- Taco Bell said Monday that it's testing a taco version of a chicken sandwich.
- Chicken is growing faster than beef, making it more attractive to fast-food chains.
- McDonald's, KFC, Wendy's and Burger King are among the chains looking to gain from the chicken sandwich craze.
Peak chicken sandwich wars may be nigh.
Taco Bell said Monday that it will test its own take on the menu item starting March 11 in Nashville, Tennessee, and Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Yum Brands chain will become at least the fourth fast-food brand to announce a chicken sandwich in the last month. Restaurants are looking to chicken to fuel sales this year because the category is growing faster than beef. Chicken sandwiches, in particular, are soaring in popularity thanks to the success of Popeyes' version and Chick-fil-A's expansion beyond its Southeastern roots.
Taco Bell's take draws from the same vague Mexican inspiration as the rest of its menu. The Crispy Chicken Sandwich Tacos are served in flatbread with a piece of crispy tortilla chicken and chipotle sauce and will sell for $2.49 each. A spicy version with jalapeno slices will also be available.
Taco Bell also teased that the taco won't be the only new crispy chicken item hitting menus this year. It's also not the first time that it's offered crispy chicken on its menu. Past hits have included its Crispy Chicken Chickstar, a star-shaped tortilla wrap filled with crispy chicken; Naked Chicken Chips, chip-shaped crispy chicken pieces that come with nacho dipping sauce; and the Naked Chicken Chalupa, a piece of chicken shaped like a tortilla stuffed with typical taco fillings.
Chicken sandwiches appear on 47.8% of total U.S. restaurant menus, according to Datassential's MenuTrends. And a flood of new entries are on the way.
McDonald's told investors last year that it's doubling down on chicken, including the launch of its own chicken sandwich on Wednesday. Taco Bell's sister chain, KFC, has unveiled a premium take on the menu item, while Wendy's announced a jalapeno popper version. Restaurant Brand International's Burger King is testing a hand-breaded chicken sandwich for a nationwide launch.