Why stop at meatless Monday? Mounting evidence shows that while eating meat is fine, eating less of it is better. Whether you have your tacos on Tuesday or any other day, these vegetarian tacos are totally satisfying — and much lighter than their meaty counterparts. Cut the grease and lower the saturated fat, because these 7 tacos are stuffed full of lean plant protein and mounds of vegetables. Suitable for meat eaters and vegetarians alike, give plants a chance (in your tacos).
1. Taco Seasoning and Charred Corn Tacos
We’re starting this taco party off with a recipe from Joy the Baker for DIY taco seasoning so you can control your spice mix. Like your tacos a little more/less spicy? Want to kick up the garlic but dial down the sodium of packaged taco seasoning? You do you. The following recipe for corn tacos is best at the peak of summer, but you can definitely fake it with frozen corn and any store-bought cherry tomatoes you can get your hands on. If you’re doing a taco sampler plate, it’s a solid choice.
- 2 spoonfuls chili powder
- 1 spoonful ground cumin
- 1 spoonful paprika
- 1 spoonful dried oregano
- 1 spoonful garlic powder
- 1 spoonful onion powder
- ½ spoonful coriander
- ½ spoonful salt
- ½ spoonful crushed red pepper flakes
- 6 ears of fresh corn, kernels cut from the cob, or 4½ cups frozen corn, thawed and patted dry
- Handful of chopped scallions
- Handful of sliced cherry tomatoes
- Seeded fresh jalapeño, chopped
- Homemade taco seasoning. to taste
- Corn tortillas
- 1 avocado, sliced
- Olive oil
Directions: Mix all taco seasoning ingredients together and store in a jar.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the corn and allow to char for several minutes. Stir infrequently, allowing the corn to char. Remove from the heat and stir in scallions, cherry tomatoes, jalapeño, and taco seasoning to taste.
Fry up some tortillas. Spoon the charred corn into the tortillas. Top with avocado.
2. Mango Habeñero Black Bean Tacos
Habeñero is a fruity pepper with bright flavors underneath all of that scorching heat, so it goes really well in fruit salsas. Here, Jeanine of Love and Lemons uses a mango habeñero jam from The Hatchery. If you don’t want to buy the jam, you can carefully mince half a habeñero and add it to the salsa, which you can adapt with pineapple or peaches. It really makes these black bean tacos anything but boring.
- 1 small mango, diced
- ¼ cup diced red onion
- 1 diced red padrone pepper or ¼ cup diced red bell
- Juice of 1 lime
- Olive oil
- Handful of cilantro, chopped
- ¾ cup cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 avocado, diced
- 1 to 2 teaspoons mango habanero jam
- Salt, to taste
- 4 to 6 tortillas
- Crumbled cotija cheese
- Plain Greek yogurt mixed with lime and salt
Directions: In a medium bowl, stir together diced mango, red onion, red pepper, lime juice, olive oil, chopped cilantro, avocado, black beans, and 1 to 2 teaspoons of mango habañero jam, depending on how spicy you like your tacos. Add a few generous pinches of salt. Taste and adjust seasonings. This can be made ahead; chill until ready to use.
Char your tortillas and fill with black beans, salsa, avocado, cheese, and lime-yogurt crema.
3. Mushroom Lentil Tacos With Tahini Yogurt Sauce
Though tahini isn’t strictly used in Mexican cooking, sesame seeds are a staple in traditional recipes like mole sauce. Here, it’s used to complement the earthiness of the lentils and mushrooms without weighing down the tacos. Use green or brown lentils for this recipe from Food52, because yellow and red lentils have a tendency to get mushy.
- 1 cup cooked lentils
- 2½ cups chopped mushrooms, such as a mix of shiitake and button
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- Olive oil
- 1½ teaspoons cumin
- Salt and pepper
- Pinch of paprika
Sauce and assembly
- 1½ tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup tahini
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 6 ounces Greek yogurt
- Salt and pepper
- 2 big handfuls of arugula
- 6 tortillas
Directions: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook down until brown and fragrant, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.
While the mushrooms are cooking, mix the yogurt sauce. Add the lemon juice, tahini, yogurt, and olive oil to a bowl and stir to combine. For a thinner sauce, add more olive oil or water or a mixture of the two until you have reached your desired consistency.
Remove mushrooms from the pan and set aside. Pour 2 more tablespoons olive oil into the same large pan and reduce heat to very low. Add cooked lentils, garlic, cumin, and a sprinkle each of salt, pepper, and paprika and stir, heating the grains through. Add the mushrooms back to the pan and mix to combine.
Assemble the tacos, layering a thin smear of yogurt sauce, a few spoonfuls of the mushroom and lentil mixture, arugula, and then a tablespoon or so of sauce.
4. Baha Tempeh Tacos
If you’re not familiar with tempeh, it’s worth a try! With a slight nutty flavor and toothsome texture, it’s a great vegetarian replacement for meat in tacos. Though it’s made from soybeans, its similarities to tofu really stop there. If you’re not a fan of the big blocks of white stuff, give it a go with tempeh in these veg tacos from Plant Food Fabulous. Beer-marinated tempeh tacos? Sign us up!
- 1 to 2 (8-ounce) packages tempeh
- 1 ale-style beer
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 3 tablespoons sunflower oil
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 3 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 4 cups of shredded cabbage
- 1 to 2 carrots, shredded
- ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 2 pickled jalapeños, diced
- ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
- ⅓ cup packed cilantro
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ package of corn tortillas
Directions: Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Slice a block of tempeh lengthwise into three equal parts. Cut those strips in half lengthwise again, giving you 6 long strips. Boil the tempeh strips for 10 minutes.
Combine all the marinade ingredients in a large shallow dish. Gently place the cooked tempeh in the marinade. Let sit for at least an hour, up to all day.
Shred the carrots and cabbage and place in a large bowl with the other slaw ingredients. Mix well. Weigh down the cabbage with a plate and something heavy, then set it aside for at least an hour.
Combine the yogurt, lime, cilantro, and salt. Add more lime or salt to taste. Refrigerate it for at least an hour to combine flavors.
When you’re ready for tacos, heat a large pan or griddle. Baste the grill pan with coconut oil, then lay down the tempeh and let sear for about 6 minutes per side. Before flipping, baste the tempeh with the marinade.
Shred or crumble the tempeh a bit for tacos and assemble.
5. Lime Cilantro Portobello Tacos
For the same reason portobello burgers are the fallback for veggie burgers, they’re great in tacos: They’re one meaty mushroom. Slices of portobello really give these vegetarian tacos from A House in the Hills some heft. They get a little crunch from shredded red cabbage and a little kick from jalapeño slices.
This recipe urges you to make your own tortillas, and you absolutely should. It’s easy (though it can be a little time consuming, depending on how many you make) and the tortillas are absolutely delicious. You don’t need a tortilla press; you can easily use a rolling pin or a pie plate to press the little disks. You may never go back to store-bought corn tortillas after you make your own. Masa flour is pretty ubiquitous and should be readily available in most grocery stores.
- 2 large portobello mushrooms
- ¾ cup shredded purple cabbage
- 1 avocado
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 1 jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced and de-seeded
- ⅓ cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¾ cup masa
- Grapeseed oil
Directions: Rinse and thoroughly clean two large portobello mushroom caps. Prepare mushroom marinade by combining olive oil, fresh-squeezed lime juice, 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro, and ½ teaspoon of sea salt. Marinate the mushrooms in the fridge as long as possible, preferably 8 hours.
When mushrooms are thoroughly marinated, sear or grill over medium heat until cooked through.
To make the tortillas, combine masa with ½ cup hot water and knead briefly with your hands. Add more water if the mixture seems particularly crumbly.
Lightly coat a cast-iron pan with the grapeseed oil and heat on medium low. Cover a tortilla press with a large zip-top bag split down the sides or with plastic wrap. Roll a ball of masa dough into a ball approximately 1½ inches big with your hands and place it in the center of the press. Flatten the ball into a disk and immediately transfer to the pan. Cook about 30 seconds on each side. The tortilla should not brown in any spots. Continue with the rest of the dough, wrapping the tortillas in a warm towel as they finish cooking.
Slice the grilled portobellos and avocados and lay them in the fresh tortillas with a sprinkle of cilantro, shredded cabbage, and sliced jalapeño. Squeeze lime juice over the filling and enjoy!
6. Beer-Battered Avocado Tacos With Corn Salsa
Beer battering isn’t just for fish tacos! Here, The Beeroness batters slices of avocado and fries them up into dreamy, creamy fillings for some super sexy tacos. Like the above recipe, this one asks you to make your own tortillas. You don’t have to, of course, but then you wouldn’t have beer corn tortillas.
- 2 cups masa harina
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1⅓ cup warm IPA
- Canola oil, for frying
- 2 cups flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 12 ounces IPA
- 3 avocados, ripe but still firm
- 1 ear of fresh sweet corn, kernels cut off
- 1 jalapeno, stem and seeds removed, chopped
- ¼ cup red onions, diced
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons chopped scallions
- Juice from one lime
- ¼ cup chopped tomatoes
- Salt and pepper to taste
Directions: Make the tortillas. In a large bowl, add the masa and the salt, and stir to combine. Add the beer and stir to combine. It should be a fairly dry dough, but if the dough is too dry to hold together, add additional beer or water. If it is too wet, add more masa. It should resemble the consistency of Play-Doh.
Lightly coat a cast-iron pan with the canola oil and heat on medium low. Cover a tortilla press with a large zip-top bag split down the sides or with plastic wrap. Roll a ball of masa dough into a ball approximately 1½ inches big with your hands and place it in the center of the press. Flatten the ball into a disk and immediately transfer to the pan. Cook about 30 seconds on each side. The tortilla should not brown in any spots. Continue with the rest of the dough, wrapping the tortillas in a warm towel as they finish cooking.
Make the avocados. Add about 4 inches of oil to a heavy-bottom saucepot. Heat oil to 375 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, maintaining that temperature.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, garlic powder, and pepper. Add the beer and stir until combined and the batter resembles pancake batter.
Cut the avocados into thick slices, 4 or 5 per half.
Dip the slices into the batter and fry for about 1 minute. Flip and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes.
Combine all salsa ingredients into a bowl. Assemble tacos and serve.
7. Veggie Tacos With Guacamole
This recipe from Nutrition Stripped is technically called Spring Veggie Tacos With Avocado Cream, except that none of these vegetables technically grow in the spring, and the avocado cream is technically not cream, but guacamole. That aside, the filling was way too incredible to not include. Smashed chickpeas, crumbled walnuts, and sweet potato paired with sautéed peppers and topped with a big dollop of guacamole? Just try to put these down.
- 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
- 1 large sweet potato, diced into chunks
- ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 small red onion, sliced into thin strips
- 1 large red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
- 1 large green bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
- 1 large yellow bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 2 cloves garlic, diced
- Pinch of sea salt
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bake chopped sweet potatoes with 1 tablespoon coconut oil, a dash of cinnamon, and cumin for 30 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp.
While the sweet potatoes are cooking, prepare everything else.
Pulse together the chickpeas and walnuts in a food processor to create a coarsely chopped mixture. In a medium heated skillet, add ½ tablespoon coconut oil, chopped walnuts, beans, and seasonings. Stir to warm through and combine, adding a little bit of water as needed to bring the mixture together.
Cook for about 5 minutes; add baked sweet potatoes last and only to toss around in the spices with everything else. Next, sauté the peppers, onions, and garlic until softened. Assemble the tacos.