Fast food chains all over the world are clamoring to provide eaters with diet-specific options, whether that's keto-friendly foods or even menu items made with increasingly popular plant-based meats. Taco Bell has also gotten in on the meatless "meat" trend but hasn't partnered with key providers like Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods. Instead, the chain created what's dubbed the Oatrageous Taco -- featuring "meat" made from Nyhtökaura, or Finnish pulled oats.
As of now, the oat-filled taco -- which originally launched in 2017 -- is only available in Finland and Spain, with plans to expand to the rest of Europe this coming summer. Though the tacos aren't available stateside, I was able to try them out at Taco Bell's headquarters in Irvine, California and provide you with an exclusive taste test. Here are my thoughts on how they hold up:
Can oats really occupy the same space as meat?
I mean, no. As the carnivore that I am, I can't say eating the Oatrageous Taco felt like eating a beef taco. Even compared to ground "meats" like Impossible and Beyond, Taco Bell's Oatrageous blend certainly tastes less meaty. Instead, the crumbly texture of oats is reminiscent of diced mushrooms -- slightly spongy and a bit drier than Taco Bell's signature seasoned beef. The Oatrageous taco lacks the glisten of Taco Bell's regular oil-slicked ground meat and doesn't have that same, almost chili-like consistency.
That is not to say that the Oatrageous Taco is bad. In fact, it's quite unique and delicious, especially paired with all the other components: spicy chipotle sauce, cheese, and lettuce. The oats in the taco are nutty and bouncy; there's definitely more chew involved when it comes to eating these. The spicy chipotle sauce coaxes more of Taco Bell's savory seasoning out with subtle heat, which the cheese and lettuce promptly cool down. And as pulled oats are a common food in Finland, I can only imagine their popularity abroad.
Will the Oatrageous Taco make its way stateside?
This is a question I posed to one of Taco Bell's international culinary developers, to which she merely shrugged with a smile and said, "Never say never." Though the answer was coy, Taco Bells in the US have already proven their commitment to providing choices for alternative diets with a vegetarian menu that is certified by the American Vegetarian Association and complete customization control provided to customers.
That being said, Taco Bell's major competitor, Del Taco, serves tacos made with Beyond Meat's plant-based ground "beef." I would be surprised if Taco Bell doesn't attempt to create an item that stars a plant-based meat alternative, even if it isn't made from Nyhtökaura.