Taco Bell’s newest menu item paid off big for the chain — here’s the secret to its success

Taco Bell's fries.

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Taco Bell’s fries.
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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

  • Taco Bell started serving fries in January.
  • The fries were the most successful launch in Taco Bell‘s history, with the chain selling 53 million total orders before the limited-time item disappeared from menus in April.
  • We taste-tested the fries and found they were like nothing else fast-food chains are serving right now.

Taco Bell finally tried serving fries – and it paid off big for the chain.

In late January, the fast-food chain added $1 nacho fries to the menu for a limited time. Instead of taking the classic fast-food route, Taco Bell tops its fries with a spicy seasoning and serves them with a side of nacho cheese.

On Wednesday, Taco Bell parent company Yum Brands reported that nacho fries served as a significant sales driver for the chain, with more than 53 million orders placed before the item disappeared from the menu in April.

Taco Bell’s same-store sales increased by 1% in the most recent quarter. According to the company, roughly 25% of Taco Bell orders in the quarter included fries.

To see how Taco Bell’s fries measured up to the competition, we tried them for ourselves when they were still on the menu. Here’s why they were like nothing else in the fast-food industry:


For $1, customers could get a handful of fries and a cup of nacho cheese sauce for dipping — the first sign that Taco Bell wasn’t trying to imitate competitors’ fried offerings.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Taco Bell’s emphasis is on the cheese rather than the ketchup. It’s the right decision.

While the nacho cheese isn’t by any means gourmet, it provides a rich and gloopy satisfaction and immediately sets the fries apart from their ketchup-dipped rivals.


The fries also differ from fast-food norms with an impressive mix of spicy seasoning instead of the typical salt bomb. They taste exactly how french fries from Taco Bell — and only Taco Bell — should taste.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Taco Bell’s fries are fairly hefty and a bit floppy – certainly less crisp than offerings at chains like McDonald’s.

Had the fries been classically seasoned with salt, this would have been a major misstep. But the thicker cut is a smart move for Taco Bell, as it guarantees the potato can balance out the spices and rich nacho cheese.


The nacho-fied fries are a mess — but a highly rewarding one, especially for $2.49. While you can dip each fry in the nacho cheese, you’ll end up shoveling the “supreme” fries into your mouth with a fork.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

It’s a quintessential Taco Bell creation – a bunch of delicious and semi-embarrassing ingredients mixed in a bizarre way that you’re going to end up craving at 2 a.m.


Overall, Taco Bell’s fries are like no other fries in the industry, swapping ketchup for cheese and salt for spice. The limited-time menu item proved to be a big win for the chain.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider