- Chipotle Mexican Grill's newest menu item is smoked brisket, which will only be available for a limited time.
- Loyalty program members can start ordering the item on Tuesday, two days before the company starts selling it at its U.S. and Canadian restaurants.
- It's the third new item to join Chipotle's menu this year.
Chipotle Mexican Grill on Tuesday announced the third new menu item for this year: smoked brisket.
The latest meat option will only be available for a limited time. Those signed up for Chipotle's loyalty program, which now has 24 million members, will be able to start ordering the smoked brisket through the chain's app and website on Tuesday. By Thursday, it will be available in U.S. and Canadian restaurants and to all of Chipotle's app and website users. Third-party delivery apps like DoorDash won't offer brisket as an option until Monday.
Chipotle has been working on crafting the smoked brisket for the last two years. The company tested the limited-time option in Cincinnati and Sacramento nearly a year ago before deciding to launch it nationwide. The brisket is made by smoking beef until tender, charring it on a grill, seasoning it with Mexican spices and then topping with a new sauce made with smoky chili peppers.
Earlier this year, Chipotle released cauliflower rice as a limited-time option and quesadillas as a digital-only entree. Under CEO Brian Niccol, who previously led Yum Brands' Taco Bell, the company has accelerated adding new menu items through a process it calls stage-gate testing. The chain has been strategic with new releases, making many of them limited-time options to drive customer traffic to its restaurants and to keep the menu from becoming bloated.
Last month, Chipotle said it was testing meatless chorizo in several markets.
"We have a lot of ideas, that's one of the great things about Chipotle, and sorting through those ideas and figuring out which ones are the best is one of the biggest challenges. The stage-gate process certainly helps us do that," Chipotle chief marketing officer Chris Brandt said in an interview. "We're getting consumer feedback, all along the path, but we're also getting finance feedback and operations feedback, because a great consumer idea that can't be executed well in the restaurant is a really bad idea."
The new item performed "extraordinarily well" in test markets, Brandt said.
Limited-time menu items can return. That happened to carne asada. It began in a limited run and was added back onto the menu again for a limited time in 2019 and 2020 as the company secured additional supply.
Supply chain challenges have been hitting restaurants around the globe due to the ripple effects of the pandemic. Chipotle touts its strict supply chain standards, including offering responsibly raised beef with no antibiotics or added hormones.
"It is really hard to find high quality responsibly raised beef in large quantities that we need. But the good news is we've been successful. ... It should run somewhere into November or December, depending on how things go," Brandt said.
Shares of Chipotle have climbed 35% this year, raising its market value to $52.9 billion.