We Tried Taco Bell's New Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco: Here's What You Need To Know

Is it a taco? Is it a sandwich? According to the company that invented it, no one really seems to know the true identity of Taco Bell's Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco, and that big mystery is basically the scaffolding that supports the company's entire marketing campaign. Personally, we think the better question isn't "is it a taco" or "is it a sandwich" but... "is it worth your time and money?"

Taco Bell announced the new offering back in early 2021 with the typical fanfare most companies reserve for their new offerings. Liz Matthews, the company's global chief food innovation officer (extra points for the cool title) says it is "far from the average chicken sandwich," promising that both people who like sandwiches, and people who like tacos will find something to love, as if the Venn diagram for those two groups doesn't look like an almost perfect circle.

"Even the masterminds from our test kitchen couldn't decide if it was more taco or sandwich," Matthews continued in a company statement. She then promised the question would be settled during a debate at a University of Georgia vs. Clemson football game on September 4. We're not super fussed about the answer, because frankly it's not an especially compelling question. We just want to know if it tastes good. Here's what you need to know about the Taco Bell Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco.

What's in the Taco Bell Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco?

Not much, as it turns out. There's no lettuce or salsa or cheese, or any of the other stuff you'd expect to find in taco. Or in a sandwich. There's just bread, sauce, chicken, and optional jalapenos.

Taco Bell calls the bread a "puffy flatbread," and when we first tried ordering the Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco from our local (very rural) Taco Bell we were told to come back in an hour because the puffy flatbread "wasn't defrosted yet." So if you're looking for fresh-baked, well... this ain't it. Though to be fair, you don't really go to many fast food places for fresh-baked.

Inside the folded piece of puffy flat bread is one hunk of crispy battered, fried chicken. Taco Bell says it's "marinated in jalapeño buttermilk, seasoned with bold Mexican spices, and rolled in a crunchy tortilla chip coating" but it basically just looks like a generic fried chicken strip. There's also a smear of Taco Bell's "creamy chipotle sauce," which is featured in other Taco Bell offerings such as the Quesarito and the Chipotle Cheddar Double Stacked Taco, so it's not like Taco Bell pulled out all the stops when they invented this thing. If you want to be edgy, you can order the "spicy" version of the Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco, though evidently this just means you also get two slices of pickled jalapeno on your sandwich, so maybe "edgy" isn't the right word.

How much does it cost?

Let us preface this information that saying prices tend to vary by location. We paid $2.49 for just one Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco, but you can get two of them for $4.49 if you prefer a more substantial meal. If you place your order using the app (which annoyingly didn't work for us when we tried it) or the website, you can get one Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco for $1.49, and two for $2.98. So if you have more luck with the app than we did, that's a good way to save a buck or a buck and a half. For now, anyway, until Taco Bell seems to have changed the online price without warning anyone.

If you're super hungry, you can order the Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco as a part of a "Box," which costs $5.49 whether you order online or in the store. The box also includes a Beefy 5-layer Burrito, a Crunchy Taco, and a medium fountain drink.

Also, in case you're wondering whether you should click on the "Taco" icon or the "Sandwich" icon when you're shopping for this thing online, well, there is no "Sandwich" icon so it seems like Taco Bell may have already made up their minds about what this taco/sandwich really is, even ahead of the critical football game debate.

Where and when is it available?

Since we live in Podunk Middle of Nowhere and were able to order one on the first day it was available, it's probably a safe bet that you can get the Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco at most, if not all, Taco Bells nationwide. As for how long it will stay on the menu, though, the website includes the standard disclaimer "At participating U.S. locations for a limited time only. While supplies last." So evidently, at some point, the stores of frozen puffy flatbread will run out, and the Crispy Chicken Sandwich will disappear forever. Maybe.

Based on Taco Bell's history alone, it's hard to even guess at the longevity of the Crispy Chicken Sandwich. The 2005 Nacho Crunch Grilled Stuft Burrito, for example, was discontinued after only a year. The Nacho Fries went through something like three rounds of being reintroduced and then discontinued, so clearly Taco Bell is doing some nefarious market manipulation type stuff with that one. The company's last foray into the "is it a taco, is it a sandwich" market was the Bell Beefer, which was basically just the extra-saucy insides of a taco on a hamburger bun. Strangely, the Bell Beefer lingered on the menu for 20 years before Taco Bell realized it was actually gross and weird, and discontinued it in the mid 1990s. So in conclusion, no one really knows how long the Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco will last. Better get it while you can.

How does it compare to other popular items on the Taco Bell menu?

The Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco is not the only thing the company offers in a "puffy flatbread," but it's a pretty long way from the more Taco Bell traditional Beefy Potato Flatbread Taco, which features the standard seasoned ground beef plus nacho cheese, and it's nothing like the Loaded Chicken Flatbread Taco, which has all the taco-y fillings like lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and avocado ranch sauce. It's also not the only Taco Bell menu item to ever feature crispy chicken — remember that weird "Naked Chicken Chalupa" thing that was lettuce, tomato, cheese, and avocado ranch inside a piece of battered, fried chicken unnaturally molded into a taco shell? (Hot tip, you can't order the Naked Chicken Chalupa anymore.)

Anyway, the thing that makes the Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco stand out is that it really doesn't taste much like Taco Bell, despite the fact that it isn't using any brand new ingredients. Chipotle sauce is a pretty standard American staple these days — you can find it in a lot of different restaurants topping everything from hamburgers to grilled chicken. Flatbread is kind of mainstream, too, and we don't need to rehash the part about the popularity of crispy breaded chicken. So even though Taco Bell has always been pretty mainstream in its own Taco Bell sort of way, the Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco is kind of just Taco Bell becoming a little less Taco Bell.

What's the nutritional value?

Well, it's deep fried, so as you might expect, the nutritional value is not that great. In fact, "value" is kind of too strong a word. Though if you're only going to eat one of them and call it lunch, you're not going to blow your calorie budget for the whole day or anything. One Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco has 280 calories, so if you stop reading at that point you can feel pretty good about eating one. It does have 11 grams of fat, though, which is okay-ish unless you get two of them, and then you're at more than 1/3rd of your recommended fat for the day.

The Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco also has 20mg of cholesterol and an unsurprisingly large amount of sodium (650mg, or 27% of the recommended daily value), plus limited amounts of healthy stuff like dietary fiber, calcium, and iron.

If you go all out and get the box combo, though, you're going to be consuming somewhere between 940 and 1220 calories, and on the website this combo even has a big, bold "Sodium Warning," so eater beware. Though none of this probably comes as a huge surprise if you've paid much attention to the nutritional value of most American fast food menu items.

Did we like it?

The answer is yes, but in more of a "that was a pretty okay lunch" sort of way than a "that was awesome!" sort of way.

First, the Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco is small. In fact, when we looked in the bag we could detect napkins more than we could detect sandwich. When we took it out we were a little underwhelmed, not just because of the size but because it just looked kind of basic.

For all the hype about jalapeño buttermilk, bold Mexican spices, and a crunchy tortilla chip coating, the chicken itself didn't really taste different than any other chicken strip. The buttermilk and "bold Mexican spices" were undetectable, and if we didn't know the coating was tortilla chips, we would have never guessed. That's not a terrible thing though, because there's a reason why basic breaded chicken is on practically every restaurant menu in America — it always tastes good no matter what it's marinated in.

The sauce wasn't exactly oozing out of the flatbread like in Taco Bell's promo shot, so it didn't add much. The bread was soft but a little on the doughy side (and not quite as golden as it is in Taco Bell's photos). We got ours "spicy" with the two jalapeno slices, which was a thumbs up choice. Our final verdict: good. Crispy, soft, a little bit rof kick, enough flavor to be satisfying. Not our favorite thing on the menu, but a pretty decent lunch.