While you might not normally equate fast food with wholesome eating, there are actually options you can get from the drive-thru that are on the healthier side (maybe not chicken sandwiches or ice cream, but alas). With menu items like the Crunchwrap Supreme and $1 Nacho Fries (or Buffalo Chicken Nacho Fries), it may come as a surprise that Taco Bell offers up some of the healthiest options on the fast food scene. Dig a little deeper into their menu and you’ll find that there are some better-for-you options if you don’t have time to make a homemade meal. (Have time on your hands? Try these fiesta-worthy recipes for tacos, fajitas and more.)
Over the past several years, Taco Bell has positioned themselves as one of the best fast food chains for healthy food, making strides to offer customizable options across their menu for their health-conscience customers.
According to the nutrition page on their website, these are some of the quality improvements they’ve made over the past few years to their menu:
- Reduced sodium across the menu by 15 percent since 2008, with a push to have a total 25 percent reduction by 2025.
- Removed artificial flavors and colors and replaced them with natural alternatives.
- Source 100% cage-free eggs for our breakfast menu. 100% cage-free egg ingredients were introduced to the menu in 2018.
- Serve chicken raised without antibiotics important to human medicine in U.S. restaurants
While these options and improvements are great, and definitely a step toward healthier eating, it’s largely up to the customer to customize smart choices, like ordering vegetarian or vegan options, or calorie-cutting with their ‘Fresco’ option to remove cheese, rice, sour cream, and add in pico de gallo.
“We just really encourage people to customize to however it fits their lifestyle,” Missy Schaaphok, Taco Bell’s in-house nutritionist and dietitian told Business Insider in 2016.
Live Más! Want to make your favorites at home? Try these fast food copycat recipes.
Copycat Your Favorites at Home with These Taco Bell Recipes
These hearty and zippy burritos can be whipped up in a jiffy. —Kimberly Hardison, Maitland, Florida
Don't plan on coming away with clean fingers after digging into these cheese fries! For a more authentic copycat, add some of this homemade taco seasoning
to your fries.
This is a really simple, tasty breakfast. It has been a mainstay for our mornings together as a family. —Jo Ferguson, Arnold, Missouri
We serve these quesadillas as chili dippers or load them up with salsa and sour cream for a super starter. —Terri Keeney, Greeley, Colorado
This mouthwatering chicken burrito recipe makes enough for two casseroles, so you can enjoy one today and freeze the other for a busy weeknight. They're super to have on hand for quick meals or to take to potlucks. —Sonya Nightingale, Burley, Idaho.
Nothing is better than freshly made guacamole when you're eating something spicy. It is easy to whip together in a matter of minutes and quickly tames anything that's too hot. —Joan Hallford, North Richland Hills, Texas
You only need a handful of ingredients to make one of our family’s favorites. It's also easy to double for company! —Susan Brown, Kansas City, Kansas
I found this recipe in an old school cookbook, and I've taken it to many potlucks since then. The layers look so pretty in a glass bowl. —Sandy Fynaardt, New Sharon, Iowa
Burritos for breakfast
? Why not! These zesty little handfuls will wake up your taste buds and start your day with a smile. And you can make and freeze them ahead, then just pop them into the microwave for a quick meal. —Linda Wells, St. Mary's, Georgia
My family loves these tacos. The chicken cooks in the slow cooker, so it’s convenient to throw together before I leave for work. Then we just roll it up in tortillas with the remaining ingredients and dinner’s ready in minutes. —Cheryl Newendorp, Pella, Iowa
This zesty nacho dip is great for any get-together and allows me to spend more time with my guests. I always have requests to bring it when my husband and I attend parties. —Sally Hull, Homestead, Florida
I wanted an easy alternative to deep-fried chalupas, so I bake them with filling on top. —Magdalena Flores, Abilene, Texas
Zap one of these frozen burritos in the microwave and you'll stave off hunger all morning. This recipe is my family’s favorite combo, but I sometimes use breakfast sausage instead of bacon. —Audra Niederman, Aberdeen, South Dakota
Zesty salsa and tender strips of steak make these traditional fajitas extra special. —Rebecca Baird, Salt Lake City, Utah
Leftover chicken gets Mexican flair from cumin in this fun main dish. The chicken quesadilla recipe has an impressive look and taste yet requires little preparation. —Linda Wetzel, Woodland Park, Colorado
I love burritos, but the frozen ones are high in salt and chemicals. So I created these. They're wonderful to have on hand for quick dinners or late-night snacks—I've even had them for breakfast! —Laura Winemiller, Delta, Pennsylvania
My mom gave me a fundraiser cookbook, and this is the recipe I’ve used most. My whole family is on board. For toppings, think sour cream, tomatoes, jalapeno and red onion. —Judy Hughes, Waverly, Kansas
I have a son who lives in Mexico, so we don’t see him very often. When I make these burritos, it feels as if he is right there at the table with us, inhaling them. —Marina Castle, Canyon Country, California
A taco seasoning made from scratch with pantry staples deliciously jazzes up ground beef, turning Tuesday night into an all-out fiesta. Add your favorite toppings, and dinner is served! —Rebecca Levesque, St. George, New Brunswick
After a busy day, this is a dish that I can get on the table fast. The recipe came about totally by accident: I started throwing things together and soon I had a winner! Everyone who has tried these burritos goes home with the recipe. —Amanda Alford, Hopedale, Illinois