TJ’s vs. Takeout: Chicken Burrito Bowl

Spoiler alert: Food from a local restaurant will always be better than food from Trader Joe’s. That being said, sometimes you don’t have the funds to eat out and need a delicious, filling meal for a couple of bucks. In this series, we’ll find out if Trader Joe’s rendition of a dish will get the job done or if it will just make you miss the real deal even more.

Burrito bowls are an incredibly popular option for a quick dinner or nutritious desk lunch. Not all burrito bowls are created equal, though. We wanted to know if you really need to pay $13 for a quality bowl or if there was a cheaper, easier choice. We tried a Chipotle chicken burrito bowl in a head-to-head taste test with Trader Joe’s frozen chicken burrito bowl to see if dropping all those dollars is really necessary.

Takeout: Chipotle Chicken Al Pastor Burrito Bowl (~$10-$17, size varies)

Obviously the best thing about Chipotle is the options. When you pay for a Chipotle burrito bowl, you’re paying to get exactly what you want. Half pinto beans, half black beans? No problem. Sour cream on the side? Sure. Extra extra extra corn salsa? Great. A big plus for me is that you can get a mix of hot and cold ingredients. I love the warm rice and beans with the cold sour cream. When it comes to portions, I can usually get two meals out of a Chipotle burrito bowl.

They are so expensive, though. I know you’re paying for convenience, but you’re paying a high price for it. Additionally, there are sometimes issues with quality control. When I order on the app, the bowl I get looks very different from the bowl I get when I order the same thing in person. And the line at Chipotle can be a killer. If you have an hour lunch break, you could spend 45 minutes of it getting in and out of the Chipotle parking lot and waiting in line.

Trader Joe’s: Trader Joe’s Chicken Burrito Bowl ($3.49 for 11.6 oz)

This Trader Joe’s burrito bowl is easy and affordable. You could toss one into your tote bag and take it to work. It’s a meal that requires zero mental energy and I love that. I love that the cheese gets melty when you microwave it. The chunks of chicken are large. The blend of quinoa and rice is nice, too!

Sadly, it is pretty flavorless. It needs more seasoning! You can tell from looking at the chicken that it will be bland. This could potentially be a good base for a burrito bowl, but you’d have to top it with tons of stuff. Adding salsa verde, sour cream, and shredded lettuce would help, but having to supplement this bowl with extra ingredients adds to the cost, time, and ease of this burrito bowl.


Splurge on the Chipotle burrito bowl, unless you’re someone who hates flavor. When you think of the additional effort and money it would take to make the Trader Joe’s burrito bowl delicious (especially two servings of it), it’s simply not worth it. Sorry, Trader Joe’s!

About the Author

Jordan Myrick

Jordan is an L.A.-based writer and comedian who believes all food should come with extra sauce. When they're not writing for Sporked, Jordan is at the movies or sharing an order of french fries with their elderly chihuahua.

Thoughts? Questions? Complete disagreement? Leave a comment!

Your thoughts.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *