Taco Bell Menu Items Even The Staff Won't Eat

Let's be honest. At some point in our lives, probably in college or during our twenties, we've all hit up Taco Bell. For more than 60 years, the Mexican-themed chain has served up tacos, quesadillas, and burritos, expanding to more than 7,800 locations in all 50 states in 2023. When it comes to late-night Crunchwrap cravings or voting to resurrect such beloved discontinued items as the Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco, Taco Bell earned itself a staunch and loyal following over the years. 

However, for all that tastiness, some items at Taco Bell have raised red flags among even the most die-hard fans. Putting aside some sketchy urban legends about the quality of its seasoned beef, there is also the fact that Taco Bell's menu is packed with fatty, high-calorie, sodium-heavy foods. Nevertheless, Taco Bell remains popular, with nearly half of chain restaurant users in the country frequenting the chain. 

But if you should make a run for the border, know that some items on the Taco Bell menu are off-putting enough that even the chain's employees have opted to stay away. Hold on to your stomach and have a look at just a few of the items that have found their way onto Taco Bell workers' "no-go" list. 


Steak has been a major player in several of Taco Bell's signature dishes, from the burritos to the nachos. The Double Steak Grilled Cheese Burrito was so beloved that it was recently brought back onto the chain's menu. However, if certain employees are to be believed, the steak might be best avoided. "If the steak isn't switched out regular, and if it's old, it gets really really nasty," says one former Taco Bell manager on Reddit. "Steak is only good fresh otherwise it's a HARD pass."

In an AMA on Reddit, a user who claimed to be a former assistant manager threw shade on the steak. "Worst thing has got to be anything with steak," they said. "Steak doesn't sell as much compared to chicken and beef so it'll just sit there for hours, plus it's not like actual steak." 

This isn't the first time that the chain's meat has come under fire for its supposed lack of quality. Back in 2011, the Alabama law firm of Beasley Allen took Taco Bell to court, claiming that its beef was comprised of more filler than actual meat. Although Taco Bell was vindicated, it still has had to weather claims of mystery meat filling its taco shells. 

Refried beans

Apparently, the refried beans at Taco Bell aren't anything to write home about. This could be distressing news for Taco Bell fans, as refried beans factor in a number of Taco Bell's most notable items. Everything from the Five-Layer Burrito to the Fiesta Taco Salad features beans in some form or another. In addition, refried beans are a staple of Taco Bell's vegetarian menu. However, if people who claimed to have worked at Taco Bell are to believed, going for the beans, whether you're a vegetarian or not, may not be the best option.

The beans are the subject of an unappealing recipe, as one employee reportedly claimed on Reddit. "Refried Beans are dry storage, mix 1 bag with 3 liters of near boiling...water let sit for 45 minutes, and viola: beans," they said. "The one thing I haven't been able to eat since I found out how they were made." Another employee writing on Reddit also cited the beans as a least-favorite menu item after they had worked behind the scenes. "I already didn't like them," they said, "but pouring a bag of brown substance and mixing with water to make 'beans' is a big turn off." 

Chili Cheese Burrito

A burrito rolled up with spicy chili and gooey, runny cheese, the Chili Cheese Burrito has long been a popular item for Taco Bell cravers everywhere. After it was suddenly discontinued at many locations during the '90s, the burrito is still technically available at select locations, mostly as a secret menu item. Unfortunately for diners who are seeking out a zesty kick of '90s nostalgia, they may want to look elsewhere. For one thing, the cheddar cheese contains an anti-caking agent: cellulose, one of the most common sources of which is wood pulp. That said, you may not want to freak out immediately. That's because cellulose is a common food additive that's been around for generations and is okay to consume in small amounts, at least as far as the FDA is concerned.

Moreover, if you decide to make a late-night Taco Bell run (as so many of us do), then you may be rolling the dice when it comes to the quality of what's in your burrito. By the time you roll up to the drive-thru, that chili in your meal may be well past its prime, at least when it comes to taste. "Most Taco Bells just let the chili sit in the pans for hours before doing anything with it," one alleged employee wrote on Reddit, "but best bet is to go around 11 am or 4 pm because those are big prep times and then chili will be made fresh and tasty." 

The cheese can be troubling

It can be distressing to think that Taco Bell's cheese might not always be 100% up to snuff, depending on your personal standards, especially considering it's a staple of the chain's menu. One Reddit user who spoke up during a fairly candid AMA about their time working at Taco Bell pulled back the curtain on the rather long shelf life of Taco Bell's cheese. "As far as cheese," they said, "it's real but it also doesn't expire for a very very very long time (like almost a year) so it's got to be full of preservatives." 

They may be on to something, as a 2021 study published in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology revealed that samples collected from Taco Bell meals (and from other popular fast food chains) were found to contain small amounts of phthalates, chemicals typically found in plastic. However, that may have more to do with how the cheese is stored and served in plastic containers. Either way, it's hardly appetizing.

Perhaps even more frightening is the story shared on Reddit by a user who identified themselves as a former employee and found themselves quite literally scarred by their encounter with Taco Bell cheese. "I was using the nacho cheese pump when it then came out in a huge splurt (got everywhere)," the user recalled. "Some got on my wrist and now it is discolored in that spot. This happened a year ago and I still have this spot." 

The breakfast menu

Taco Bell and breakfast have long had a contentious relationship. Back in 2014, Taco Bell debuted the Waffle Taco, which featured sausage and eggs stuffed into a waffle taco shell and coated with syrup. Although it was a social media sensation, the waffle taco was never a big seller and was yanked from the menu within a year.

Since then, Taco Bell has revamped its approach to the morning meal, preferring to keep things simple with breakfast burritos and Crunchwraps. The company even recruited actor and comedian Pete Davidson for an ad campaign where he issued an apology for overthinking breakfast. However, starting the day at Taco Bell still doesn't sit right with some of the chain's employees. Writing on Reddit, one user who claimed to be a shift manager was pretty blunt in their assessment of the chain's morning lineup. "To be honest I don't like anything on the breakfast menu," he wrote. "The preparation and the ingredients that go on the items just make it disgusting to me." 

Another Reddit user and employee also painted a grim picture of how breakfast a Taco Bell is prepared. "The eggs come in a big plastic bag akin to the beef," they said. "It starts out as a solid block of yellow egg substance. you put it the thermalizer and when you take it out you basically mash the bag to break up the egg." It's hardly the stuff of a homemade scramble.

Fried foods

The words "fast food" and "fried" are pretty much intertwined. And Taco Bell's fried menu items, such as its famous Nacho Fries, are definitely among the chain's most popular foods. First debuting in 2018, the Nacho Fries quickly earned so many fans that, after a brief hiatus, they came back in January 2020 with a new flavor, Buffalo Chicken. But, for all that praise, some employees recommend steering clear of fried foods at the Bell altogether. 

On Reddit, a Taco Bell employee dished on everything going on at the restaurant, from the cleanliness of the bathrooms (surprisingly good) to the popularity of the Doritos Locos Taco, which they claimed was "the best thing to happen to Taco Bell in years" (via Business Insider). 

But one area in which this anonymous employee was not too complimentary was the condition of the fryer oil. "The grossest thing I've seen has to be the fried foods," they said. "We'll keep the oil there for hours upon hours with stuff floating in it (old potatoes, tortilla chips). The fried food still tastes good but it is a little gross." This lack of fryer cleanliness has reportedly led to a dip in the quality of fried foods at some locations. According to one Reddit user who claimed to be a former Taco Bell employee, "The cinnamon twists will just reflect whatever the fryer tastes like. Not many people were trained to clean and maintain the fryer." Yikes.

Shredded chicken

Many people look at chicken as a better meal option than red meat, with its low fat and high protein contents and a plethora of vitamins, including B6 and B12. At Taco Bell, shredded chicken might be considered a great go-to for people looking for something a little leaner, as well as those with certain dietary restrictions. However, as of November 2020, shredded chicken was removed from the Taco Bell menu. For some employees, that may be just as well. 

According to TikTok user @momofstacy, the shredded chicken was worse than the oft-questioned seasoned beef. "The shredded chicken — run. Run the opposite way from the shredded chicken," they warned. "The shredded chicken is all of the bits of the chicken that you don't want to eat, and I promise you, eventually, you're gonna get a bone." 

On the other side of the coin, an alleged former Taco Bell employee writing on Reddit had nothing but good things to say about the shredded chicken. "Dude why did they take away the shredded chicken???" they wrote. "I used to work there and every day I had shredded chicken burritos."  As with many discontinued menu items, there's always a chance that the shredded chicken could make a comeback at Taco Bell. If that should happen, however, it's up to you which former employee's word to take.

Bean Burrito

As a simple and relatively popular option on Taco Bell's menu, the bean burrito is about as straightforward as it gets. It's popular enough that it's even spawned copycat recipes by fans who want to replicate its goodness at home. However, a viral post on TikTok from user @Caleb_Lennon, who claims to work at Taco Bell, cites this menu item as one of the worst things you can order from this fast food franchise. The nine-second video paints a grim picture of how the burrito is put together, with beans, sauce, and cheese all being unceremoniously tossed and glopped onto a tortilla before being haphazardly wrapped into an unappetizing mess.

However, as unflattering as the video may have been, many users came out of the woodwork to sing the praises of the bean burrito. Responding in the comments on Caleb's TikTok, a user named @Joshua Sault wrote, "I love the bean burrito. That red sauce is sooo good." Another took issue with the original poster's technique, citing his lack of burrito wrapping skill as the root of the problem. "I've never had [my burrito] look like that... sorry bro," said Kelli. "I love the bean burritos."

The guacamole

When it comes to Mexican dining, whether at a fast food joint or elsewhere, guacamole is pretty much a prerequisite. In theory, it should be a layup for any establishment. We're talking about a relatively simple mixture of avocados, tomatoes, onion, and a little seasoning, after all. It should be a no-brainer to get right. However, Taco Bell has been called out before for its sub-par guac, with one user on Reddit blasting it hard, saying, "It doesn't even taste like guacamole. And the texture....yuck. It's like yogurt." 

Late last year, Taco Bell revamped the recipe for its guacamole. Now, the chain says that it's made fresh daily on the premises with Haas avocados. However, a review on The Takeout was less than favorable, noting that, despite the franchise's promise of freshness, the upgraded guacamole still harbored a taste that suggested to the reviewer that it had come from a plastic bag. Even more damning was a 2023 Reddit AMA with an alleged Taco Bell employee who also called out the side dish for its lack of quality. "I would NEVER do the guac though," the user wrote, "it's usually like the least used ingredient and is usually left out in a warm environment."

Rolled Chicken Tacos

The Rolled Chicken Tacos has long been a fan-favorite item at Taco Bell, with an on-again, off-again status that has proven to be the source of much anguish amongst its loyal devotees. Featuring shredded chicken and cheese rolled up in a deep-fried corn tortilla, the tacos were so beloved by some fans that their removal from the menu prompted Reddit outcries that said: "These are literally god tier taco bell food, I would sacrifice my ring finger for these to come back." 

Despite such effusive praise, however, employee reviews of this particular menu item were not quite as kind. In a Reddit AMA by a user who claimed to be an assistant general manager at a Taco Bell was asked about the worst items on the menu, including the worst to make and ones they would rank as the overall worst. The anonymous GM cited the double-stacked tacos and Crunchwrap sliders as being among the worst to put together from an employee's perspective. They then placed the rolled chicken tacos atop their list of overall worst items, saying bluntly that "Rolled chicken tacos were gross and supermarket-tier." 

Mexican Pizza

Taco Bell's Mexican Pizza is one of the chain's most popular items, as proven by the fact that, over three months in 2022, more than 20 million pizzas were sold by Taco Bell nationwide, leading to an 8% boost in sales and a 10% spike in loyalty membership sign-ups. Mexican Pizza frenzy was so great during that period that Taco Bell was forced to temporarily pull the item from its menu because the chain simply could not keep the ingredients in stock. This naturally inspired enterprising chefs to concoct copycat recipes to tide them over.

Unfortunately for Mexican Pizza lovers, an alleged Taco Bell employee wrote on Reddit that this particular item is a real no-no. "The shells are super gross imo," they said, "and they're probably the items people will mess up the most." Another poster who claimed to work for Taco Bell and who was writing in a different Reddit thread shared their own tale of Mexican Pizza woe. "I remember at least once a shift someone would open the steamer to put a pizza in and there's already one sitting in there," they wrote. "They're just so easy to forget. Always check your bag folks."