These vegan black bean tacos are super quick and easy to prepare for a delicious vegetarian meal.

A small soft taco topped with pickled red onion, cabbage and cilantro crema on a plate. Two more tacos are blurred in the foreground.

If you’re a taco lover, you’ve got to try these easy vegetarian tacos with black beans. They’re super quick and easy to make, packed with flavour and leftovers reheat well for yummy taco leftovers.

I’ve included a recipe for a tofu-based garlic lime crema and pickled onions but you can also just make the black beans and pair them with your favourite simple taco fillings like lettuce and tomato.

The black bean filling works well for burritos, with breakfast (like on these breakfast tacos), for tostadas, burritos, enchiladas, salads and bowls, so feel free to use it for your own creations.

Why You’ll Love this Recipe

  • Super easy to make, you’ll love vegan bean tacos for a quick meal!
  • Healthy and delicious.
  • Perfect for a vegetarian taco option.
  • Can be made in advance and reheated.
  • Try the quick pickled onion and simple garlic lime crema to bring it all together.
  • High in protein and fibre for a nutritious meal.
Three black bean tacos with cilantro crema, pickled red onion and cabbage on a small plate.

Ingredients & Substitutions

  • Black Beans: This recipe uses two large 19 oz cans of black beans, which is about 5 cups. You can reduce it to two 14 oz cans, totally fine, it will just make a bit less. If you use less black beans, keep the rest of the ingredient amounts the same. Pinto beans also work well here!
  • Onion: White or yellow onion is fine.
  • Garlic: I used fresh garlic but you could use 1 teaspoon garlic powder if that’s all you have on hand.
  • Chipotle Pepper in Adobo: These are easy to find in grocery stores and usually located with other Mexican ingredients. You’ll be using 1 whole pepper as well as some of the sauce. The leftover can be frozen or used in another recipe such as chili, soup or sauce. If you don’t have these on hand and want to make black bean tacos, you can also use the base from this tempeh taco recipe, which is made with tomato paste.
  • Tortillas: Use any tortillas you enjoy. For gluten-free, use corn tortillas.
  • Cabbage: You can use red or green cabbage. For an quick and easy alternative to chopping the cabbage, you can use store-bought coleslaw mix.
  • Lime: 1 lime will be enough if you’re just making the cabbage. If you plan to make the garlic-cilantro crema, you’ll need 2 limes.

Quick Tip: If you’d like to try the quick pickled onions and cilantro lime crema, be sure to review those ingredients in the recipe card below. They’re both easy to make with just a few simple pantry ingredients.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Make the quick pickled red onion (optional).

If you’d like to make the quick pickled onion (recommended!), start those first. Boil some water then mix with the sugar, salt and vinegar to dissolve the vinegar then combine with the red onion.

Set those aside while you prepare the rest of the recipe.

A jar of thinly sliced pickled red onions.

Step 2: Prepare the cabbage.

Next, take care of the cabbage. If you have a mandoline, that will speed up the process but if not, thinly slice the best you can. You could also use packaged coleslaw mix to save time!

Squeeze the lime over the cabbage and add a pinch of salt then mix well and set aside while you continue with the black beans.

Thinly sliced green cabbage in a glass bowl.

Step 3: Make the black bean filling.

Start by cooking the diced onion for 4-6 minutes until softened, then add the garlic, cumin, chipotle pepper and adobo sauce (just scoop some of the sauce from the can of chipotle peppers).

Onion, garlic and chipotle peppers cooking in a skillet with a wooden spoon.

Cook that for 1 minute to toast, then add the black beans and water. Stir well and cook for 6-8 minutes, mashing up some of the beans, until thickened.

You can completely mash them to make refried bean tacos or just mash a little for a chunkier mixture.

Quick Note: I used 5 cups total of black beans, which is 2 x 19 oz cans. This makes a large amount but you can store leftovers in the fridge for more tacos, a breakfast side, burritos and bowls.

Note that you are rinsing one can and using the entirety of the other can, including the liquid.

If you only have 2 x 14 oz cans, that’s also fine, it will just make a bit less. If you have 1 large 28 oz can of black beans, use the entire can, including the liquid.

Cooked black beans and onions in a skillet with a wooden spoon.

Step 4: Make the cilantro lime crema (optional).

If you’d like to make an extra sauce for your tacos, you can follow the recipe for the tofu-based cilantro lime cream, or use:

You can also substitute about 1/2 cup of plain yogurt for the tofu.

Green sauce in a small round dish.

Step 5: Assemble your tacos!

If you’d like to warm the tortillas, heat them briefly in a large skillet or microwave.

Start with the black beans then top with the pickled onion, cilantro crema, cabbage and/or any other taco toppings you enjoy.

Recipe Notes

  • Tofu Alternative: If you’d prefer cashews over tofu, you can use this garlic lime cashew cream or one of the other sauces listed below. Yogurt also works as a substitute.
  • To make a black bean taco salad instead of tacos, start with a bed of lettuce then top with the black beans and other ingredients like corn, tomato, cilantro, pickled onion, etc.
  • The black bean taco filling is perfect for salads, burritos, tostadas, and enchiladas too.
  • You can swap the black beans for pinto beans for a variation.
  • To substitute the chipotle pepper in adobo and the adobo sauce, use 3 tbsp tomato paste, 1 tbsp chili powder and 1 tsp smoked paprika (keep the cumin in the recipe as well).
  • This mango salsa would be amazing on these too.
  • For black bean and corn tacos, add up to 1/2 cup of corn to the black bean mixture at the end or you can make a quick corn salsa and use it as a topping.
Hand holding a black bean taco with hot sauce, cabbage and cilantro lime garlic sauce.

Serving

  • For a super quick meal, just make the black bean filling and enjoy on a tortilla with any easy tacos fillings you like (lettuce, tomato, salsa, etc.).
  • I like to serve my tacos with cilantro, lime and hot sauce and the pickled red onions are a must.
  • Coleslaw mix makes a quick and easy taco topping/alternative to the cabbage. You can use it plain, add a bit of vinegar or lime and salt or use this simple slaw recipe.
  • Other sauces that work well are salsa, guacamole, avocado crema, spicy mayo, chipotle sauce, avocado cilantro sauce or garlic lime cashew cream.
  • Other toppings that work well are avocado, sour cream and cheese.
  • You can make a super quick crema by mixing dairy-free yogurt with lime, salt and a dash of hot sauce.

Making Ahead & Storing

  • The garlic cilantro sauce can be stored in the fridge for 1-2 days.
  • The pickled red onion can be made up to 1 week in advance.
  • The black bean mixture will store well in the fridge for 4-5 days and can be reheated in a pan or the microwave.
  • Leftover black beans work well for more tacos or black bean wraps, burritos, burrito bowls, enchiladas and taco salads.
  • Any leftover cabbage slaw can be stored for about 2 days in the fridge.

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A small soft taco topped with pickled red onion, cabbage and cilantro crema on a plate. Two more tacos are blurred in the foreground.

Black Bean Tacos

  • Author: Deryn Macey
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 12 tacos 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Cuisine: Mexican
  • Diet: Vegan
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Description

These delicious vegetarian (and vegan!) tacos feature hearty black beans with chipotle and onion for a quick, healthy and flavourful meal.


Ingredients

Scale

For the Black Beans

  • 2 tsp oil for cooking (substitute water for oil-free)
  • 2 (540 ml) cans black beans (drain and rinse 1 can, reserve liquid from other can)
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced (1.5 cups/145 g)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (15 g, about 1 tbsp minced)
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
  • 2 tsp adobo sauce (from the can of chipotle pepper)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • salt

For Serving

  • 12 small wheat or corn tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded red or green cabbage
  • 1 lime
  • cilantro lime crema, optional
  • pickled red onion, optional

Cilantro Lime Crema

  • 250 g (½ pkg) soft or medium tofu (see notes for substitution)
  • 12 limes, juiced (¼ cup juice)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ½ cup packed cilantro (20 g)
  • pinch of salt

Pickled Red Onions

  • ½ red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp sugar

Instructions

  1. Make the Pickled Onion (Optional): If you’re making the quick pickled red onion, prepare that first. In a small pot, add vinegar, water, salt and sugar. Bring mixture to a boil to dissolve salt and sugar. Remove pot from heat. To a medium bowl or large glass jar, add the onions, then pour the hot pickling liquid over top.  Set aside for at least 30 minutes to pickle.
  2. Make the Cabbage: Add the cabbage to a bowl with the juice from 1 lime and a spinkle of salt. Squeeze the cabbage with your hands a few times to massage and tenderize. Set aside while you prepare the black beans.
  3. Cook the Onion: In a large skillet, heat 2 tsp oil (or use water for oil-free) over medium heat.  When the pan is hot, add the onions. Season with salt. Cook for 4-6 mins, stirring occasionally, until tender. 
  4. Add Seasonings: Add the garlic, cumin, chipotle pepper and adobo sauce. Stir well and cook for 1 minute to toast.
  5. Add Black Beans and Water: Add the beans, including the liquid from one of the cans, along with 1/4 cup wateer. Stir well to combine. Cook for 6-8 minutes, mashing some of the beans with a potato masher or the back of a fork or wooden spoon, until thickened. Season to taste with salt, if needed.
  6. Make Cilantro Lime Crema (Optional): Using a blender, blend the tofu, garlic, cilantro, lime and salt, until smooth.  Add 1-2 tbsp of water, if needed, to achieve a smooth sauce or thinner crema, if desired. 
  7. Warm Tortillas (Optional): Warm the tortillas in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook them in batches, flipping to warm and toast each side. Cover with a clean tea towel to keep warm until ready to serve. You can also warm them briefly in the microwave.
  8. Assemble Tacos: To the warmed tortillas, add a scoop of black beans, then top with cabbage, crema, pickled red onion and fresh cilantro, if desired.

Notes

For super quick meal, you just make the black bean portion of the recipe. This takes less than 15 minutes. Serve on tortillas with lettuce, tomato, salsa or any other taco fillings you like.

Cilantro sauce can be made a day in advance. Pickled onion can be made up to 1 week in advance. The black bean mixture can be stored in the fridge up to 5 days. The cabbage can be stored in the fridge for around 5 days.

Nutrition facts are estimated for 1 taco with the black beans and cabbage. They will vary based on the tortillas use you and do not include the tofu crema or pickled onion, though the amount of calories those contain are negligable.


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 taco
  • Calories: 157
  • Sodium: 421 mg
  • Fat: 1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 29 g
  • Fiber: 9 g
  • Protein: 8 g

Keywords: black bean tacos, vegan black bean tacos