Fast food chains consistently making a popular item available for a limited time only to whip up more adulation upon its inevitable return isn’t new, but what is new for the latest go-round of Taco Bell’s Nacho Fries is what you can now dip these perennial pleasers into…Vegan Nacho Sauce! This limited time offering launched on October 12th, but writing this just a few weeks later, I can confirm they weren’t kidding about the “limited” part. Many locations have already stopped selling Vegan Nacho Sauce, and I struck out at multiple places before locating the dang thing.
When I finally discovered some, the plant-based-elephant in the room was its viscosity, which could be best described as “sludgy.” My traditional idea of nacho sauce is on the liquid-y side, while this looked more like unnaturally dark orange plastic in a cup. When I glommed a big blob onto the end of a fry and held it out to take a picture, it even stayed in place the whole time, which felt somewhat freakish. I guess it’s a good thing that no one could look at this vegan variant and accidentally mistake it for the dairy-based original?
After my picture was taken, my first bite was taken too, and it was a bit confusing. Why was I getting spiciness? And was that a hint of Old Bay? I replicated my experiment repeatedly, and — oh, yep, okay, it became clear that all that overpowering zest was coming exclusively from the Nacho Fries.
That was a bit disappointing. Isn’t the whole point of dipping sauce to liven up the taste of something that’s too plain on its own not to fade into the background itself? Lapping up a solo gob of sauce brought a faintly funky flavor, slightly and pleasantly earthy, but decidedly not bad. People who brag about being vegans can have a bad reputation, and often, so does vegan food itself; I Googled “vegan cheese tastes like,” and the first word that auto-filled was “vomit,” but while Taco Bell’s newest offering kind of looks like that, it certainly doesn’t taste like it. Its flavor was mild, with a creaminess despite the rubbery looks and a comforting warmth, not as strident or synthetic as I’d feared. Just as it doesn’t look especially like dairy cheese sauce, though, it doesn’t taste much like it either.
This is the part of the review where I’d usually tell you whether to buy this product or not, but unfortunately, if you’re in an area where it’s no longer being sold, that choice might have already been made for you. So what I’ll say instead is that I think it’d be worth it for Taco Bell to give the Vegan Nacho Sauce another more permanent chance. I might not personally be rushing to buy it again, but I’m sure plenty of people who are more into vegan dining would. So come on, Taco Bell, learn from McDonald’s. If the McRib can go on a whole farewell tour before popping right back onto the market, Vegan Nacho Sauce can too!
Purchased Price: $3.80
Size: Small (size is for the fries, and the sauce is served on the side)
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (fries with sauce) 310 calories, 17 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 780 milligrams of sodium, 35 grams of total carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.