Chipotle's CEO says the chain is still trying to fix its queso, which has been slammed as a 'crime against cheese' and 'dumpster juice'

Hollis JohnsonChipotle isn’t done trying to fix its queso recipe.
  • Chipotle is still trying to fix its queso recipe, according to the chain’s CEO.
  • “The feedback we’ve gotten on queso is that there’s still some opportunity to improve,” CEO Brian Niccol told Business Insider.
  • Chipotle’s queso had been slammed as a “crime against cheese” and “dumpster juice” by customers since its national rollout in 2017.

Chipotle’s CEO says that the chain still hasn’t given up on cracking the queso code.

“We’re always going to figure out how we can improve the core products we have on our menu,” CEO Brian Niccol told Business Insider. “The feedback we’ve gotten on queso is that there’s still some opportunity to improve.”

Chipotle’s rollout of queso – which customers had begged the chain to add to the menu for years – was tumultuous. Customers slammed the dip as a “crime against cheese,” “expired Velveeta,” and “dumpster juice” soon after its national debut in September.

Chipotle BurritoHollis Johnson

In late November, Chipotle adjusted its recipe to address customer critiques, especially those related to the original queso’s grainy, chowder-like texture.

Chipotle originally teased the queso rollout as a silver bullet of sorts for the struggling chain – a promise that has not been borne out in reality. Customers have been adding queso to roughly 10% of orders. The popularity of the dip has helped to boost sales, but the effect has been relatively minimal compared to the roughly 40% of customers who order guacamole.

“I can’t wait for the day that people are – just like they’re asking about free guac – they will be asking about free queso,” Niccol said.

For that to happen, Niccol says, Chipotle needs to get the recipe “dialed in and improved from where it is today.”

Despite the tweaks, Chipotle is not going to abandon its all-natural approach to queso.

“People really appreciate the fact that we’re the first place that has tried to do queso all with real ingredients,” Niccol said. “There’s nothing processed about it.”

Queso also has the potential to be the blueprint of things to come. Niccol, who joined Chipotle as CEO in March, has said that Chipotle is planning to roll out more new and limited-time offerings to attract customers – a shift in strategy for a chain that has long resisted adding new menu items.

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