Zesty Quinoa Tacos with Cilantro Sauce

5 from 3 votes
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Zesty Black Bean and Quinoa Tacos with Cilantro Sauce are a total plant-based flavor fiesta. Rich in fiber, protein, and heart-healthy fats, these vegan tacos will be a weeknight favorite. (Also perfect for meal prep!)Quinoa tacos lined up in a row on a white board

Taco-spiced quinoa, hearty black beans, and sautéed peppers and onion, these filling tacos are here to appease meat-eaters and vegetarians alike.

Tacos are one of my go-to ways to enjoy meatless meals that are both satisfying and hearty (these Al Pastor Chickpea Tacos are a personal and reader favorite!).

Other options for plant-based taco fillings include tofu, tempeh, and lentils, which are also great sources of protein. For these tacos, however, we are harnessing the versatility and magic of quinoa and black beans. 

How to Make Quinoa Tacos

Whether you make these tacos for Taco Tuesday or weekday meal prep, they will surely satisfy.

Here are the keys to making vegan tacos with the level of heartiness and flavor that won’t leave you asking where’s the meat?

The Ingredients

  • Quinoa: Most think of quinoa as a grain, however it’s actually a seed with an impressive nutrition profile. Quinoa is high in protein plus naturally gluten free, making this salad perfectly suitable for those avoiding grains.
  • Black Beans: You need one can of black beans for these tacos, which offers a one-two punch of protein and fiber. You can also use chickpeas or edamame here, if you prefer.
  • Taco Seasoning: Use homemade or store-bought taco seasoning. I personally love the Siete Taco Seasoning, which comes in mild and spicy.
  • Tomato Paste: For a punch of umami and brightness, tomato paste really livens up the filling. It’s important to cook the tomato paste for at least 2 minutes to allow it to caramelize. (This also helps remove the raw tomato flavor.)
  • Bell Pepper: For sweetness and a pop of color, use red, yellow, or orange bell pepper. Bell peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C. 
  • Red Onion: I love the sweetness of red onion in the taco filling, however you can also use yellow or sweet onion here.
  • Cilantro Sauce: While optional, this creamy, cooling sauce is a wonderful counter to the zesty taco filling. You need either Greek yogurt or sour cream, cilantro, jalapeño, cumin, salt, and lime juice.
    • Note: if making the tacos vegan/dairy free, use a coconut or cashew-based yogurt. Alternatively, you can soak whole cashews in hot water and blend with remaining ingredients. 
  • Tortillas: I prefer using charred corn tortillas for this recipe, however you can also use flour. For a lower carb option, serve the quinoa filling over chopped romaine lettuce and enjoy taco salad-style.

The Directions

Step 1: Sauté Pepper and Onion

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper and onion; cook 5 minutes, or until softened. Stir in tomato paste and taco seasoning; cook 2 more minutes to caramelize the tomato paste.Red bell pepper, red onion, and taco seasoning cooking in a saucepan

Step 2: Cook Quinoa

Stir in quinoa and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, allowing the quinoa lightly toast. Add broth (or water) and bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until all of the liquid is absorbed. Quinoa and broth being added to a saucepan

Step 3: Prepare Cilantro Sauce

Meanwhile, prepare Cilantro Sauce by combining yogurt, cilantro, olive oil, jalapeño, lime juice, coriander (or cumin), garlic powder, and 1/4 tsp. salt in a standard or small blender (such as a Nutribullet); blend until mostly smooth. Taste and season with additional salt, if desired.
Cilantro-lime sauce in a small brown bowl

Step 4: Add Black Beans to Quinoa

Remove lid from quinoa mixture and stir well. Add black beans, replace lid, and let mixture steam for 10 minutes (off burner).Black beans being stirred into a saucepan filled with quinoa 

Step 5: Assemble Quinoa Tacos

Toast corn or flour tortillas. Divide quinoa filling evenly between each tortilla, and drizzle with Cilantro sauce. If desired, garnish with chopped green onion, avocado slices, and a sprinkle of Cotjia cheese. Charred tortilla filled with quinoa, black beans, and cilantro sauce

Recipe Variations:

This recipe is endlessly versatile, and can really spice up any weeknight. If you tire of the quinoa tacos, try the filling mix in either enchiladas or a fully-loaded taco salad.

  • Quinoa Taco Salad: Skip the tortillas and serve the quinoa mixture over a bed of romaine lettuce. Use the cilantro sauce as a creamy dressing! I also love adding frozen/thawed fire-roasted corn and pico to the mix. 
  • Vegan Nachos: Spoon the quinoa filling over a mound of tortilla chips on a baking sheet and cover with shredded cheese. Bake nachos at 400ºF until the cheese is melted. Finish with your garnishes of choice!
  • Quinoa Enchiladas: Stuff the quinoa filling in flour tortillas and wrap them tight. Line the wrapped tortillas in a 9×13-inch pan and cover with red enchilada sauce and shredded cheese. Bake at 375ºF until melted and bubbly!
  • Chorizo and Quinoa Tacos: Add sautéed ground chorizo to the quinoa mixture for extra smoky, savory depth.
  • Quinoa and Zucchini Tacos: Slice a medium zucchini into small half moons, and sauté until golden and caramelized. Toss the zucchini in with the quinoa and black bean mixture.
  • Quinoa Burrito Bowl: Mix with cauliflower rice and top with guacamole and pico de gallo.

A silver bowl filled with taco-spiced quinoa taco filling

How to Store and Reheat:

  • To Store: Let taco filling cool to room temperature. Transfer the quinoa mixture to an airtight storage container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Store the cilantro sauce separately.
    • Note: it’s best to heat the tortillas fresh each time you enjoy the tacos.
  • To Reheat: Cook the quinoa mixture in a skillet over medium heat until warm. Alternatively, you can microwave the mixture in 30 second increments until warm. 

More Vegan Taco Recipes to Try:

Vegan Chorizo Tacos

Al Pastor Chickpea Tacos

30 Minute Mushroom and Lentil Tacos

Chipotle-Roasted Butternut Squash TacosTwo tacos assembled next to each other on a grey board

If you give these quinoa tacos a try, be sure to snap a pic and tag #dishingouthealth on Instagram so I can see your creations. Also, follow along on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest recipe updates!

5 from 3 votes

Zesty Quinoa and Black Bean Tacos

Zesty Black Bean and Quinoa Tacos with Cilantro Sauce are a total plant-based flavor fiesta. Rich in fiber, protein, and heart-healthy fats, these vegan tacos will be a weeknight favorite. (Also perfect for meal prep!)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4

Equipment

  • Medium Saucepan with Lid
  • Blender (standard or small, such as a Nutribullet)

Ingredients  

  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp. taco seasoning (homemade or store-bought, such as Siete brand)
  • 3/4 cup dry (uncooked) quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 (15-oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 8 corn or flour tortillas, warmed
  • Sliced avocado for serving

Cilantro Sauce

  • 1/2 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt (sub coconutmilk yogurt if making vegan)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves and stems
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small (or 1/2 large) jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime or lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander or cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. kosher salt (to taste)
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Instructions 

  • Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper and red onion; cook 5 minutes, or until softened. Stir in tomato paste and taco seasoning; cook 2 more minutes to caramelize the tomato paste.
  • Stir in quinoa and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, allowing the quinoa to lightly toast. Add broth (or water) and bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until all of the liquid is absorbed.
    Stir in black beans, replace lid, and let mixture steam for 10 minutes (off burner). Taste and season with salt if needed. (Saltiness will depend on if your taco seasoning is salted, and whether you used broth or water.)
  • Meanwhile, prepare Cilantro Sauce by combining yogurt, cilantro, olive oil, jalapeño, lime juice, coriander (or cumin), garlic powder, and 1/4 tsp. salt in a standard or small blender (such as a Nutribullet); blend until mostly smooth. Taste and season with additional salt, if desired.
  • Toast corn or flour tortillas. Divide quinoa filling evenly between each tortilla, and drizzle with Cilantro Sauce. Garnish with sliced avocado and finish with chopped green onions or extra cilantro, if desired.

Notes

To Store: Let taco filling cool to room temperature. Transfer to an airtight storage container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Store the cilantro sauce separately.
Note: it's best to heat the tortillas fresh each time you enjoy the tacos.
To Reheat: Cook the quinoa mixture in a skillet over medium heat until warm. Alternatively, you can microwave the mixture in 30 second increments until warm. 

Nutrition

Serving: 2tacos with sauce | Calories: 465kcal | Carbohydrates: 59g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 750mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 6g

I calculate these values by hand to ensure accuracy, however expect up to a 10% variable depending on food brands.

If you love this recipe, please leave a star rating and review below!
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5 from 3 votes

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Recipe Rating




7 Comments

  1. CB says:

    5 stars
    So good!

  2. Nicole says:

    5 stars
    This recipe is just so wildly good. I made it last week and already made it again, and will definitely be adding it as a staple in the menu! The flavors are bold and tasty, and the cilantro sauce is AMAZING!

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      Hi Nicole – I’m so glad the recipe was a hit! Thank you for taking the time to leave a review!

  3. Mj says:

    My daughter ate this, and she eats nothing!
    Thank you !

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      Woohoo! Sounds like a win to me! 😉

  4. Claudia says:

    5 stars
    Oh. My. God.
    Jamie, you GOTTA be kiddin’ me! Made this already yesterday and all of these flavors were INSANE!

    Sorry for me losing it a bit here but this cilantro dressing alone was such a flavor explosion in my mouth, so glad I had instinctively made double amount. I made the Taco seasoning myself and the whole dish comes in spicy but not hot which was quite a surprise with the amount of different chili flavors.

    I have tried quite a number of your recipes over the past year but this will definitely stick on my heavy rotation list. Thank you so much for this creation!

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      Hi Claudia – Thank you SO much for leaving such a fabulous review!! I’m so glad you enjoyed the tacos!