Vegan Taco Salad with Creamy Southwest Dressing
This vegan taco salad recipe features walnut mushroom crumbles, cilantro lime black beans, corn, creamy Southwest chipotle dressing and all the best taco fixings.
Why You’ll Love this Recipe
If you’re a taco salad lover, you’ll love this vegan version of classic taco salad!
It features mushroom-walnut taco “meat”, fresh vegetables, creamy avocado, black beans, corn and a creamy chipotle tahini dressing to bring it all together.
It’s also so hearty and satisfying, it’s hard to believe it’s completely plant-based. The combination of mushroom and walnut cooked in spices and chipotle pepper has the perfect texture and flavour to stand-in for meat.
The recipe is also full of nutrition, including plenty of plant-based protein and fibre, and it’s gluten-free as well.
Let’s take a look at the ingredients needed and possible substitutions and go over how to make it step-by-step (it’s easy!).
There are three components to this recipe – the taco “meat”, the chipotle tahini dressing and the taco salad ingredients. Let’s take a quick look at what you’ll need and go over possible substitutions.
This list does not include all of the ingredients. Please see the recipe card at the end of the post for the complete list with measurements.
Mushroom Walnut Taco “Meat” Ingredients
- Mushrooms: You can use cremini, portobello (remove gills) or white mushrooms.
- Walnuts: Use raw walnuts with no added oil or salt.
- Tamari: Use tamari for a gluten-free optional. Soy sauce or coconut aminos may be substituted.
- Chipotle Pepper in Adobo: This comes in a small can usually located with other Mexican ingredients in the grocery store. You’ll need one whole pepper for the taco meat and some of the sauce for the dressing.
Chipotle Tahini Dressing Ingredients
- Nutritional Yeast: Adds a nutty, cheesy flavour that makes the sauce taste like queso. I can’t recommend a substitute here.
- Mayo: You can use any vegan mayo you like.
- Adobo Sauce: Scoop this sauce from can of chipotle peppers used in the taco filling.
- Maple Syrup: You can use another sweetener such as agave syrup or honey.
- Garlic: You can use garlic powder or substitute a grated or crushed clove of galric.
For a cashew-based version of this dressing, use this chipotle cashew sauce.
Taco Salad Ingredients
- Black Beans: I think black beans work best here but you could substitute kidney beans, black eyed peas or pinto beans.
- Corn: You can use canned, frozen or fresh corn. For extra flavour, try grilling corn on the cob then cutting off the kernels for the salad.
- Cilantro: Technically optional so feel free to leave it out if you don’t like cilantro.
- Lettuce: This recipe is best with Romaine lettuce but you could substitute another salad green or baby spinach if needed.
- Avocado: Optional but recommended.
- Tomato: The recipe calls for cherry tomatoes but you can substitute any other fresh tomato as needed.
- Onion: Red onion is best but you could substitute white onion, yellow onion or shallot if needed.
- Tortilla Chips: Optional but highly recommend for a crunchy topping!
Variations & Additions
- Alternative Dressings:
- Additional Veggies:
- Extra Toppings: Serve with lime wedges, salsa, sour cream and/or guacamole.
- Wrapping it Up: For a handheld option, scoop the salad into a tortilla and fold it into a burrito-style wrap. It’s a convenient and portable way to enjoy your taco salad on the go.
- Cheese: If you’re a fan of cheese, sprinkle some dairy-free shredded cheese or crumbled vegan feta on your salad.
- You could use any store-bought plant-based ground meat or chicken alternative or tofu sofritas instead of making the walnut-mushroom crumbles.
How to Make
Step 1: Make the Taco “Meat”
Add the mushrooms and walnuts to a food processor and pulse-chop a few times.
Do not over process. You’re looking for a chunky, ground meat-like consistency so watch you don’t over do it. A few pulses should do the trick.
If you do not have a food processor, you can chop the walnuts and mushrooms by hand, just be sure to chop the mushrooms to a fine dice about the consistency of ground meat.
Next, add the ketchup, chipotle pepper, spices and tamari (or soy sauce) to the food processor and pulse a few times to combine, or transfer everything to a bowl and mix well.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and then add the mushroom mixture. Cook for 8-10 minutes until the mushrooms are tender, the liquid has evaporated and it’s browned. Season to taste with more salt, if needed.
Step 2: Make the Dressing
Add all of the dressing ingredients to any bowl or sealable container and either shake or stir to combine until smooth. Adjust the consistency of the dressing with a little water, if needed.
Step 3: Mix Corn and Black Beans
Add the lime zest, lime juice, corn, black beans and cilantro to a bowl and mix.
Step 4: Assemble the Salad
Divide the lettuce between 4 bowls then arrange the tomatoes, red onion, avocado and black bean mixture over top.
Divide the mushroom-walnut crumble between each serving and crumble crushed tortilla chips over top, if you like. Drizzle with your desired amount of dressing and dig in!
You can prepare the components of the salad ahead of time and store them separately or prepare the entire salad in advance.
For freshness, I would suggest just making the dressing, walnut-mushroom meat and black bean corn mixture ahead of time then assembling just before serving.
The recipe is gluten-free as written. Just be sure to use gluten-free tamari and not soy sauce.
If you’re adding chips, make sure to check the label to ensure they’re gluten-free, as well as any store-bought salsas and seasonings.
The mushroom-walnut meat and dressing has a slightly kick to it from the chipotle peppers. If you’re sensitive to heat, I recommend reducing the amount of chipotle pepper and adobo sauce by half.
If you enjoy a spicy kick, there are several ways to add heat to your taco salad. You can serev with sliced jalapeños, add a of cayenne pepper or chili flakes to the the mushroom spices, or drizzle hot sauce over the salad.
Storing & Prep
- The black bean and corn mixture can be made a day ahead and stored in the fridge.
- The mushroom walnut filling can be made in advance, stored in the fridge and reheated in a skillet before serving (or served cold).
- The dressing can be made 2-3 days in advance and stored in the fridge. Thin with water after storing if needed.
- The assembled salad will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days in a sealed container. Leave the avocado off until just before serving. If possible, store the dressing separately, though not required.
Did you try this recipe? I’d love to hear about it! Scroll down to the comment section to leave a star rating and review.
A vegan taco salad so packed with flavour and texture it’s hard to believe it’s completely plant-based!
For the Mushroom Walnut Crumbles
- 8 oz (225 g) cremini mushrooms
- 1 (92 g) cup walnuts
- 1 chipotle chili in adobo, chopped
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) tamari
- 1 tbsp (15 g) ketchup
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- salt and pepper
For the Chipotle Dressing
- ¼ cup (75 g) tahini
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp (15 g) mayo
- 2 tsp adobo sauce, from can of chipotle in adobo
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 lime juiced
- 4 tbsp water, plus more to adjust consistency
For the Taco Salad
- 1 (540 ml) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 1/2 cups (215 g) cooked corn kernels
- ½ cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 tbsp lime zest
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- ½ tsp cumin
- 1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped (8-9 cups, about 270 g)
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 2 cups (280 g) cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ cup (55 g) red onion, thinly sliced
- tortilla chips, for topping
- salt and pepper
- Make Taco “Meat”: To a food processor, add mushrooms and walnuts. Pulse until evenly chopped. Do not over process, you want a chunky texture, not a puree. If you don’t have a food processor you can chop the mushrooms and walnuts by hand, just make sure the mushrooms are finely diced to the consistency of ground meat.
- Add Seasonings: Add the remaining taco meat ingredients to the food processor. Season with salt and pepper. Pulse a few times to combine. If you didn’t use a food processor, mix everything together in a bowl.
- Cook Mushroom-Walnut Mix: In a large non-stick pan, heat 1 tbsp oil over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the mushroom mixture. Cook for 8-10 min, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender, liquid has evaporated and mixture is browned. Season with salt to taste.
- Make Dressing: While the mushrooms are cooking, make the dressing. In a medium bowl or glass vessel, add tahini, nutritional yeast, mayo, adobo sauce, maple syrup, garlic powder, lime juice and water. Season with salt, then stir to combine. If dressing seems too thick, add 1-2 tbsp of water to thin.
- Mix Beans and Corn: To a medium bowl, add black beans, cilantro, corn, lime zest, lime juice and ½ tsp cumin. Season with salt and pepper, then stir to combine.
- Assemble Salads: Divide lettuce between bowls. Arrange tomatoes, onions, avocado and black bean mixture on top. Top with mushroom-walnut mixture. Drizzle dressing over top. Sprinkle with more cilantro, if desired. Serve tortilla chips on the side for scooping or crumbled over top.
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 622
- Sugar: 15 g
- Sodium: 1056 mg
- Fat: 37 g
- Carbohydrates: 62 g
- Fiber: 19 g
- Protein: 23 g
Keywords: vegan taco salad