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10 Tastiest New Fast Foods We've Tried In 2023—So Far

This year has been chock-full of exciting menu additions.
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Fast-food chains may be most commonly associated with their classic offerings—be it the Big Mac or the Whopper—but they've also shown their ability to regularly venture outside the tried and true. From dropping seasonal items to bringing back fan favorites, chain menus are constantly evolving and changing.

Throughout 2023, there were many fast-food item launches, some of which were permanent menu additions, while others were only sold for a limited time. To see what all the hype was about, Eat This, Not That! conducted numerous taste tests, pinning various foods, as well as fast-food chains, against each other. 

With that being said, some of the new releases were much better than others. With the year coming to an end in about two months (yes, two months), here are 10 of the tastiest new fast foods we tried in 2023.

Panera's Green Goddess Caprese Melt

panera baguette caprese sandwich
Meaghan Cameron
Per serving (1 sandwich): 1070 calories, 42 g fat (14 g saturated fat), 2,420 mg sodium, 118 g carbs (5 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 57 g protein

Panera kicked off the year with the launch of three new toasted baguette sandwiches: Green Goddess Caprese, Pepperoni Mozzarella, and Smoky Buffalo Chicken. After trying all three permanent menu options, ETNT! found the Green Goddess Caprese Melt to reign supreme. This sandwich features tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, grated parmesan, Peppadew peppers, basil, arugula, Green Goddess dressing, and garlic aioli on a toasted French baguette.

ETNT's taste tester highlighted the way the peppery arugula complemented the mozzarella, tomato, and basil combination, adding that the mix of Green Goddess dressing and garlic aioli "moistens the sandwich just enough so that it doesn't feel like you're munching down on a whole baguette." The main critique? The sheer size of this 10-inch sandwich was "just too big and calorie-laden for one person."

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Taco Bell's Crispy Melt Taco

taco bell crispy melt taco side
Meaghan Cameron

Nutrition information unavailable.

Taco Bell continuously shakes up its menu offerings—and back in February, there was one standout: the Crispy Melt Taco. If this item sounds familiar, that's because it is. In 2021, the Mexican-themed fast-food chain rolled out its Cantina Crispy Melt Taco, which is the same item, just with a different name, according to Chew Boom.

This limited-time taco consisted of a fried white corn shell with a melted layer of Taco Bell's three cheeses and nacho cheese, seasoned ground beef or black beans, reduced-fat sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, and shredded cheddar cheese.

Described in a previous taste test as "light years better than Taco Bell's super thin yellow corn shell tacos that fall apart within one bite," the Crispy Melt Taco received positive reviews. With the melted cheese offering a "nice touch" and the crispy shell providing durability, ETNT! concluded that this item should be the chain's "de-facto shell." Time will only tell if this taco will make another return.

Domino's Philly Cheese Steak Loaded Tots

Dominos Philly Cheese Steak Loaded Tots
Meaghan Cameron
Per serving (1/4 cup): 200 calories, 12 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 530 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 6 g protein

Domino's is best known for its pizza, but the chain isn't afraid to stray from its usual offerings. In the winter, Domino's rolled out three varieties of loaded tater tots as permanent menu additions. Options include Cheddar Bacon, Philly Cheese Steak, and Melty 3-Cheese.

Although all three choices had their strengths, the Philly Cheese Steak Loaded Tots were crowned the winner back in February. These tots are topped with steak slices, Alfredo sauce, fresh onions, green peppers, and a blend of mozzarella and cheddar cheese. What set this option apart from the other two was the inclusion of peppers and onions, which "added a fresh element that was missing in the other tots."

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McDonald's Bacon Ranch Deluxe McCrispy

mcdonalds bacon ranch mccrispy deluxe
Meaghan Cameron/Eat This, Not That!

Nutrition information unavailable.

At the end of February, McDonald's not only rebranded its chicken sandwiches by renaming them "McCrispy," but it also added two more options to this lineup: the Bacon Ranch McCrispy and the Deluxe Bacon Ranch McCrispy. Both are made with the chain's chicken filet, applewood smoked bacon, and a creamy ranch sauce on a toasted potato roll. The Bacon Ranch McCrispy is topped with pickles, while the deluxe option includes Roma tomatoes and shredded lettuce. 

Interestingly enough, the presence of ranch-dressed lettuce and tomatoes is what made the Deluxe Bacon Ranch McCrispy shine when compared to the standard version. "The lettuce was perfectly crisp and shredded in a way that it didn't spill out of the sandwich. The Roma tomatoes were delicious with the coating of ranch," ETNT! reported.

Starbucks' Cinnamon Caramel Cream Nitro Cold Brew

new starbucks cold brew in person
Jordan Summers-Marcouillier / Eat This, Not That!
Per Serving (Grande): 260 calories, 13 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 125 mg sodium, 34 g carbs (0 g fiber, 33 g sugar), 2 g protein, 265 mg caffeine

Before releasing fall favorites like the Pumpkin Spice Latte and Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato, Starbucks introduced another cinnamon-y item in the spring. Available since March 7, the Cinnamon Caramel Cream Nitro Cold Brew is made with the coffee giant's signature Nitro Cold Brew with a cinnamon and caramel swirl. It's then blanketed in a layer of cinnamon sweet cream cold foam and a dusting of cinnamon dolce topping.

"If you've ever had the classic cereal Cinnamon Toast Crunch, this drink is nearly identical but without the overload of sugar," ETNT! shared in a taste test. Described as "light and smooth with every sip," the new drink was a clear winner, with the cinnamon sweet cream cold foam presenting a "satisfying cinnamon roll-like taste."

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Iced Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Latte

starbucks pumpkin cream chai tea
Emily Latimer
Per Serving (Grande): 460 calories, 17 g fat (11 g saturated fat, 0.5 g saturated fat), 160 mg sodium, 68 g carbs (0 g fiber, 66 g sugar), 10 g protein, 95 mg caffeine

Starbucks welcomed the fall season early by unveiling its limited-time autumnal offerings at the end of August. One new addition is the Iced Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Latte, which consists of an iced chai latte topped with sweet pumpkin cream cold foam and a pumpkin spice dusting.

When compared to the coffee chain's other new fall release—the Iced Apple Crisp Oat Shaken Espresso—the pumpkin cream-topped beverage garnered significantly higher praise from an ETNT taste tester. Receiving a perfect score of 10 out of 10, the Iced Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Latte impressed with its pumpkin cream cold foam and "velvety smooth mouth feel."

However, the tester noted that this drink could be "excessively sweet (perhaps sickeningly so) for some drinkers," so you'll want to keep this in mind if you're not a sweet tooth.

Taco Bell's Spicy Nacho Fries

Taco Bell yellowbird nacho fries taste test
Meaghan Cameron/Eat This, Not That!

Nutrition information unavailable.

After bringing back its fan-favorite nacho fries for the ninth time, Taco Bell premiered another version of the potato-based item: Yellowbird Nacho Fries. As part of a partnership with hot sauce brand Yellowbird, the fast-food chain loaded up its famous fries with warm nacho cheese sauce, steak, tomatoes, sour cream, and a drizzle of spicy habanero ranch.

According to a previous taste test, the spice of the nacho fries proved to be "incredibly balanced and mild, slowly building and then fading away," while the sour cream and cheese sauce helped reduce the heat. Another notable element was the "soft and lightly spicy beef" that delivered an "amazingly melty texture."

Whether these fries should actually have "nacho" in their name is debatable, but the toppings proved to be delicious enough to overlook this.

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Wendy's Ghost Pepper Ranch Chicken Sandwich

Wendys ghost pepper ranch chicken sandwich
Meaghan Cameron/Eat This, Not That!
Per Serving (1 sandwich): 690 calories, 35 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 1,650 mg sodium, 61 g carbs (3 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 32 g protein

Back in May, Wendy's turned up the heat with the launch of its Ghost Pepper Ranch Chicken Sandwich and Ghost Pepper Fries. The sandwich came complete with Wendy's spicy chicken, ghost pepper-infused American cheese, ghost pepper-seasoned crispy onions, lettuce, tomato, and a ghost pepper ranch sauce. The Ghost Pepper Fries are topped with this sauce, as well.

"Overall, this sandwich is delicious and if you are a heat lover you will be over the moon," ETNT's taste tester reported. The spice didn't start out strong, but as expected, it slowly built up and made its presence known. Another key element was the combination of textures, with the ingredients "all perfectly spread around the sandwich, giving a little of each in every bite."

Chick-fil-A's Spicy Chicken Biscuit

Chick-fil-A Spicy Chicken Biscuit
Zoe Strozewski/Eat This, Not That!
Per Serving (1 sandwich): 450 calories, 22 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 1,570 mg sodium, 44 g carbs (2 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 19 g protein

Things also heated up at Chick-fil-A back in June with the nationwide launch of its Spicy Chicken Biscuit. Currently offered on the chain's breakfast menu, this item includes Chick-fil-A's signature boneless chicken breast, which is seasoned with a "spicy blend of peppers" and served on a buttermilk biscuit.

When compared to other chicken breakfast biscuits from McDonald's and Wendy's, this new item came out on top, described as packing "an amazing punch of flavor" with noticeable heat that "lingers on your tongue in a pleasant way."

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Wendy's Sausage, Egg & Cheese English Muffin

Wendy's Sausage, Egg & Cheese English Muffin
Zoe Strozewski / Eat This, Not That!
Per Sausage, Egg & Cheese English Muffin: 550 cal, 37 g fat (13 g saturated fat), 1,030 mg sodium, 34 g carbs (1 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 21 g protein

Chick-fil-A's Spicy Chicken Biscuit wasn't the only notable new breakfast item in 2023. In August, Wendy's debuted two English muffin sandwiches, which feature a fresh-cracked egg, melted American cheese, and a choice of oven-baked applewood-smoked bacon or a grilled sausage patty.

"These sandwiches would be a dream for anyone who wakes up craving something super filling, savory, and comforting in the morning," ETNT! previously shared. Although the new sandwiches didn't take the number one spot, they still beat McDonald's popular McMuffin and had multiple strengths. Noteworthy qualities included the "juicy" sausage patty, appealing texture and taste of the egg, and the "slight hint of brown sugar" in the sandwiches' buttery spread.

Brianna Ruback
Brianna is a staff writer at Eat This, Not That! She attended Ithaca College, where she graduated with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Communication Studies. Read more about Brianna