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We Tried Everything On Taco Bell's Cantina Chicken Menu, And We Think You're Going To Like It

everything on the Taco Bell Cantina Chicken menu
everything on the Taco Bell Cantina Chicken menu - Amy Bell/Mashed

If you've been eagerly anticipating Taco Bell's fresh, new Cantina Chicken Menu like I have, the wait is finally over. You're likely curious to know how everything tastes and what you should try first. Of course, you could try everything like I did, but it would probably be easier to just try what you think you'll like best first. So, we've included a review of each item for you. The new offerings include a crispy taco, soft taco, burrito, quesadilla, and bowl -- all in a new style.

Taco Bell added several new ingredients to create its Cantina Chicken Menu items: slow-roasted chicken, shredded purple cabbage, pico de gallo, white corn tortilla shells, and Avocado Verde Salsa. If you're not a chicken fan, you can substitute the meat for the chain's infamous seasoned beef, steak, or black beans. The idea is that all these extra ingredients come together to make menu items that look more like something you'd pick up at a Mexican cantina instead of at a fast food Mexican restaurant.

I decided to go to my nearest Taco Bell and try everything on the menu all at once to get a clear view of what's best. Every menu item is unique, so I've explained what comes with each item, its cost, availability, how it compares to menu items you already know and love as well as nutritional information. Then, I've given a thorough review of each new Cantina Chicken Menu item. The results are different than I expected.

Read more: 22 Fast Food Breakfast Menus Ranked From Worst To Best

What Comes On Each Cantina Chicken Menu Item

packets of Avocado Verde Salsa
packets of Avocado Verde Salsa - Amy Bell/Mashed

Every Cantina Chicken Menu item has two things in common: slow-roasted chicken and one free packet of the new Avocado Verde Salsa. Everything else mixes and matches ingredients differently.

There are two Cantina Chicken Menu items that don't come with fresh vegetables: the Cantina Chicken Crispy Taco and the Cantina Chicken Quesadilla. The Cantina Chicken Crispy Taco includes slow-roasted chicken, a shredded three-cheese blend, and Creamy Jalapeño Sauce. Meanwhile, the Cantina Chicken Quesadilla comes with the same chicken and shredded cheese but uses Creamy Chipotle Sauce instead of the creamy jalapeño one. You'll also get guacamole and reduced-fat sour cream on the side for dipping the quesadilla.

All the other Cantina Chicken Menu items come with veggies. Both the Cantina Chicken Soft Taco and Cantina Chicken Burrito include slow-roasted chicken and shredded cheese. They also get lettuce, purple cabbage, and pico de gallo. While they both include Avocado Ranch Sauce, only the burrito comes with Creamy Chipotle Sauce, too. The Cantina Chicken Bowl has the most ingredients. In addition to slow-roasted chicken, pico de gallo, cheese, lettuce, purple cabbage, and Avocado Ranch Sauce, it also contains seasoned rice, black beans, reduced-fat sour cream, and guacamole.

How Much You Can Expect To Pay For Each Cantina Chicken Menu Item

Taco Bell Cantina Menu on payment kiosk
Taco Bell Cantina Menu on payment kiosk - Amy Bell/Mashed

The new Cantina Chicken Menu has a wide range of prices. While you can order items at prices that would fit nicely on the Cravings Value Menu, there are also a couple of premium items that cost more. Plus, there are a few higher-priced Cantina Chicken Meals.

The new Cantina Chicken Menu items range from $2.99 to $7.99 each (though prices may vary by location). Both the Cantina Chicken Crispy Taco and the Cantina Chicken Soft Taco fall in the value range at just $2.99 each. The Cantina Chicken Burrito is a mid-range item, costing $5.99. Meanwhile, the other two new items have more premium prices. The Cantina Chicken Quesadilla costs $6.89, while the Cantina Chicken Bowl costs $7.99. Although one Avocado Verde Salsa Packet is included with any menu item, you can order extras for $0.20 each.

Cantina Chicken Meals cost between $8.99 and $10.69. Every meal comes with a medium drink and one Avocado Verde Salsa packet for each Cantina Chicken item. The Cantina Chicken Crispy Taco Meal costs $8.99 and includes two Cantina Crispy Tacos and Chips and Nacho Cheese Sauce. The $10.49 Cantina Chicken Burrito Meal includes a Cantina Chicken Burrito, a regular Crunchy Taco, and Chips and Nacho Cheese Sauce. Meanwhile, the $10.69 Cantina Chicken Quesadilla Meal includes a Cantina Chicken Quesadilla, a regular Crunchy Taco, Chips and Nacho Cheese Sauce, as well as guacamole and reduced-fat sour cream for dipping.

When The Cantina Chicken Menu Will Be Available

Cantina Chicken Burrito in hand
Cantina Chicken Burrito in hand - Amy Bell/Mashed

The new Cantina Chicken menu was offered at just a few locations for testing in 2023. Since it's now available nationwide, it obviously aced the test. It remains to be seen whether these new items will be a rousing success or end up on the list of biggest flops in Taco Bell's history.

Taco Bell Rewards members were able to get the Cantina Chicken Crispy Taco and the Cantina Chicken Quesadilla on March 14, 2024, as a preview. Then, the full menu including the Cantina Chicken Soft Taco, Cantina Chicken Burrito, and Cantina Chicken Bowl became available to Rewards members on March 18, 2024. The full Cantina Chicken Menu debuted nationwide to everyone on March 21, 2024. If you missed the early debut because you're not a Taco Bell Rewards member yet, you can join and get one Cantina Crispy Taco for free as your welcome reward.

There's no indication as to whether the Cantina Chicken Menu is here to stay or not. Taco Bell is not calling the new menu a "limited time only" offer. The fact that these items have their own dedicated menu and that the Cantina Chicken Bowl has ousted all the other Power Menu Bowls from the order board makes it look as if it could be permanent. However, with the way that Taco Bell likes to give and take and then bring back our favorite items to get us in the door again, anything is possible.

How The Cantina Chicken Menu Compares To Other Taco Bell Menu Items

Cantina Chicken Crispy Taco in hand
Cantina Chicken Crispy Taco in hand - Amy Bell/Mashed

While some Cantina Chicken Menu items are enhancements of foods already on the menu, others are completely different. Universal for all of the Cantina menu items is the use of slow-roasted chicken as well as the addition of a packet of Avocado Verde Salsa.

The Cantina Crispy Taco isn't like any of the other tacos on the original menu since the white corn shell is something completely new and comes grilled. The contents are strictly meat and cheese with no veggies, but it does have a sauce the others don't. The Cantina Chicken Soft Taco is completely elevated in comparison to the regular chicken Soft Taco. In addition to the ordinary meat, lettuce, and cheese ingredients, it also gets pico, cabbage, and Avocado Ranch Sauce. The Cantina Chicken Burrito comes closest to a chicken Burrito Supreme. However, the sauces are different. The Cantina version also doesn't have beans or sour cream, swaps out tomatoes and onion for pico de gallo, and gets added purple cabbage.

The Cantina Chicken Quesadilla is the only quesadilla on the menu that comes with guacamole and sour cream for dipping. It's also $0.80 more expensive and switches out the type of sauce on the quesadilla. There are a few changes between the Cantina Chicken Bowl and the regular Power Menu Bowls, too. The Cantina version has pico de gallo instead of tomatoes. Plus, it has added purple cabbage.

Nutrition For The Cantina Chicken Menu Items

eating the Cantina Chicken Bowl
eating the Cantina Chicken Bowl - Amy Bell/Mashed

The nutrition content varies for each Cantina Chicken Menu item. Adding a full pack of Avocado Verde Salsa increases the calories by 50 and the fat count by 5 grams.

The two cheapest Cantina Chicken Menu items are also the ones with the fewest calories. The Cantina Chicken Crispy Taco and the Cantina Chicken Soft Taco each have 290 calories. The Cantina Chicken Bowl has 490 calories, while the Cantina Chicken Burrito has 540 calories, and the Cantina Chicken Quesadilla with the extra dips has 570 calories.

On fat content, the soft taco has 16 grams (3.5 of which is saturated), with the bowl coming in at 24 grams (7 saturated), the burrito at 30 grams (9 saturated), and the quesadilla at 32 grams (16 saturated). The sodium is 520 milligrams for the two tacos. It goes up to 1,330 milligrams for the quesadilla, 1,150 milligrams for the bowl, and 1,170 milligrams for the burrito. The carb level is lowest for the crispy taco (17 grams) and the soft taco (19 grams). However, it increases to 43 grams for both the burrito and the quesadilla and 44 grams for the bowl. They all have 2 to 4 grams of sugar, except for the crispy taco, which has less than a gram. On protein, it's lowest for the soft taco (12 grams) and crispy taco (16 grams), increasing to 25 grams for the bowl and burrito and up to 29 grams for the quesadilla.

My Verdict On The Cantina Chicken Crispy Taco: It's A New Favorite

Cantina Chicken Crispy Taco
Cantina Chicken Crispy Taco - Amy Bell/Mashed

The Cantina Chicken Crispy Taco isn't much to look at it, but its unique texture and flavor are remarkable. I think it's the star of the entire lineup, and I hope to see more versions of it. Of all of the things that have come out of Taco Bell's test kitchen, this one is the tastiest. With such a large order, I ended up taking home leftovers of everything -- except the Cantina Chicken Crispy Taco, which I devoured in its entirety. I'm excited that the best item is also among the cheapest.

The white corn tortilla shell for this crispy taco is somehow crisp and soft at the same time. It's more crisp in the areas that don't touch the wet ingredients, of course. Plus, some of its cheese is on the outside, where it ends up toasty and brown from grilling. The first bite was impressive. As I reached the chicken, I could taste a lot of cumin. The heat from the Creamy Jalapeño Sauce hit my tongue mainly as an after-effect. I loved how it was crunchy and melty and offered such a textural change from the ordinary. The only negative is that it's a little greasy.

I also preferred it solo rather than dipped in the cilantro-heavy Avocado Verde Salsa. I like cilantro but didn't care for the salsa. Neither did my dining companion, who said it tasted like orthodontic glue.

My Verdict On The Cantina Chicken Soft Taco: This Is Where The New Veggies Shine Most

Cantina Chicken Soft Taco and salsa
Cantina Chicken Soft Taco and salsa - Amy Bell/Mashed

The new Cantina Chicken Soft Taco is an elevated soft taco that tastes more like something you'd get from a non-fast food restaurant or Mexican food truck. It's my favorite of the Cantina Chicken Menu items that contain the new veggies. Considering that it's the cheapest item with veggies, that's pretty good news.

When I first saw that a Cantina Chicken Menu was among the big changes coming to Taco Bell in 2024, it was the new veggies that I was most excited about. I've long hoped to see Taco Bell get pico de gallo like Taco Bueno has, and I love shredded purple cabbage. The pico de gallo contains diced tomatoes, onions, and cilantro, which adds extra fresh flavor. All of these fresh veggies, plus subbing in the slow-roasted chicken for the regular chicken, are definite upgrades for the soft taco. I'd order it because it's a great taco rather than a cheaper filler item.

This is the menu item you'll want to order when you're looking for lots of fresh flavors. The Avocado Ranch Sauce doesn't stand out but blends into the whole experience. Like with the crispy taco, I didn't care to add the new Avocado Verde Sauce to it.

My Verdict On The Cantina Chicken Burrito: It's Not As Revolutionary As I Expected

Cantina Chicken Burrito and salsa
Cantina Chicken Burrito and salsa - Amy Bell/Mashed

After really liking the Cantina Chicken Soft Taco, I thought the Cantina Chicken Burrito would be just as great. After all, it has all the same ingredients plus my favorite sauce -- the Creamy Chipotle Sauce. However, the burrito wasn't anything special.

I did like the smokiness that the chipotle sauce contributed. The burrito has lots of heat and nice fresh flavors. However, one problem I've experienced with a lot of Taco Bell burritos is that the ingredients aren't often well-distributed. The same problem existed this time, too. So, I ended up getting bites that were nothing but sauce, some that were all veggies, other bites that were all meat, and still others that were nothing but multiple folds of tortilla. So, there was no homogeneity, and the taste experience changed with every bite.

Overall, the Cantina Chicken Burrito is no better than any of the other chicken burritos I've had at Taco Bell. It does come grilled, but it lacks any of the grilled cheese pieces that make the Grilled Cheese Burritos so special. I also didn't care for this burrito dipped in the Avocado Verde Sauce.

My Verdict On The Cantina Chicken Quesadilla: The Guacamole Is The Star

Cantina Chicken Quesadilla guacamole sour cream salsa
Cantina Chicken Quesadilla guacamole sour cream salsa - Amy Bell/Mashed

If I were rating the Cantina Chicken Menu items, the new quesadilla would be in a close race with the soft taco for second place (the crispy taco is solidly at No. 1). In the end, I think the quesadilla would ultimately be the one I'd be more likely to order again. It does have a higher price point, but it's still really good.

One thing that is different about the Cantina Chicken Quesadilla compared with the regular chicken quesadilla is that it comes with guacamole and sour cream for dipping. The sour cream was nice, but once I tried dipping the quesadilla in the guacamole, I was sold. I didn't realize that Taco Bell's guacamole had changed for the better in 2022. Now, it has a limey zing to it that makes it addictive. Had I known, I would have been ordering it long ago. The next time I order the Cantina Chicken Quesadilla, I'll be switching out the sour cream for an extra guacamole.

I like that Taco Bell has opted for the Creamy Chipotle Sauce with the Cantina Chicken Quesadilla because it makes the meal both spicy and smoky. The quesadilla was also the only Cantina Chicken Menu item where I thought the Avocado Verde Sauce was kind of okay. However, the guacamole is the far superior dipping choice, in my opinion.

My Verdict On The Cantina Chicken Bowl: It Was A Little Disappointing

Cantina Chicken Bowl and salsa
Cantina Chicken Bowl and salsa - Amy Bell/Mashed

I was surprised to find that the Cantina Chicken Bowl is my least favorite version of the Power Menu Bowl (which I order often). In theory, it looks like it should be the best Cantina Chicken Menu item since it has so many different ingredients and the new chicken. But it just wasn't.

Now that the Cantina Chicken Bowl is on the menu, all the other versions have disappeared. However, you can substitute out the slow-roasted chicken for seasoned beef, steak, or black beans. Unfortunately, you can't substitute slow-roasted chicken for regular chicken. I say "unfortunately" because I found that I didn't care for the slow-roasted chicken as much when I picked it out for individual bites from the bowl. The chicken has a fresh texture, but it tastes canned in this context.

I had a couple other issues with the Power Bowl. One was that there were several huge pieces of purple cabbage, which probably wouldn't show up in a soft taco or burrito. Plus, I don't think the staff remembered to add the Avocado Ranch Sauce that is supposed to come with the salad. Perhaps the sauce would have made it taste better, but it was the least tasty bowl I've tried at Taco Bell. Overall, this was my least favorite Cantina Chicken Menu item when I expected it to be my favorite. Don't get me wrong. It's not bad. It's just not what I expected.

Read the original article on Mashed.