Food & Drink

23 Different 7-Eleven Hot Bar Items, Ranked

Nachos vs. taquitos was a tough call.

7-Eleven hot food
Drew Swantak/Thrillist

Some of us out there view 7-Eleven as purely a place to stop and grab a quick Red Bull, or bag of chips, or maybe some chapstick, motor oil, toilet paper, and lottery tickets at 5am. Some view it as a place to grab beer on the way to your friend’s house, and others view it as place to treat yourself to a delicious Slurpee. Regardless, at some point, it's likely you're stopping at 7-Eleven, and you're equally likely to be tempted by the hot bar, where foil-wrapped sandwiches sit behind a glass wall like precious items at a museum and where taquitos and hot dogs seem to rotate on rollers for all of time. 

The amount of hot food available at 7-Eleven is staggering in its volume and variety. But what's worthy of your late-night (or early morning) snacking, and what should be relegated to spin eternally on the rollers? To find out, I journeyed to multiple 7-Elevens and ordered up everything I could get my hands on. Nothing about this ranking went the way I expected. There were a few things that I expected to loathe that became favorites, and a few things I expected to love that left me gargling Slurpees to get the taste out of my mouth. When it comes to 7-Eleven hot food, there are no rules. It’s the Wild West. Here's how the hot items fared.

Editor's note: 7-Eleven is a fickle beast. The items on this list represent what we were able to find at multiple locations, which were visited more than once to ensure we got the widest spread possible. We concentrated on the hot bar itself, rather than the cold case full of stuff you microwave. But not all 7-Elevens are created equal. Some don't stock everything. Some employees can't be bothered to keep the case full. If you notice an item missing -- cheeseburgers, breakfast bites, chicken sandwiches among them -- let us know what we're missing (or what we should avoid) in the comments. Otherwise, we did our best to score every item that was available during our quest. 

7-Eleven Hot Bar Food
Design: Thrillist

23. Spicy Bite

As one of the things I was pretty sure I had eaten at some point in my life before this ranking, I thought with absolute certainty that the Spicy Bite would be in the Top 5. Of my memory, it was just a regular 7-Eleven hot dog, but with some heat to it. Oh, young Wilder. So naive. So trusting. Is the Spicy Bite spicy? Yes, kind of. Is it a hot dog? I guess so. So what could possibly banish it to the very bottom of the ranking?

The Spicy Bite tastes the way a wet dog smells.

22. Spicy Chicken Breakfast Sandwich

It’s important to clarify I don’t have anything against spicy food -- in fact, I love it. Perhaps this is why my heart felt extra broken when I tried the Spicy Chicken Breakfast Sandwich. Even out of the warmer it was not very warm, and the egg “patty” 7-Eleven is serving is kind of a train wreck. As somebody who loves a fast food egg sandwich -- McDonald’s Egg McMuffins are one of my favorite things in this world -- this sandwich is a real disappointment. The idea of a breakfast sandwich containing fried chicken, egg, and cheese is actually a good one, but each individual ingredient is so bland that all you get is a big, chewy mess with no real flavor and supremely crumbly biscuit.

21. Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Biscuit

This is clearly an attempt to recreate the Sausage McMuffin, but as I mentioned before, the ingredients 7-Eleven is working with aren’t even close to up to snuff. They’ve swapped the sad fried chicken patty for a much-better sausage patty here, so that gives this sandwich a boost. That said, the egg and cheese and biscuit are still very off. Sausage can't fix everything.

20. Stuffed Waffle

It’s a shame that 7-Eleven can’t seem to nail, because it seems like these are the things you’d be most likely to grab -- stopping in on the way to work for a quick breakfast and coffee makes sense to me. The Stuffed Waffle, like the other breakfast sandwiches, is another vehicle for their subpar eggs, sausage, and cheese. I received mine “fresh” and hot, but the waffle was chewy and tough, the insides were not nearly as hot as the outsides, and the cheese wasn’t melted. They give you a little side of syrup to dunk it in, but A) this barely makes it less dry, B) you feel like a gigantic fatso when you do this, and C) there is no easy way to do this on the go.

19. Ham & Cheese Taquito

For the most part, the taquitos are bang on. Ham & Cheese is the only misstep. This guy was loaded with cubed ham -- not unlike you’d find in a bad pre-made chef salad -- and yellowish cheese I assume to be Cheddar or American. Of all the taquitos, this was the lowest quality by far, and I can’t imagine I’d want one even after several drinks. This is apparently a limited-time taquito release, so at least we don’t need to worry about it for too long.

7-Eleven Hot Bar
Design: Thrillist

18. Spicy Chicken Wings

Let me say, I’m impressed that 7-Eleven is selling wings on the bone. This seems like a bold move for a convenience store. On one hand, when you eat it off the bone it’s hard to deny that this actually came from a real chicken. On the other hand, the fact that you’re reminded it’s definitely a real wing sort of gives you pause. It’s easy to accept that 7-Eleven is in their wheelhouse with processed junk food, but the idea of them actually cooking a chicken is a little unsettling to me. As far as the taste goes, it was boring and slightly dry, but most importantly it wasn’t spicy. If you’re going to advertise something as spicy, it should be.

17. Chicken Nuggets

I can see these little nuggies being pretty clutch around 2am. One glaring issue is that I was unable to secure any sort of dip for them, and a nuggie without sauce is barely a nuggie at all. They’re not as juicy as I’d like them to be, but the salty, crunchy exterior is so satisfying that I honestly don’t care much. In fact, there’s nothing particularly wrong with these guys, and they only clock in at 17 because there are 16 things that taste better.

16. Mini Beef Tacos

For the most part, I’m going to choose a street taco over a hardshell taco every time. There are a two exceptions: the wonderful Los Angeles gem Henry’s Tacos, and the Jack in the Box tacos. 7-Eleven’s Mini Beef Tacos feel like the spiritual sequel to the Jack’s. They’re tiny, crunchy, and juicy. The shredded beef is even kind of spicy, which is a very pleasant surprise each time you take a bite.

15. Chicken Tenders

7-Eleven’s tenders are about as average as you’d expect. They’re not unlike the tenders you might get from a fast-food restaurant. You’re getting mostly breading here, but I was impressed by the temperature. When I pulled one apart, you could see steam release from inside and there’s something magical about watching steam rise from fried chicken. They don’t taste like much. Don’t get these expecting some Popeye’s-level tenders -- get them because you want something salty, fried, and crunchy.

14. Chicken Ranch Taquito

Another limited taquito release, the Chicken Ranch has the unfortunate quality where you like it a bit less on every bite. Because of this, the first bite is pretty killer. You taste chicken, cheese, and ranch (not dressing, but rather the flavor of ranch seasoning) which work very well inside the hot, crunchy taquito. The problems start with the next bite. Then the bite after that. And so on.

7-Eleven Hot Foood
Design: Thrillist

13. Nachos

I have a complicated relationship with nacho cheese. I’m really not a fan of it, but every now and then I feel like I could Scrooge McDuck into a pool of it. Taco Bell’s nacho cheese, for example, has some actual flavor to it — there’s something oniony or garlicky in there somewhere.

7-Eleven’s nacho cheese isn’t quite the same. I took a few fingers of it on its own, and the only flavor I got was the flavor of melted cheese stick. This isn’t to say this is bad, but it’s really just not for me. Of course, once you top it with pico de gallo, chili, and whatever other fixins you love, the whole flavor profile begins to take shape in a more appealing way. What I do like about these nachos is the chips themselves. They are round, which means you’ll never need to find an exact angle to pick them up. They are decently crunchy and salty too, so it really begs the question: Do they even need the nacho toppings?

12. Mozzarella Sticks

You’ve had mozzarella sticks. You know what they taste like. Fried cheese is never a bad thing, and mozzystix are one of those things like fries or pizza where even at their worst, they’re still not awful. Such is the case at 7-Eleven. And speaking of pizza...

11. Pepperoni Pizza

It’s a real shame that pepperoni pizza lands at No. 11, especially since cheese pizza cracks the Top 3. At $1 each, 7-Eleven’s pizza slices are an elite junk-food snack that should be part of everybody’s post-bar rotation. The unfortunate issue with the pepperoni pizza is that the pepperoni itself is weird and funky. While these guys definitely taste like pepperoni, they taste like pepperoni that’s been left out in the sun a bit too long. Something’s just off, and it doesn’t give you the satisfying and nostalgic feeling that a normal slice of pepperoni pizza normally does. While that doesn't tank the slice all the way to the bottom of the ranking, they are off-putting enough to hold pepperoni back from the Top 10.

10. Beef Chimichanga

First thing’s first: this ain’t beef, and it ain’t a chimichanga. Chimichangas are generally just deep-fried burritos, but the “beef chimichangas” that 7-Eleven is serving up are not deep fried at all, and contain no discernable amounts of beef. That said, this tasted like a tiny little bean and cheese burrito and it did me just right. It was hot and melty, and when I took a bite the cheese stretched in a very pleasant way. The portion size was perfect, too: any larger and I might feel gross. This non-beef, non-chimichanga beef chimichanga is a winner.

9. Jalapeño Cream Cheese Taquito

I’ll tell you right now, I didn’t expect to like this. Hot cream cheese is generally not my jam. I don’t love jalapeño poppers, cream cheese rangoons, or any of those types of things. In a lot of ways, the Jalapeño Cream Cheese Taquito is the complete opposite of the Chicken Ranch Taquito. The first bite is just OK, but there’s a sort of lingering in your mouth from the jalapeño that makes you want to attack it again. Then you take another bite and you’re like “OK, this actually isn’t horrible.” Then you take ANOTHER bite and you’re like, “OK this is actually kind of good”. And before you know it, it’s gone.

7-Eleven Hot Food
Design: Thrillist

8. ¼ lb. Big Bite

If I had to guess, the hot dogs are among the best seller list. This makes sense to me, as running into 7-Eleven for a soda, hot dog, and chips seems like a very reasonable, quick lunch. The condiment bar has things like relish, onions, ketchup, and mustard so you won’t be left with a bare hot dog. The ¼ lb. Big Bite is a good enough size to fill you up, and in the end there’s really nothing wrong with it. My one beef (see what I did there?) is this: I have a conspiracy theory that the ¼ lb. Big Bite is cooked in a contraption only designed to cook things that are the size of regular Big Bites and taquitos. Something about it just felt the slightest bit incorrect. It didn’t quite have the pleasant snap that the regular Big Bite does, and felt the slightest bit less hot. It’s a very minor difference, but this is a ranking and these things matter here.

7. Big Bite

Close your eyes and imagine a hot dog. I’ll tell you right now that no matter who you are, you’re picturing the Big Bite. It’s about as standard as hot dogs come in terms of size, presentation, and taste. As I mentioned previously, the Big Bite has that satisfying snap of the casing that’s so unique to eating a hot dog, and it doesn’t get lost in 7-Eleven’s overly bland bun. It’s well cooked. The toppings I previously mentioned are there for you to help dress it up. You know exactly what you’re getting here. Whether you want it or not, that’s up to you.

6. Steak and Cheese Taquito

Remember in 5th grade when you always wanted to go over to your friend Mike’s house because Mike’s mom always made those frozen taquitos that your parents wouldn’t buy? Damn, those were the highly specific days that we all experienced. Anyways, the Steak and Cheese Taquitos taste just like the frozen ones from your childhood. Of all the Mexican-inspired things that 7-Eleven sells, these actually tasted the most like Mexican food. They clearly used the same beef from the Mini Tacos, but that’s great news because the beef was the best part. This Taquito was slightly spicy, very cheesy, and had the second best exterior crunch of all the Taquitos I tried.

5. Stuffed Meatball and Pepperoni

If you’re surprised that this monstrosity made it to the Top 5, I assure you I’m even more surprised. I wrote this off instantly, thinking it would be an absolute nightmare. For starters, it seems like it’s missing a word. Stuffed meatball and pepperoni what? When I purchased it, the cashier told me it would take about two minutes to prepare which threw me for about 100 loops. I had not even considered the idea that something would be heated to order. Because of this, when I received my Stuffed Meatball and Pepperoni, it was piping hot.

The first thing to note about this is while it is in fact a 7-Eleven product, it’s a collab with Pillsbury. 7-Eleven x Pillsbury, if you will. Pillsbury, as we all know, is an absolute titan of the puffed pastry game, so it goes without saying that this snack benefits immeasurably from Pillsbury’s help. Inside the semi-knotted pastry was a gold mine of pizza sauce, cheese, fully formed pork meatballs, and pepperoni, creating a sort of Hot Pocket-meets-calzone-meets-Pillsbury effect. While the pepperoni is most certainly the same heinous pepperoni from the pizza, you really can’t taste it as much with the all of the other things going on. I can’t believe it, but I highly recommend this guy.

4. Chicken Chipotle Taquito

Whatever’s going on inside the Chicken Chipotle Taquito, I’m for it. It’s hard to find an exact ingredient list, because trying to find 7-Eleven’s taquito ingredients is like trying to solve the Da Vinci Code: the exact ingredients are between them and Tom Hanks. That said, the Chicken Chipotle Taquito is by far the spiciest one available, which I love. It’s slightly bigger than the others too, which means you’re getting a little bit more bang for your buck. Though the chipotle sauce is hard to describe since it’s such a generic chipotle flavor (think “chipotle” salsa at a chain Mexican restaurant), it works really well with the chicken inside. The only thing stopping this guy from hitting the Top 3 is the fact that the exterior shell was a bit more flaky than crunchy, and that’s not what I want from a taquito.

7-Eleven Hot Food
Design: Thrillist

3. Cheese Pizza

Remember in Ratatouille when esteemed and pretentious food critic Anton Ego takes a bite of Remy’s ratatouille and he is instantly transported back to his childhood, fondly remembering the way his mother used to make that dish for him after a bad day? That’s what happened to me when I took a bite of this cheese pizza, except instead of my mother’s cooking it was my elementary school cafeteria on pizza day. It’s the type of pizza that I have not tasted since those innocent years in 3rd or 4th grade, handing off a meal ticket to the wonderfully sweet lunch ladies who would proudly present me with the ultimate cafeteria prize. I have a feeling that no matter who you are, you’ll have this same experience when you taste it. And to top it all off, each slice is $1.

2. Monterey Jack Taquito

Excellent crunch. A superb cheese pull stretching from your teeth to the edges of the taquito. No crumbly mess exploding from the edges all over your lap while you drive. All of these beautiful little moments are great on their own, but the excellent who-knows-what’s-what mixture of Monterey Jack and chicken inside the taquito create a beautiful taste experience and take it to new heights. If you’re staring across the vast sea of tube-shaped food, bouncing along those rollers, chances are you’ve come for this taquito right here. Under no circumstances should you leave without it.

1. Buffalo Chicken Roller

As a big fan of Buffalo wings, I’m generally let down by Buffalo-flavored things. They tend to taste artificial and gross. At least, I used to feel that way, because I have now found an artificial Buffalo-flavored thing that I love. Since the Buffalo Chicken Roller is found amongst the taquitos, I figured this would be the same sort of thing; a fried, crunchy exterior with cubes of chicken and Buffalo sauce, and maybe even blue cheese inside. I was wrong as hell.

This is actually just one big, long tube of Buffalo-flavored chicken. How it became this shape is only between the roller itself and God, because I really don’t want to know. The inside is sort of cheesy, definitely chickeny, and the Buffalo-flavored exterior sends it all home. While you don’t get the crunch you’d expect after looking at it, it kind of works really well that way, and adds to the fantasy that you’re eating a real piece of chicken. Best of all, after taking one of these down, I didn’t feel like my insides were going to explode into dust, which is more than I can say for some of the other stuff I ate for this ranking. Whether you choose to hold it in the wrapper or just raw dog it, the BuffChix is easy to eat -- it doesn’t leave much residue on your fingers. Next time you’re at a 7-Eleven, do yourself a favor and grab one. Or three. You deserve it.

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For Wilder Shaw’s first meal as a 30 year-old man, he walked into 7-Eleven and ordered one of everything. Ask him about his mental health on Twitter and Instagram.