Vegan Black Bean Tacos with Cilantro Lime Crema
This vegan black bean taco recipe with cilantro lime crema, pickled onions and crunchy slaw is easy to make in less than 30 minutes.
About the Recipe
If you’re a taco lover, you’ve got to try these easy black bean tacos. You can whip them up in 20 minutes and they’re delicious as a simple tacos or with all your favorite toppings.
They feature flavorful black beans with chipotle pepper for smokiness and a little heat, and make the a great recipe to experiment with as you can use the black bean taco filling for burritos, breakfast tacos, tostadas, enchiladas, salads and bowls.
Leftovers reheat well too so you can make the black beans in advance and heat them up the next day for a quick and healthy taco night.
For more delicious tacos, these Sweet Potato Black Bean Tacos with Chipotle Sauce and Quick & Easy Vegan Tempeh Tacos are both delicious! This Vegan Taco Salad with Creamy Southwest Dressing is also amazing.
Please see the recipe card at the end of the post for the full recipe with ingredient measurements.
- Black Beans: Canned black beans work great, you’ll need 2 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. Pinto beans also work well here!
- Onion: Yellow or white onion is fine.
- 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 corn or flour 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 to make enough lime juice.
- Garlic: The garlic cloves in the black bean mixture can be substituted for 1 tsp garlic powder.
If you’d like to try the quick pickled onions and cilantro lime sauce, be sure to review those ingredients in the recipe card below. They’re both easy to make with just a few simple pantry ingredients.
Adjustments & Toppings
- Tofu Alternative: To use cashews instead of tofu, use the garlic lime cashew cream from this tempeh taco recipe. Plain yogurt also works as a substitute for tofu.
- 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, tortilla chips etc.
- 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.
- For black bean and corn tacos, mix up to 1/2 cup of sweet corn into the black bean mixture at the end.
- For alternative sauces, try the chipotle sauce from these Sweet Potatoes & Black Bean Tacos, the garlic lime cashew cream from these Tempeh Tacos, the avocado ranch from these BBQ tempeh bowls, or this Vegan Spicy Mayo.
- For alternative slaw recipes, try the sesame slaw from these Peanut Chickpea Tacos or this Apple Beet Slaw.
- For Crispy Black Bean Tacos, use slightly larger tortillas (about 8-inch). After making the black bean mixture, add a scoop to half of each tortilla and then sprinkle with vegan cheese, fold each tortilla over (like a small quessadilla). Either bake the tacos on a pan int he oven for 15-20 minutes flipping half way through or cook them in a skillet, flipping after 3-4 minutes. You can omit the pickled onions, slaw and cilantro sauce or make and use them for serving.
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.
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.
Step 3: Make the black bean filling.
Heat 2 tsp oil in a large skillet then add the diced onion to the hot oil and cook 4-6 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, cumin, chipotle pepper and adobo sauce (just scoop some of the sauce from the can of chipotle peppers).
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 black beans tacos or just mash a little for a chunkier mixture with more whole beans.
Quick Note: I used 5 cups 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.
Step 4: Make the cilantro lime crema (optional).
Blend all of the sauce ingredients until smooth.
If you’d like to bout 1/2 cup of plain yogurt for the tofu.
Step 5: Assemble your tacos!
If you’d like to warm the tortillas, heat them briefly in a large skillet, microwave between damp paper towel or over an open flame on the stove.
Start by adding a scoop of the black beans to the warmed tortillas, then top with the pickled onion, cilantro crema and cabbge. Or serve with lime wedges any other taco toppings you enjoy such as your favorite salsa, guacamole, vegan sour cream or hot sauce.
Making Ahead & Storing
- The cilantro garlic lime sauce can be stored in the fridge for 1-2 days in an airtight container.
- The pickled red onion can be made up to 1 week in advance and stored in the fridge in a sealed glass jar.
- The black bean mixture will store well in the fridge for 4-5 days in a sealed container 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 in an airtight container.
What to Make Next
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Delicious vegan black bean tacos perfect for a plant-based taco Tuesday. Serve with your favorite taco toppings for an easy meal the entire family will enjoy.
For the Black Beans
- 2 tsp olive 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
- 12 small wheat or corn tortillas, warmed
- 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)
- 1–2 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add Seasonings: Add the garlic, cumin, chipotle pepper and adobo sauce. Stir well and cook for 1 minute to toast.
- Add Black Beans and Water: Add the canned beans, including the liquid from one of the cans, along with 1/4 cup of water. 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.
- 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.
- Warm Tortillas (Optional): Warm the tortillas in a large skillet over medium heat or briefly on a gas stove over open flame. 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.
- Assemble Tacos: To the warmed tortillas, add a scoop of black beans, then top with the cabbage, crema, pickled red onion and fresh cilantro, if desired.
For a 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.
- 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