REVIEW: Taco Bell New Cantina Chicken Menu

Taco Bell’s new Cantina Chicken Menu features three major new ingredients:

  1. A slow-roasted chicken with a mix of Mexican seasonings, including garlic, onions, and chilies.
  2. Avocado Verde Salsa that features tomatillos, green chili peppers, and avocado pulp.
  3. Shredded purple cabbage.

Okay, the addition of purple cabbage makes it more like 2.5 major new ingredients, but the purple stuff is a welcomed addition that not only brings color but also a pleasing crunch to those menu items with it.

Cantina Chicken Crispy Taco

This was my favorite from the new menu, which features slow-roasted chicken, three-cheese blend, creamy jalapeño sauce, and three-cheese blend grilled on the outside of a white corn tortilla shell. Sure, it looks like the white corn tortilla shell got bear-hugged by the grill press because it was almost split into two when I pulled it out of its wrapper, but it’s still delightful.

There are few ingredients, but what made the difference for me was the cheese grilled on the shell, which gave it a different crunchy texture and a notable cheesiness that also let the jalapeño sauce and the mild flavors of the slow-roasted chicken come through. It was a nice cheesy chicken taco with a slight kick from the jalapeño sauce, and the addition of the Avocado Verde Salsa gave it a mild avocado flavor, making it taste even better.

Price: $3.79*
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 290 calories, 16 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 520 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 16 grams of protein.

Cantina Chicken Soft Taco

The soft taco version doesn’t contain the exact same ingredients as the crispy taco. It’s stuffed with slow-roasted chicken, avocado ranch sauce, lettuce, shredded purple cabbage, pico de gallo, and cheddar cheese.

Peel back that flour tortilla, and you’ll see a rainbow of ingredients I don’t find quite as tasty as the crispy taco version. There are a lot of different flavors here, more so when the Avocado Verde Salsa is added, but among those flavors, it’s hard to notice the chicken. Maybe mine didn’t have much, or maybe there’s too much of a rainbow of ingredients. It’s a fine tasting product, but it was kind of a letdown after tasting the crispy taco one first.

Price: $3.99*
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 210 calories, 10 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 520 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 12 grams of protein.

Cantina Chicken Burrito

This menu item has double the slow-roasted chicken than the soft taco version, avocado ranch sauce, creamy chipotle sauce, lettuce, shredded purple cabbage, pico de gallo, and cheddar cheese in a flour tortilla. So basically, it’s a thicker, meatier, and saucier Cantina Chicken Soft Taco, but it tastes better than the smaller menu item.

With more chicken stuffed inside, the protein and its seasonings are more noticeable than with the soft taco. What’s not noticeable is the cheddar cheese, but that was expected with the inclusion of two sauces. With more space in a burrito-sized flour tortilla for additional chicken, there’s more of a flavor balance, even with the inclusion of the Avocado Verde Salsa, which kind of makes it taste like there’s a little guacamole in it. Overall, a solid tasting product.

Sometimes, I make fun of Taco Bell with these split burrito shots by saying it’s always a sea of brown, red, and white, but the purple cabbage here adds some desperately needed color. But let’s be honest, the number of folks who cut Taco Bell burritos in half is tiny. Raises hand.

Price: $7.59*
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 540 calories, 30 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 85 milligrams of cholesterol, 1170 milligrams of sodium, 43 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 25 grams of protein.

Cantina Chicken Quesadilla

The simplest of the Cantina Chicken menu features the chicken, creamy chipotle sauce, and a three-cheese blend in a folded and grilled flour tortilla. This seemed the perfect vessel to showcase the new slow-roasted chicken and Avocado Salsa Verde because there’s little in the quesadilla to get in the way if you don’t dip it into the included guacamole and sour cream containers.

However, without the new sauce or any of the dips, the quesadilla’s flavor doesn’t really tickle my taste buds. But even with them, I can’t say I enjoyed this as much as the other offerings on the Chicken Cantina Menu. Adding the guacamole and sour cream overwhelms the ingredients in the quesadilla, and the new sauce enhances the avocado-ness of the guacamole. While the menu item is fine, I’d pick any other Cantina Chicken Menu item over this one.

Price: $7.99*
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 570 calories, 32 grams of fat, 16 grams of saturated fat, 90 milligrams of cholesterol, 1330 milligrams of sodium, 43 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 29 grams of protein.

Cantina Chicken Bowl

Finally, we have the priciest of the bunch but also the most filling. It comes with slow-roasted chicken, seasoned rice, black beans, Avocado Ranch sauce, reduced-fat sour cream, lettuce, shredded purple cabbage, pico de gallo, guacamole, and cheddar cheese. I’m a fan of any bowl Taco Bell dumps multiple ingredients into, and I’m definitely a fan of this one.

But with mostly the same ingredients as previous bowls, it all tastes too familiar, even with the new chicken and the squeezing of an entire Avocado Salsa Verde pouch all over it. Because it contains a generous helping of guacamole, the new sauce kind of blends in with the avocado, making it less noticeable. But I did like the purple cabbage in this. I know. Praising purple cabbage seems weird, but as I mentioned at the beginning of this review, it does add color and crunch. Despite tasting similar to previous Taco Bell bowls, I’d repurchase it.

Price: $9.99*
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 490 calories, 24 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 80 milligrams of cholesterol, 1150 milligrams of sodium, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 11 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 25 grams of protein.

*Because I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, things are a bit pricier here. You’ll probably pay less than I did.

4 thoughts to “REVIEW: Taco Bell New Cantina Chicken Menu”

  1. I’ve had the soft taco and the burrito so far. I’d rate the taco 8/10. The chicken is pretty decent, probably the best TB has done before. Now its not great by actual chicken standards, but by TB standards, its solid. The pico and purple cabbage are a nice change from the standard TB fare and give it a nice flavor boost, especially when you pair it with the new Avocado Verde salsa.

    I’d rate the burrito 7.5/10. It largely tastes the same since it has many of the same ingredients (wish they put in black beans), but I’m knocking it a bit because of its size. For the price, I was expecting something similar to the XL burritos they use to have. Instead, I swear mine was no larger than the ones you can get off the new value menu. If they are larger, its just barely.

  2. I tried the crispy taco and burrito last week when it was only available with the app. The taco was really good, but what you get for the price they charge is pretty lame.
    The burrito was also very tasty, but the first one seemed to be a couple inches longer the the one I got last night.

    The dragon fruit freeze (with syrup) was one of their better flavors

  3. I thought the new slow roasted chicken on the Cantina Chicken Power bowl was disgusting. It had a terrible chemical taste. Why ruin a good chicken. It doesn’t taste like meat. It tastes like canned meat. It smells bad. Please bring back authentic chicken!

  4. I was a big fan of the old chicken power bowl and I am extremely disappointed with the chicken catina bowl. Sure it has more lettuce/cabbage and rice, but less of the good stuff and lets face it – Catina Chicken has no flavor!! So less flavor – less filling – more money – Hard Pass!!!

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