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The Best New Fast-Food Items of 2021

Chipotle, Taco Bell and Popeyes have all rolled out new fast-food menu items. Here's a closer look!

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Chipotle: Quesadilla

Yes, Chipotle has Mexican fast food down to a fine art with their burritos, bowls and tacos. But they’ve never officially had a quesadilla on the menu. That’s changing with the introduction of their Hand-Crafted Quesadilla, customizable as usual to your taste. Psst… it’s only available on the Chipotle app and Chipotle.com.

See the Chipotle secrets that employees want you to know.

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McDonald’s: McPlant

McDonald’s is jumping on the plant-based bandwagon with their McPlant patty. It’s made from pea-based protein, which the fast-food giant co-developed with Beyond Meat Inc., creators of the famous Beyond Burger. It’s currently available at McDonald’s in Denmark and Sweden, and will soon be available at locations around the world.

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KFC: The (Best Ever) Chicken Sandwich

KFC kicked off 2021 with the release of a sandwich that combines a quarter-pound, double-breaded, extra-crispy chicken patty with a freshly toasted brioche bun. This masterpiece is topped off with the Colonel’s Real Mayo or Spicy Sauce and crinkle-cut pickles. Is this better than the Chik-fil-A chicken sandwich? It might be.

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Dunkin’: Avocado Toast

Dunkin has already announced a couple brand-new drinks for 2021. But we’re most excited about the all-new Avocado Toast. You can start your day off on a healthy note with some ‘cado, then treat yourself to a Blueberry Matcha Latte and a doughnut. Here’s how you can get Dunkin’ delivered.

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Popeyes: Cajun Flounder Sandwich

Popeyes started the chicken sandwich war of 2019, and this sandwich is so good, it might just ignite another! With a spicy Cajun-seasoned crispy flounder patty served on a brioche bun, topped off with tartar sauce and barrel-aged pickles, this is perfect for Lent fast-food cravings. Don’t forget to check out our other “fishy” fast food picks for Lent.

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Taco Bell: Quesalupa

While not exactly a new addition to the menu, the return of the beloved Quesalupa (aka the delicious meeting of a quesadilla and a chalupa) sent fans into a frenzy. The double-layered delight now has 50% more melted pepper jack and mozzarella cheese, plus beef, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream. Pair it with the brand-new Taco Bell Freeze!

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Einstein Bros.: Texas Brisket Egg Sandwich

Brisket. Bacon. Bagels. What could go wrong? The bagel shop’s latest sandwich features a slow-smoked beef brisket served with egg and topped off by melted cheddar cheese and smoky chipotle sauce. The best part? It’s served on a brand-new jalapeno, bacon and cheese bagel.

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Caribou: Sparkling Spicy Pineapple Juice

Talk about a wake-up call! This pineapple juice and smoky chipotle blended smoothie is “BOUsted” with caffeine, guarana and ginseng. It’s the perfect kind of refreshing beverage for a hot summer morning. Plus, pineapple is really good for you.

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Taco Bell Green Apple FreezeCourtesy Taco Bell

Taco Bell: Green Apple Freeze

This fun new drink earns the Bell another spot on the list! Christmas seems to have come early with this red-and-green-hued drink, which comes with a cherry apple swirl. We predict tangy and sweet flavors, but there’s a catch—it’s only available at the New York Cantina location in Times Square.

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Wendys Pineapple Mango LemonadeCourtesy Wendy's

Wendy’s: Pineapple Mango Lemonade

We didn’t think anything could top Wendy’s Strawberry Frosty, but this definitely seems like a good contender! Tangy lemonade meets punchy pineapple and sweet mango in this drink that’s just made for a tropical summer. It’s only available for a limited time, so grab it while you can.

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McDonald’s: Caramel Brownie McFlurry

The latest McFlurry has not one but two delicious mix-ins: chunky brownie bites and an ooey-gooey caramel ribbon blended into McDonald’s signature vanilla soft serve. It’s only available for a limited time, so grab it while you can, and make sure your local McD’s ice-cream machine is working.

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Taco Bell: Baja Blast Colada Freeze

Mountain Dew Baja Blast and sweet tropical cream, all wrapped in one delicious slushie? Sounds like the perfect summer drink to us. Pair it with the Cheesarito from Taco Bell’s secret menu for a real treat.

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Sonic: Bursting Bubbles Slush

Dunkin’s not the only one getting in on the bubble tea craze! Sonic dropped two new drinks filled with green Bursting Bubbles, their take on the popping bubbles in boba. The Blue Burst Slush is a blue raspberry-flavored slushie, while the Cherry Burst Slush is a cherry-flavored slushie topped off with a maraschino cherry.

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Del Taco: Crispy Chicken Burritos

We love burritos and we love crispy chicken, so combining the two means we’ll be eating these all year long. You can get the Epic Crispy Chicken & Fresh Guac Burrito, the Epic Honey Mango Crispy Chicken & Bacon Burrito or the Epic Honey Chipotle BBQ Crispy Chicken & Bacon Burrito.

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Jack in the Box: Roost Fries

Jack in the Box’s Roost Fries tops their regular fries with chicken, Mystery Sauce and tons of cheddar cheese sauce. Bonus: They come in both classic and spicy varieties. Pair ’em with a salad instead of a cheeseburger to keep things lighter.

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Hot Honey Chicken Sandwichvia Shake Shack.com

Shake Shack: Hot Honey Chicken Sandwich

The Chicken Sandwich Wars are still going strong! Shake Shack’s Hot Honey Chicken Sandwich features a honey-glazed fried chicken breast slathered with habanero mayo sauce, and will be on the menu from July 1 to October 4.

Amrita Thakkar
Amrita is an Assistant Digital Editor at Taste of Home. As a writer and amateur photographer, she often ends up applying these skills to her one great love: food. She can usually be found researching global cuisines, at the farmers market, doing yoga, or looking up new places to travel to.
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