Taco Bell is doing wings. Did anyone ask them to? Absolutely not. No one even thought to ask, because this is Taco Bell we’re talking about. They don’t make wings. They make weird Frankensteinian stoner “Mexican” food.
And yet, we have to admit the idea is intriguing. If the company created wings that are actually good, we might be dealing with a game-changer. A new era of Taco Bell. If they’re bad… well, at least we get to roast them. Isn’t that prospect alone enough to warrant a review?
As if suddenly selling wings wasn’t weird enough, Taco Bell has also made the strange decision to only make them available for a single week and completely unavailable before 2 pm. Making these wings, dare I say — rare. But before you jump in your car and hit up every local Taco Bell in your area in search of them we need to answer the big question: are they actually worth your time? Let’s find out.
Crispy Chicken Wings
Price: $5.99 (order of five)
Taco Bell’s Crispy Chicken Wings are priced at $5.99 for an order of five. That puts the cost of each wing at a little over $1, which feels like a fair price (a bit overpriced, but we’re going through a “wing shortage…”) when compared to other wing-selling establishments. But ultimately what matters is how they taste… I’m torn on this one.
Let me say this outright: these wings are not worth a trip to Taco Bell if you have no other reason to go to Taco Bell. They aren’t going to smack your tastebuds with a flavor so good that this is going to be your go-to wing spot. They aren’t required eating while watching football or doing whatever it is that people like to do while eating wings. On their best day, these wings don’t compare with what you’d find at a Wingstop or Buffalo Wild Wingstop.
But also, I like them. Each order of wings comes with Taco Bell’s Spicy Ranch, which is an attempt to cater to the people who come to Taco Bell expecting Buffalo Wings and end up disappointed to find that these are dry rub wings. In truth though, you don’t need the dipping sauce for these to taste good.
The wings are seasoned with Taco Bell’s “Queso Seasoning” which consists of chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, and the smallest hint of cayenne pepper. It tastes great, very similar to Taco Bell’s Nacho Fry seasoning. In fact, I’d hazard a guess that it’s the exact same mix. The spicy ranch adds some sweetness and tang to the flavor, but take the word “spicy” with a grain of salt here, it’s by no means even mild in the heat department.
Going the dry rub route seems like a missed opportunity to toss these wings in Taco Bell’s hot red or green sauce, but maybe that’s a menu hack waiting to happen. The seasoning is doled out subtly on each wing and adheres perfectly to the wing’s light batter. My biggest gripe is how greasy these things are. Wings are generally a messy food, but I’d take buffalo sauce-stained fingers over this wet greasy mess any day. After just two wings my fingers were glistening with grease.
My napkin was practically translucent by the end of my meal.
The other big problem I have with them is that they taste a little underdone to me. If you like a crispy chicken wing, this isn’t that. Underneath the skin, the chicken fat is still soft and chewy. It’s a more noticeable problem on the drums, which tend to have more fat in the first place. Fried fat is great, don’t get me wrong, but Taco Bell’s wings would be greatly enhanced with a minute or two more in the fryer. If I could order just the flats, I would, but I imagine a big brand like Taco Bell is meticulous in how many flats and drums you get per order.
While I know enough to know that these aren’t amazing, I found these wings to be strangely addictive. I tore through my five-piece order but then was left feeling strangely unsatisfied. It was almost like I couldn’t stop my rabid eating because I was trying so hard to taste the flavor that never fully showed up. A train that shows on the horizon but never arrives at the station.
The Bottom Line:
Drums: 2 stars. Flats: 3 stars.
Don’t go to Taco Bell for wings, but if you find yourself in the Taco Bell drive-thru by pure coincidence this weekend, give them a try — they’re surprisingly tasty despite being from Taco Bell and having a few obvious flaws. Ultimately, Taco Bell’s Crispy Chicken Wings seem like a menu item for the person at Taco Bell who doesn’t really want Taco Bell. That, unfortunately, means this item doesn’t have a natural menu pairing to help enhance the experience of eating them. Taco Bell’s fries seem like an obvious contender, but they keep removing fries from the menu.
If you’re ordering online and you’re getting the dreaded “an item in your cart is not available at this location” put your shoes on and walk inside your nearest Taco Bell, I guarantee you they are there. For whatever reason, Taco Bell’s app is leading a lot of people towards thinking these are hard to find, but talking to a few Taco Bell employees has revealed to me that these aren’t nearly as popular as the internet would have you believe.