We Tried Taco Bell's New Cantina Crispy Chicken Tacos to See if They're Worth the Hype

It's like a taco with a chicken tender inside.

Courtesy of Taco Bell
Courtesy of Taco Bell

Earlier this week, Taco Bell announced it was dropping three new creations for fans to celebrate six decades of taco-slinging realness. The brand added Flamin' Hot Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos, Cantina Crispy Chicken Tacos, and a Cantina Crispy Chicken Tortada to menus. The first two are available nationwide now, while the Tortada is only being tested at California locations for the time being.

The Cantina Crispy Chicken Tacos feature crispy white meat chicken marinated in a jalapeño buttermilk sauce and breaded in a crispy tortilla chip coating. The chicken is topped with shredded lettuce, shredded cheddar, and diced tomatoes, all wrapped in a soft flour taco shell. You can then choose Creamy Chipotle or Avocado Ranch as a sauce.

Tacos with a big ol' crispy chicken tender inside? How could we not give them a try? Keep reading to see whether they are worth the hype.

Photo by Janae Price for Thrillist

Do the Cantina Crispy Chicken Tacos put the 'crisp' in crispy?

To get the full experience, I ordered both versions of the tacos offered on the menu—one with Creamy Chipotle sauce and one with Avocado Ranch.

I went into my first bite of the Cantina Crispy Chicken Tacos a bit worried about the namesake crispiness, as I was expecting the chicken to be soggy. As anyone who has ever ordered food online knows, sometimes items can arrive a little bit disheveled, and generally not as fresh as it would in a dine-in setting. However, I was pleasantly surprised.

The chicken in both tacos was wonderfully crispy, and I mean crispy to the point of being able to hear the actual crunch when you first bite into it. This could have easily been a mushy mess because the chicken is wrapped in a warm, soft tortilla, but the chicken was perfectly crispy, as well as perfectly salted, in my opinion.

How were the sauces?

Each sauce enhanced the taco in its own way. The Creamy Chipotle sauce adds a touch of heat and tanginess, which I'd argue gives the Cantina Crispy Chicken Tacos with Chipotle a Southwest-meets-BBQ vibe. The Avocado Ranch sauce, on the other hand, offers no heat, but takes the juicy, crispy chicken to the next level with its creamy texture.

Neither sauce was overwhelming, and both really added to the already delightful chicken.

Final thoughts

The Cantina Crispy Chicken Tacos are great. They were easy and enjoyable to eat. The jalapeño buttermilk marinade offers a whisper of spice that builds as you eat the taco. And, as the name suggests, the chicken was indeed crispy. I would definitely order this again.

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Janae Price is a News Staff Writer at Thrillist. She's a native New Yorker and loves all things cheese, K-pop, and culture. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @janae_larie.