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Taco Bell Cantina Chicken Menu 3 .png Photo courtesy of Taco Bell
Taco Bell's Cantina Chicken menu

Taco Bell makes a play for lunch traffic with new Cantina Chicken menu

Taco Bell’s Cantina Chicken Menu features five new items with new ingredients and a new Avocado Verde Salsa.

In late 2022, then-Taco Bell CEO Mark King said chicken presented a “big opportunity” for the brand.

“Right now, a large percentage of our business is beef, and the Gen Z consumer wants chicken,” he said.

Taco Bell now seems to be adjusting its strategy for those consumers. Starting March 21, Taco Bell will offer a new Cantina Chicken Menu. Rewards members have access to the new menu starting today.

The menu features five items – the Cantina Chicken Soft Taco, Cantina Chicken Crispy Taco, Cantina Chicken Burrito, Cantina Chicken Quesadilla, and Cantina Chicken Bowl. Each item includes oven-roasted, shredded chicken seasoned with spices such as pasilla and other chilies, as well as other new ingredients such as purple cabbage, pico de gallo, a white corn taco shell, and a new sauce, Avocado Verde salsa. The new salsa features tomatillos, green chili peppers and avocado pulp and was developed specifically to complement Cantina Chicken menu items. One packet of Avocado Verde Salsa comes with every order off the Cantina Chicken Menu.

With this menu launch, the company projects to use more than 2.5 million additional pounds of produce in 2024.

Not only is this new menu aimed at capturing younger consumers’ protein preferences, it was also created to “tackle misconceptions” about only being a late-night brand, the company said. During the company’s recent Live Mas Live event in Las Vegas, CMO Taylor Montgomery said the company is making a play for more lunch/afternoon business.

We know you guys love us for late-night. We want you to love us for more than just late-night. I’m excited about consumers creating a new relationship with Taco Bell and the Cantina Chicken is going to do it,” Montgomery said, adding that the company has received an abundance of feedback from fans saying they would visit Taco Bell more for lunch if there were more chicken options.

“We spend a lot of time with the fans, and they want more from us. They want more reasons to visit Taco Bell, they want more chicken, they want more afternoon visits,” Liz Matthews, chief food innovation officer, added during the event. “Right now, our focus is on Cantina, Cantina, Cantina. You have your classic Taco Bell and then you have Cantina. It’s just a different vibe.”

Notably, this isn't Taco Bell's only foray into chicken. Coming off a fall 2023 test, Taco Bell is bringing its interpretation of Crispy Chicken Nuggets to the menu sometime this year, paired with the choice of two sauce options – Bell sauce, with tomatoes, red chiles, onion, and garlic, or the hot and sweet Jalapeño Honey Mustard, featuring sweet honey mustard and jalapeño. Also, the Cheesy Chicken Crispanada hit menus in February.

Taco Bell is promoting its new Cantina Chicken menu with actor/comedian Jason Sudekis, who will hit the streets March 21 to chat with fans “to end the late-night rumors," according to the company.

Below is the full Cantina Chicken menu and pricing:

Available starting March 14 to Taco Bell Rewards members:

    • Cantina Chicken Crispy Taco, $2.99 Filled with Cantina Chicken, Jalapeño Sauce and a 3-cheese blend, coated with a layer of grilled cheese on the outside and served with Avocado Verde Salsa.
    • Cantina Chicken Quesadilla, $6.49 — Cantina Chicken is served in a warm flour tortilla alongside a 3-cheese blend and Creamy Chipotle Sauce, with grilled cheese on the outside and served with guacamole and reduced-fat sour cream for dipping and Avocado Verde Salsa.

Available starting March 18 to Taco Bell Rewards members:

    • Cantina Chicken Soft Taco, $2.99 Cantina Chicken, Avocado Ranch Sauce, iceberg lettuce, shredded purple cabbage, cheddar cheese and  pico de gallo, served with Avocado Verde Salsa. 
    • Cantina Chicken Burrito, $5.99 A double portion of Cantina Chicken (compared to the Cantina Chicken Soft Taco) with iceberg lettuce, shredded purple cabbage, Avocado Ranch Sauce, Creamy Chipotle Sauce, cheddar cheese, pico de gallo and Avocado Verde Salsa.
    • Cantina Chicken Bowl, $7.99— Seasoned rice, Cantina Chicken, black beans, iceberg lettuce, shredded purple cabbage, Avocado Ranch Sauce, reduced-fat sour cream, pico de gallo, guacamole, cheddar cheese and Avocado Verde Salsa.

The full Cantina Chicken Menu launches nationwide for everyone on March 21.

Contact Alicia Kelso at [email protected]

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