Taste Test: Frozen Burritos

by in Taste Test, April 4, 2014

As more burritos hit the frozen food aisle, Healthy Eats was curious to see which fit the “healthy” bill. Sure, making your own bundle of deliciousness is ideal — but sometimes you’re just in the mood for a grab-and-go meal. So which burrito to heat and eat?

The Criteria
Supermarket freezer cases are overflowing with burrito options, including vegetarian, beef and egg. But for the sake of simplicity, this taste test was narrowed down to chicken. Five brands of burrito were in the running, and each was heated in the microwave according to the manufacturer’s directions. The burritos were rated on calories, saturated fat and sodium, along with ingredients, flavor, texture and cost. Although some brands contain seemingly healthy ingredients, they can also have a laundry list of preservatives and additives. Each brand was rated on a 5-point scale, with 5 being highest.

evol. Chicken Bean & Rice Burrito (above)
Rating: 4.5
Cost (per 6 ounce burrito): $2.99
Nutrition Info (per burrito):  340 calories; 2 grams saturated fat; 440 milligrams sodium; 4 grams fiber
In this burrito’s favor: The ingredients listed on the label are wholesome and recognizable. Plus, the tortilla is soft and chewy and the filling is both visually appealing and has a flavorful spicy kick.

PJ’s Organics Chicken & Cheese with Green Chiles Burrito
Rating: 4.5
Cost (per 6 ounce burrito): $3.39
Nutrition Info (per burrito): 320 calories; 2 grams saturated fat; 540 milligrams sodium; 4 grams fiber
One of the lower end for calorie counts, PJs also manages to deliver on flavor and texture. The burrito is soft yet still maintains a slightly crunchy texture. The blend of spices (listed individually under the ingredient list) is well formulated, making this one of the tastiest of the bunch.

Gluitenfreeda Gluten-Free Chicken & Cheese Burrito
Rating: 4.0
Cost (per 4 ounce burrito): $2.79
Nutrition Info (per burrito): 200 calories; 2.5 grams saturated fat; 240 milligrams sodium; 2 grams fiber
This burrito is by far the lowest in calories — but also the smallest in size. The ingredient list is pretty lengthy, but happily, every ingredient is recognizable. This brand uses a soft corn tortilla in order to make it gluten-free. The filling has a refried bean consistency with a pleasant flavor that isn’t overly spicy.

Red’s All Natural Chicken Burrito
Rating: 3.5
Cost (per 11 ounce burrito): $3.79
Nutrition Info (per burrito): 430 calories; 2.5 grams saturated fat; 650 milligrams sodium; 7 grams fiber
The humongously portioned burrito has a nice, thick tortilla, but the inside is reminiscent of airplane food from the 1990s. The flavors don’t seem fresh and the inside isn’t very visually appealing. If this is your burrito of choice, know that there’s plenty to split between two eaters, which will help keep sodium at bay.

Trader Joe’s Mexican Burrito Chicken Chile Verde
Rating: 2.5
Cost (per 7 ounce burrito): $1.50
Nutrition Info (per burrito): 390 calories; 2.5 grams saturated fat; 1,070 milligrams sodium; 3 grams fiber
Trader Joe’s usually delivers high-quality products, but the overpowering salty flavor and laundry list of ingredients and preservatives in this burrito — many of which are unrecognizable — is truly disappointing. One nice feature of this burrito is the tortilla texture, which at least held up nicely in the microwave.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day. See Toby’s full bio »


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