With today’s consumers craving global flavors, chorizo — spicy Spanish sausage — is showing up in all types of prepared foods, snacks and even foodservice. There are many versions of chorizo, with seasonings influenced by the country of origin. And while most chorizo is made with pork and pork fat, there are varieties with beef or blends of meat.

Argentinian chorizo tends to be milder, while Mexican varieties have some kick. If it’s Cuban chorizo, cilantro will be a dominant flavor.

Chorizo may contain an endless variety of peppers and spices, also often along with the fermented flavors of red wine or vinegar. Smoked paprika is almost always added, as it contributes a characterizing vibrant red color. However, Mexicans do make a green chorizo, which gets its color from green chilies and cilantro.

Chorizo comes fresh (raw) as well as cooked — sometimes cured — ready for eating, much like salami. It can also be ground, ready for browning into crumbles.

Meat processors are offering a range of chorizo products for consumers to cook with, as well as for prepared food manufacturers and foodservice operators to innovate.

Embracing the trend, Chipotle Mexican Grill is reintroducing chorizo as a menu item for a limited time. The limited-service chain offers chorizo as a seasoned and grilled spicy white meat chicken and pork sausage crumble for inclusion in any of its made-to-order entrees. The chorizo is seasoned with paprika, toasted cumin and chipotle peppers, then seared on a hot grill to give it a perfect char.

“Chorizo had a big following in its heyday, and a lot of our customers were disappointed when it was taken off the menu,” says Chris Brandt, chief marketing officer. “As part of our overall commitment to menu innovation and delivering the craveable food our customers love, we’re spicing things up and bringing chorizo back to our menu.”

Bruegger’s Bagels

In Canada, The Works Gourmet Burger Bistro chain offered a limited-time Chorizo Your Own Adventure Burger. It featured a signature bacon and beef patty topped with grilled chorizo sausage, Dijon bacon coleslaw, banana peppers and crispy onion strings. 

Last year, Bruegger’s Bagels had a limited-time breakfast menu item called the Spicy Bellapeno Egg sandwich. It featured a fresh-cracked egg, chorizo sausage and spicy cheddar pimiento cream cheese, all piled high on a red bell pepper and jalapeno bagel.

On the shopping list

In supermarket freezers, the new Stouffer’s Urban Bistro line has a smoked Gouda and spicy pork chorizo pasta offering. The new line of chef-inspired Oven Fired Artisan Meatballs from Rosina Food Products Inc., Buffalo, New York, includes Pineapple Chorizo, which are meatballs made with fresh ground pork, serrano chili peppers and sweet bits of pineapple. They’re perfect for a quick breakfast taco, crumbled into a queso dip or grilled with a sweet chili sauce.

A new offering from Mighty Spark Food Co., Minneapolis, is Waffle & Maple Chicken Breakfast Links and Chorizo, which is ground pork blended with ghost peppers and Mexican seasonings. Pinnacle Foods Group LLC, Parsippany, New Jersey, is growing the Evol brand with frozen breakfast bowls. The Spicy Chipotle Chorizo is made using cage-free eggs with roasted potatoes, black beans, red and green bell peppers, and a spicy chipotle cheese sauce.

Home of The Original Slider, White Castle Food Products LLC, Columbus, Ohio, is growing its White Castle Breakfast Sliders line. This new take on the classic sausage, egg and cheese sandwich features spicy chorizo sausage that includes smoked red pepper and a touch of garlic. It gets layered with a fluffy egg and topped with creamy smoked Gouda cheese, all on the brand’s signature bun.

Refrigerated innovations include Jennie-O Turkey Store’s chorizo-seasoned turkey sausage from Hormel Foods Corp., Austin, Minnesota. The Cello Quick Fix snack packs from Schuman Cheese, Fairfield, New Jersey, includes a combo pack of Spanish manchego cheese with smoky chorizo salami and crackers. Frigo Cheese Heads from Saputo, Montreal, has an ethnic-inspired snack duo of queso blanco with chorizo sticks.