know about making your own burrito, the better your result at Chipotle will be.

I suggest you skip the rice or at least ask them to go light on the portion to make room for some grilled peppers and corn. Rather than getting your salsa in your burrito, ask for it on the side this will allow you to apply the perfect amount to each bite and will keep your burrito from being a wet mess that your burrito maker won’t be able to fold.

The Bottom Line:

No, Chipotle isn’t as good as your local taqueria but compared to all the other fast food and fast-casual options out there, they’re operating at a higher level. If the people at Chipotle ever figure out a way to serve hot food, they’ll actually be able to compete with the Mission-style burritos that inspired them. Maybe.

Find your nearest Chipotle here.

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