At first, going keto sounded like a dream come true. (All the cheese, bacon and guac we want? Sign us up.) But then we realized this meal plan banned us from eating carbs (womp womp) and thought this also meant giving up those late-night stops at the world’s most wonderful fast-food spot, Taco Bell. But no: As long as you nix a few key ingredients, you can totally stick to your diet and still indulge. Read on for our 10 favorite keto Taco Bell menu hacks.
10 Keto Taco Bell Menu Hacks That Won’t Mess Up Your Diet
How to Eat Keto at Taco Bell, at a Glance
Generally speaking, if you avoid these items (or ask for them to be substituted with extra meat, cheese, sour cream or guac), you'll be good to go:
- Taco shells, hard or soft
- Seasoned rice
- Beans, refried or black
Nevertheless, you can have these in moderation and still make it work on keto. Keto is a low-carb, high-fat, moderate-protein diet, but you can have between 20 and 50 grams of carbs to remain in ketosis. (Once you're in ketosis, your body won't rely on carbs for energy anymore; instead it will burn through existing stores of fat, which leads to faster weight loss than other diet plans.)
Taco Bell also has a handy online nutrition calculator that allows you to personalize your orders, so you know exactly how many carbs you're consuming post-substitutions. (We included the net carbs for the following menu items, which you can find by subtracting the fiber from the total carbs.) Now, our favorite swaps from the menu.
1. Beefy 5-Layer Burrito
5 net carbs
Ditch the tortilla and the beans, make it a bowl instead and bam: This menu staple is keto-approved. You still get to enjoy the beef filling, nacho cheese sauce, cheddar cheese and sour cream.
2. Cheesy Toasted Breakfast Burrito with Bacon
3 net carbs
Maybe you love Taco Bell so much that you want it for breakfast. You do you, friend. Just be sure to ask them to swap out the tortilla for a bowl and add extra bacon, cheddar cheese or sour cream to make it more filling. (Pico, guac and lettuce are options, too.)
3. Chicken Chipotle Melt
1 net carb
This pick is nothing but grilled chicken, cheddar cheese and creamy, smoky chipotle sauce. Even if you keep the tortilla, it comes out to only 15 net carbs. But if you ditch it in favor of a bowl, it's practically carb free.
4. Bean Burrito
11 net carbs
This item is higher in carbs than the rest on this list. But most keto dieters can stay in ketosis if they eat 25g carbs or less per day. So, thanks to beans' high fiber content, this vegetarian favorite is on your diet (as long as you nix the tortilla).
5. Power Menu Bowl
4 net carbs
This bowl is loaded with more than enough food to keep you full, even after you pass on the seasoned rice and black beans. We're talking grilled chicken, cheddar cheese, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, guac, sour cream and avocado ranch sauce.
6. Grande Toasted Breakfast Burrito with Sausage
4 net carbs
Heading back to the Bell for breakfast is a breeze when you’re eating keto. Nix the potato bites, opt for a bowl instead of the tortilla and bask in the sausage-y, eggy, cheesy goodness. Add sour cream or hot sauce to make it more decadent.
7. Fiesta Veggie Burrito
16 net carbs
Don't sleep on this value menu gem. If you get rid of the tortilla and tortilla strips, you'll be left with a satisfying mix of black beans, seasoned rice, cheese, guac, sour cream, tomatoes and creamy chipotle sauce. Nix the rice to get the net carbs down to 7g.
8. Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco
10 net carbs
Sans-substitutions, you can fit this favorite into your meal plan as long as you're strictly low-carb for the rest of the day. Savor the famously cheesy Doritos shell, filled with seasoned beef, cheddar cheese and iceberg lettuce. Make it supreme to add tomatoes and sour cream.
9. Cheesy Gordita Crunch
5 net carbs
You'll need to part with the carby gordita flatbread and crunchy taco shell to make this one work, but don't fret: The spicy ranch sauce (along with seasoned beef, cheddar cheese, a three-cheese blend and lettuce) is the most important part anyway.
10. Side of Black Beans
4 net carbs
Cutting black beans from larger menu items helps bring down the carb content. But if you have them solo, they're keto-friendly at 7g total carbs due to the small portion size. They also contain 3 grams of fiber, which brings the net carb content down even more. Zhuzh them up with guac, sour cream, jalapeños or hot sauce.
Taryn Pire is PureWow’s associate food editor. A former bartender and barista, she’s been writing about all things delicious since 2016, developing recipes, reviewing restaurants and investigating food trends at Food52, New Jersey Family Magazine and Taste Talks. When she isn’t testing TikTok’s latest viral recipe, she’s having popcorn for dinner and posting about it on Instagram @cookingwithpire.