Unless indicated otherwise on the container, Chipotle bowls are NOT microwave safe. If your container has a small microwave symbol under it, the bowl is safe to put in a microwave. However, not all Chipotle bowls have that symbol.
See also: Can You Put Cardboard in the Microwave
Chipotle has recently started making bowls out of decomposable plant-based fibers. However, the company hasn’t always used decomposable materials, and there is some controversy regarding the hazardous effects of their bowl packaging.
The company first started its effort to move towards more recyclable materials for its packaging in 2015, when its first board meeting on the topic of recycling took place. At the time, their packaging consisted of black plastic bowls, styrofoam, or wax-lined paper cups.
In 2018, they went one step further, announcing that all packaging would be made out of “molded fiber” with PFA linings. However, in 2019 it came to public attention that PFAs are forever chemicals composed of polyfluoroalkyl substances.
While they do make the lining of the fiber bowls sturdier and better able to hold hot liquids and foods, they’re extremely dangerous to consume and harmful to the environment.
As of 2020, the chain has started changing its bowls to PFA-free versions, but it’s unconfirmed whether all branches have completely switched to non-PFA packaging.
According to Consumer Reports, as of 2022, there is still some PFA in some of Chipotle’s fiber bowls and burrito wrappers.
The plant fibers in Chipotle bowls can’t hold out against high temperatures, so the packaging may not be as structurally sound after microwaving. Your bowl may fall apart in the microwave or right after you take it out.
If the packaging has a wax lining that contains PFAs, it can contaminate your food and make it toxic for consumption.
To microwave your leftovers, you must first put your food into a microwavable dish. Make sure to check the bottom of your dish for the microwave symbol to make sure that it’s safe.
You shouldn’t microwave cold-served Chipotle dishes like salads, sour cream, and guacamole. If the bowl has cold foods, you need to separate them from the rest.
Set the heat to medium-high and put your dish in the microwave for 15-20 seconds. After the time is up, take it out, give it a stir, and put it back in for a second round.
You should NOT put your bowl in the oven. Even though ovens heat gradually and don’t reach as high a temperature as microwaves do, there is still a risk of contamination from the bowl.
If you’d like to warm your Chipotle leftovers in the oven, you should transfer them onto an oven-safe ceramic or glass dish. Preheat the oven to 300-350°F (175°C). Remove the salads, guacamole, and sour cream, and let your food heat for about 15 minutes.
If you’d like to put your takeout directly in the microwave without worrying about chemicals, here is a simple solution: bring your own container to Chipotle!
Not only will you be able to microwave your leftovers without the hassle of changing containers, but you also won’t be using single-use plastic, which means you’ll be reducing your carbon footprint.
Make sure your container is microwavable, and remove fresh items like sour cream and lettuce from your bowl before microwaving.
Here is a list of questions you might be asking yourself about Chipotle bowls and microwavable containers.
Chipotle has been under some heat due to the conflicting statements about their packaging they have released in recent years. According to their 2019 Sustainability report, the restaurant chain started using 100% recycled content with natural fiber.
However, their products have been found to contain chemicals that are not only non-biodegradable but also unfit for human consumption.
The company released a statement via Twitter on April 15, 2021, claiming their packaging is compostable and that they vow to compose most of their food scraps. Their 2021 Sustainability report states that all their packaging, including napkins, bowls, and straws, is made with 100% compostable natural fiber.
However, according to Consumer Reports 2022, their packaging still contains a considerable amount of PFAs.
From keto to vegan, Chipotle offers a variety of “Life Style” bowls. These bowls contain fats and protein with some healthy carbs like rice, beans, guacamole, and usually an assortment of meats. They are easy to customize and delicious. That is why they are super popular.
First, check the product’s packaging for the small microwave symbol that indicates the product is microwave safe. A similar symbol is engraved at the bottom or back of your dish. Sometimes the symbol will have #5 on it, which means it has polypropylene, a polymer that makes your container resistant to heat.
There are a lot of options on the market when it comes to microwavable dishes. You can opt for ceramic or glassware, but there are also heat-resistant and non-toxic plastic options.
- Glassware: The classic Pyrex containers are microwave safe, and they come in a variety of sizes.
- Wheat-Straw: Greenandlife is another option for microwave-safe and unbreakable dishes made from wheat straw and environmentally-friendly bioplastic.
- Ceramic: These amazon best-seller ceramic plates by DOWAN are not only microwave safe but also chip-free.
- Heat-resistant plastic: CreativeWare’s My First Dorm/Apartment set comes with microwave-safe plates and bowls made of Polypropylene. They are budget-friendly and dishwasher safe.
The fact that Chipotle bowls are biodegradable does not mean they should be put in the microwave. Since their lining includes PFAs, chemicals that are not only bad for the environment but can also contaminate your food, you should NOT be microwaving Chipotle bowls.
To make your Chipotle bowls microwavable, you can bring your own microwave-safe container to Chipotle. Another alternative is to transfer your leftover bowl to a microwave-safe container before putting it in the refrigerator.