We are living in a golden age of artisanal hot sauces. Thanks to YouTube shows like Hot Ones, these lesser known regional brands are seeing their products gain popularity on a national stage. Taco Bell is doing its part to help bring these sauces into the spotlight by working with brands to create unique condiments for its menu items. It did it before when it offered the Loaded Truff Nacho Fries featuring TRUFF Hot Sauce and are doing it again, but this time with Yellowbird Sauce.
Yellowbird was started in Austin, Texas in 2013 by a couple with a backyard garden and a dream. Today they have a thriving online commerce, and their partnership with Taco Bell stands to put them into the national spotlight. Yellowbird Nacho Fries use the fan favorite Nacho Fries as a base for the toppings that include steak, tomatoes, sour cream, nacho cheese, cheese, and the Yellowbird sauce. Described as a “spicy habanero ranch,” it takes Yellowbird’s Classic Habanero Hot Sauce and blends it with ranch to give it a sweeter, more creamy taste.
Habanero-based hot sauces are always a bit hit or miss for me. They either use too many other flavors to mute the spice or not enough that it’s just a tongue-burning experience. The Yellowbird sauce strikes a wonderful balance that gives you that heat from the peppers, but it never burns in an uncomfortable way. The taste upon the first bite was slightly sweet with a hint of the pepper and a slight heat kick came at the end.
I was able to isolate the sauce enough to get a good taste of it on its own, but overall it got lost by the overwhelming amount of sour cream on the fries. Nacho Fries are in their best form when used as a base for a cheese fry dish. They are hardy and hold up well to the onslaught of ingredients while still bringing their own cumin-forward flavor.
To me, the steak added more of a textural difference to the item than a flavor, but Taco Bell steak has never been amazing. The two cheeses (nacho and shredded cheddar) worked well with the headlining sauce by adding a salty element. Taco Bell tomatoes are essentially decoration by offering no real taste to the dish.
When the titular sauce wasn’t overshadowed, the Yellowbird Nacho Fries were great. I was disappointed to see that the version of the sauce being used in Taco Bell isn’t currently for sale as a standalone item, but I hope that will change. It offers a good habanero flavor without worrying about the overwhelming spice that can come with it. This item is a super limited time (April 27th being the reported last day), so get it while you can. I recommend asking them to go easy on the sour cream when ordering.
Purchased Price: $6.49
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 order) 490 calories, 30 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 1240 milligrams of sodium, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 15 grams of protein.