Taco Bell seems to be pulling a page from sister chain KFC. The company is testing Crispy Chicken Nuggets in the Minneapolis market, according to an email sent from the company on Thursday.
The new nuggets are made with all-white meat from whole muscle chicken breast and are marinated in spicy jalapeno buttermilk, then breaded and fried. They come with two sauce options – signature Bell sauce, with tomatoes, red chiles, onion, and garlic, or hot and sweet jalapeno honey mustard. The nuggets are available in two sizes: 5-piece with one sauce for $3.99-$4.99 (varying by location) or 10-piece with two sauces for $6.99-$8.99.
This test comes months after fellow Yum Brands chain KFC launched new nuggets nationwide. At the time, CMO Nick Chavez said the company had been ceding nugget buyers to other brands for too long and the product will “give us a way back to families, which is our imperative.”
Indeed, chicken nuggets are popular for such a demographic, which is why they have a nearly 35% penetration rate at leading QSRs, according to Technomic Ignite data. For its part, Taco Bell is leaning harder into chicken in general, also recently testing crispy chicken tacos, for instance. The company said in a blog it is continuing to expand its chicken offerings to meet demand. And, during Yum Brands’ investor day last December, Taco Bell CEO Mark King said chicken presents 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. “We have a big opportunity, we think.”
That said, this isn’t the first time the chain has experimented with chicken. In 2019, Taco Bell tested crispy tortilla chicken strips in two markets before launching the product nationally in 2020. In 2021, Taco Bell launched a Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco. Prior the company used a chicken tender for its crispy biscuit taco offering, launched nationally in 2014, and the Crispy Chicken Chickstar in 2015. The Naked Chicken Chalupa and Naked Chicken Chips came around in 2017 later and also featured chicken strips.
Other menu rollouts/tests
Additionally, Taco Bell is testing Cheesy Street Chalupas in Indianapolis, priced from $5.49-$5.99. The Chalupas come two per order and feature a quesalupa shell that is stuffed with a blend of mozzarella and pepper jack cheeses and shredded chicken or grilled steak, and then topped with diced onions and cilantro.
Nationally, the brand has launched a build-your-own meal for four, available via the Rewards app and online for $24.99. Customers can choose three of the following options: four beefy 5 layer burritos; four bean burritos; four crunchy tacos; four soft tacos; four spicy potato tacos; or four Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Tacos. They can also choose two sides: two Nacho Fries; Two Cheesy Roll Ups; two chips and nacho cheese sauce; two Cinnamon Twists; or two Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes. Customers can add four medium drinks for an additional $4.
This news comes on the heels of Taco Bell’s new Breakfast Taco introduction, new vegan sauce for its Nacho Fries, and new large Nacho Fries option, and amid a busy product innovation cycle for the company.
Contact Alicia Kelso at [email protected]