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Did Chipotle's Popular Salsa Get Significantly Spicier?

If the chain's hottest salsa has been making you sweat more, you're not alone.
FACT CHECKED BY Meaghan Cameron

If you noticed that Chipotle's spiciest salsa has been making you sweat even more lately, it's not necessarily because your spice tolerance is on the decline. A growing number of Chipotle fans have been reporting that the popular Tomatillo Red-Chili Salsa is much spicier than it used to be. Some say it's gotten so bad that they have to swear it off altogether.

These complaints have been emerging for months as confused and frustrated customers wondered why they can't stand the sauce they used to enjoy. 

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"It definitely got spicier. I've eaten at several places over the past few years and always order spicy food. Those places all remain the same spiciness [whereas] Chipotle got spicier," a customer commented on a Reddit post about the salsa earlier this year.

In another October 2022 Reddit post, a customer asked if the salsa recipe had changed and said it was "so hot I wouldn't even call it edible."

"Seriously, I have them put it on my burrito light and it's so hot it gives me a stomach ache," the customer added.

The Wall Street Journal also reported on the spice dispute last week, interviewing several customers directly who said the salsa had become unbearably spicy.

While some customers theorized that Chipotle had tweaked the recipe, others believe those who can't stand the heat may just have changing tastes. The actual reason for the reported mouth-numbing spice seems to fall somewhere in the middle. Chipotle has confirmed that it did not change how it makes the salsa, but noted that spice levels in the product can vary.

"Our recipe for tomatillo red-chili salsa has not changed, however, we use dried red chili peppers sourced seasonally from varying regions that can have a range of different heat levels," Chipotle said in a statement.

Heat levels in hot peppers are known to vary drastically even outside of Chipotle's menu. The jalapeño, for example, can register between 2,500 and 8,000 on the Scoville scale. That's a potential difference of 5,500 Scoville heat units in the same type of pepper. Per Chipotle's statement, customers shocked by the heat levels in the Tomatillo Red-Chili Salsa may be tasting batches made with dried red chili peppers that happen to be hotter than what it used in the past.

For fans that find the Tomatillo Red-Chili Salsa too hot, Chipotle offers several milder varieties they can opt for instead. And for those who don't want to give up the Tomatillo Red-Chili Salsa entirely despite the heat, a Chipotle employee suggested ordering it on the side so they can control how much they consume.

In other Chipotle news, the chain has debuted several brand-new menu items in recent months, including Chicken al Pastor and the viral fajita quesadilla. Chipotle also unveiled a new restaurant concept called Farmesa in February that veers away from its usual menu by serving up warm bowls made with protein, greens or grains, sauces, and toppings.

Zoe Strozewski
Zoe Strozewski is a News Writer for Eat This, Not That! A Chicago native who now lives in New Jersey, she graduated from Kean University in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Read more about Zoe
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