A diner-favorite queso cleans up
After a recent tasting trip to Texas, Del Taco Research and Development Director Anne Albertine became passionate about queso. Seeing quick-service competitor Qdoba’s success in utilizing queso on its menu, she resolved to do the same—only better. In response to consumer demand for “free-from” ingredients, Del Taco replaced its processed nacho cheese topping with a cleaner, more authentic queso blanco. The molten cheese condiment—also a potential menu boon for noncommercial operators—is now ladled from the line along with the chain’s classic red and green sauces. Its distinction lies in its versatility, as well as a new layer of flavor across the menu, says Albertine. Here's how the switch was made.
Made from a proprietary formula of white American cheese, whole milk, pickled jalapenos and heavy cream—and free from artificial colors, flavors or preservatives—the ready-to-use queso was developed with operational efficiency in mind. The creamy topping “comes in frozen, and we like that so we can control how the queso performs and achieve consistency,” says Albertine.
The queso is thawed, heated and set on the line to ladle over menu items or served with chips. “Our goal was to make it better for the consumer and better for the crew members,” she says. Ladling the sauce makes for easy, flexible portion control in half-ounce, 1-ounce and 2-ounce measures, rids the labor-intensive step of cleaning pump valves and provides faster service.
Diners can add queso to any item for 50 cents or purchase menu items featuring the sauce, such as the $1 Queso Chicken Roller, on the chain’s Buck and Under Menu. Unlike Chipotle, which received negative feedback after the launch of its 23-ingredient queso, Del Taco’s offering prompted a positive social media response, says Albertine.