Black Bean Tacos

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Black Bean Tacos make good use of pantry staples and are topped with a creamy citrus-cilantro sauce, avocado, and saucy cabbage. Drizzle some fresh lime and a sprinkle of cheese over these tacos for the best vegetarian tacos ever! These tacos can also be made vegan.

Overhead image of Black Bean Tacos.

Black Bean Tacos

If there’s such a thing as too many taco recipes, this site might qualify for it, but I’m not slowing down anytime soon. While these Black Bean Tacos are the third vegetarian taco recipe I’ve shared, they’re uniquely different from these sweet potato vegetarian tacos and these black bean corn healthy tacos. They’re loaded with tons of protein, lots of flavor, and plenty of nutritious ingredients. And when it comes right down to it, you just can’t have too many taco recipes–but you already knew that!

Black Bean Tacos are topped with a bright, citrusy, cilantro green sauce that is ultra-thick and creamy without any mayo or sour cream. The secret there? Half an avocado! It’s made just like when we created the thick, luscious, and creamy dressing for this kale avocado salad. The avocado works wonders in this sauce for texture, flavor, and thickness.

Process shots-- images of the onion and garlic being sauteed; the seasonings being added; black beans and stock being mixed in; and the beans being smashed and prepped.

How to make Black Bean Tacos

  • Citrus-cilantro sauce: Start with the sauce so it has a chance to chill and the flavors can meld a bit. Everything is simply tossed in a small blender jar and blended until smooth and creamy. Feel free to thin out the sauce as desired with additional water, and make sure to give the sauce a taste test. Adjust any flavors to personal preference.
  • Black beans: Saute an onion and garlic and then add some seasonings to toast. Once everything is smelling fragrant, add in one can of black beans and some broth or stock. Whatever broth or stock you have on hand will work; if you’re vegetarian or vegan, use vegetable broth/stock and if no,t chicken stock/broth works great here. You can even use water, but you’ll just want a bit extra salt. Simmer the beans for a bit and then mash some of the beans with the back of a wooden spoon. After the beans have smashed down a bit, stir in the last can of black beans.
  • Cabbage: Thinly slice a cabbage (or use pre-sliced cabbage) and toss in some of the cilantro sauce with it to coat. 
  • Assemble: Char, grill, or warm the tortillas (see below), and layer them with the saucy cabbage, black beans, fresh avocado (that’s leftover from the dressing), and plenty of the cilantro sauce. If desired, add a sprinkle of cheese, fresh lime, and cilantro. Personally, I’d say the fresh lime is a must-have addition on these tacos!

How to prepare the tortillas

On the grill:

  • Preheat a grill to medium-high (about 400-450 degrees F.). Generously oil the grill by drenching a rolled-up paper towel in vegetable oil and, holding it with tongs, rubbing it over the grill grates.
  • Spray both sides of the tortillas with cooking spray and lightly sprinkle with salt. Place on the grates for 30-45 seconds; flip and leave on for another 30-45 seconds. Remove and immediately fold into taco shape and set aside to slightly cool.

On a gas stove top:

  • Spray the tortillas (both sides) with olive oil cooking spray and then place directly over the gas flames for a few seconds. Use tongs to flip until tortillas are lightly charred. Just FYI, don’t try this on an electric stove.
  • Remove and immediately fold into taco shape and set aside to slightly cool.

Skillet or microwave:

If you don’t have a gas stove, I’d recommend heating the tortillas through in a skillet or microwave.

  • Skillet: Spray the tortillas (both sides) with olive oil cooking spray, and place in a dry skillet over medium high heat. Use tongs to flip until tortillas are lightly browned, about 20-30 seconds per side. Remove and immediately fold into taco shape and set aside to slightly cool.
  • Microwave: Put five or fewer tortillas on a microwavable plate and cover them with a damp paper towel. Microwave in 30-second bursts until they are warmed through and then remove and immediately fold into a taco shape and fill.

Images of the cilantro and avocado sauce being made; then mixed in with the cabbage; and finally images of the tacos being assembled.

Black Bean Taco variations

  • Don’t want to use canned black beans? Use 3 cups cooked black beans instead.
  • Make it low carb: Serve in low carb tortillas or over cauliflower rice. 
  • Swap to a bowl meal: Make some cilantro lime rice to serve the black bean mixture over. Add in a chopped avocado, a handful of cabbage, and drizzle the sauce over everything.
  • Use a different sauce: If you aren’t sure about the sauce on these tacos, try the sauce I use on these shrimp tacos; it’s a huge hit and would pair nicely with everything else.
  • Add some spice: Drizzle hot sauce over everything or top tacos with jalapeños. You could also add in some cayenne pepper (1/4 teaspoon) to the black bean mixture.
  • Make Black Bean Tacos vegan: Leave out the cheese and replace the honey with maple syrup.

Up-close image of one of Black Bean Tacos with the sauce and fresh cheese and cilantro on top.

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Black Bean Tacos

5 from 3 votes
Black bean tacos make good use of pantry staples and are topped with a creamy citrus-cilantro sauce, avocado, and saucy cabbage. Drizzle some fresh lime and a sprinkle of cheese over these tacos for the best vegetarian tacos ever! These tacos can also be made vegan.
Print Recipe

Black Bean Tacos

5 from 3 votes
Black bean tacos make good use of pantry staples and are topped with a creamy citrus-cilantro sauce, avocado, and saucy cabbage. Drizzle some fresh lime and a sprinkle of cheese over these tacos for the best vegetarian tacos ever! These tacos can also be made vegan.
Course Dinner
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword Black Bean Tacos
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 489kcal
Cost $6.71

Ingredients

Citrusy Cilantro Avocado Sauce

  • 1/2 large fully ripe avocado (1/2 cup)
  • 3/4 cup packed cilantro
  • 1 large lime (2 tablespoons juice; 1 teaspoon zest)
  • 1 large orange (4 tablespoons juice; 1 teaspoon zest)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon jalapeño pepper, coarsely chopped(~1/2 jalapeño)
  • Fine sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • 1/2 cup water

Black Beans

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onion (~1/2 of 1 onion)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (~2 cloves)
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH: ground chili powder and paprika
  • 2 cans (14.5 ounces EACH black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup vegetable broth or stock (or use chicken broth/stock if not vegetarian; water can also be used)

Tacos

  • 10-12 small corn or flour tortillas
  • 1/2 head green cabbage (~3 cups finely shredded)
  • Queso cotija cheese and lime wedges, for serving
  • Optional: additional cilantro, additional jalapeños

Instructions

  • SAUCE: In a small blender jar, add 1/2 cup ripe avocado. Add in the packed 3/4 cup cilantro (it's fine to include stems; this will take most of a bunch). Add in the 1 teaspoon lime zest, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 teaspoon orange zest, 2 tablespoons orange juice, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 tablespoon jalapeño, and 1/2 cup water. Season to taste with salt and pepper; I add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust any flavors to personal preference. Place in the fridge to chill while preparing everything else.
  • BLACK BEANS: Rinse and drain the black beans. Add the 2 tablespoons oil to a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add in the 1/2 cup diced onion and 1 teaspoon minced garlic. Stir until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add in the 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, and 1/2 teaspoon paprika. Add in salt and pepper (1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper). Stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds to one minute. Add in 1 and 1/2 cups of the beans along with 1/3 cup broth, stock, or water. Stir and then gently mash up the beans with the back of a wooden spoon (or potato masher). Continue to cook, over medium-low heat, stirring often until the mixture reaches a simmer and thickens. Mash the beans again and then add in the reserved beans. Stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Stir occasionally while finishing everything else. Taste and adjust salt to personal preference; I usually add another 1/4 teaspoon here, but remember the cheese (if using) is salty as well.
  • CABBAGE: Add cabbage to a large bowl and drizzle about half the sauce over it. Toss the sauce with tongs to combine and place in the fridge.
  • TORTILLAS: See Note 1 for preparing the tortillas. I typically char them over a gas flame on my stovetop, but any method works.
  • ASSEMBLY: Place a large scoop of cabbage down the center of the tortillas and then a few spoonfuls of the beans on top. Thinly slice the other half of the avocado (from the sauce) and add to tacos. Add a generous drizzle of sauce and any other desired toppings such as cheese, additional cilantro, and/or jalapeños. If you aren't adding the cheese, you may want an extra sprinkle of salt to the tacos. Squeeze some fresh lime wedges over the tacos and enjoy immediately.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: How to warm through the tortillas:
On the grill:
  • Preheat a grill to medium-high (about 400-450 degrees F.). Generously oil the grill by drenching a rolled-up paper towel in vegetable oil and, holding it with tongs, rubbing it over the grill grates.
  • Spray both sides of the tortillas with cooking spray, lightly sprinkle with salt, and then place on the grates for 30-45 seconds. Flip and leave on for another 30-45 seconds. Remove and immediately fold into taco shape and set aside to slightly cool.
On a gas stove top:
  • Spray the tortillas (both sides) with olive oil cooking spray and then place directly over the gas flames for a few seconds. Use tongs to flip until tortillas are lightly charred.
  • Remove and immediately fold into taco shape and set aside to slightly cool.
Skillet or microwave:
If you don't have a gas stove, I'd recommend heating the tortillas through in a skillet or microwave.
  • Skillet: Spray the tortillas (both sides) with olive oil cooking spray and then place in a dry skillet over medium high heat. Use tongs to flip until tortillas are lightly browned, about 20-30 seconds per side. Remove and immediately fold into taco shape and set aside to slightly cool.
  • Microwave: Put five or fewer tortillas on a microwavable plate and cover them with a damp paper towel. Microwave in 30-second bursts until they are warmed through and then remove and immediately fold into a taco shape and fill.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 4servings | Calories: 489kcal | Carbohydrates: 87.7g | Protein: 19.1g | Fat: 9.6g | Sodium: 956.2mg | Fiber: 23.9g | Sugar: 19.3g

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