REVIEW: Taco Bell Diablo Sauce

Taco Bell Diablo Sauce 2

A review of Taco Bell’s new Diablo sauce, in five parts.

I. Mild: A Conspiracy

Taco Bell has opened a gate to hell. Proof: “Bell” rhymes with “hell.” Convenient. Seven layer burrito? Nine circles of hell. And there are actually nine layers if you count the tortilla and the Pepto Bismol that is actually essential. And latest of all, they’ve introduced Diablo sauce. Diablo, for the Latin-impaired, is Spanish for the mother-bleeping Devil. Maybe some of you know Diablo as “Stop playing that computer game and come to bed,” but for non-nerds they aren’t even trying to hide it. It’s called Devil sauce. Taco Bell has conjured El Diablo and is feeding us its hot fluids.

Other hell ties: The Devil is, like, half goat and Taco Bell does NOT serve goat because then we would be eating the Devil’s relatives; “run for the (south) border” can be simplified to “run south” and south (down) is where hell is; and somehow they consider cinnamon Cheetos a dessert. Unholy.

II. Verde: Fan Fiction Using Slogans Found on Taco Bell Sauce Packets for Dialogue

Grimace got down on one knee. “Go ahead, ask her,” whispered Fry Guy. Grimace cleared his throat. “Do it with passion or not at all. You can count on me.” The period at the end of the sentence hung in the air. He produced a ring and continued. “Let’s run away together. Marry me.” Birdie the Early Bird gasped, like she was watching a reality show and not herself in a crowded fast food restaurant being proposed to. This was unexpected. She stared ahead, lost.

Then in a true fight or flight moment, she flew. She was gone. Grimace, still on his knee, stammered. “You won’t…” His voice trailed off. Fry Guy’s face fell. “Not my first rodeo,” Grimace lamented. He dug into the pile of celebratory hamburgers on the table like it was a pie-eating contest. Tears streamed down his face, mixing with the food.

“You asked for it! Consider yourself warned! You made my day!” he screamed. Fry Guy’s face turned from pity to disgust as he mumbled under his breath, “That escalated quickly.” Grimace looked like a blubbering, rabid hyena tearing through a carcass. Fry Guy pulled out his phone to text Birdie. “Good choice,” he wrote.

Taco Bell Diablo Sauce 3

III. Hot: The Deal

“Kevin,” an employee said, as I was staring off into a Sangrita Blast machine. “Do you want sauce?” he asked. I snapped into reality and responded, “Do you have that new one?” I could only see four bins with the typical sauces. I didn’t want to have to go to another Taco Bell. His eyes lit up. “Diablo,” he said. He went into the back and returned, “They are very hot. I used them and you shouldn’t use more than three.” “Thanks,” I smiled. He paused before dropping the packets into my bag. “No more than three. Or bad things will happen. Very bad things. Promise me. Promise Diablo.” I nodded. One of his eyes were cat eyes. I turned to leave, then turned back. He was gone. He was gone because he left to serve another customer.

IV. Fire: Sauce to One Direction Analogy

Harry Styles: Fire

Zayn: Diablo

Other guy: Verde

White kid with the hair: Mild

Still one more member: Hot

V. Diablo: The Review

Taco Bell Diablo Sauce

The Diablo sauce delivers on all accounts. It’s spicier and has a numbing quality that the other options lack. Taco Bell’s other sauces, which have been pretty disappointing for as long as anybody can remember, go like this: Mild tastes like sour salsa, Verde tastes like green, and Hot tastes like tomato sauce mixed with ground pepper. Fire, the hottest sauce until Diablo came along, has stinging qualities that stab at the mouth but really tastes like a watered down Tabasco.

Diablo sauce begins with a pleasant smoky tomato flavor. It makes way for a prickly hum that builds into a heat crescendo and then dissipates fairly quickly, maybe after a minute or two. The spiciness definitely does not last as long as any of those weird hot sauces they sell in specialty stores. The numbness remains though, and cradles the mouth with a low heat that is not completely embarrassing for hot sauce lovers.

Taco Bell Diablo Sauce 5

The sauce plateaus, and does not seem to really ravage the face or senses that badly. I did sample three packets with a cheesy bean and rice burrito for an experiment (as per my agreement). The first packet gave a generous spice high. The second packet numbed my mouth to the point where it didn’t really matter what I was eating. My nose also started to run, but only a little bit. Packet three did not build on the previous one. I did not cry or reach for a milk. This was hotter than anything at Taco Bell, but nothing dangerous. This was not stunt hot sauce.

Taco Bell Diablo Sauce 4

Fire on top, Diablo on bottom.

The only knock is that it probably doesn’t pair well with most Taco Bell food. It simply walloped the burrito I ate. Taco Bell food is already fairly bland in a fast food sense and a sauce with this dimension obliterates any nuance the item may have had. I suspect it may go better with items that contain sour cream or steak, or things with stronger flavors to balance it out. Most things will probably end up tasting like spicy soft stuff or spicy crunchy stuff, though.

The liftoff and leftover tingling are the highlights of the sauce and I would recommend between one or two packets per meal, or taking breaks to let the heat subside so you can ride Diablo again. All hail Diablo.

(Nutrition Facts – Not available on website.)

Item: Taco Bell Diablo Sauce
Purchased Price: Free with purchase
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Great heat, new dimensions. Does not linger too long. Tingly feeling.
Cons: Hard to complement with Taco Bell food.

42 thoughts to “REVIEW: Taco Bell Diablo Sauce”

  1. I forgot this new sauce came out. Definitely have to try this on a few crunchy tacos this weekend. Looove spicy food.

  2. I’m surprised you missed the obvious notes of lime in the sauce. It’s very noticeable.

    Great sauce though. I took a whole handful today when I went for lunch because I know they’ll discontinue it by the end of this month 🙁

    1. It definitely tastes of lime or citrus. It tastes like the powder on the outside of Fiery Doritos Locos turned into sauce form.

  3. Not really that hot. More of a throat burn than spicy lip/tongue hot. Tasted something like lime though.

  4. Glad to see other people noticed the lime too! I had no idea Diablo was out, but found one mixed with my verde packets (I like the taste of green, so sue me) when I left the drive-through. I dabbed it on top of a regular chicken quesadilla. It went well with the sauce that’s already on it. I have a feeling it’ll do well with other grilled chicken stuff as well.

  5. Well, I live near San Luis Obispo, and even nearer to California’s last operating nuclear power plant, TOO appropriately named for its location: Diablo Canyon. Regrettably, there is no Taco Bell in the Diablo Canyon area; you need to go up near Cal Poly SLO or down to Pismo Beach for your Diablo Sauce.

    1. I live by Diablo diablo hills here. Thanks for your extremely helpful input into this review.

  6. I thought the exact same thing about it not pairing well. It was slightly better on the crunchwrap, but still overtook the flavor. I even cut it with fire sauce because I like spicy, but I want to taste what I’m eating. It was a very strong lime taste, as others have noted. Some packets seemed to have more lime flavor than others.

  7. I disagree with the review. The spiciness was on track, but the flavor was awful. It tastes more like chili than hot sauce, I swear I detect cumin, even though it’s not individually listed as an ingredient. Maybe it’s one of the “spices” that are not listed. I will not be trying this stuff again.

    1. yeah, the flavor of Diablo is pretty much a bit of garlic and onion with lots of capsaicin.
      I like it — but only in combination with the Fire, Hot, or Verde TB sauces as a heat enhancer.

      the ingredients list a couple of umami additives (disodium salts of inosinate and guanylate — consider them analogues to monosodium glutamate/MSG)

    2. Random question, are you Latin?

      My wife is from Mexico, and absolutely hates anything she can taste cumin in. Says it’s too overpowering. I enjoy it, but taco bell isn’t really the place for the classic cilantro/onion/garlic/lime flavoring that’s more traditional.

  8. Awful, taste like DOG %&*T to me! Never again. I wonder why I even stop at Tayko Bell!?

  9. I gave it my first shot today.

    I have to say I’m impressed. Like you said, it’s no insane hot sauce, but for everyone who complains taco bell has nothing “hot” to add to their food, this’ll probably work for them. The flavor isn’t exactly all there, and it’s more heat than taste – I recommend mixing diablo and hot (fire has a weird taste to me).

    Ate two diablo and one hot on each of my three soft tacos, and have a pleasant burn on the tongue after. Hotter than lava for sure, without the goopy feeling- GJ Taco Bell, just don’t get rid of this one. If that nasty Verde crap can stick around, so can this. Just don’t bring back the gross fire-roasted stuff… oh wait, you did – you just put it in BBQ goop and covered the dollar menu in it.

  10. The heat is pleasant. The lime is nice. The chipotle ruins it. Call it smokey if you want, but I call it cigarette ash. I also think I tasted some cumin in there and if that is the case then the name “Diablo” is perfect, because cumin tastes like the devil’s taint.

    1. ” because cumin tastes like the devil’s taint.”

      Aaaaand, you know this how exactly?

  11. Didn’t care for the sauce, myself. While I believe in “the hotter, the better”, I didn’t like the flavor profile of the Diablo sauce. There was something, almost floral and sweet, that kept running through my palate that dominated the flavor of the food itself.

  12. Finally got this in my area. Honestly, I’m not all that impressed. Maybe 6.5 or a 7 out of 10. Initially you’re hit with some good heat. So much so that your tongue actually gets a little bit of numbness. I liked that and thought I was in for a treat. But the more I ate, the more the heat sensation went away and all I could taste was the horrid “lime” flavor. I get what they were trying to pull off; “hot with a nice citrus finish”. That would work if this was fresh salsa. But this ain’t fresh. It tastes like they dumped a bunch of lime kool-aid powder (minus the sugar) in there. It doesn’t really blend well with what I ate it with (chicken quesadilla, two hard tacos). The lime just overpowers everything. If they could keep the heat but lose the funky lime aftertaste, they’d have a winner. Instead I’ll just stick to mixing bunches of Fire and Hot.

    1. Agreed. The sauce would be my favorite if they lost the hardcore lime/vinegar taste. It’s just too strong but I really like the heat. I’ve liked all of tacobell’s sauces but this one kinda bums me out.

  13. I enjoyed the Diablo sauce. It really isn’t very hot, but I can always enjoy lime. The sauce sort of tastes like a blander lime cholula, perhaps tomatoed down, or maybe some mixture of lime cholula and one of Taco Bell’s other sauces. I don’t know how well it really works with any of Taco Bell’s food though.

  14. Love the sauce but the food still isn’t “Run for the border” authentic… I put it on other food and Amazing!!!!

  15. definitely lime. It’s better than the others. It goes with verde on bean burritos fresco style.

  16. Best sauce TB has. I don’t like insanely hot stuff that burns going in and coming out (ghost pepper and most habanero, no thanks). This stuff has a nice warm burn that stays with you for a bit. It’s not all heat either! Smokey, a little lime, and I get a smidge of good sour (the lime?). 9/10!!! My new go to sauce besides what I have at home.

  17. I’ll preface this by noting that we all perceive tastes a bit differently, some of which comes from genetics and some of which happens through environmental conditioning.

    case in point: I used to hate India Pale Ales, but after a friend kept encouraging me to try more of them, I developed a taste for the darned things, and now they’re my favorite style of beer.

    alas, my palate doesn’t like Diablo Sauce much, even after repeated exposures. I really wanted to like this stuff — a decently hot sauce from Taco Bell? yes, please!

    I have tried it a few times (including very recently, as I felt I was a bit harsh in commenting above) and just don’t find the flavor at all pleasant. it’s mostly moderate (to me; maybe pretty darned hot to someone not a pepperhead) burnination with a side of elderly garlic/onion and maybe a tad bit of lime. mostly it feels as though I just stuck diluted oleoresin capsicum onto my tongue.

    maybe it’s like cilantro. some folks just love the stuff always, others don’t at all, or — like me — it depends on the barometric pressure, tidal forces, neutrino flux, or any other number of seemingly unrelated conditions. some days I love cllantro; other days, it tastes almost exactly like soap and I want to project it into the nearest garbage can.

    I’ll probably give Diablo another chance or two. at the very least, it’s good for spiking other TB sauces for extra heat.

  18. Capsaicin? No way! Come on guys. Read the label. No pepper products in it.
    The heat comes solely from Sodium Acid Sulfate, also known as Sodium Bisulfate, produced by mixing Sulfuric Acid with NaOH.
    Which is why it doesn’t linger forever & ever in your mouth if you O.D. on it, like Capsaicin does; nor does it burn you a 2nd time when it exits at the far end of your gastro-intestinal system. 🙂

  19. LOL!! I searched for reviews on this bc after adding it to my usual TB non meat food, I felt like my tastebuds were off bc none of my food had ANY taste to it…I laughed so hard and loud when I read ‘ …tasting like spicy soft stuff or spicy crunchy stuff….’ bc that’s EXACTLY what my food was like!! Soooo I grabbed abt 20 packets to take home…I’m thinkn I could use this as a diet aid bc it def made my food super bland and nasty!!!

    1. In in California and verde is no more at my local taco bell. One of the workers told me they replaced verde with diablo, not sure if shes simply confused cuz they ran out, but its been out for a few months now.

      Verde was actually really good on chicken.

  20. Saw the sticker on the drive thru window and told em to load me up with fire, verde, and diablo. Got home and was all excited to have some serious heat added to my food. Did the finger taste test first, nothing too spectacular about the new diablo. Thought ok, lets try a full packet on a soft taco, still kinda meh. Two packets on a soft taco, we are getting there, 3 packets, about the same as 2. 2 Diablo and 2 fire ok that isn’t too bad, 2 diablo 2 fire and one verde, that seemed to give a decent sensation but its nothing to call the fire department over. On a scale of 1-10 for heat I give diablo maybe a 4? Fire still seems hotter to me maybe a 5. The DIablo has a smokey chipotle taste to it, but the whole “You only need just one” is a little bit of a “I caught a fish and it was T H I S B I G !” kinda statement. Del Taco sauces are still taking the cake for the heat factor in my opinion, but flavor I think stays with the Bell. Kudos for trying but don’t give up.

    1. Really? Del Taco’s hottest sauce (Inferno) is about as strong as weakly spiced ketchup.

  21. Loved the diablo. Had I known you were going to take it away, I would have cleaned out every Taco Bell around.
    “WE WANT IT BACK!!!”

  22. I’m impressed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s equally educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The problem is something which too few people are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy I came across this in my hunt for something regarding this.

  23. I would purchase Diablo by the gallon if they made that size. It’s the best flavor I’ve ever had. Who in Florida would make this recipe?

  24. When I was a kid, taco bell (hot) was actually a spicy sauce and the taco meat looked and tasted real. The new Diablo sauce is actually nasty and not hot… If you want an amazing sauce, try valentina hot sauce imported from Mexico… Taco bell should be shut down by the FDA for selling fake meat and soggy food, lol.

  25. If you think this sauce is spicy/hot you’re just a weakling plain and simple. One could argue that Cholula, the most overrated hot sauce on the market today is spicier.

  26. Y’all are all fucken up! This sauce taste like a spicy Worcestershire sauce! It’s all about the originals! Mild, hot, fire! Never forget your roots!

  27. Cholula is not spicier. It’s not the most overrated hot sauce on the market either.

    I love Diablo sauce because of it’s smoky flavor. I use it on everything. Right now I’m having peanut butter on saltine crackers with diablo sauce.

    My friend has a three phase project going on.. I go to Taco Bell and take say 6 or 7 packs of sauce.. it’s all I need for the meal and I have 1 or 2 left over. He’s the type of person to go in and take a fistfull.. like 20 at a time.

    Phase one is lunch.. he’s said he’d “empty out the container”, but I bet he just grabs a big fistfull. Phase two is dinner, another large fistful, and phase three is again the next day.

    I would buy this buy the gallon as someone else stated if it were available.

  28. I’m a big fan of TB’s “Diablo.” I notice that the bin that holds the Diablo packets (at a local TB in an area with a lot of Hispanic families) is never as full as the others. I don’t know if that’s the result of its popularity or if employees just don’t keep it full. Regardless, I ALWAYS mooch many more packets that I can use/tolerate for what I’ve ordered. You all know what this means: If you like something that much, the product will be discontinued. I’ve got to either duplicate the recipe or locate it at Walmart’s or a local mercados latinos.

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