Taco Bell Is Testing Breakfast Tots—Here's How They Taste

The new Taco Bell breakfast menu item is being tested at some Chicago locations.

We often hear about fast food restaurants testing out new items in limited markets, but it's usually somewhere far away and unattainable rather than right down the street from my home. Today, however, we're some of the lucky ones: Taco Bell is currently doing a very limited test run of its new breakfast menu innovation, Breakfast Tots, at five Chicago-area locations, and one of them happens to be the Taco Bell in my neighborhood.

The tots consist of seasoned tater tots, scrambled eggs, your choice of sausage or bacon, a three-cheese blend of mozzarella, pepper jack, and cheddar, and a drizzle of creamy jalapeño sauce. That formula might not be too complicated, but it's significant nevertheless, because Taco Bell currently doesn't have any breakfast bowl options. Given how much the chain has tinkered with its breakfast menu lately, you can see the logic behind this newest item.

Does Taco Bell necessarily need a breakfast bowl? Will Breakfast Tots hit the spot? Let's find out.

What do Taco Bell’s new Breakfast Tots taste like?

It could be that since I was among the first customers to try these things, I got a batch straight from the fryer. Because I have to say, the tots by themselves were great, even stellar. Each one was golden and crisp, with its interior actually cooked through properly—and we all know just how sad tater tots can be when executed poorly.

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There's not a lot of Taco Bell's signature cheekiness going on with the toppings here—this dish is about as straightforward as it gets. It's all the stuff you'd expect out of fast food breakfast: spongy scrambled egg bits, shredded melted cheese, and some creamy jalapeño sauce to glue the whole thing together. And you know what? That's 100% cool with me, because it works.

I had ordered some nacho cheese sauce and sour cream on the side, just in case this thing needed any tinkering, and I had plenty of Taco Bell's yellow packets of tart, lightly chunky breakfast salsa on hand as a contingency plan. Surprisingly, as I made my way through the bowl, I barely used any of these.

I much preferred the bacon bowl to the sausage one, because the sausage bits were cooked to hell and ended up tasting like dry pellets of protein. The bacon added a salty, smoky flavor that just tasted better overall, and paired better with the other elements. If the sausage bits were bigger and juicier, I might be singing a different tune, but if Breakfast Tots get a wide release and they stay the same as what I've tasted, go for the bacon.

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My only real gripe is that there's a paltry amount of scrambled egg served with the tots, so if you're looking for a better balance or are seeking some protein in the morning, you might want to order an extra scoop.

Does the Taco Bell menu need Breakfast Tots?

Fast food breakfast is usually easy and convenient because you can eat it quickly with one hand and minimal mess. Taco Bell's filled-tortilla form factor is particularly good for that reason, no matter what time of day you visit.

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So, does Taco Bell really need some form of breakfast bowl, when it's already got handhelds down to a science? I'm on the fence. The bowl is a tasty and hearty option if you've got enough time to sit and enjoy one. For someone scarfing down breakfast or eating in the car, it's less ideal. Tots are not meant to be rushed.

The other question is why Taco Bell isn't building this bowl using the potatoes that are already on its menu. The Fiesta Potatoes are diced, fried, and seasoned in a way that would pair well with all the ingredients in the Breakfast Tots bowl, and the breakfast menu already has a hash brown on offer that would be right at home in the new menu item, too. By contrast, the tots are yet another ingredient to have to keep in stock and prepare, a redundant third variety of potato. Yet when discussing this all with The Takeout team, my coworker Marnie Shure had a great point. "People get weirdly pumped about tots," she said. She's right. They do.

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I do too, I suppose. And for $4.49 per bowl, I'd say the Breakfast Tots are worth trying if they're released nationwide (or being tested at a Taco Bell near you). Keep your eyes peeled, and if you see them pop up someday, just remember you got the really early scoop—or rather, the heaping forkful—from us.

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