Taco Bell Doesn’t Understand What We Want in a Doritos Locos Taco

Does the new Flamin' Hot Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco live up to its (very long) name?

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hand holding doritos locos taco and dorito
This was one of the most difficult feats in all of food photography history
Photo: Dennis Lee

Taking up the torch of the fast food world’s current hot-’n-spicy obsession, Taco Bell has released a new Flamin’ Hot Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco. That’s right, Flamin’ Hot Cool Ranch. The fact that those appear to be contradictory concepts is not lost on me. The release of this taco overlaps with the recent release of Frito-Lay’s Doritos Flamin’ Hot Cool Ranch chips, which hit stores at the end of December 2021. I recently had the chance to taste the new Doritos, and I have to say, they’re now officially one of my favorite Doritos flavors.

Check out that color!
Check out that color!
Photo: Dennis Lee

I’m sure at some point you’ve come across a batch of Doritos that was woefully light on the seasoning. I feel your pain deep inside my flavor hole. These Flamin’ Hot Cool Ranch Doritos, however, are more heavy on the seasoning than most Doritos varieties I’ve encountered, which is weirdly satisfying. Mmm... seasoning.

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How do Flamin’ Hot Cool Ranch Doritos taste?

Honestly, they taste great. The Doritos lean harder on the Flamin’ Hot flavors, which are acidic and spicy, versus the Cool Ranch flavors, which are herby and buttermilky. The spice level is in line with all of the other Flamin’ Hot varieties I’ve had, which is a slow but persistent burn, depending on how many chips you smash in one sitting.

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Out of all the standard flavors of Doritos, I’m surprised it took them so long to Flamin’-hottify Cool Ranch, because it seems like a complete no-brainer. It’s also a winner.

See the red? That means it’s supposed to be spicy.
See the red? That means it’s supposed to be spicy.
Photo: Dennis Lee
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How does the taco compare to the chip?

Now it’s Taco Bell’s turn to step up to the plate and turn Flamin’ Hot Cool Ranch chips into a Doritos Locos Taco, as per tradition. I grabbed the Supreme version of this taco for lunch, which includes tomatoes and sour cream on top of the seasoned ground beef, shredded cheese, and lettuce. Look at how blindingly red that shell is. Never change, Red no. 40. Never change.

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But can the taco match the bold flavors of the Dorito chip? The answer, sadly, is no. One bite immediately informed me that this alarmingly red shell doesn’t pack a ton of Flamin’ Hot Cool Ranch flavor into it. Sure, there’s a light dusting of those seasonings on the outside of the taco shell, but through an entire mouthful of everything all at once, no single flavor really stands out. There’s not one particular spicy or herby note when you bring it all together; it’s just faintly reminiscent of a Dorito.

Should you buy the Flamin’ Hot Cool Ranch Dorito Locos Taco?

The lackluster seasoning on the shell doesn’t mean this taco is bad. It’s just fine if you’re in the mood for a hard shell taco from Taco Bell, which is a very particular kind of craving.

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If you like the Nacho Cheese version of the Doritos Locos Taco, then you will definitely like this one. The Flamin’ Hot Cool Ranch is something of a love letter to people who are already fans of the NCDLT, so if you’re part of that club, I’m sure you’ll be delighted. The DLT in all its forms just isn’t for me, because I always think they’re going to taste more like Doritos and I always get a little disappointed. I can just buy the Doritos themselves when I’m craving those intense flavors.

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The next time I’m at Taco Bell, I’ll stick to my Crunchwrap Supreme. Those will always have a place in my heart. As for the Flamin’ Hot Cool Ranch chips, there are multiple bags in my pantry right now and they will continue to be part of my chip rotation as long as Frito-Lay sees fit to produce them.

Which, now that I think about it, is probably right up until the next Flamin’ Hot novelty comes out.