Black Bean Quinoa Tacos (with Cilantro Lime Crema!)

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Quinoa Black Bean Tacos with Cilantro Lime Crema, aka the plant-based taco recipe that is on heavy weeknight dinner rotation here at the PWWB house (& will be at your house too!). This quinoa taco meat is so simple to make: you need a few pantry staples, 1 skillet, & just 30 minutes start-to-finish. Plus, they're 100% vegetarian, vegan, & dairy-free. & the best part? Quinoa black bean tacos are pretty ideal for Meatless Monday AND Taco Tuesday = major weeknight dinner WIN!
Quinoa Black Bean Tacos arranged on a marble board, topped with cilantro lime crema sauce & chopped cilantro. There are a few lime wedges surrounding the tacos, along with a small blue bowl with the cilantro lime crema.

Confession time: I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of tacos. They’re so versatile, & I love them all: chicken tacos, carnitas & barbacoa tacos, veggie tacos, homemade tacos, fancy restaurant tacos, street tacos, crispy tacos, tacos in the form of a salad…the list goes on & on, because when it comes to tacos, I don’t discriminate. I love all tacos. I’m actually beginning to think that tacos are my love language… 

These Quinoa Black Bean Tacos are no exception. They’re the kind of tacos that make my flexitarian heart pitter-patter. 

They are stuffed with my take on an easy homemade vegan taco meat – a plant-powered taco filling made with black beans & quinoa. The black bean & quinoa taco meat simmers away with onions, garlic & a heavy dose of taco spices. It infuses spicy, garlicky goodness right into the vegan taco filling…basically what taco dreams are made of.

And the very best part? With minimal ingredients & time needed, this black bean taco recipe is probably one of the easiest dinner recipes I’ve ever made! Once you make them, I think you’ll understand the obsession.

These quinoa tacos are…

  • Healthy plant-based goodness. These tacos are naturally vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, but the meat-lovers in your life will even love them, too – promise!
  • 30-minute weeknight dinner magic
  • One-skillet wonder – less dishwashing for the win!
  • Meal prep-friendly
  • Totally budget-friendly!
Quinoa Black Bean Tacos arranged on a marble board, topped with cilantro lime crema sauce & chopped cilantro. There are a few lime wedges surrounding the tacos, along with a small blue bowl with the cilantro lime crema.

100% Plant-Based goodness. ♡ Read on to learn more about these Black Bean Quinoa Tacos, or jump straight to the recipe & get cookin’!

The Key Ingredients for Black Bean & Quinoa Tacos are all pantry staples!

One of my favorite things about these easy tacos is that they’re made entirely with staple pantry ingredients, making them super easy to whip up any night of the week.

Quinoa & Black Bean Tacos recipe ingredients arranged on a marble board: Simply Nature Organic quinoa & black beans from ALDI, garlic, diced onion, taco spices, tomato paste, vegetable broth, tortillas, lime wedges, & more.
Note: full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.

The key ingredients include…

  • Black beans – Straight out of the can works great. I love the Simply Nature Organic Black Beans from ALDI. Such an affordable staple, plus the beans are tasty & well-seasoned (not always the case with organic black beans!)
  • Quinoa – This versatile whole grain is of my favorite sources of plant-based protein, lending these tacos a whopping 13 grams per serving!
  • Aromatics – Namely a yellow onion & some garlic to add plenty of flavor to the base of the vegetarian quinoa taco meat.
  • Taco spices – My quick homemade taco spice is a blend of chili powder, ground cumin & smoked paprika. If you like things a little spicy, feel free to add in a pinch of cayenne pepper for extra kick.
  • Vegetable broth or stock – For simmering. I prefer using broth or stock (as opposed to water) since it adds more flavor to the quinoa taco meat. I suggest using a low-sodium veggie broth so you can control the amount of salt.

How to make this quinoa black bean tacos recipe: 

When cooked perfectly, the texture of this black bean & quinoa taco meat is surprisingly hearty & satisfying – it is almost meaty! Plus, these vegan tacos are seriously EASY. It’s the kind of recipe that comes together really quickly, with a just handful of key steps…

To make these quinoa black bean tacos, you will…

  1. Sweat the onion: This is the first layer of flavor in this quinoa black bean taco recipe. Let the onion cook in olive oil for about 4-5 minutes, to get nice and soft. Be sure to season with a pinch of salt – it draws the water out of the onion & makes it even more flavorful. 
  2. Toast the aromatics: Get ready for your kitchen to smell awesome – this step adds major depth & flavor to the quinoa black bean tacos. Add garlic, taco spices (chili powder, cumin, & paprika) & tomato paste to the skillet & let it cook for about a minute. The spices will get nice & toasty, & super fragrant. 
  3. Cook the quinoa. Stir the quinoa into the onion mixture & let it toast up for a minute or two before adding in the broth. Bring the mixture to a boil before adding in the black beans, covering the skillet & letting it simmer for 15 minutes. When it’s done, use a fork to fluff up the quinoa black bean taco filling, & give it a squeeze of lime juice <– don’t skip that part, it’s key!
  4. Serve!!! Your quinoa tacos are ready to go – top them with what you love & devour!
Black Bean Quinoa Tacos arranged on a marble board, topped with chopped cilantro.

Best toppings for plant-based tacos: 

I prescribe to the “more is more” philosophy of taco toppings, but you really can’t go wrong when it comes to toppings for these vegan quinoa tacos. Use your faves!

A few of mine include… 

  • Avocado – Slice it up or mash it up to add an addictively creamy component to each bite. Bonus points if you whip up a batch of guacamole!
  • Salsa – Pick your fave jarred salsa, whip up a quick pico, or try this creamy salsa verde – it is vegan!
  • Chopped cilantro – A sprinkle adds bright, fresh flavor!
  • …similarly, lime wedges – A small squeeze of lime juice really brightens up the flavor of the black bean quinoa taco meat. 
  • Cilantro lime crema – An absolute must! This creamy, cashew-based crema is flavorful yet cooling and makes the perfect topping for these quinoa tacos…or just about anything, for that matter. I always keep a batch in my fridge! For this and 2 other delicious cashew crema recipes check out our Easy Vegan Crema recipe here!

Easy Recipe Tweaks & Tips: 

A couple of easy tweaks & tips for these quinoa black bean tacos:

  • Spice ’em up: While flavorful, the quinoa taco meat is pretty mild in terms of spiciness. Amp up the heat with a dash of cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes. For some awesome smoky heat, toss in a chipotle pepper…yum!
  • Make it meaty: Adding meat to this recipe is super easy. Brown up your favorite taco meat (ground beef, ground turkey, chorizo, etc.) in the skillet before you start sweating out the onions. Transfer the browned meat to a plate & set aside as you cook the black bean & quinoa mixture according to recipe directions. Once the black bean & quinoa mixture is cooked, carefully stir the cooked meat into the mixture. 
  • Meal prep: Check the Recipe Notes, below, for some meal prep guidance. These tacos come together really quickly, so with some simple prep done in advance it’s a nearly hands-off recipe.
  • Not craving tacos? We can’t be friends. (Ha! Kidding!) The quinoa taco meat is really versatile. Use it as a filling for epic vegetarian burritos or quesadillas, serve it on nachos or on top of a taco salad, etc. Sky’s the limit!
Quinoa & Black Bean Tacos arranged on a marble board, topped with cilantro lime crema sauce & chopped cilantro. There are a few lime wedges surrounding the tacos, along with a small blue bowl with the cilantro lime crema.

I hope you give this Quinoa Black Bean Tacos recipe a try very soon – I know you’ll love them!

If you do give them a try, be sure to let me know!: Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations! Happy cooking! ♡

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Quinoa Black Bean Tacos arranged on a marble board, topped with cilantro lime crema sauce & chopped cilantro. There are a few lime wedges surrounding the tacos, along with a small blue bowl with the cilantro lime crema.

Black Bean Quinoa Tacos with Cilantro Lime Cashew Crema (Vegan, Dairy-Free)

  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4
  • Category: Tacos, Burritos & Enchiladas Recipes
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Mexican & Tex-Mex, American
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Meet your new favorite vegan quinoa black bean tacos recipe! These plant-based tacos are made with a hearty & filling black bean quinoa taco meat. A 30-minute, one-skillet dinner made with pantry ingredients – perfect for meatless Monday AND Taco Tuesday!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry quinoa (see Recipe Notes, Below)
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock (or water)
  • 1 14-ounce can black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
  • for serving, as desired: charred corn tortillas, sliced avocado, cilantro lime cashew crema (below), chopped cilantro, salsa of choice, lime wedges, etc.

for the cilantro lime cashew crema: 

  • 1 cup raw cashews (see Recipe Notes, below)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup roughly chopped cilantro
  • optional: 1 small jalapeno, deseeded (as desired) & roughly chopped
  • 1 large, juicy lime, juiced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 3/4 cup water
  • kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season

Instructions

Prep note: Once you begin cooking, these tacos come together very quickly! I suggest starting by getting all of the chopping, measuring & other prep odds & ends out of the way so cooking is a smooth process: dice the onion, mince the garlic, grab your spices & tomato paste, measure the quinoa & veggie stock, & rinse the black beans. Place everything within an arm’s reach from the stovetop. 

  1. Sweat the onion: Add the olive oil to a medium skillet (with lid) over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion. Season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent & fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.How to make Quinoa Taco Meat - Step 2: Softened onion shown in a black skillet, topped with taco spice blend. The skillet sits atop a white marble surface.
  2. Toast the aromatics: Stir the garlic into the skillet. Cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add in the spices (chili powder, ground cumin, smoked paprika) & tomato paste. Stir, coating the onion & garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes more, until very fragrant. How to make Quinoa Taco Meat - Step 2: Aromatics coating softened onion in black skillet atop a white marble surface.
  3. Cook the quinoa: Add the quinoa to the skillet, stirring to combine with the onion mixture. Let the quinoa toast for about 1 minute before adding in the vegetable broth. Increase heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, add in the black beans. Cover the skillet and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes (see Recipe Notes, below). Once the quinoa cooked, remove the skillet from the heat & set aside to stand, covered, for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, remove the lid. Squeeze the lime juice over top and fluff the mixture with a fork. Set aside for taco assembly.

    Hand reaching into the photo fluffing cooked quinoa taco meat with a fork. The skillet is placed on a marble surface, with a few spent lime halves surrounding it.

  4. Prep the cilantro lime cashew crema: Meanwhile, as the quinoa simmers, prep the cilantro lime cashew crema. Add all listed cashew crema ingredients to a food processor or blender. Blend to combine, adding a tablespoon or two of water as needed to reach your desired consistency. Set aside, or transfer to an airtight container & store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. 
  5. Assemble & serve: Add some of the quinoa & black bean mixture to a tortilla with sliced avocado. Top with a drizzle of cilantro lime crema. Finish with some chopped cilantro, a spritz of fresh lime juice, & any salsas or toppings your taco-lovin’ heart desires. Enjoy! Quinoa Black Bean Tacos arranged on a marble board, topped with cilantro lime crema sauce & chopped cilantro. There are a few lime wedges surrounding the tacos, along with a small blue bowl with the cilantro lime crema.

Notes

  • Cooking quinoa: Quinoa can be kind of finicky to cook properly. Once you bring quinoa to a boil, cover & reduce to a simmer (as directed in Step 3, above), it’s important that the simmer be pretty gentle. If it simmers too vigorously, the liquid will cook out too quickly, resulting in quinoa that’s very “al dente” or undercooked. It’s all very heat-dependent, so knowing the nature of your stove will be helpful. If you run into this issue, feel free to add in a couple extra splashes of vegetable broth to give the quinoa enough liquid to absorb.
  • Storage & freezing: The black bean quinoa taco meat stores beautifully. Once cooled, pop it in an airtight container & store in the fridge for 3-4 days. It also freezes pretty well. To freeze, allow the vegan taco meat to cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container or freezer bag. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. To serve, reheat in the microwave until warmed through. The texture will likely be a little less fluffy, though you can always doctor it up with flavorful & textured toppings.
  • 10-minute meal prep: These tacos come together really quickly once you get to cooking! To make this an even faster weeknight dinner…
    • Dice 1 small yellow onion. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
    • Prep the cilantro lime cashew crema according to Step 4 of Recipe Directions, above. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. 

Keywords: quinoa tacos, quinoa black bean tacos, quinoa taco meat, easy, weeknight, vegan, plant-based, vegetarian, dairy-free, gluten-free

Craving more flavorful veggie-forward meals? More plant-based meals you’ll love…

Quinoa Black Bean Tacos arranged on a marble board, topped with cilantro lime crema sauce & chopped cilantro. There are a few lime wedges surrounding the tacos, along with a small blue bowl with the cilantro lime crema.

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Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.

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Comments

  1. 1.12.22
    Anne said:

    Could I use brazil nuts for the crema instead of cashews?

    • 1.17.22
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi Anne! We’ve never tested with Brazil nuts so we’re unsure how the flavor would change or compare if you were to use cashews as written. IF you do substitute for Brazil Nuts we’d still recommend using a high-powered blender to mix up the crema to achieve a smooth texture. Be sure to let us know how it goes if you do end up opting to try the Brazil nuts!

  2. 1.12.22
    Anne Nyman Lilkær said:

    Could I use brazil nuts for the crema instead of cashews?

    • 1.17.22
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi Anne! We’ve never tested with Brazil nuts so we’re unsure how the flavor would change or compare if you were to use cashews as written. IF you do substitute for Brazil Nuts we’d still recommend using a high-powered blender to mix up the crema to achieve a smooth texture. Be sure to let us know how it goes if you do end up opting to try the Brazil nuts!

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