taco bell reaper ranch fries and burrito
Nothing says rock 'n' roll like spicy burritos and fries. | Courtesy of Taco Bell
Nothing says rock 'n' roll like spicy burritos and fries. | Courtesy of Taco Bell

Taco Bell Put the World's Hottest Pepper in Fries and Burritos. We Ate Them.

The Carolina Reaper is one of the world’s spiciest peppers.

Taco Bell continues to level up. From the cult favorite Crunchwrap Supreme to an endless buffet of vegetarian options to the game-changing Doritos-dusted taco shells, the Mexican-inspired chain does not fear experimentation. 

So when the taco and burrito purveyors announced a new offering of Steak Reaper Ranch Fries and Burritos -- made from the current hottest pepper in the world, the Carolina Reaper -- I couldn’t help but be excited. For some context about how hot an actual Carolina Reaper is, the tiny, gnarled red pepper boasts a Scoville heat unit averaging 1.5 million (a jalapeño ranges from 2,500 to 5,000 whereas a habanero rings in between 100,000 to 350,000). 

Would this be the day that Taco Bell finally provided something spicy enough to do more than tickle my tastebuds? Would the fries surpass the flavor of the pickled jalapeño Rattlesnake Fries?

The answer to both questions is, without doubt, yes.

Steak Reaper Ranch Fries

The Steak Reaper Ranch Fries takes everything good about their beloved nacho fries and intensifies it with a healthy dose of their reaper ranch sauce. The result is a bed of steaming, seasoned French fries smothered in cheese, sour cream, diced tomato, strips of steak, and the aforementioned sauce. The sauce, shockingly enough, is actually spicy; compared to their packets of Diablo and Fire sauce, the reaper ranch is miles ahead in terms of heat.  

It’s not the type of heat that will make you double over in a coughing fit and reach for a jug of milk, but it’s definitely hotter than anything else I’ve ever had at Taco Bell. The heat starts slow, like a tiny tongue-tingle, but by the time you’re halfway through your plate of fries, you’ll be able to feel it creeping to the back of your throat and down your esophagus. This plate will definitely warm you up.

I loved it. The fries were gooey and cheesy and spicy enough, but if you really need some reprieve from the heat, you can find it in the generous glob of sour cream that’s included. I liked the sour cream, but I did find it to be a little overwhelming because it detracts from the purity of the reaper ranch. 

The steak was not as present as I anticipated, but I didn’t notice myself longing for more meat because I was so enticed by the cheesy fries. And the tomato cubes also felt a little bit out of place, like an afterthought thrown on so you don’t feel as guilty shoveling fries, cheese, sour cream, and ranch into your mouth -- but who are we kidding? This is Taco Bell.

taco bell reaper ranch spicy fries
If the Reaper Ranch sauce isn't spicy enough for you, you can always add more hot sauce. | Courtesy of Taco Bell

Steak Reaper Ranch Burrito

The Steak Reaper Ranch Burrito is basically all of the elements of the fries wrapped up in a tortilla, but somehow it’s way better. Maybe it was accidental, but the ratio of cheese, reaper ranch, and sour cream was more to my liking in the burrito -- meaning there was a less noticeable tang of sour cream and more heat from the ranch. 

I found the burrito to be a much more convenient way to eat the fries, and also none of the fries lacked sauce as they did in the fry plate (sort of how the bottom chips in nachos never have enough toppings). I also felt that the tomatoes and steak came together more cohesively in this burrito form as they were lodged between strands of fries, as opposed to lopsidedly thrown over the plate of fries.


The verdict

If you’re a lover of spicy foods and Taco Bell, you should definitely get this burrito. It won’t knock you out like a plate of Thai chilies or leave you sweating and crying involuntary tears, but it packs enough heat to make for a solid snack when you’re craving something spicy. 

I’d be interested in seeing the Reaper Burrito turned into something more substantial -- including rice and beans -- and permanent on the menu. But alas, nothing on Taco Bell’s menu is ever truly permanent, including this fixture, so if you’re interested in trying one of the world’s spiciest peppers diluted into a ranch dressing, head over to your nearest Taco Bell ASAP.

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Kat Thompson is a staff food writer at Thrillist, spicy food enthusiast, and massive Taco Bell fan. Follow her on Twitter @katthompsonn.