- Taco Bell’s Naked Chicken Chalupa is the best new fast-food menu item of 2017.
- The bizarre-sounding dish beat our expectations, emerging as a delicious addition to the Taco Bell canon.
- The Naked Chicken Chalupa also created a huge opportunity for Taco Bell to move into fried chicken.
When Taco Bell announced it was testing a taco with a fried chicken shell, most people were baffled.
Why, people asked, would the chain swap a tortilla for fried chicken? Should Taco Bell even be selling fried chicken? And, why on earth did people think it was healthy?
But, when we finally tried the chalupa after it emerged from a two-year testing phase, all our doubts melted away.
The Naked Chicken Chalupa — a fried-chicken shell wrapped around lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese — launched nationally in January.
It showcases surprisingly tasty and spicy chicken and classic Taco Bell fillings, balanced against the crux of the very chalupa itself: a smooth avocado ranch sauce.
As we wrote at the time: “While we wouldn’t call fried chicken healthy, the Naked Chicken Chalupa is a fresher, less ostentatious menu item than we originally assumed. It avoids becoming a grease bomb, a common oily quagmire that many fast-food chains stumble into (lest we forget KFC’s Double Down). As we finished ours, we found ourselves not stuffed, but satisfied.”
It may have not been the single tastiest thing we ate in 2017, but the Naked Chicken Chalupa paved the way for a whole new set of menu items for Taco Bell. The chain has since added Chicken Chips — its version of chicken nuggets — to the menu, including with a test of chicken and biscuits.