These super-savory and satisfying black bean vegan tacos have been one of our favorite meals for the better part of two decades. They're easy, make-ahead friendly, and highly customizable. Here's how to make them.
Why we love this recipe
To me, this meal has long served as irrefutable evidence that vegan food can be just as savory, satisfying, and carefree as any other cuisine. I first developed this recipe back when we were eating more plant-based and also had young kids whose friends were around for dinner on the semi-regular. These tacos, served family-style, worked for everyone.
These tacos are:
- Super-flavorful — black beans pull their own weight and also take well to ample seasonings
- Flexible — the beans work beautifully with the toppings suggested here but also with a wide variety of others
- Very make-ahead friendly and enough for two meals or more
- Kid-friendly, especially if you serve them family style and let everyone build their own tacos
I first published this recipe here way back in 2011. I've since updated the post for clarity and also tweaked the recipe a bit over time.
What you'll need
Here's a glance at the ingredients you'll need to make this recipe.
- I almost always use canned black beans since this is meant to be a quick and easy recipe. Of course you can swap in your own beans cooked from dried if you prefer, and the tacos will be even more delicious. Either way, be sure they're well-salted. If using canned beans, drain the liquid but don't rinse them. The liquid clinging to the beans will enhance the sauce.
- A combo of chili powder (the American-style spice blend), ground cumin, and smoked paprika flavors this dish. You can use hot or sweet paprika. I usually use sweet.
- To add spice, mince a fresh jalapeño and add it to the pan with the garlic. I got so used to making this recipe with young kids among the eaters that I don't usually do it, but it'd be great if you want to.
- Cilantro sauce is one of our most popular recipes of any kind and really adds a big pop of flavor. I highly recommend it, but if you don't feel like making it, you can substitute some chopped fresh cilantro.
- Pickled red onions are another game-changer. They're quick to make and keep in the fridge for a month.
- Sliced avocado or guacamole add creaminess.
- You can use corn or flour tortillas, whichever you prefer.
- I haven't pictured them here, but I like to include among the toppings either pico de gallo (pictured in the photos of the finished dish) or a simple crunchy slaw made from shredded green cabbage tossed with freshly squeezed lime juice and salt.
How to make them
Here's an overview of what you'll do to make a truly fabulous batch of black bean vegan tacos. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.
- First you'll sauté the vegetables until tender and lightly browned.
- Then you'll add the broth and spices.
- Pour in the beans and simmer until they're hot and the liquid is a bit thicker.
- Smash some of the beans with the back of your spoon and stir everything together. That's it!
Expert tips and FAQs
To keep it vegan, they're great in taco bowls or grain bowls.
They also make a great accompaniment to fried or scrambled eggs or steak.
Definitely. Beans and cilantro sauce keep well in separate airtight containers in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for a year. Beans can be reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop. Pickled onions last in the fridge for a month.
Assemble tacos just before serving (or better yet, let eaters assemble their own).
More favorite Mexican-inspired vegan recipes
For the beans
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive or safflower oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 medium green bell pepper, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 8 medium cloves garlic, chopped
- 5 cups (1320 grams) cooked black beans (see note 1)
- 1 cup (250 ml) vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon chili powder (see note 2)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
- Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add the onion, green pepper, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and softened, about five minutes.
- Add garlic and cook, stirring, one minute more.
- Pour in the broth, chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika and give it all a good stir.
- Stir in the beans.
- Bring liquid to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook until beans are heated through and liquid has thickened up a bit, about five minutes.
- Use the back of your spoon to smash some small percentage of the beans, then stir together.
- Let the mixture rest for a few minutes before serving.
- 5 cups cooked black beans is 3 15-ounce cans, a total of 1320 grams. Drain the excess liquid but don't rinse them.
- By chili powder, I mean the American-style spice blend that contains some fractional percentage of ground hot chili peppers along with other herbs and spices.
- To make a simple crunchy slaw, toss 4 cups shredded cabbage with the juice of one lime and ½ teaspoon fine sea salt.
- I like to put the toppings in small bowls on the table and let everyone help themselves. Kids like these tacos anyway, but it helps their enthusiasm level to have been a part of the process.
- Beans and cilantro sauce keep well in separate airtight containers in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for a year. Beans can be reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop. Pickled onions last in the fridge for a month. Assemble tacos just before serving.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 272Total Fat: 8.2gCarbohydrates: 39.7gFiber: 14.5gProtein: 12.6g