Review: Naked Chicken Chalupa from Taco Bell

Taco Bell is definitely no stranger to fast food innovations.  Thank you Taco Bell for consistently serving up a decent amount of smart new products and balancing that out with some wacky novelty creations from time to time.  It’s not often that smart and wacky actually come together successfully.  Introducing the new Naked Chicken Chalupa where, “The shell is the chicken.  The chicken is the shell.”Naked Chicken ChalupaWe’ve seen fried chicken used as the “bread” of a sandwich so it’s not much of a stretch to have Taco Bell giving us a chalupa shell made from chicken.Naked Chicken ChalupaThe Naked Chicken Chalupa features a shell made with four ounces of marinated, all-white meat, antibiotic-free chicken seasoned with Mexican spices and is filled with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, cheddar cheese and avocado ranch sauce.  I was surprised at how well the chicken shell worked to be completely honest.  The chicken shell had a perfect size, build, and texture to house all the inner ingredients.  It’s not spicy, but seasoned well enough to stand out with breading ingredients like paprika, garlic powder, annatto and tumeric.  The chicken shell is sturdy and an easy chew while a little oily (sleeve packaging was a plus) and slightly crispy.  The novelty of the shell wears off quickly so it’s a major plus to be solid and functional.  We are no strangers to shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, cheddar cheese as they tend to make regular appearances in a lot of Taco Bell products. The creamy avocado ranch sauce isn’t anything new, but it’s a welcomed flavor to give the Naked Chicken Chalupa a tasty dressing for its salad center.Naked Chicken ChalupaThe Naked Chicken Chalupa relied heavily on the shell… it felt like 95% of the impact was shell and the remaining ingredients make up the other 5%. The inside-out ingredients are a little off-putting at first and then it becomes apparent that there’s something missing.  Maybe a smattering of chopped bacon could have made the Naked Chicken Chalupa feel a bit more complete.Naked Chicken ChalupaThe Naked Chicken Chalupa comes with a suggested price of $2.99 and I paid $3.49 for mine here in Maryland.  It’s got 20 grams of protein, so it’s value is decent, but it would’ve been so much better at $2.99.  You can find a great value if you go for the $5 Big Box combo option which includes a Naked Chicken Chalupa, Doritos Locos Taco, Crunchy Taco and Medium Drink.  If this product stand out so much as chicken wrapped around lettuce, I feel I would have loved it.  Another version of the Naked Chicken Chalupa with one other impactful ingredient could be a hit because the chicken shell turned out pretty good and just needs something to balance it out better.

Pros: Chicken shell's size, texture and seasoning. $5 Big Box value. 20 grams of protein and only 22 grams of carbs.

Cons: Mostly lettuce and diced tomatoes on the inside. Barely any cheese, zero impact. Needs better flavor contrast since the shell dominates the meal.

Taste: 6.00/10
Value: 6.25/10
Grubbing on-the-go: 6.75/10
Price: $3.49

Overall GrubGrade: 6.25/10

More Info: tacobell.com
Nutrition Facts:
440 calories
30 grams of fat
7 grams of saturated fat
1090 milligrams of sodium
22 grams of carbs
3 grams of fiber
20 grams of protein

41 comments on “Review: Naked Chicken Chalupa from Taco Bell

  1. Spencer Valdez says:

    You mentioned a need for more flavor contrast. What could I ask to be added onto it to make that possible?

  2. Steven says:

    I tried two today… one regular and the second I made into a Naked Chicken Club Chalupa… by adding bacon. It was well worth that upgrade. In fact I’m struggling to figure out why they didn’t just make it that in the first place. I LOVE IT in club form!

  3. Andrew says:

    The second I saw that there wouldn’t be any meat on the inside I knew I would be adding as many of their potatoes to this as I can. I can’t even imagine how great that flavor duo is going to be. Now if only they still had that queso dip from a month ago..

    • Johnnyboy says:

      Now imagine it you could have bees inside it or steak or more chicken inside it….it does remind me of the Double down sandwich from KFC with the idea.

  4. AJ says:

    This + their potatoes and I’ll Be in heaven, I just wish they still had at that queso dip

  5. Johnnyboy says:

    I guess I will try this, but it looks like it needs some melted puppy cheese inside the middle or some hot spicy creamy cheese sauce inside. But for $5, I will give it a try.

  6. Johnnyboy says:

    I meant spicy creamy cheese sauce not “puppy”! Lol…….

  7. Taco Bill says:

    I feel like this would will be better with rice.

  8. Gr8pimpin says:

    Wow, yours doesn’t look nearly as appetizing as the one I had today. On mine, the lettuce was more finely shredded had a bunch of tomatoes and a decent amount of cheese.Pretty much what I get with a taco supreme.

    Agreed, the shell was a tad greasy, but I found it pretty peppery, in a good way. Plus a tad of heat. I was surprised as I suck down really spicy food all the time so it was hotter than I expected.

    It worked. Really well. I would get this again in a heartbeat.

  9. Jason Dorman says:

    Had it during the test run early last year. Wasn’t very good at all.

  10. Sean H says:

    I got one of these yesterday for lunch, and I really enjoyed it. I didn’t realize until seeing the release yesterday that there was no meat inside the chicken shell, but it definitely made sense once I started eating it. I really didn’t think there was too much to add, besides a packet or two of Diablo sauce for a little extra kick.

    I was very pleasantly surprised by this item. Taco Bell has been killing it lately.

  11. CulinaryZerg says:

    They should stuff it with their fried potatoes, some cheese, and maybe spicy sauce. Starch to take the place of bread. A cordon bleu version or pepper jack/mushroom version would work too.

    As long as it’s not taco meat. Beef and chicken don’t mix well on anything.

    • holly says:

      bread is starch…

      might want to take “culinary” out of your name…

      • starchsky says:

        Too bad you can’t take the “ho” out of your name. You need to take reading comprehension 101 as he (or she) never said bread wasn’t a starch. He (or she) was suggesting a starch replacement for the lack of bread.

      • Sascha says:

        Yes, bread is starch, and this chalupa has none, since it is without a tortilla of some sort. The potatoes therefore would take the place of the missing starch, no?

      • Dave Negan says:

        Holly, might want to read a little closer next time. CZ said the fried potatoes could serve as the starch this sandwich lacks, i.e., it has a piece of fried chicken in place of the bread, thus lacking any starch at all. This shouldn’t require an explanation, but I guess some people’s mouths run far ahead of their brains.

      • steven p says:

        I think he knows that, and was suggesting to add potatoes as starch because there is no bread/starch in the chicken shell, in contrast to a regular chalupa.

      • Shaun says:

        LOLOL, SMRT. The funny thing is, it’s not actual breading, it’s dredged in seasoned flour/a STARCH just like fried chicken.

        @culinaryzerg, your wrong about mixing beef and chicken. Ironically I’ve don’t it for taco fillingand it was great. I’ve also don’t it with Chuckwagon type dishes and BBQs. The taste and texture differences are great. culinary……..lol.

      • Sars says:

        He’s saying add some starch to compensate for the lack of bread. Use your head before jumping on someone.

  12. Jonathan Wayne says:

    I tried some of someone’s and it was okay, seems weird to say but I would probably fill it with some other sort of meat or something. It’s also a little spicy which is something they should probably tell people who might be surprised when they buy it.

  13. bren says:

    I ate one about 10 minutes ago. I’m not really a fan of spicy food, although I am kinda tolerant of moderately spicy food from eating Chinese and Indian food. My Naked Chicken Chalupa was actually kinda spicy… almost as spicy as the habanero sauce from the Cool Habanero Double Stack taco. I wasn’t really paying attention, but the heat seemed to come from the chicken and not a spicy sauce.

    That said, I did like it.

  14. Tricky says:

    “Melted puppy cheese”….hilarious. I read that and was ‘wtf?!’.

  15. Nick says:

    I had this today with bacon added. It’s good, but seems overpriced for what it is. It’s basically a McChicken sandwich without bread at 3x the price. The chicken patty is bigger, but not 3x bigger.

  16. Russ Nichols says:

    I had one yesterday and I thought it was amazing! It had a nice spice to it and with the avacado ranch sauce and the crunch from the shell and still tasting the chicken it felt complete to me . The small size was off putting to me at the beginning though.

  17. Johnnyboy says:

    I had this today as is, I thought it was pretty tasty, they were $3.49 at my local one. It had a lot of cheese and green spicy sauce, whatever that was. I loved it, I could have ate 2. I probably get the box next time if I am that hungry.

    I think Ryan should try it again, that picture doesn’t look like mine did. You had someone lazy make that, it looks unappealing. The one I had plenty of cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and sauce. I was delish!

  18. Darrell Martinsen says:

    They shouldn’t have made this so spicy by itself. Would have been better to just offer a spicy sauce to add. Way to exclude folks that don’t like or can’t have hot spicy food.

    • Barnaby says:

      LOL at “way to exclude folks” – you’re such an entitled little snowflake. #blandpalatesmatter, #seasoningprejudice

    • Joe King says:

      You’re funny. Name an item on their menu that doesn’t “exclude” the people who decide they don’t like the item. How dare they offer nachos, don’t they know they’re excluding people who don’t like tortilla chips? “STOP LIKING THINGS I DON’T LIKE!”

    • Ffs people says:

      Way to exclude the vegetarians. Do they offer a gluten/meat/soy/dairy/nut free paleo optimized 2.6 version?

  19. Mark Hannes says:

    I liked this a lot. Added bacon and nacho cheese in mine.

  20. Ricky Lloyd says:

    Just tried it out and liked it, though for the $3 stand-alone price point it definitely could’ve used something else (the suggested bacon would likely be a hit). The $5 box is a pretty solid value, though.

  21. BigBelly says:

    Tried this in the box, it made for a decent meal, but I felt the same, it needed something more in there. Maybe go crazy and put a small soft taco supreme nestled inside with a 3 cheese blend between them, or one of those double decker sauces. The tortilla would insulate the lettuce from wilting, and add a little chew to it.

  22. Jenna says:

    I tried this and it was way too spicy for my taste buds! I wish they would have advertised it as spicy..

  23. Kristina says:

    I ordered mine with extra melted puppy cheese. 10/10 would order again.

  24. doctorx0079 says:

    I just had my second one, with no extra puppy cheese. THESE ARE AWESOME. This should be a permanent menu item. I’m going to have to try one with bacon now. It’s only 50 cents extra.

  25. Shaina S Williams says:

    Please bring naked chicken chalupa back for good.

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