What Makes Taco Bell's Bacon Club Chalupa So Delicious

If you grew up with a parent who advised you, "Don't be doing too much," then Taco Bell is here to balance the scales with its slogan since 2012 of "Live Más." For the diehard Bellheads at the "Living Más" online community, that means that for better or worse, it is Taco Bell's mandate to always be doing too much. Sometimes, that means killing off a beloved indulgence like the Quesarito, and sometimes that means a deep-fried empanada will drop in a single Southern city to generate nationwide salivation. Starting this March, it means the return of a long-departed fan favorite: the Bacon Club Chalupa.

With its fried flatbread shell, a peppering of bacon crumbles, and intriguing mint-green dressing, the Bacon Club Chalupa is back for a limited time. How limited remains to be seen, but we have sampled and analyzed this prodigal item of the Taco Bell menu boards, and are here to give you all you need to know before welcoming this returning champion, adorned in its finest slightly-grease-stained paper, into your open mouth.

It's back after a two-year wait

Fast food items coming and going is a common occurrence, whether they're holiday-themed specialties like the Shamrock Shake or seasonal items like the McRib, whose release is dependent upon autumnal dips in pork prices. Those items come around predictably once per year. The Bacon Club Chalupa? The last time it graced the Taco Bell menu was on Christmas Eve of 2020. Before that, it was MIA since mid-2015.

This kind of sporadic rerelease makes the Bacon Club Chalupa less like your yearly Shamrock Shake and more long-lost. There's no telling how long the Bacon Club Chalupa will continue to grace us with its presence before "some business comes up" and it has to rejoin the Quesarito in whatever phantom limbo zone Taco Bell's discontinued items go to. So it's important that if you want to try, or re-try, this famed Taco Bell item, you want to jump on it as soon as you can.

Fans campaigned for its return

The Bacon Club Chalupa has been generating separation anxiety since at least 2011 when the Facebook group "Bring Back the Bacon Club Chalupa" was started. With a modest 718 followers at press time, the page has been firing off hot memes and serving as a support group for BCC lovers through multiple cycles of discontinuation and revival. A post on December 24, 2020 (the date of the BCC's previous return) proclaims, "It[']s as perfect as 5 years ago."

Five years is a long time to hold a candle for a fried flatbread quasi-taco, but the BCC's fans are just that devoted. On January 14 of just this year, the administrator of the page declared their intent to wage a campaign to raise their fallen god, "If I could make a Facebook page that had a strong enough following," they wrote, "Taco Bell simply could not ignore us, and they would have no choice but to bring back the BCC." A mere 700-odd people may not be the kind of sample size that moves nationwide franchise decisions, but Taco Bell is known to respond to online fan demands, such as the return of the Mexican Pizza just last year.

It starts with Taco Bell's unique flatbread shell

Taco Bell has been revising (or mangling, if you're a purist) traditional Mexican dishes for an American fast food pallet since its inception. The flatbread that makes up the chalupas brings a unique taste and texture that is key to all varieties of the dish being popular mainstays on the Taco Bell menu. Traditionally, chalupas are made with a corn masa-based dough, which is flattened into a disc and fried to curl up the edges into a boatlike shape which earns them their name ("chalupa" is a Spanish word referring to a type of gondola-like small boat). Taco Bell introduced its chalupas in 1999, with a key deviation from the norm: The corn masa shell was swapped out for a flour flatbread, giving the chalupa shells a crispy exterior and a chewy interior.

The final result of Taco Bell's mutation of a traditional chalupa has generated some comparisons to Navajo frybread, but we think that comparison is generous. Taco Bell does not specialize in serving Meso-American realness, but it does serve pseudo-Mexican indulgence very well. Since the 1999 release, Taco Bell has not once been without some manner of chalupa on its menu, and wild ideas like coating the shell in cheese have paid off in positive customer reception.

It comes dressed to perfection with avocado ranch

Americans love Ranch dressing. Buttermilk, herbs, and spices in a mayonnaise or oil emulsion give a cool, tangy flavor so enticing that Taco Bell had to make the Cool Ranch Dorito into a taco shell, too, when its product developers were getting absolutely wacky with it and concocting the Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco. The Bacon Club Chalupa features a drizzle of Taco Bell's mint green-colored Avocado Ranch Sauce. To its credit, the sauce does in fact contain buttermilk and real avocado, although in what proportion is up to anyone's guess.

It may not be the preferred Taco Bell condiment for spice fiends, but it's the creaminess and zesty kick that do well to elevate the Bacon Club Chalupa and balance out the saltiness of the liberal sprinkling of bacon. There will almost certainly come a time when the BCC again bids us adios, so for when that day comes, menu hackers will do well to stock up on the retail version of the Avocado Ranch Sauce, available in a few select grocers and big box retailers.

Bits of real bacon, not bacon bits, tie it together

Bacon is what makes the "club" part of the Bacon Club Chalupa's name. There's no middle layer of chalupa shell, and no frill-adorned toothpick holding it together, but there is a combination of poultry and pork. Where the club sandwich has bacon strips atop turkey breast, the Bacon Club Chalupa has bits of bacon crumbled atop grilled chicken. Bacon bits are deceptive. They come by various names, all promising to serve as miniaturized helpings of those famous pork belly band-aids. Often, the name "bacon bits" conjures images of oddly-crunchy pork-flavored shards of processed soy or concerning additives. The health benefits of bacon itself may be dubious, but cobbled-together artificial flavors, colors, and textures raise even more eyebrows.

The Bacon Club Chalupa, however, does not skimp on the authenticity of its bacon. The quantity may leave something to be desired considering these aren't full strips, and Taco Bell fans on Reddit have raised concerns about the company's use of bacon bits. However, an alleged former employee responded, "The main thing is that most of the ingredients there are meant to be evenly spread across the entire item. You don't want a burrito with a bacon strip that got all scrunched up on one end of it" (via Reddit).  Another Redditor pointed out the distinction, "You mean bacon CRUMBLES." Whatever your bacon shape preference, at least it's real bacon.

It's not exactly healthy, but it's not *not* healthy

The nutrition facts on the Bacon Club Chalupa tell a decidedly mixed story. A modest 450 calories, with a mere 29 grams of carbohydrates and a respectable 20 grams of protein, make for a portable meal that can keep you going through a busy day. However, it's also important to note that the delicious Avocado Ranch Sauce is dense. A serving contains 25 grams of fat, as per Taco Bell's own published nutrition data.

The ample dollops of the sauce on the Bacon Club Chalupa may not add up to an entire 1.5-ounce serving, but if you're looking to cut down on your fat content, you can always ask for them to go light on the sauce, or to have it on the side. If you're not looking to do that, then go for all the saucy goodness that makes up the meal.

Ordering online makes for easy upgrading

The Bacon Club Chalupa comes loaded for bear with its chicken, bacon, and sauce, topped with Taco Bell's staple shredded lettuce, diced tomato, and shredded cheese. Swoop through your local drive-thru, and you've got an incredibly decked-out item on your hands. However, if you're one to make your time with the BCC truly special, you've got to become extremely online. Ordering off Taco Bell's website opens up a world of options that can be planned ahead rather than achingly slowly rattled off to a busy Taco Bell employee while the line behind you grows increasingly impatient.

Starting with the Supreme or Fresco options; chalupa lovers can double the dairy with some sour cream, or you can nix it entirely and add that coolness and moisture with extra tomato. Spice lovers looking to kick it up a notch have add-on jalapeños and Taco Bell's generous selection of hot sauces to try, lighting a fire that the Avocado Ranch won't be able to put out. And, of course, vegetarians can swap out all the meat for beans, rice, or Taco Bell's triumphantly-returned potatoes.

It comes in a combo or a la carte

As is long-standing Taco Bell custom, the Bacon Club Chalupa has returned able to fly solo, or call in two crunchy tacos and a drink for backup. The price points for the two options start at $4.99 for the BCC a la carte and $8.99 for the combination in one of Taco Bell's classic box trays. It's a modest jump in price to add those tacos and drinks to your order, and if the density of the Bacon Club Chalupa doesn't satisfy you, a pair of crunchy tacos should finish the job. However, it does cut down a bit on the inherent specialness of sampling the long-awaited returning Bacon Club Chalupa to pair it with the standard crunchy tacos, which never go missing for two years at a time.

Washing it down with a Baja Blast does sound refreshing, though. And, of course, as the old saying goes, "Prices and participation may vary," meaning that your local Taco Bell may very well have adjusted for the always-fluctuating price of pork differently than the franchise's baseline.

Fans have lauded the return

Bacon Club Chalupa fans are an entire sub-fan group in the land of Taco Bell lovers. The 2020 return of the BCC had Living Más Redditors raving. One fan even remarked that a mistake with their order couldn't even destroy the majesty of the Bacon Club Chalupa. "When I got it they randomly replaced the chicken with beef even though that's not what I ordered," wrote a Reddit user, although they were quick to admit, "Still very good tho."

The 2023 return of the BCC has gone equally applauded, with fast food bloggers writing, "Our crew is disappointed that this chalupa is only back for a limited time, and we wish it could become a regular menu item at Taco Bell," (via Food Rankers). The administrator of Bring Back the Bacon Club Chalupa shared a photo of the last third of their fourth BCC of the night, and their acolytes responded with 92 reactions, and 37 comments, a respectable level of engagement for a 12-year-old Facebook page of only a few hundred followers.

The price point is giving diners sticker shock

Recent price hikes are a reality we've had to live with for a while now, but the last time the Bacon Club Chalupa was available, people in the U.S. were still receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Now thrown into a cruel world where food prices are rising across the board, and staples like eggs have sudden freak shortages, people are taking note of how their food budget breaks down, and how small price increases add up. The Bacon Club Chalupa is no exception, with regional and franchisee-specific price fluctuations getting even those of the "Más lifestyle" wishing the BCC cost less.

Those on the Living Más subreddit have reported up to 50% increases over the expected baseline price of $4.99 to $5.79 here, $6.39 there, and Arizonans would seem to be bearing the heaviest Chalupa inflation burden, with prices extending into the $7 to $8 range. As beloved as the Bacon Club Chalupa is, the sticker shock may dampen its demand, forcing it back into retirement early. Next time it comes around, it may be more cost-effective to crumble the bacon yourself.