We tried Taco Bell's 6 new value menu items, which are all under $3. Only a few lived up to the chain's meal-sized promise.

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We tried Taco Bell's 6 new value menu items, which are all under $3. Only a few lived up to the chain's meal-sized promise.
  • Taco Bell made sweeping changes to its Cravings Value menu on January 11.
  • The chain added six new "meal-sized" items, changed the pricing, and cut five foods from the menu.

Taco Bell has made multiple changes to its value menu over the past five years.

The Cravings Value Menu debuted in late December 2018 and included more than 20 items ranging in price from $1 to $5. On Thursday, the chain refreshed the menu once again, adding six new items but removing five.

The chain said the revamped 10-item menu features "more satiating, meal-sized items" that now cost $3 or less.

The beefy melt burrito, the classic combo, the fiesta veggie burrito, and the chipotle ranch grilled chicken burrito have been cut from the menu as the chain ushers in six other items.

Business Insider's food correspondents Nancy Luna and Anneta Konstantinides, who have covered Taco Bell for a combined nearly 23 years, tried the six new value items on Thursday in two locations in Southern California.

Did they live up to their "satiating" meal promise?

Here's what they thought.

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Cheesy double beef burrito

Cheesy double beef burrito
The cheesy double beef burrito is similar to the axed beefy melt burrito, only it has more meat.Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

Description: The burrito contains beef, rice, nacho cheese sauce, tortilla strips, a three-cheese blend, and reduced-fat sour cream.

Price: $2.79 (Note: all prices listed here may vary in different markets)

Nancy: The new cheesy double beef burrito is a meatier version of the beefy melt burrito, which got permanently booted from the menu this week. I know my counterpart, Anneta, was not a fan of the beefy melt burrito, but it was a go-to order in my family. I was bummed it got axed. But this double beef burrito is a welcome replacement. I thought it was the biggest and most savory of the six new value items.

Anneta: I wasn't impressed with the beefy melt burrito when it first debuted in 2021, and my opinion unfortunately hasn't changed. Although there was definitely more beef than its predecessor, which is always a plus, the flavors just didn't jump out at me. I didn't taste much of the nacho cheese sauce, and I think this burrito needs something extra to give it a little more oomph, like the chipotle or red sauce. I'll be sticking to my favorite, the grilled cheese burrito.

Stacker

Stacker
The stacker is a griddle-heated tortilla filled with beef, nacho cheese sauce, and a three-cheese blend.Nancy Luna/Business Insider

Description: A tortilla filled with beef, nacho cheese sauce, and a three-cheese blend.

Price: $2.19

Nancy: This is essentially a quesadilla folded over a couple of times. It looks small, but it is really a full-size tortilla filled with cheese and seasoned beef. It is folded into a classic Taco Bell triangle and toasted on the outside. I expected more cheesy gooeyness from the stacker because it contains nacho cheese and three different shredded cheeses. But I could only taste the slight heat from the nacho sauce. Overall, it wasn't meal-sized or fully satisfying. I consider this more of a hefty snack at a value price.

Anneta: I agree with Nancy that the stacker couldn't be a full meal on its own, but I was surprised by how much I actually enjoyed it as a snack! The stacker is warm, cheesy, and comforting, with a satisfying crunch from the toasted tortilla. I'd recommend ordering it over a bean and cheese burrito if you're looking to mix things up with your Taco Bell order next time.

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Double-stacked taco

Double-stacked taco
Nancy's double-stacked taco came with a broken inner shell.Nancy Luna/Business Insider

Description: This taco is a crunchy taco shell filled with beef, fiesta strips, lettuce, and cheddar cheese. It is wrapped in a soft tortilla filled with nacho cheese sauce.

Price: $1.99

Nancy: My double-stacked taco arrived with a broken shell and was stuffed with a measly amount of colorful fiesta strips. I counted five. I wonder what the taco would look like if I had ordered it "easy" on the strips. (Like Chipotle, Taco Bell lets you customize the portion of ingredients.) Still, the mashup hard/soft taco is on brand. I felt like I was eating a "Mexican-inspired" Taco Bell item. It was satisfying in that respect, but not a meal-sized item.

Anneta: My double-stacked taco came intact and with plenty of fiesta strips, but the overall texture just wasn't working for me. The combined crunch from the strips and the crunchy taco shell overpowered everything, with some bites feeling like it was all crunch and no meat. This menu item definitely needs more beef.

3-cheese chicken flatbread melt

3-cheese chicken flatbread melt
Taco Bell's 3-cheese chicken flatbread melt was light on the chicken for Nancy.Nancy Luna/Business Insider

Description: A flatbread stuffed with grilled chicken, chipotle sauce, and a three-cheese blend.

Price: $2.29

Nancy: I'm a big fan of Taco Bell's chipotle sauce. I used to believe it could make any bland item pop. But it wasn't enough to make this boring item come to life. The floppy flatbread was only half-stuffed with chicken and cheese. Taco Bell's chief marketing officer, Taylor Montgomery, told me last year that the chain planned to lean into chicken in 2024. Consumers want more chicken, he said. Well, keep trying because this is not going to win over palates.

Anneta: I was also let down by the 3-cheese chicken flatbread melt. There were a lot of positive components — I liked the heat from the zesty chipotle sauce, the chicken tasted tender and flavorful, and the flatbread had a nice softness. But my flatbread was similarly limp and lacking ingredients. My friend Keith, who helped me test the new menu items, called it a lesser cheesy gordita crunch — which you can get for just $2 extra.

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Chicken enchilada burrito

Chicken enchilada burrito
Taco Bell's new chicken enchilada burrito is stuffed with rice, grilled chicken, red sauce, three-cheese blend, and reduced-fat sour cream.Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

Description: A burrito with grilled chicken, rice, red sauce, three-cheese blend, and reduced-fat sour cream.

Price: $2.49

Nancy: This is a good-sized burrito, both girthy and long. But it wasn't as big as the cheesy double beef burrito. The grilled chicken stuffed in this burrito is much preferred over the chicken in the dismal flatbread taco. Maybe because it was doused in sour cream and cheese. For something labeled an "enchilada," I expected a lot more red sauce. The sauce was an afterthought. If you're looking for the best value item with chicken, this is it. It is much more satisfying and savory than most of the new items on the value menu.

Anneta: I agree with Nancy that the chicken enchilada burrito is a good size, especially for the price, but it just doesn't compare to the fresh flavor and creativity of the chipotle ranch grilled chicken burrito that it's replacing. My burrito was mostly rice, and I couldn't taste much red sauce or sour cream. Like Nancy I was also expecting a burrito that has "enchilada" in its name to have way more sauce, a la the Enchirito (which briefly returned to Taco Bell's menu in 2022). While the chicken enchilada burrito is definitely filling, I'd rather pay a little extra for a Crunchwrap Supreme or chicken grilled cheese burrito instead.

Loaded beef nachos

Loaded beef nachos
The loaded beef nachos at $2.99 is a good value when compared to the Nachos BellGrande.Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

Description: Chips topped with beef, beans, nacho cheese sauce, red sauce, reduced-fat sour cream, and guacamole.

Price: $2.99

Nancy: I'm a big fan of nachos. But this one missed the mark. I think it would have tasted better without the guacamole, which tasted like the overly acidic pre-packaged avocado mash found in stores. That being said, at $2.99, this is a pretty good value compared to the Nachos BelGrande, which cost $6.89. The grande nachos contain nearly the same toppings as the value nachos but are served on a deeper oval tray, so it has a lot more chips. When it comes to value, the loaded nachos are a winning item. But I wouldn't call it a meal. I would order it to share with friends and buy a second item for myself on the value menu.

Anneta: Nachos are no easy feat to pull off at a fast-food chain when you're trying to distribute a ton of ingredients, very quickly, on some fragile chips. But to be honest I was pretty happy with my loaded beef nachos. My nachos had a big healthy heap of beef, beans, and cheese on top, and I loved the big punch of flavor from the red sauce. My guacamole also tasted freshly made, which likely made a big difference on my overall impression. The fiesta burrito may be long gone, but these nachos are still able to capture some of its fresh flavors.

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Our final thoughts

Our final thoughts
Nancy thought Taco Bell's chicken enchilada burrito lived up to the chain's "meal-sized" promise.Nancy Luna/Business Insider

Nancy: Of the six items, I think Taco Bell delivered its promise of giving customers more satisfying "meal-sized" items on two of the value items – the chicken enchilada burrito and the cheesy double beef burrito. The rest of the items were more like hefty snacks or appetizers. But you can't beat the prices at under $3. That's great value, as fast food prices have skyrocketed over the past two years. I think consumers, overall, will be happy with this refreshed value menu, especially when you compare it to McDonald's, where prices have gone up 20% over a two-year period.

Anneta: I'm still bummed Taco Bell got rid of two of my favorite burritos, but it's always so much fun to see what new things the chain comes up with. I would definitely order the stacker and nachos again as snacks, and I think the burritos could be good options — albeit by adding more red and chipotle sauce to your customization. Overall I don't think the new menu additions compare to the flavors and value of pricier items like the Crunchwrap Supreme or grilled cheese burrito, but you can still easily have a satisfyingly affordable dinner!