5 Minute Black Bean Taco Bowls from the Pantry + Freezer
These black bean taco bowls are truly ready in five minutes. They’re vegan if you like, gluten-free, whole food to the max, and largely sourced from your pantry and freezer. A dream come true. Plus, scroll down for more of our favorite super-fast recipes, and protips for fast family dinners that work.
Black bean taco bowls
I’m loving the back to school, back to life, back to reality routine this year. Compared to the summer, I find I’m:
- Moving a lot more without trying (thanks, Fitbit, for making me feel like a hero for doing something I’m sure I’ve been doing every fall for years)
- Getting a lot done
- Eating a little better, and
- Reconnecting with local friends and activities in the best possible way.
Dinners, though, get a little tricky at this time of year. Some nights we have multiple sports practices, choir rehearsals, meetings, you name it. We need good, healthy fuel for all these activities, but we don’t have a lot of time to prepare it.
Speaking of choir, am I preaching to it, or what? I know I’m not alone here. So I thought I’d share one of our frequent solutions: 5-Minute Black Bean Taco Bowls.
Taco bowl just sounds so much more of-the-moment than taco salad, does it not? Taco salad sounds like something my 1980s hairdresser with the perm would have eaten after Jazzercise. Taco bowl sounds like something I can’t refuse.
5-minute black bean taco bowl ingredients
The great news is that these taco bowls are super-flexible and can easily adapt to what you have on hand. We like to use:
- A crunchy lettuce
- Cooked corn (straight from freezer to microwave)
- Black beans from a can
- Tomatoes, bell peppers, or both
- Sliced green olives with pimentos from a jar
- Shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
- Sour cream
- Our favorite salsa (Xochitl chipotle in medium)
- Hot sauce (we love Cholula)
You can substitute different greens for the lettuce, add cooked rice or quinoa if you have some on hand, swap out the black beans for chickpeas, skip the cheese and sour cream (or use vegan versions) if you’re plant-based, add some rotisserie chicken if you’re meat-based, or pretty much just skip any of the ingredients if you don’t have them. We also love to add sliced avocado if we have any ripe ones, or especially our homemade guacamole, pickled red onions, and/or cilantro sauce if we have some left over.
How to make 5-minute taco bowls
It truly couldn’t be easier to assemble black bean taco bowls. The only “cooking” is blizting frozen corn in the microwave for a few minutes according to package instructions. Otherwise, you’re simply assembling the bowls. (Alternatively, place each ingredient in its own bowl and let family members assemble their own dinner. This works great for picky eaters and also on nights when you may not have overlapping schedules.)
- Buy prewashed, precut lettuce or wash and shred some lettuce.
- Cook frozen corn according to package instructions. This usually means placing the corn and a couple of tablespoons of water into a lidded microwave-safe container and cooking on high for four minutes.
- Drain, rinse, and dry a couple of cans of black beans.
- Drain a jar of sliced olives.
- Place some lettuce at the bottom of an individual serving bowl. Then layer on all the ingredients you like. That’s it!
Three tips for fast family dinners that work
These taco bowls easily meet all of my top-three criteria for fast family dinners that work:
- Even though these bowls are nutrient-dense and full of fresh flavors, they don’t require a special shopping trip of any kind. They draw heavily from pantry and freezer ingredients, and everything else can be kept in the fridge for at least a week.
- We’ve found over the years that kids really appreciate the feeling of control over their food. These taco bowls are a great way to give them the chance to put together their own dinner from healthy options. You’ll feel you’ve done your best to give them healthy choices, and they’ll feel they get to eat whatever they want. Win-win.
- Speed and efficiency are of the essence on weeknights. We’ve literally never met a faster dinner.
More favorite dinners in 20 minutes or fewer
- Naan pizza margherita
- 10 minute chickpea broccoli bowls
- Homemade Shake Shack burgers
- Roxane’s 20 minute vegan sushi bowls
- 1 16-ounce package frozen corn, cooked in the microwave according to package directions and drained
- 2 15.5-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained*
- 1 jar sliced Spanish-style olives with pimentos, drained
- Shredded Romaine lettuce
- Small tomatoes or chopped bell pepper, optional
- 1 or 2 ripe avocados, sliced, or guacamole, if available
- Jar of your favorite salsa
- Sliced scallions, optional
- Sour cream, optional
- Shredded sharp cheddar or other cheese, optional
- Cholula or other hot sauce, optional
- Lime wedges, optional
- We like to put all the ingredients in separate bowls in the middle of the table, stick a spoon or fork in each, and let everyone assemble their own taco bowl. You could make the bowls before serving if it's easier to manage -- just arrange a bit of everything in its own little pile in each bowl.