Things you should never order at Taco Bell

When you think of Taco Bell, you're probably not thinking about healthy eating. After all, a place that serves up questionable seasoned beef stuffed inside a taco shell made from Doritos, along with tons of other deep-fried and cheesy concoctions, is far from a healthy eater's dream, right? Turns out, it depends on how you're ordering. 

According to Business Insider, Taco Bell has actually become of the healthiest major fast food chains out there. Apparently, alongside all those cheesy, carb-heavy foods filling the menu, there's also a lot of pretty healthy options. Those healthy options are not what we're here to talk about today. If you're making an effort to eat healthy foods, these are the menu items you should stay far away from — no matter how much they call to you while you're placing your order. These are the worst items you can order at Taco Bell. 

XXL Grilled Stuft Burrito

Life question: should you eat any food with a name that starts with XXL? Probably not. With 870 calories per serving, almost half of those calories come from fat. Eating one of these big boys also loads you up with about 90 percent of your daily sodium allowance, which is a lot! The oversized burrito is stuffed to maximum capacity with salty seasoned beef, way too much rice, guac, cheeses galore, avocado ranch sauce, and beans. For anyone looking to eat moderately, maintain a balanced diet, or not suffer a heart attack, wed suggest steering clear of this monster burrito option.

Mountain Dew Baja Blast Freeze

The branded Mountain Dew Baja Blast Freeze is a disturbingly green, vaguely lime-flavored frozen drink on offer at Taco Bell for reasons unknown. While the taste is difficult to pinpoint since the beverage is essentially icy soda made with only chemicals and artificial coloring, we can see how it might seem for a millisecond like a refreshing choice or even a good idea. This unnaturally-colored drink contains zero nutrients and 51 grams of carbs — all of which are sugar, in a 16-ounce serving. Yes, that sounds awful… because it is. Yikes!

Fiesta Taco Salad

Just because it has the word "salad" in the name doesn't mean it's good for you. Case in point? Taco Bell's Fiesta Taco Salad. This seemingly healthier option is high in calories at 760. Sure, the salad comes with a lot of fatty ingredients like seasoned beef, beans, sour cream, cheese, and tortilla strips — but wait until you find out what kinds of upgrades are available. Of course, these "upgrades" will actually further deteriorate the state of your health. Think bacon, nacho cheese sauce, more meat, potatoes, and a plethora of other high-calorie items. If you want to preserve any semblance of cardiac health, stay away from this deceptive salad.

Beefy 5-Layer Burrito

The Beefy 5-Layer Burrito is tempting. You're getting a lot of food for $2.19 when you order this item. After all, it's two tortillas, stuck together with a tasty filling of nacho cheese, then filled with seasoned beef, beans, sour cream, and even more cheese. That said, you're also getting 500 calories, a glob of saturated fat, and more than half of your daily allowance for sodium. So you might order this multi-layered burrito thinking you're getting bang for the buck, but you're actually also getting a heap of gross preservatives, fat, and salt you didn't ask for. Maybe the old adage is true after all. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Nachos Bell Grande

Clocking in at 750 calories per serving with nearly half of them derived from fat, Taco Bell's Nachos Bell Grande should give you pause. This meal's main components of seasoned beef, cheese sauce, chips, sour cream, and refried beans collectively contain way too many unpronounceable preservatives, modified additives, and ingredients with the word "gum" in them to feel good about. If you can get over not eating relatively natural foods, you then have to wrap your head around consuming 1,310 grams of sodium, 85 grams of carbs, and 38 grams of fat. For a single meal that offers limited nutrients, that's a whole lot of negatives against it.

Double Decker Taco

Taco Bell's Double Decker Taco consists of a soft flour tortilla stuffed with loads of beans, which in turn is wrapped around a hard shell taco filled with seasoned beef, shredded lettuce, and cheddar cheese. While it's certainly a cheap option at $1.99, this layered taco situation is bland and quite frankly, not worth the two bucks. At 320 calories, it contains all the usual gross ingredients, including plenty of saturated fat, salt, and carbs. Even the lettuce is iceberg, which is mostly water and boasts a much smaller nutritional value than pretty much any other type of leafy green. Skip the inevitable disappointment altogether and walk away from this dubious menu item.

Doritos Locos anything (seriously)

Whether it's the Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Tacos, the Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos, or the Fiery Doritos Locos Tacos, you truly are doing yourself a big favor when you turn down anything at Taco Bell with a name that starts with "Doritos Locos." While these branded tacos are relatively low in calories, fat, and sodium, the fillings are held together by Doritos shells. The MSG in the shells is there for flavoring and while it makes the tacos taste better, it also makes you want to eat more, which can significantly increase your calorie, fat, and sodium intake by turning your little Taco Bell binge into a big one.

Cheesy Gordita Crunch

Why is Taco Bell's Cheesy Gordita Crunch so bad for you? Well, first of all, it's actually two tacos masquerading as one. An unseemly amount of cheese is combined with the eatery's signature overly salty beef, fatty ranch sauce, and nutrient-less iceberg lettuce, then wrapped in a hard shell that's wrapped in a doughy flour flatbread. Eat one of these gorditas and you'll have consumed a whopping 850 milligrams of sodium. If you're aiming to retain control of your blood pressure levels, stay far away from this menu item.

Cinnabon Delights

In theory, ordering a 12-pack of Cinnabon Delights sounds like a great idea. In a way, it is… until you start looking at the nutritional information.

Let's start out by saying that technically, it's supposed to contain four servings. Let's also say we know that's not the truth, and you'll eat the whole container in front of the television… if they make it home. If you do snack your way through the whole thing, you're eating a whopping 930 calories, and 480 of those are from fat. There's also 59 grams of sugar in those 12 little balls of deliciousness, and there are 53 grams of fat, too.

That's more bad stuff than what's in the XXL Grilled Stuft Burrito, and that includes fat. That giant burrito — that, remember, has "XXL" right in the name — only has 40 grams of fat and 870 calories! If you're really splitting that order of Cinnabon Delights between four people, you're not doing too terrible, but who really does that?

The Grande Scrambler Breakfast Burrito

Ever since Taco Bell started serving breakfast, you can stop there for every meal of the day. Let's be clear that you absolutely shouldn't, and you definitely shouldn't order any of the Grande Scrambler Burritos.

First, here's what the American Heart Association has to say about sodium: typical adults usually get around 3400 mg a day, but the ideal limit is less than 1500 mg. That's extra-important for anyone who's keeping an eye on their blood pressure, and too much sodium leads to heart disease.

Now, here's why we're recommending you give these giant breakfast burritos a miss: each one contains just about your entire day's sodium intake. The steak clocks in at the top, with 1480 mg of sodium. The bacon and the sausage come in at 1470 mg and 1310 mg, respectively, and that's still pretty horrible. Do your heart a favor, and skip these in favor of a breakfast soft taco and some coffee, if you just need your morning Taco Bell fix.

Refried beans

If you've ever wondered why they're called "refried", it's because "rehydrated" just doesn't have the same ring to it. Videos posted online show how they're prepared, and essentially, they come in a sort of dried pellet form that looks a bit like rabbit food. Add hot water, stir, and bean paste happens.

What can be really gross is what happens to the beans when they sit on the line for a few hours. According to a former employee answering the Reddit thread "Restaurant chain workers, what dish should we not order and why?", once the beans have been sitting out for a while, they start to dry out and turn crusty. Employees might dump more hot water in before scooping some on your burrito, and that's why it's rare to get beans that are the same consistency. Sometimes they're too soupy, and sometimes, they're too dry.

When one Taco Bell employee did an AMA on what goes on in the kitchen, they said that if you order in the morning, there's a good chance the beans you get served are among the food left over from the night before, and rehydrated again in the morning.

Anything with steak

In spite of rumors, there's nothing really terrible about Taco Bell's seasoned meat. The steak, on the other hand? Paste Magazine called it "steak" (with quotes) in one 2016 article, pointing out that a good steak doesn't come wrapped in something else for only a few bucks. (It doesn't come braised, either.)

According to a former employee's response to the Reddit thread, "Fast food employees of Reddit, what shouldn't we order?" steak was on their list of things to avoid. Mostly because they've seen carried over for longer than they think is safe. In the similar thread "Fast food workers of Reddit, what wouldn't you eat from your menu?", another employee got a bit more specific. Not only is it one of the more expensive items on the menu, but it's expensive enough that stores don't want to waste it. So, it gets carried over and over again, and while they go have procedures in place for properly cooling and then reheating meat, you wouldn't do that to the same meal at home a few nights in a row, would you?

Anything off the menu, as-is

If you go to Taco Bell, pick something off the menu, and just order it up, you're doing it wrong. According to a Taco Bell manager interviewed by Thrillist in 2017, their POS system is set up to make everything easily customizable, and that means you're free to mix-and-match as you like.

Want nacho cheese on your bean burrito? Go for it! Red sauce on your Crunchwraps? Done! More nacho cheese on your Mexican pizza, your chicken quesadillas, your… anything and everything? Order up!

You might not want to try this in the drive-thru, and it might take them a little longer to make the order, but just follow the example of the employees — they never, ever order off the menu and they never get sick of it. When it comes time to make their food, they're making Mexican pizzas with the soft tortillas and flatbreads, or using Doritos Locos shells in lieu of nachos. It's impossible to get tired of that smorgasbord — and customers can do it, too!