In a long-awaited update, smoked brisket will join chicken, shredded beef, pork and the vegan sofritas on Chipotle's menu. The new protein is set to hit restaurant locations in both the U.S. and Canada beginning Thursday, September 23rd, and will be available on third-party delivery apps on September 27th.
But for Chipotle reward members, the new option is available exclusively on its app and Chipotle.com beginning on Tuesday, September 21st, in keeping with the restaurant industry's shift to digital to boost loyalty. Customers might want to check it out soon though: The new protein will only be available for a limited time.
The Mexican-inspired brisket is smoked, charred on the grill, then seasoned with spices including fire-roasted jalapeños and chipotle chili peppers.
The California-based company unveiled the brisket option after beginning to test it during the fall of 2020 in a test run in Cincinnati and Sacramento. That allowed time to "to test and learn from customer feedback and iterate before deciding on a national launch strategy," Chipotle said in a release.
“This isn’t your standard brisket experience...we’ve created a differentiated Smoked Brisket recipe that is authentic to our menu and pairs flawlessly with our real ingredients," Chris Brandt, Chipotle chief marketing officer, said in the release.
This is the third menu innovation Chipotle introduced on a nationwide scale so far in 2021.
Back in January, the company unveiled Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice for a limited run, as part of its commitment to "more plant-powered, better-for-you options."
Meanwhile, the company's Hand-Crafted Quesadilla is now a permanent staple on the online-only menu, after its introduction in March. The quesadilla was the first, new customizable entree in 17 years for Chipotle.
More innovation could be on the way. In late August, Chipotle announced it is testing Plant-Based Chorizo in both Denver and Indianapolis — and if launched nationwide, it would be the second plant-based protein option since the debut of Sofritas in 2014.
In fact, it's alternative meat that's becoming the bigger industry bet, with the plant-based market seen as a $14 billion opportunity over the next decade. Mega chains are jumping on the bandwagon, including McDonald's (MCD), Burger King (QSR), Taco Bell (YUM), Wendy's (WEN) and Shake Shack (SHAK) among others.
Brooke DiPalma is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @BrookeDiPalma or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.