Taco Bell’s Toasted Cheddar Chalupa is solid gold

Illustration for article titled Taco Bell’s Toasted Cheddar Chalupa is solid gold
Photo: Kate Bernot

At first blush, you could have taken Taco Bell’s new Toasted Cheddar Chalupa for a phone-it-in “innovation.” Start with a beloved menu item, add cheese. Boom—innovation. But, upon biting into its cheesy, shatter-crisp exterior, I can say: Sometimes the most beautiful things in life are the simplest.


The new chalupa debuted nationally September 12 as part of Taco Bell’s larger menu shake-up that also saw the untimely death of the Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos and the introduction of a dedicated vegetarian section. At the Taco Bell I visited, the new Chalupa’s arrival was heralded with proper fanfare: A big menu display and a new combo that pairs one Toasted Cheddar Chalupa with two crunchy tacos and a drink for $5 (at participating stores, some restrictions may apply, see store for details, forever and ever amen).

I ordered my Toasted Cheddar Chalupa alongside a standard Chalupa because I know how a control-based study works. Maybe I received the very last Chalupa before the new batch was fried because my standard one was a letdown: no crunch at all, just a sad, pitalike dough sleeve. I thought I loved Chalupas. Did my memory fail me? I subsequently took a bite of the Toasted Cheddar Chalupa, and the Chalupa category totally redeemed itself.

The Toasted Cheddar Chalupa’s exterior is encrusted with a layer of extra-crunchy cheese, reminiscent of the cheese discs produced when you’re broiling something and cheese drips onto the baking sheet or the satisfying frico of melted-hard cheese that sticks to the bottom of a delivery pizza box. The end of the cheddar Chalupa shattered when I bit it with a tempura-like crispiness, yet the rest of the shell held its form.

Not only does the toasted cheese add a double layer of crunch, but it’s perceptibly cheddary, even when covered in Fire sauce. That initial cheddar bite synchs up with the shredded cheese inside the Chalupa, creating a cheese-flavored echo.

Fans of the original Chalupa are almost guaranteed to have a new favorite on their hands: the toasted cheddar version improves on the O.G. both in terms of texture and flavor. It’s almost enough to make me forget all about the Cool Ranch Doritos Loco Taco.


Kate Bernot is a freelance writer and a certified beer judge. She was previously managing editor at The Takeout.


istari rises

even when covered in Fire sauce

This might be an unpopular opinion here, but Fire sauce is Taco Bell’s best hot sauce by a landslide.

I’ve seen another writer here sing the praises of their Diablo sauce, but that shit is disgusting garbage that tastes like they just tried to make a sauce as hot as they could while not actually offending a Midwestern palate, without taking into account its flavor profile. I swear I can feel the grittiness of too much chili powder.

My point being, excellent choice covering your chalupa in Fire sauce! I do it every time I order one.