The Taco Bell Dollar Menu Hacks That Will Change Your Life

In late 2019, Taco Bell announced the release of a new, more expansive dollar menu featuring 21 (yes, 21!) items you can order for just a dollar. According to Thrillist, this new, expanded menu flies in the face of other fast-food restaurants, most of which have gradually started paring back their single buck offerings. 

But Taco Bell? No, the Bell can't be silenced, and it's ringing "value" loud and clear, providing customers with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert options that can be scored for next to nothing. And while the number of items available in your area may vary (some locations have temporarily reduced the number of value menu items available), there's no doubt that the value menu at Taco Bell holds something for everyone.

And even better, these cheap treats can be mixed, matched, and customized (sometimes with an upcharge) to deliver the type of personalized and affordable meal you need when you're short on time and cash. It's pretty simple — Taco Bell, like many other quick-serve restaurants — has no problem subbing in, swapping out, or adding ingredients to make its customers happy. So if you've got a craving for beef instead of chicken, or if you want to load up your Mexican-food order with veggies, go ahead and customize to your heart's content. Try these hacks suggested by Taco Bell diehards, or get creative with an order of your own. Really, the only thing holding you back is your own imagination. 

Ask for your Taco Bell burrito to be grilled

According to an article on Thrillist, there are exactly five burritos listed on Taco Bell's dollar menu in 2020 in some locations. Of these five burritos, three of them are breakfast burritos, all of which come grilled. So what's to explain why the other two burritos — the Beefy Fritos Burrito and the Cheesy Bean and Rice Burrito — aren't served grilled? Maybe it's general demand — a grilled burrito is a break from the traditional, so perhaps it's considered unfamiliar territory. Or maybe, Taco Bell is purposely leaving room for its customers to make personalizations. According to a Reddit thread on Taco Bell dollar menu hacks, user Timrbrady says, "Get. It. Grilled. I love the Cheesy Bean and Rice Burrito and the Beefy Fritos Burrito, but getting them grilled is a dead-simple way to make a $1 burrito taste like a $2 burrito." 

So you can basically double the "value" of your burrito by asking for it to be grilled. And the best part? You don't have to pay a penny extra for this service. Just make your request when you place your order and sit back to enjoy the slightly more up-scale flavor of your favorite fast-food restaurant. 

Ask for beef in place of shredded chicken in your Taco Bell quesadilla melt

The quesadilla on the Taco Bell dollar menu is the shredded chicken quesadilla melt. It's more or less exactly what it sounds like — shredded chicken and plenty of cheese with some chipotle sauce mixed it. It's essentially a smaller version of the restaurant's traditional chicken quesadilla.

In a late 2019 Reddit thread about the updated dollar menu item, a Taco Bell employee said, "I'm excited about this... So many people add the weirdest sh** to their mini quesadillas: lettuce, black beans, another meat, rice, etc. Tasty, sure, but messy and hard to fold. This will allow folks to add whatever they want and it's basically a grilled burrito." 

But in the same thread, other people were lamenting the loss of the mini beef quesadilla from the dollar menu. The good news is, there's a workaround: Ask your store's Taco Bell employee to hold the chicken and add ground beef or steak in place of the white meat. There might be a small upcharge (one Redditor said it cost 60 cents, while another said 20 cents, so it likely depends on location), but it's a small charge, regardless to score the quesadilla of your dreams. 

Save money by ordering triple layer nachos instead of chips and queso at Taco Bell

If you're craving chips and queso to go with the rest of your Taco Bell order, hold off on ordering the actual chips and queso. In a 2019 Reddit thread, user WarsawWarHero pointed out that you can order triple-layer nachos from the dollar menu, hold the red sauce and beans, which leaves you with just the cheese and chips. You can even ask for the cheese to be served on the side (just like it would be with the regular chips and queso). But get this — just by ordering the triple-layer nachos, you pay at least 50 cents less for what amounts to the same item. Plus, if you want the extra toppings (the red sauce and beans), you can enjoy those, too. It's not clear why the triple-layer nachos cost less than an order of chips and cheese — maybe it's just an easy way to score a little extra profit when people aren't paying attention to prices — but it doesn't really matter. If you're a conscientious buyer, these nachos are a great deal. 

Load your Taco Bell nachos with extra sauces

The triple layer nachos come with red sauce, beans, and nacho cheese, but if you feel like your chips need an extra kick (and you don't want to pay for extra ingredients, like rice or meat), ask for extra packets of the salsa of your choice. These salsas are usually free (as long as you're not asking for a bag-full), and they add a lot of flavor (or spice) if you like your nachos served spicy. 

In one Reddit thread about Taco Bell dollar menu hacks, user Twitchster77 takes the concept of adding sauces even further, stating "One of my go-tos is triple layer nachos plus extra red sauce, creamy jalapeno sauce, and chipotle sauce or spicy ranch." He points out it costs a little extra to have these sauces added on top, but that the result is "some great nachos!" Plus, fun fact, according to Today, in 2019 a man survived for five days while stuck in the snow by eating nothing but Taco Bell hot sauces, so asking for extra sauce is really just a smart survival tactic. Throw some on your nachos and pocket the rest for a rainy (or snowy) day. 

Make your own smothered Taco Bell burrito

The Beefy Fritos Burrito is a pretty filling dollar menu item on its own — it's a flour tortilla filled with ground beef, rice, nacho cheese, and (obviously) Fritos. But if you want an even more filling meal, all you have to do is ask for it the way Redditor ShadowK2 does

Start by ordering the Beefy Fritos Burrito, and ask for beans and onion to be added (usually, there's a small up-charge for these additions). Then ask for it to be grilled (remember, grilling a burrito automatically makes a basic dollar burrito taste better). Finally, ask for it to be served on a platter and doused in red sauce. ShadowK2 adds, "My Taco Bell automatically adds like three servings of cheese to smothered burritos without asking or paying, so it's $1.30 total for a giant, cheesy, smothered burrito." 

And even if you have to pay for your Taco Bell to put cheese on top, it won't cost much, and you'll end up with a smothered burrito for about half the price of what you'd usually have to pay. 

Ask for your Taco Bell nachos "fresco style" to make them vegetarian-friendly

Ordering items "fresco style" just means that Taco Bell employees remove the fat- and calorie-laden cheeses and cream-based sauces and replace them with fresh pico de gallo. So by ordering the triple-layer nachos "fresco style," you're basically asking the employee to nix the cheese and add pico, which leaves you with chips topped with beans, red sauce, and fresh chopped salsa. It's a great start to delicious, vegan-friendly nachos. 

Reddit user, fennekinsfox, who is a vegan, suggests asking for onions and jalapenos to be added on top to punch things up further. But don't let your imagination stop there. Facebook user Peter Didham suggests adding rice and lettuce to the nachos, as well as sour cream. Just remember, sour cream might be vegetarian-friendly, but it's not vegan-friendly, so proceed according to your own dietary restrictions. 

Amp up your vegetarian-friendly potato soft taco from Taco Bell

Taco Bell's Spicy Potato Soft Taco is a vegetarian-friendly option that only costs $1 and comes filled with crispy potato bites, shredded lettuce, chipotle sauce, and shredded cheddar cheese. It's not a bad start to a filling lunch, especially if you order two of them. But don't stop there — you can trick out your soft tacos as suggested by Thrillist by subbing in romaine lettuce for the standard shredded Iceberg version, then adding rice, guacamole, and pico de gallo. Just like that, you have what amounts to a premium taco for a stellar price. 

You can also make your taco vegan by asking for it "fresco style," which will switch out the cheese for pico. Then, if you keep following the suggestions by Thrillist, you won't have to pay an upcharge for the pico, just the rice and guacamole. Or, if you're not into rice and guac, do as Facebook user Alanna Wagy and ask for your taco "fresco style," and add black beans. As she points out, "It's bomb and surprisingly filling and only $1.30." 

Make your favorite Taco Bell meal vegetarian by subbing potatoes or beans for meat

According to Buzzfeed, Taco Bell never charges for subbing potatoes or beans for whatever meat is included in a menu item. So by switching out the beef, chicken, sausage, or bacon that's included in many of the dollar menu items for beans or potatoes, you instantly expand the vegetarian-friendly menu with lots of new flavor sensations. For instance, why not try the shredded chicken quesadilla melt with potatoes instead of chicken? Or enjoy the spicy tostada with beans instead of beef? 

According to one Reddit user, you're not just limited to subbing in potatoes and beans, either. As long as your Taco Bell is currently selling nacho fries, you can ask for the employee to use fries (they're really just another version of potatoes, right?) in place of the meat without an additional charge. So your standard Beefy Fritos Burrito can be morphed into a fry-stuffed masterpiece if you're so inclined. 

Turn a Taco Bell Frito burrito into a "California burrito"

Reddit is a treasure-trove for finding dollar menu masterpieces from Taco Bell. The creative customizations that Redditors come up with are vast, essentially completely transforming original menu items into entirely new fare. Take, for instance, the "California burrito" hack suggested by Redditor spritanium. This Taco Bell aficionado starts with the Beefy Fritos Burrito as his "base," but asks for the Fritos and rice to be removed (although he admits you can leave them in if you're so inclined) before adding guacamole, pico de gallo, and fries. Sure, you'll have to pay a bit of an upcharge, but you still end up with a mighty stuffed burrito for under $3. 

Facebook user Pat Shand suggests something similar, labeling his creation a "Poor Excuse for a California Burrito." Basically all he orders is a burrito with steak, cheese, and fries. But by starting with the Beefy Fritos Burrito, you can sub fries for the Fritos and rice and steak for the ground beef. It costs a little extra to put steak in place of beef, but it still costs less than $2. And if you want, you can add guacamole, too. 

Sub regular chicken for shredded chicken at Taco Bell

There are entire Reddit threads dedicated to debating which is better, Taco Bell's shredded chicken, or the company's grilled chicken. The good news is, it doesn't really matter — you can request one to be switched out for the other, and the substitution is always free. As Reddit user frogmaskedchild stated after discovering this hack, "This has changed my Taco Bell life." 

Maybe frogmaskedchild was being a little bit dramatic (hyperbole has its place, of course), but truly, if you would prefer your dollar-menu Shredded Chicken Quesadilla Melt to come with the grilled chicken instead (some Redditors on the debate thread point out that the shredded chicken tends to make quesadillas soggier), all you have to do is ask. Just like that, your quesadilla comes stuffed with grilled chicken, and from there, you can continue customizing it as you wish. For instance, just ask for some extra sauces (one Redditor suggests chipotle sauce and creamy jalapeno sauce) for an extra kick. 

Add meat to your Taco Bell potato soft taco

Sure, the Spicy Potato Soft Taco at Taco Bell is one of the company's vegetarian-friendly dollar menu items, but just because it starts vegetarian, that doesn't mean it has to stay that way. Lots of Redditors love to customize this menu item because the crispy potatoes are so delicious, and usually, the customizations remain vegetarian-friendly. For instance, one Redditor likes adding black beans to the taco, while another likes to "make it supreme" (adding tomatoes and sour cream) before adding guacamole, as well. 

But Facebook user Jason Jaytwotwotwo Sawyer suggests a complete revamp of this Taco Bell favorite by adding chicken (from another restaurant altogether!) to his potato taco. It's not entirely clear why he chose to add the chicken from a different location (it's deep-fried barbecue chicken — something not available at Taco Bell, so maybe that's it) when it would be easier to ask for the shredded or grilled chicken from Taco Bell itself, but the details are unimportant. What is important is following his idea for adding the meat of your choice (the steak would probably be delicious) to this taco. 

Build your own Taco Bell nacho supreme for less

The Taco Bell Nachos Supreme generally cost about $3 (depending on the location), and they come topped with ground beef, tomatoes, nacho cheese sauce, refried beans, and sour cream. So really, they're not a far cry from the triple-layer nachos that cost just $1 — the only differences are the beef, tomatoes, and sour cream. Well, there's a hack to turn the triple-layer nachos into a supreme version without paying the full price. According to Redditor sea_munky, "I discovered I can add beef for only $.60. So triple-layer nachos, add beef, and add onions for $1.60. I don't need the sour cream and tomatoes since I can take that money and spend it on a mini quesadilla or something." Not too shabby, right?

But if you really want the sour cream and tomatoes, you don't have to add them each individually, paying an upcharge for both. Rather, ask the employee to "make it supreme," which is code for "add tomatoes and sour cream." You'll pay a single upcharge for this customization (plus the upcharge for the beef), which together ends up adding a little more than a $1 to your total price. So yeah, you'll spend roughly $2.20 for these nachos, but that's less than what you'd spend to order nachos supreme off the actual menu. 

Ask for your Taco Bell nachos to be made with Doritos

You may already know that Taco Bell sells some crispy tacos made out of what amounts to a shell that's made from Doritos. What you may not know is that you can request to have your dollar menu nachos made with a Doritos base, rather than a base of tortilla chips. 

Here's the deal, though, you have to buy the bag of Doritos separately. According to one Reddit thread, you start by ordering a bag of Doritos and the triple-layer nachos. Then, ask for the nachos to be made with the Doritos, rather than the tortilla chips. Employees will still give you the tortilla chips (you paid for them, after all), but they'll empty the bag of Doritos into the dish to put together your nachos. From there, you can made any other nacho customizations your heart desires, like adding beef or chicken, or asking for pico de gallo on top. 

One thing to keep in mind is that while this customization may sound divine, you may not like it as much as you think. Redditor geoffsmith tried this hack and said, "It was super salty... This just took it to the next level of salty." So, proceed with caution.