Taco Bell officially enters the fried chicken wars

You don’t usually see Taco Bell and fried chicken in the same sentence. Well, that’s changing.

The Mexican fast-casual chain is officially testing out its new Crispy Tortilla Chicken in Houston, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, starting tomorrow before launching it across its stores in 2020. The innovation process took 100 variations of the recipe, according to Taco Bell.

It features all white-meat chicken that’s been marinated in a jalapeño buttermilk marinade and rolled in a tortilla chip coating. Customers can purchase the chicken separately or inside of a taco.

The new item will be served with Taco Bell’s new Creamy Chili Pepper Sauce. It will cost $1.99 for a taco, $2.99 for 2 pieces of chicken, $3.99 for 3 pieces, and will also be available in $5 and $7 boxes.

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11 Ways to Make Fried Chicken
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11 Ways to Make Fried Chicken

Read on for 11 ways to make fried chicken.

Lard-fried

Want to make old-school, Southern-style fried chicken? Bathe it in buttermilk, fry it in melted lard, bacon fat and butter, then serve with a rich tomato gravy.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Crisco-fried

So shortening is no longer PC, you say. Well, don’t tell that to cooks who swear by it for an ultra-crisp chicken crust.

Image Credit: Con Poulos

Batter-fried

Instead of the usual dry dredge, coat chicken in a seasoned beer batter for an airy-crisp crust.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Bake, then fry.

Purists might balk, but slow-roasting chicken before giving it a quick fry makes it insanely juicy but still deliciously crisp.

Image Credit: John Kernick

Milk-brined

For especially sweet and juicy chicken, brine it in whole milk before the buttermilk dip.

Image Credit: Matthew Armendariz

Lemon-brined

Californize the southern classic (as star chef Thomas Keller does), bathing chicken in a lemon-and-herb brine before frying.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Sweet tea-brined

Try a totally inauthentic southern take on fried chicken by brining it in sweet tea. Then double-fry and toss with a spicy molasses.

Image Credit: Chris Court

Brine, then marinate.

Want the ultimate fried chicken experience? Brine the chicken overnight, then soak it in seasoned buttermilk. When you’re so hungry for the chicken that you just can’t take it any more, fry it. Then eat it. Finally.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Fragrant-spiced

Instead of the usual mix of garlic powder and cayenne, season the chicken with a more complex spice blend, then double-fry for extra-crispy skin.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Oven-fried

OK, so the chicken isn’t truly fried, but baking chicken coated in panko bread crumbs, polenta or potato chips gives it a remarkably crisp crust with waaay less mess than making the real deal.

Image Credit: Christina Holmes

Asian-style

Toss your fried chicken in a spicy, funky sauce, made with anything from fish sauce to chili garlic sauce to Korean gochujang.

Image Credit: Todd Porter & Diane Cu

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Taco Bell said in a release that it’s looking to continue its menu innovation following the enormous success of Nacho Fries, which generated $1 billion in sales.

Fried chicken and menu innovation have both played critical roles for fast-food restaurants this year. The unexpectedly successful launch of the Popeyes chicken sandwich proved that new menu items are the key to driving foot traffic and sales.

In early September, Taco Bell also launched the Toasted Cheddar Chalupa after axing nine menu items to make room for new innovations.

Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung.

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