Michele D. Lee/Demand Media

Whether you took it to go and didn’t get to it fast enough, or you have some of your Chipotle order left for a second meal, you’re now faced with the slightly uncomfortable prospect of having to reheat a burrito. It has all those different ingredients: a protein, rice, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, sour cream... some are best hot; some should be cold.... This is weird.

A Few Words About Proper Handling

If you’ll be reheating a Chipotle burrito, make sure you handle and store it safely until you do. Eat the food or get it into the fridge in under two hours or in less than one hour if it’s out at temperatures over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the maximum amount of time that food should be in the temperature “danger zone” between 40 and 140 degrees F.

In other words, don’t drive around running errands for a few hours with that burrito sitting in your car. Bacteria grows rapidly in the danger zone, and after one to two hours, it has often grown to an extent that the food can’t be rendered safe no matter how thoroughly you cook or reheat it. And that means food poisoning, and it won’t be Chipotle’s fault.

A Few Words About Deconstructing and Reassembling

Reheating a burrito is complicated by the fact that some ingredients – particularly proteins like chicken, pork, beef or tofu – need to be heated to 165 degrees F (which you can check with a meat thermometer) according to food safety standards.

But then there are fillings like shredded lettuce and sour cream that just don’t seem appealing all hot like that. Do you really want to reheat guacamole and lettuce?

Whichever cooking method you use to reheat a burrito, those traditionally cold ingredients get hot, and quality suffers. If you’re determined enough, your recourse is to open the burrito, scoop out the stuff you want to keep cold, heat up the rest; then reassemble. Otherwise, deal with everything being hot. It’s your call.

A Few Words About Letting Burritos Sit Out

This is an important step for achieving the most successful results. Assuming it’s coming out of the refrigerator, let the burrito sit at room temperature for half an hour before reheating it.

This brings all the various components to room temperature (or close to it), which in turn promotes more even reheating, regardless of which cooking method you use. This is the best way to reheat a Chipotle bowl evenly, too.

A Few Options for Reheating Burritos

  • Reheating a burrito in the oven or toaster oven is optimal, at least in terms of the quality of the finished product. The main downside is that it takes a while, especially since “low and slow” is the best approach to prevent a scorched tortilla. Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 225 degrees F. Loosen the restaurant’s foil wrap so there’s a little opening for steam to escape, or else the tortilla will get soggy (if you’ve discarded the foil it came in, loosely wrap the burrito in aluminum foil and leave a small opening). Place it on a baking tray and reheat for about 30 minutes.
  • Reheating a burrito in the microwave is the fastest way, but it’ll likely make the protein somewhat rubbery. Also, because the ingredients have varying water content, some get super hot by the time others are just warm. Remove the burrito from the Chipotle foil (no foil in the microwave!) and put it on a microwave-safe dish. Sprinkle a few drops of water on the tortilla and zap it for one minute. Flip it over (and turn it 90 degrees if your microwave dish doesn’t rotate), sprinkle a few drops of water on top again, and give it another minute. Repeat one or two times until the burrito is hot all the way through.
  • Reheating a burrito on the grill is similar to doing it in the oven; it works well, but it takes a while. Preheat the grill to low heat and loosen the Chipotle foil to create a small opening, or use your own aluminum foil if necessary. Place the burrito on the grill and close it. This method can be expected to take about 30 minutes.

When you’ve finished reheating the burrito, add some fresh grated cheese, sour cream, salsa or other ingredients to provide a little quality boost.