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Restaurant Menu Watch: McDonald's tries Chorizo Burrito

Restaurant Menu Watch: McDonald's tries Chorizo Burrito

NRN senior food editor Bret Thorn breaks down what you should be watching in the industry this week. Connect with him on the latest marketing trends and news at [email protected] and @foodwriterdiary. RELATED: • QSR breakfast battle escalates • Taco Bell introduces Grilled Breakfast Burritos • More food and beverage news

McDonald’s, long the quick-service breakfast leader, has been trying something new since August: a breakfast burrito with dark-meat chicken.

The Chorizo Burrito is made with scrambled eggs, dark-meat chicken flavored with “Chorizo Seasoning,” Roma tomatoes, green chiles, onions and white Cheddar, all wrapped in a warm flour tortilla. The burrito is priced at around $3 for two, though prices may vary by location.

Foodbeast noticed the burrito early, on Aug. 11, when it said McDonald’s was testing chorizo breakfast burritos in Dallas.

Actually, this is not a test, a McDonald’s spokeswoman said in an email, but a limited-time offer available in about 2,000 locations in Texas, Hawaii and the Midwest. That comprises about 14 percent of McDonald’s total domestic system of about 14,300 restaurants. The end date of the offer is at the discretion of local operators, the spokeswoman said.

Bloomberg writer Leslie Patton quoted Bob Goldin of Technomic as saying the offer was a move to “have some news to get people to come back into the stores — they’re really struggling,” Goldin said, referring to McDonald’s declining same-store sales.

“Some of the younger consumers like a bolder flavor,” Goldin added.

Patton, noting that quick-service restaurants were “trying to introduce items that can stem the flow of Millennials to fast-casual chains,” observed that the new burrito might help combat Taco Bell’s growing breakfast offerings, which include new Grilled Breakfast Burritos.

However, Patton seemed to wonder about the use of chicken in the chorizo rather than pork. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says pork consumption is rising, and Wendy’s just introduced a barbecued pulled pork menu line of a sandwich, burger and fries.

Although Bloomberg made much ado about McDonald’s use of chicken rather than pork, a company official told me at MUFSO last year that chicken accounts for about half of McDonald’s total sales, so the use of the poultry should come as little surprise.

More of a surprise is that the creator of the Chicken McNugget is using dark-meat chicken for this item.

McDonald’s marketing department did not confirm whether this is a first for the chain, but it is a sign of Americans’ growing appreciation for chicken that doesn’t come from the breast — possibly bolstered by Chipotle’s use of dark-meat chicken in its burritos, or by growing immigrant populations from Latin America and Asia, where dark meat is the preferred part of the bird.

So what do people think of the burrito? Houston Gastronaut said the burrito was really more of a taco, and was likely to encourage trial among Texans.

“I mean, you put a chorizo taco on the menu at a fast-food joint and a Texan is nearly bound by law to at least give it a try,” she said.

One try was enough for her, as the burrito’s promising chorizo-like aroma wasn’t matched by it flavor.

“Overall, however, it wasn’t offensively terrible so much as just bafflingly bland,” she said.

Junk Food Betty guest writer Robert was significantly more enthusiastic, giving it a score of four out of five pork salivary glands.

He said that although he already has at least two taquerias on his regular commute with better chorizo and egg burritos, “if I found myself in a taquerias-free zone … and wanted a breakfast fix, I could definitely see getting them again.”

Twitter greeted the arrival of the chorizo burrito in uncharacteristic stoic fashion, mostly just tweeting links to the Bloomberg story.

There was a fair share of snark, however…

…as well as some somewhat positive cynicism…

…and some actual enthusiasm.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected].
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

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