The Grilled Cheese Burrito, whose creation was supported by a dairy checkoff food scientist and quickly gained iconic status with Taco Bell fans, has become a permanent menu item.
The burrito launched in July of 2020 as a limited-time offer, a Taco Bell strategy to keep its menu fresh and exciting for an audience that’s always expecting something new.
But Mike Ciresi, a Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) senior dairy scientist who works with Taco Bell, said the burrito’s popularity forced the issue. It was brought back three times on a limited basis, but the chain decided it earned a permanent place because of strong customer feedback.
“We work on so many projects but this one hit the sweet spot with Taco Bell, its brand and its consumers,” Ciresi says. “This is another proof point that adding dairy in unique ways that resonates with consumers can deliver a home run. This success inspires us to work on the next innovative cheese-centric menu item at Taco Bell.”
Indeed, the Grilled Cheese Burrito highlights dairy. It features a blend of mozzarella, cheddar and pepper jack cheeses in addition to reduced-fat sour cream, seasoned beef, rice, crunchy red strips and chipotle sauce. A layer of cheese is then grilled around the tortilla to offer a truly special experience for Taco Bell fans and cheese lovers.
Heather Mottershaw, Vice President of Pipeline Innovation and Product Development for Taco Bell, agreed the overwhelming positive feedback made it an easy decision to keep the Grilled Cheese Burrito on menus in more than 7,000 U.S. restaurants.
“Highlighting cheese is a long-term core equity of Taco Bell’s business model and this burrito brings this to life for us,” Mottershaw says. “This is another great example of how dairy is enhancing our menu and we are grateful to Mike, the checkoff team and America’s dairy farmers for their innovative spirit and teamwork in getting us to this moment.”
Taco Bell has made the Grilled Cheese Burrito a focus of its television and digital media strategy aimed at reaching the Gen Z audience by working with up-and-coming music artists. One spot features bludnymph, whose song “Feast” is played in a spot promoting the burrito. The artist has more than half a million TikTok followers.
“It’s really about making the Grilled Cheese Burrito part of culture and part of making something bigger than just a new product launch,” said Nancy Gannon, Vice President of Global Innovation Partnerships for DMI. “It’s now Gen Z saying, ‘have you heard that great song that played on the Grilled Cheese Burrito commercial? I also tried the burrito and it’s awesome,’ so it becomes this marriage of cultural conversations.”