Taco Bell Is Unleashing New Fried Chicken 'Sandwiches' in Taco Form

The taco shell you see? That's bread.

Courtesy of Taco Bell
Courtesy of Taco Bell

Taco Bell—the chain that casually inverted breakfast tacos by making the shells out of fried egg—isn't exactly known for a conventional menu, to say the least. Even its customizable Cravings Boxes fly in the face of fast food bundle meal norms. So, it should come as absolutely no surprise that Taco Bell is proudly declaring that its latest menu creation is both a fried chicken sandwich and a taco.

Weeks after teasing its much-anticipated foray into the seemingly endless fast food chicken wars, Taco Bell officially unveiled what it describes as a "chicken innovation" that's "out of this clucking world": the Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco. As you can tell from the name alone, the Fourth Meal maniacs at the chain really want you to think of this thing as both a sandwich and a taco. A T-Bell spokesperson goes even further, boldly saying in an email to Thrillist, "[I]t’s a sandwich AND a taco. And it doesn’t have to explain itself to be this delicious." Well then.

The centerpiece of the taco—or, erm, "sandwich"—is the chain's new Crispy Tortilla Chicken, which features white-meat chicken marinated in jalapeño buttermilk, Mexican-inspired spices, and a crunchy crust made with tortilla chip crumbs (think fried chicken tenders, but Taco Bell-style). Beyond that, things get a little weird... The chicken comes served in a "puffy bread" that's shaped like a taco. It ends up looking kind of like a cross between a Chalupa and a pork bun. Finally, each one is topped with creamy chipotle sauce and a spicy version sports jalapeño slices for extra heat.

Courtesy of Taco Bell

Taco Bell’s taco/sandwich will almost certainly spice up the fried chicken sandwich competition, but it’s going to be a little while before that happens everywhere. The Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco will only be available in two cities—Nashville, Tennessee and Charlotte, North Carolina—when it launches on March 11. The menu item’s nationwide debut will happen sometime later this year, per the spokesperson. But look on the bright side—this just gives most of us more time to debate whether it’s a taco or a sandwich. (It’s a taco). 

Ever a tease, Taco Bell claims this won’t be the only “chicken innovation” landing in 2021. And, of course, it’s not the first time the chain has dabbled in fried chicken. Longtime fans will remember the Crispy Chicken Chickstar from back in 2015. The Naked Chicken Chalupa and Naked Chicken Chips arrived just two years later. It’s anyone’s guess what the company will do in this space next, but it’s probably safe to say it’ll be just as unexpected—and delightfully weird—as fried chicken sandwich tacos.

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Tony Merevick is the Managing Editor at Thrillist. Follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick and Instagram @tonymerevick.