Vegan Crunchwrap

Taco Bell

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I’ve never liked Taco Bell’s Crunchwrap Supreme. The tortilla-wrapped tostada — stuffed with moisture-laden ingredients like sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese — is like a giant, soggy frisbee. So I wasn’t dying to try Taco Bell’s new vegan Crunchwrap when the company announced its limited release this week. But being Cheapism’s only writer near a participating location, I drove to the Taco Bell Cantina on Hollywood Boulevard to try the fast-food chain’s newest plant-based entree.

How Does It Taste?

On paper, the vegan Crunchwrap is like the original except that Taco Bell has substituted the animal products with vegan equivalents: vegan beef, blanco sauce, and nacho cheese. As someone who dislikes the original, that didn’t bode well for me. Nevertheless, I was still intrigued, if only because I appreciate meat-free substitutes.

But any interest or tepid enthusiasm I had dissipated as soon as I took a bite of the plant-based Crunchwrap. Not because it was awful, but because it didn’t taste like anything. Sure, if I really concentrated on the flavors, I could make out the vegan beef, flavored with some generic-tasting taco seasoning (chili and garlic powder, tomato, cumin). Maybe there was a hint of nacho cheese, too? Otherwise, all I could think about was the gummy, unpleasant texture of the soggy tortilla. This was what Taco Bell came up with after "years of testing and tasting"?

Taco Bell's Vegan CrunchwrapPhoto credit: Cheapism / Maxwell Shukuya

When I cut a slice of the original Crunchwrap to compare, the difference was immediately apparent. Not only were the sour cream and cheese fattier, tangier, and more flavorful, but the ground beef packed a punch, too — at least compared to the vegan version. The lettuce also seemed fresher and more plentiful, which seemed odd until I realized that the normal Crunchwrap was just heftier in general.

In other words, part of the problem with the vegan version was that Taco Bell’s research and development team had skimped on the fillings. Or maybe my order was a fluke. Either way, the vegan Crunchwrap would be a lot better, if only Taco Bell would stuff it with more of the fixings and season its plant-based beef better.

That said, the vegan Crunchwrap avoided a lot of typical plant-based pitfalls. The cheese wasn’t plasticky or too artificial, and the fake meat wasn’t chewy. I just wish Taco Bell would have added more of both.

Taco Bell Cantina in Hollywood, CAPhoto credit: Cheapism / Maxwell Shukuya

Where Can I Get the Vegan Crunchwrap?

Taco Bell’s vegan Crunchwrap is only available at the following locations while supplies last:

The Vegan Crunchwrap

Price: $5.79 (same as original)

Calories: 570 (30 more than the original)

Ingredients: Vegan seasoned beef, vegan nacho sauce, vegan blanco sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, and a tostada shell wrapped inside a flour tortilla. All of the ingredients are certified vegan by the American Vegetarian Association.

The Verdict

For ethical and environmental reasons, plant-based food is the future. But Taco Bell’s vegan Crunchwrap needs to head back to the food lab before it makes its nationwide debut. That isn’t to say it’s horrible; it’s worth trying if you live in one of the aforementioned cities. But unlike the spicy potato soft taco or the black bean Quesarito, it’s not something I’d order again.

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