Taco Bell has, hands down, the best vegan and vegetarian menu in the fast food universe. Sure there are vegan-focused chains like Loving Hut and Monty’s Good Burger, but those chains are region specific and don’t have the nationwide reach of something like Taco Bell. While most fast food chains are dropping plant-based burgers and chicken (and then quietly discontinuing them while hoping no one will notice) at Taco Bell you can turn just about every menu item into a vegan or vegetarian meal, and so long as Taco Bell doesn’t have some sort of special meat-based fried menu item (like wings, or fried chicken), the frying oil is free of animal by-products as well.
That’s great for vegan Taco Bell heads. But unfortunately, it has also allowed Taco Bell to f*ck around all of these years and not have a true vegan meat taco, something that is almost guaranteed to sell well. I’ve been to many Taco Bell tastings at the Taco Bell Test Kitchens, and they’ve tried all sorts of different formulations of plant-based non-meat “meats,” but in all of that time they haven’t cracked a true vegan taco that lives up to their OG. Well today, I’m happy to report that they are officially one step closer.
Beginning today, select Taco Bell locations in Los Angeles, New York City, and Orlando, Florida will be selling the Vegan Crunchwrap for one week (or while supplies last), a dish that has now become — spoiler warning for the review — our favorite vegan meal in all of fast food. The Crunchwrap features proprietary seasoned vegan beef, proprietary nut-free vegan blanco and nacho sauce, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, and a crunchy tostada shell wrapped up in a giant grilled tortilla.
So how good is it? Let’s break it down.
Vegan Crunchwrap Review
Before we start talking about how this thing tastes I think it’s important to mention that I am not vegan or vegetarian. I like eating meat and, as such, I’m not the biggest fan of “meat substitutes.” Give me a dish that tastes good and I won’t care if it has meat or not, but the minute you ask me to pretend a plant-based burger tastes as good as the real thing, I’m out. I’ve had very good plant-based fast food, Umami burger in particular, but most plant-based fast food (KFC’s vegan nuggets come to mind) just can’t nail texture and flavor the way real meat does.
Having said all that, I think I like Taco Bell’s Vegan Crunchwrap more than the real thing. Let’s be honest, Taco Bell’s ground beef isn’t great and while I love a Taco Bell crunchy taco (see our Taco Bell ranking here), the primary flavor profile of the ground beef is grease and salt. The meat substitute used in the Vegan Crunchwrap delivers so much more flavor, I’m tasting chili powder, garlic, onions, black pepper, and a hint of cumin — resulting in something that is incredibly savory and mildly spicy, no sauce packet required.
When it comes to texture I can’t really say how it compares to the real thing because a Crunchwrap, true to its name, is full of crunch courtesy of the tostada shell and lettuce, which means I’m not thinking about the texture of the pea-protein based “meat.” All I’m getting is the flavor, which is objectively more complex and interesting than the real thing.
I’m also liking the vegan blanco and nacho cheese sauce a lot more, the sauces here are made totally nut-free (a lot of fake cheese is made with nuts) and still come across as complex adding an indulgent quality to this Crunchwrap that makes each bite incredibly addicting. Best of all, you get that without the overly salty notes of the regular nacho cheese sauce. It’s almost eerie how delicious this thing is, and that’s coming from someone who isn’t even the target audience of this dish.
The Bottom Line:
Taco Bell is absolutely knocked it out of the park with the Vegan Crunchwrap. It’s delicious, packed full of the sort of zesty flavor Taco Bell is beloved for and doesn’t cut any corners in the process. It manages to take a beloved dish on the Taco Bell menu and actually improve upon it. We can’t wait until you’re able to substitute the vegan meat into other classic Taco Bell dishes like the Crunchy Taco and Mexican Pizza.
Sadly, as of now, you can’t. Trust me, we asked!
Right now this dish is priced the same as the OG Crunchwrap which means if you’re in the test market, there is absolutely no reason for not trying this if you already love the Crunchwrap.
Here is a list of locations currently carrying the Vegan Crunchwrap:
Los Angeles—6741 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028
New York City—976 6th Ave., New York, NY 10018
Orlando—11893 East Colonial Dr., Orlando, FL 32826
Find your nearest Taco Bell here.