What to Eat at Taco Bell: Healthy Menu Choices and Nutrition Facts

Taco Bell

Verywell / Christian Alzate

Taco Bell—one of the most popular fast-food chains in the United States—features a menu inspired by traditional Mexican cuisine. Its food options feature a wide variety of tacos, nachos, and burritos. The flavor and spiciness of each item can be customized to suit individual tastes and dietary needs.

Fast food is best enjoyed in moderation, as it can be high in salt, fat, sugar, and calories. If you’re counting calories or trying to limit your saturated fat intake, you may assume a trip to the drive-thru is off-limits, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Looking closely at the nutrition content of the menu before you order can help you find the most nutrient-dense options.

You don’t necessarily have to skip a higher-calorie option altogether. You might choose to share the meal or reduce its total calories by substituting a lower-calorie menu item or drink. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to select the options that best suit your individual dietary needs and preferences.

What Experts Say

"Taco Bell offers a variety of dishes, including vegetarian and food allergy-sensitive options. You can customize most meals to include beans and veggies for a satisfying combo of high-fiber carbs, protein, fat, and flavor. The sodium levels are high though, so if you eat here regularly, make other meals throughout the day lower in sodium to balance your daily intake."

Willow Jarosh, MS, RD

Navigating the Menu

The Taco Bell menu has options in categories like tacos, burritos, nachos, quesadillas, sides & sweets, veggie cravings, specialties, and its power menu, which includes bowls that have more than 20 g of protein.

You can use the Taco Bell Nutrition Calculator to do more than see the calories, fat, and other nutritional information of classic menu options—it also lets you customize. For example, the original Fiery Doritos Locos Taco Supreme has 190 calories and 11 g of fat. If you order grilled chicken instead of beef and ask for no cheese or sour cream, it has just 140 calories and 6 g of fat.

If you research the menu ahead of time, you won't be as likely to get overwhelmed by your options or pick items that seem healthy but are higher in calories, fat, salt, and hidden sugar than you'd expect.

What to Order & Avoid at Taco Bell
Most Nutritious Options Least Nutritious Options 
Soft Breakfast Taco Breakfast Crunchwrap
Crunchy Taco Fiesta Taco Salad
Bean Burrito Crunchwrap Supreme
Shredded Chicken Quesadilla Quesarito
Triple Layer Nachos Nachos BellGrande
Cinnamon Twists Cinnabon Delights
Black Beans Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes
Cheesy Roll Up Beefy Fritos Burrito
Veggie Power Menu Bowl Power Menu Bowl
Lipton Unsweetened Iced Tea Mountain Dew Baja Blast

One of Taco Bell's best attributes is customization. Even the highest-calorie menu items can be altered to reduce carbohydrate, fat, and sodium content and adapt to individual dietary needs and taste preferences.

Most Nutritious Option

Taco Bell's most nutritious option is the Crunchy Taco, which contains 170 calories, 8 g protein, and 310 mg sodium.

Breakfast

The company's breakfast menu offers an egg-filled take on some of its most popular categories, such as tacos, burritos, and quesadillas.

✓ Soft Breakfast Taco (Egg and Cheese)

Taco Bell's Soft Breakfast Taco (Egg and Cheese) provides 170 calories, 9 g total fat (of which 5 g is saturated fat), 15 g carbohydrate, 7 g protein, and 330 mg sodium. Skip the cheese to save 25 calories. Instead, add a side of pico de gallo (5 calories), bringing the total calories for your customized breakfast taco to 150.

✗ Breakfast Crunchwrap

The company's Breakfast Crunchwrap provides 650 calories, 41 g total fat (63% DV), 12 g saturated fat, 51 g carbohydrate (17% DV), 21 g protein, and 1,290 mg sodium (54% DV).

Most Taco Bell menu items, including Crunchwraps, can be ordered “fresco.” This shaves off around 180 calories by substituting pico de gallo (5 calories) for extras like cheese, sauces, mayo, and guacamole. You can also save on fat and calories but customizing a Crunchwrap to have only some of the ingredients, but not all. Try having it with meat or cheese instead of both, or asking for no sauce.

Tacos

Taco Bell's taco menu offers a range of the Tex-Mex favorite with hard and soft shell options. Most of the tacos are offered with ground beef as the primary filling, but the menu also offers chicken, grilled steak, and even spicy potatoes for a vegetarian option.

✓ Crunchy Taco

The Crunchy Taco provides 170 calories, 9 g total fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 13 g carbohydrate, 8 g protein, and 310 mg sodium. Get your taco with grilled chicken instead of beef to pack more protein without adding calories. You can also save 25 calories by skipping the cheese. 

✗ Fiesta Taco Salad

Taco Bell's Fiesta Taco Salad is the least nutritious option on the taco menu (followed closely by the Double Cheesy Gordita Crunch). Though it has salad in the name, as is, the Fiesta Taco Salad is closer to a very large beef taco, providing 740 calories, 38 g total fat (58% DV), 9 g saturated fat, 75 g carbohydrate (25% DV), 25 g protein, and 1,110 mg sodium (46% DV).

To make a healthier taco salad, opt for only beans, rice, and veggies. Removing the meat, cheese, sour cream, and crunchy red strips save 270 calories. To kick up the flavor, add jalapeño peppers or pico de gallo for 5 calories each.

Burritos

The burrito menu at Taco Bell offers a variety of options from the basic bean and cheese to their famous Crunchwrap Supreme.

✓ Bean Burrito

Taco Bell's Bean Burrito is one of their vegetarian burrito options and provides 350 calories, 9 g fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 54 g carbohydrate, 13 g protein, and 1,000 mg sodium. Order it "fresco" to save an additional 20 calories.

✗ Crunchwrap Supreme

The least nutritious option among Taco Bell's burrito menu is the famous Crunchwrap Supreme which provides 530 calories, 21 g total fat (32% DV), 6 g saturated fat, 71 g carbohydrate (24% DV), 16 g protein, and 1,200 mg sodium (50% DV).

Quesadillas

Taco Bell's quesadilla menu offers options with grilled chicken, shredded chicken, and steak, along with a non-traditional item called the Quesarito, which is a cross between a quesadilla and a burrito.

✓ Shredded Chicken Quesadilla

The Shredded Chicken Quesadilla comes in at 310 calories, 13 g total fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 35 g carbohydrates, 13 g protein, and 705 mg sodium.

Order it with light chipotle sauce ("easy sauce") to save 15 calories or with no sauce at all to save 30 calories. Instead, try spicing up your quesadilla with hot sauce (which won't add calories or fat) or lower-calorie options like pico de gallo or salsa.

If you're picking and choosing add-ons for a more basic quesadilla, avoid items like potatoes, chips, and creamy sauces, which are high in calories, fat, and starch.

✗ Quesarito

The Quesarito is essentially a beef and rice burrito wrapped in a cheese quesadilla, and it comes in at 650 calories, 33 g total fat (51% DV), 12 g saturated fat, 68 g carbohydrates (23% DV), 21 g of protein, and 1,390 mg sodium (58% DV).

Nachos

Taco Bell's nacho menu contains some of the company's highest-calorie meal options. However, it's important to note that the highest-calorie nacho options (like boxes and combos) are portioned to share.

While the calorie, fat, and carbohydrate counts may be high for the entire order, if you share with family and friends and are mindful of serving size, you don't have to skip them altogether.

If you're buying nachos for one, consider choosing from Taco Bell's sides. An order of chips and salsa is only 180 calories.

You can further customize an order of nachos (and reduce calories, fat, and carbohydrate) by substituting salsa for cheese sauce, beans for beef, or even going meatless.

✓ Triple Layer Nachos

The Triple Layer Nachos, which is the only vegetarian option, come with refried beans, nacho cheese sauce, and red sauce. With no upgrades, these nachos provide 320 calories, 15 g total fat (23% DV), 2 g saturated fat, 40 g carbohydrate (13% DV), 7 g of protein, and 480 mg sodium (20% DV).

To add flavor with minimal added calories, consider adding diced onions (0 calories) or even ordering it supreme, which adds reduced-fat sour cream and diced tomatoes (25 calories). You can also order your nachos with "easy" nacho cheese sauce to save 15 calories.

✗ Nachos BellGrande

Taco Bell's Nachos BellGrande, on the other hand, comes in at 740 calories, 38 g total fat (58% DV), 7 g saturated fat, 82 g carbohydrate (27% DV), 16 g of protein, and 1,050 mg sodium (44% DV).

Sweets

Taco Bell offers just two dessert-like options: the Cinnamon Twists and Cinnabon Delights. The high-calorie, high-carb Cinnabon Delights don’t have to be off-limits—just enjoy them in moderation. For instance, if you get a large order to share with colleagues, keep in mind that one or two of the treats constitutes a serving.

It’s also possible to order just two Cinnabon Delights at the drive-thru for 160 calories. If you’re watching your fat intake, however, Cinnamon Twists are the lower-fat choice.

✓ Cinnamon Twists

The Cinnamon Twists come in at 170 calories, 6 g total fat (9% DV), 0 g saturated fat, 27 g carbohydrate (9% DV), 1 g of protein, 15 g sugar, and 210 mg sodium (9% DV).

✗ Cinnabon Delights

A two-pack of Cinnabon Delights provides 160 calories, 9 g total fat (14% DV), 2 g saturated fat, 17 g carbohydrate (6% DV), 2 g protein, 10 g sugar, and 80 mg sodium (3% DV). The Cinnabon Delights also comes in a 12-pack, which comes in at 930 calories and is intended to be shared.

Sides

Taco Bell's sides are limited, with just a few choices, including black beans, beans and rice, and Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes.

✓ Black Beans

The black beans offer a vegetarian option with 50 calories, 1 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 8 g carbohydrate, 2 g of protein, and 135 mg sodium.

✗ Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes

The Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes, on the other hand, come in at 230 calories, 12 g total fat (18% DV), 2 g saturated fat, 28 g carbohydrate (9% DV), 3 g of protein, and 520 mg sodium (22% DV). While the cheesy potatoes have the same amount of calories and less fat than an order of chips and guacamole, they are higher in saturated fat, carbohydrates, and sodium.

Dollar Cravings/Value Menu

The "Cravings" value menu at Taco Bell offers a selection of $1 items that range in nutritional value.

✓ Spicy Tostada

The $1 Spicy Tostada provides 190 calories, 10 g total fat, 2.5 saturated fat, 22 g carbohydrate, 6 g protein, ad 410 mg sodium.

While the Cheesy Roll Up contains few calories (180 calories), it's higher in saturated fat and sodium. The Spicy Tostada also offers more nutrients with added tomatoes, lettuce, and more dietary fiber, making it a more satiating option.

✗ Beefy Fritos Burrito

The $1 Beefy Fritos Burrito provides 440 calories, 18 g of total fat (28% DV), 4.5 g of saturated fat, 57 g of carbohydrate (19% DV), 13 g of protein, and 1,000 mg sodium (42% DV).

To reduce the calories in a Fritos burrito, opt for the chips instead of rice rather than having both. Ordering the burrito without seasoned rice saves 60 calories. Skipping the chips entirely saves 80 calories and also reduces the sodium content.

Power Menu

Taco Bell's Power Menu Bowls are high-calorie, high-protein meals that can be customized according to your tastes. That means it's easy to change the caloric content of these meals.

Go for bowls with only veggies, rice, and beans to save calories and fat. You can also ask for any sauces and guac on the side.

✓ Veggie Power Menu Bowl

The Veggie Power Menu Bowl comes in at 430 calories, 18 g total fat, 5 g saturated fat, 57 g carbohydrate, 12 g protein, and 850 mg sodium.

The seasoned rice alone provides 180 calories of the total 430 calories. Consider ordering with "easy" rice, which is a smaller portion, to save 90 calories.

✗ Power Menu Bowl

The original Power Menu Bowl comes with chicken, but it can be ordered with steak for an additional 10 calories. Off the menu, the Power Menu Bowl provides 480 calories, 20 g total fat (31% DV), 6 g saturated fat, 50 g carbohydrate (17% DV), 26 g protein, and 1,170 mg sodium (49% DV).

Drinks (Non-Alcoholic)

In addition to the typical soft drink selection available at most fast-food chains, Taco Bell offers an assortment of slushy drinks called Freezes.

Water is always the most nutritious beverage choice, whether you’re dining out or at home. When considering the other beverage options at Taco Bell, avoid fountain drinks and “freezes” made with syrups that are high in sugar.

✓ Lipton Unsweetened Iced Tea

The best option as far as beverages go is plain old water. But if you're in the mood for something with more flavor, consider a small Lipton Unsweetened Iced Tea (16oz), which provides 0 calories, 0 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g carbohydrate, 0 g protein, 0 g sugar, and 160 mg sodium.

✗ Mountain Dew Baja Blast

Among the least nutritious drink options is the Mountain Dew Baja Blast. A small (16oz) cup comes in at 220 calories, 0 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 59 g carbohydrate (20% DV), 0 g protein, 59 g sugar, and 65 mg sodium (3% DV). A large (30 oz) size ups the sugar content to 110 g and calories to 420.

At participating locations, alcoholic beverages are found on Taco Bell’s Cantina menu. 

Diet-Specific Options

Depending on your individual dietary needs and preferences, you can also customize many dishes to avoid certain ingredients or alter the nutritional content of a meal. Taco Bell offers choices for vegetarian diets, but without customizing the menu items, the restaurant doesn't have strict gluten-free, low-FODMAP, low-sodium, low-carb, or diabetes-friendly options.

Gluten-Free

The restaurant recommends caution when ordering if you have a gluten sensitivity. For example, even though tortillas and chips are often corn-based and don’t contain gluten, they may be prepared alongside products containing gluten.

Because even gluten-free options are prepared in proximity to gluten-containing foods, Taco Bell does not recommend any items on its menu for people who have celiac disease.

Vegetarian

With its highly customizable menu, most of Taco Bell’s standards can be made to order without animal products. For example, you could build a taco or burrito that doesn’t have meat or cheese but has extra vegetables or beans instead.

  • Spicy Tostada
  • Veggie Power Menu Bowl
  • Bean Burrito
  • Black Beans and Rice
  • Cheese Quesadilla

However, it should be noted any food prepared on the premises may have come into contact with meat or dairy products and may have been stored or prepared on surfaces or by employees who have handled these ingredients. Additionally, many non-animal ingredients may have been purchased from suppliers that also produce animal products.

Some Taco Bell locations have specific menu items and preparations for vegetarian and vegan customers, but it varies by region. If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask your local restaurant what your options are.

Food Allergies and Safety

In addition to providing the nutrition info for its menu items, Taco Bell’s website also offers a tool to help people avoid allergens, including fish, dairy, nuts, soy, eggs, and gluten. However, if you have food allergies, it’s important to keep in mind that even if a dish doesn’t contain the allergen, it may have been prepared near the allergen.

While Taco Bell’s menu does not feature peanuts, tree nuts, fish, or shellfish, other ingredients used may have been produced in facilities that also produce those allergens.

A Word From Verywell

The occasional meal at Taco Bell doesn't have to interfere with your overall dietary goals. Given the restaurant's highly customizable menu (with plenty of tasty protein options), it's possible to assemble healthier choices for an occasional treat or convenient stop.

1 Source
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  1. Taco Bell. Fiery Doritos Locos Taco Supreme.

By Malia Frey
 Malia Frey is a weight loss expert, certified health coach, weight management specialist, personal trainer​, and fitness nutrition specialist.