The five vegetarian taco recipes you need to try

Try these healthy veggie tacos for your next Taco Tuesday!

Following a vegetarian diet has a host of benefits for your own health and for the environments, studies have shown. A plant based lifestyle can help you lose weight, regulate blood glucose levels, improve digestion, clear up skin problems, and lower blood pressure. You'll also feel more energized and alert after indulging in plant based meals thanks to all the vitamins, minerals, and phyto-chemicals found in organic fruits and vegetables. Packing your diet full of organic produce promises glowing skin and a significantly lighter carbon footprint.

Animal-sourced foods require a much larger amount of water and carbon to produce than plant based foods. According to a UC Davis study a single pound of beef needs as much as 8,000 gallons of water for production, compared to just 290 gallons needed to produce one pound of oats. You don't need to give up meat entirely to reap the health and environmental benefits either. Giving up meat just one day a week can have a huge impact on carbon emissions, water waste, and your overall health in the long run.

Need another reason to detox from animal products? Beyonce and Jay-Z are in the middle of their yearly 22 day cleanse. While not all the recipes here are vegan, they can definitely be used in a healthy (and delicious) food cleanse. Whether you follow a vegetarian diet already, want to jump on the Meatless Monday bandwagon or just love a good taco, these vegetarian taco recipes will hit the spot with your health and the earth's best interest in mind.

1. Vegetarian Chorizo Taco with Masa Queso


Here's a delicious vegetarian taco recipe from Bon Appetite's sister site, Healthyish. If you haven't scrolled through the Healthyish site yet, I suggest you hurry up and get bookmarking. You'll find simplified wellness advice and delicious, (mostly) healthy recipes. This vegetarian taco recipe is adapted from the famous King's Highway Diner in Palm Springs. It features mushroom chorizo and a creamy adobo sauce. Yum!

Ingredients:

Adobo Sauce

  • 6 dried morita or chipotle chiles
  • 4 dried guajillo chiles
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 teaspoons dried cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, sliced
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • Kosher salt

Mushroom Chorizo

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, thinly sliced
  • ¾ cup cooked brown rice
  • Kosher salt

Masa Queso

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ½ small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons finely ground masa for tortillas
  • 3 ounces Gruyère, shredded
  • Kosher salt

Assembly

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 8 tortillas, warmed
  • Pickled red onions, sautéed mushrooms, chopped cilantro, and lime wedges (all optional; for serving)

Special Equipment

A spice mill or mortar and pestle

Directions:

Adobo

1. Stem and seed chiles and snip into 1" pieces with scissors. Pour 2 cups boiling water over chiles in a small bowl and let sit, pushing down occasionally or weighing down with another small bowl to keep submerged, until softened, about 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, toast cloves and cumin seeds in a small skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until spices are fragrant (do not let burn), about 2 minutes. Transfer to spice mill or mortar and pestle, then finely grind.

3. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally and lowering heat as needed, until onions are caramelized, 15–20 minutes. Add garlic and cook until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Stir in ground spices.

4. Add chiles and their soaking liquid to saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, uncovered, until chiles are tender and flavors have melded, 15–20 minutes. Let cool slightly. Transfer to a blender (reserve saucepan for mushroom chorizo), add vinegar and brown sugar, and purée until smooth. Season to taste with salt.

Do Ahead: Adobo can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill.

Mushroom Chorizo

1. Heat oil in reserved saucepan over medium. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring and scraping bottom of pan occasionally, until mushrooms are very tender, 8–10 minutes. Continue to cook until mushrooms are lightly browned, about 5 minutes longer. Let cool.

2. Pulse mushrooms and rice in a food processor until mixture resembles coarsely ground meat. Add ½ cup adobo sauce and pulse just to combine. Season with salt.

Do Ahead: Chorizo can be made 4 days ahead. Cover and chill.

Masa Queso

1. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft, 6–8 minutes. Let cool slightly.

2. Transfer onion mixture to a blender (reserve saucepan; you'll need it in a minute). Add milk, cream, and masa to blender, then purée until smooth. Transfer liquid back to saucepan and heat over medium. Gently simmer, lowering heat if needed to avoid scorching bottom of saucepan and whisking often, until masa no longer tastes raw and mixture is very thick, 5–8 minutes.

3. Reduce heat to low and whisk in cheese a handful at a time, whisking constantly and letting cheese fully melt between additions. Season with salt. Keep warm over very low heat (do not let come to a simmer).

Assembly

1. Heat oil in a medium skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium. Add mushroom chorizo and cook, without stirring, until browned underneath, about 2 minutes. Toss chorizo and continue to cook, tossing occasionally, until browned in spots and very fragrant, about 3 minutes longer.

2. Divide chorizo among tortillas and top with mushrooms, masa queso, pickled onions, crispy mushrooms, and cilantro, if using. Serve with lime wedges alongside, if using.

2. Roasted Vegetable Tacos with Chimichurri


You can whip this vegetarian taco recipe from The Minimalist Baker up in under 30 minutes. Carrots, potatoes, and squash are all lightly seasoned and roasted on one pan for efficiency. Topped with a delicious chimichurri sauce that I love to make in bulk. It's delicious the next day on breakfast tacos or as a healthy dip!

Ingredients:

Vegetables

  • 2 cups (214 g) chopped cauliflower
  • 2 whole carrots, chopped (~1 1/2 cups or 150 g)
  • 5 baby potatoes, quartered (170 g)
  • 1 delicata squash (200 g) (or summer squash), sliced into rings and halved (seeds removed)
  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) avocado or melted coconut oil (or sub water)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) maple syrup

Chimichurri Sauce

  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed (15 g)
  • 1-2 serrano peppers, seeds / stems removed ( )
  • 1 cup (30 g) packed cilantro, thick bottom stems cut off
  • 1 cup (30 g) packed flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 Tbsp (45 g) ripe avocado
  • 1/4 tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • 3 Tbsp (45 ml) lime juice
  • optional: 1 Tbsp (15 ml) avocado oil
  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) maple syrup
  • Water to thin (~3 Tbsp or 45 ml)

For Serving

  • 10 yellow or white corn tortillas (as fresh as possible)
  • optional: Toasted or raw pumpkin seeds
  • optional: Fresh chopped cilantro
  • optional: Fresh chopped radish
  • optional: Limes

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C) and arrange veggies on a baking sheet (1 or 2 depending on size). Drizzle with oil (or water) and season with spices and maple syrup. Toss to combine. Bake for 20 minutes. Then turn temperature up to 450 F (232 C) to brown for 5 minutes.

2. In the meantime, prepare chimichurri sauce by placing garlic and chiles in a food processor along with cilantro, parsley, avocado, salt, lime, oil (optional), and maple syrup. Process until nearly smooth. Then add water to help further combine until smooth and creamy.

3. Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more pepper for heat, salt for saltiness, maple syrup for sweetness, herbs for earthy flavor, or avocado for creaminess. Scrape into a storage container and refrigerate until serving time.

4. To serve, warm tortillas in a damp towel in the microwave for 30 seconds or in the still-warm oven for a few minutes. Then fill with roasted vegetables and any desired garnishes (radish, pepitas, cilantro, lime juice). Top with a drizzle of chimichurri and enjoy.

3. Chipotle Quinoa Sweet Potato Tacos with Roasted Cranberry Pomegranate Salad

From one of my favorite food bloggers, Half Baked Harvest, this vegetarian, thanksgiving inspired taco is out of this world! It's so good you could probably bring it to thanksgiving dinner and receive a round of applause. The roasted sweet potatoes and spiced quinoa give you a satisfied fullness that won't have you missing meat at all. I like leaving sweet potato skins on to save time and for the bonus of the extra nutrients.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 a small sweet onion
  • 1 clove garlic minced or grated
  • 1 large sweet potato chopped (peel if desired)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa I used red quinoa
  • 1 leaves can diced tomatoes (Optional I normally these out, but sometimes add them)
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 canned chipotle chilies minced
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle in adobo from the chipotle chili can
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne or to your taste
  • 1 cup cooked black beans if using canned drain and rinse them
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 1 small bunch cilantro
  • 6-8 flour tortillas corn tortillas (warmed) or hard shell tacos (personally my family prefers hards shell, but all of them are good!), warmed
  • 1 avocado sliced or diced, for topping
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese for topping
  • cotija cheese crumbled, for topping

Cranberry Pomegranate Salsa

  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 canned chipotle chili chopped
  • 1 lime zested + juiced
  • 1 clove garlic minced or grated
  • 1 jalapeno chopped and seed removed if desired

Directions:

1. To make the salsa. Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking sheet.

2. Place the cranberries, brown sugar, chipotle chili, lime zest + juice, garlic, jalapeño and a pinch of salt and pepper. Use your hands to toss everything together until the cranberries are evenly coated. Place in the oven and roast until the cranberries burst and release their juices, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and and let cool 10 minutes. Then add the pomegranate arils and toss well. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if desired. Set aside and keep at room temperature.

3. Well the cranberries are roasting start the tacos. Heat the olive oil over a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the onions and sweet potatoes and toss to coat. Cover the skillet and let cook until the sweet potatoes are fork tender, but not mushy, stirring once or twice for about 15 minutes. Once the sweet potatoes are fork tender, add the garlic and saute 30 seconds. Then crank up the heat to medium-high (adding more oil if needed) and add the quinoa. Let the quinoa get crispy and cook for about 5 minutes. Add 3/4 cup water, tomatoes (if using), the chili powder, chipotle chilies, adobo sauce, smoked paprika, cumin, brown sugar and cayenne, stir to thoroughly combine and bring the mixture to a boil. Cook for 5-10 minutes or until the water has completely evaporated. Remove from the heat and stir in the black beans, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro and the lime juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired.

4. To assemble the tacos place some of the quinoa in a tortilla or shell. Top with shredded cheddar cheese, avocado, a large dollop the the roasted cranberry salsa, crumbled catija cheese and fresh chopped cilantro. Take in their beauty and then EAT!

4. Vegan Teriyaki Cauliflower Tacos


These teriyaki cauliflower tacos are so simple to make and have great texture. The avocado sauce in this recipe is another one worthy of making in bulk. It's full of fresh herbs and has a delicious, tangy flavor. Keeping nutrient packed dips and sauces in your fridge makes throwing together healthy meals so much easier during the week. I like making a big batch of seasonal roasted vegetables, quinoa, and farro on Sundays so I always have something healthy on hand.

Ingredients:

Teriyaki Sauce

  • 1 tbsp Cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp Cold Water
  • 1 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 cup (115ml) Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp Grated Fresh Ginger
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 1/2 Lime - juice only
  • Black Pepper for seasoning
Taco
  • 6 Wraps of your choice
  • 1 Cauliflower
  • Red Cabbage
  • Spring Onion
  • Sesame Seeds
Avocado Sauce
  • 1 Avocado
  • 3-4 sprigs Fresh Cilantro
  • 1/2 Lime juice only
  • salt and pepper for seasoning
  • Water as needed

Directions:

1. To make the teriyaki sauce, place all the ingredients except the cornstarch and water to a small saucepan. Mix the cornstarch and water together to make a slurry, then add this to the saucepan. Heat on a medium heat until the mixture is thickened, then transfer to a cool bowl.

2. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Chop the cauliflower into florets and toss with the sauce until completely coated. Line a flat baking tray with greaseproof paper and spread out the cauliflower evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cauliflower is completely cooked through.

3. Blend all the ingredients for the avocado sauce, except the water, until smooth. Add water if you like to thin out the sauce until you have a consistency you like.

4. Assemble your tacos with the cauliflower, sauce and top with some shredded red cabbage, fresh coriander (cilantro), spring onion and sesame seeds.

5. Portobello Black Bean Tacos

Full of natural protein and a spicy kick, these tacos only take 15 minutes to make! Featuring vegan cashew sour cream and a mexican inspired slaw that make excellent sides for other dishes. I used the leftover filling and sauces last time I made this recipe in a toasted baguette for a more nutritious take on a bahn-mi. This vegan taco also qualifies if you're following along with Beyonce's 22 Day Cleanse!

Ingredients:

Mexican Coleslaw

  • A couple of handfuls of cabbage finely shredded (enough for 2-3 people, about 200 g)
  • 1 carrot julienned (or grated)
  • 1/2 red onion finely sliced
  • 1/2 garlic minced
  • 1-2 tbsp lime juice about 1 lime
  • Small handful about 1/3 cup coriander, roughly chopped
  • 1.5 tbsp virgin olive oil
  • Salt

Portobello and Black Bean Tacos

  • 1 x 400 g tin black beans drained about 240 g
  • 2 portobello mushrooms about 200 g, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • Small pinch of cayenne and cinnamon
  • 1 small clove garlic minced
  • Salt to taste
Extra
  • Tortilla*
  • Sour Cream*
  • Coriander
  • Hot Sauce
  • Jalapeno
  • Avocado
  • Sweet Corn

Directions:

Mexican Coleslaw
Combine cabbage, carrot, red onion, coriander and garlic in a bowl. Add oil, 0.5 tbsp lime juice and a good dash of salt and mix thoroughly. Start with adding a little bit of lime juice, and add more until you got the right acidity and salt balance. 1 tbsp is usually good, but start with 0.5 tbsp and work yourself up until you got the right acidity. Once good, set aside whilst making the tacos.

Portobello Black Bean Tacos
Fry the mushrooms in a little bit of oil on high heat until browned. Add the bean, spices and garlic and fry for a minute or two on medium heat. Add salt to taste
Serve the tacos on tortilla with the Mexican slaw, finely sliced avocado, sour cream, hot sauce, jalapeno, sweet corn and a good handful of coriander.

Curious about the best U.S. cities for vegetarians and vegans? Read more here.