- Taco Bell is testing a chicken nugget LTO in Minneapolis, the chain confirmed in an email to Restaurant Dive on Thursday.
- Taco Bell said that a combination of customer enthusiasm and more traditional sales metrics would shape “the future of chicken nuggets at Taco Bell.”
- The chain’s market tests and limited-time offerings have resulted in buzzy LTOs, like its nacho fries, which have helped Taco Bell drive sales and traffic while preserving the value offerings on its core menu.
Taco Bell said this particular test has been in the works for more than a year. While the nuggets are currently an LTO, a Taco Bell spokesperson said this doesn’t preclude the items from joining the permanent menu in the future.
“Offering menu items for a limited time allows us to create room for even more craveable creations for fans, but we 'never say never' when it comes to the chance of a permanent spot on menus,” the spokesperson wrote. The chain didn’t say how long the test would last.
The nuggets, which are made from all-white, whole-muscle chicken breast, are marinated in spiced jalapeño buttermilk before they are breaded to give the nuggets a taste in keeping with Taco Bell’s “Mexican-inspired flavors.”
Customers can purchase the nuggets as five or 10-piece items, with prices for the smaller size ranging between $3.99 and $4.99, depending on location, and for the larger size between $6.99 and $8.99. Taco Bell is also testing two dipping sauces: Bell sauce, made with “tomatoes, red chiles, onion, and garlic ,” and Jalapeño Honey Mustard.
Yum CEO David Gibbs described Taco Bell’s strategy as “a balanced set of commercial strategies including building brand buzz, unparalleled value, mass occasions, and digital initiatives,” on the company’s most recent earnings call.
This year, that strategy has included focusing on nostalgic promotions and pressuring a minor regional chain, Taco John’s, to drop its trademark on Taco Tuesday. The brand is also increasingly focused on night-time traffic, to the point of developing a prototype unit optimized for late-night operations. In June, Yum named Sean Tresvant as brand CEO after a period as global chief brand and strategy officer at Taco Bell.