Healthy tacos made with seasoned black beans, an easy corn salsa, fresh avocado, and a delicious cilantro “pesto.” Made with wholesome, good-for-you ingredients, these are the BEST healthy tacos ever! These tacos are vegetarian, but trust me, you won’t be missing the meat!
The BEST Healthy Tacos Recipe
It’s no secret I’m a taco addict (these chicken tacos, vegetarian tacos, asian tacos, or quinoa tacos give you an idea of my taco affinity). While I’d say most of those taco recipes are pretty healthy (compared to what you’d get at your local restaurants), the recipe today is the healthiest taco recipe I’ve ever shared. Coincidentally, it might just be my favorite!
Saucy spiced black beans, charred corn relish, fresh and creamy avocado, a cilantro “pesto,” and charred corn tortillas. 😍
Wait a minute…are tacos healthy to eat?
Typically an order of restaurant or fast food tacos are loaded with fat and calories WITHOUT the ingredients that will leave you full. This leads to an overconsumption of calories and ultimately weight gain.* That said, tacos CAN absolutely be healthy to eat depending on the ingredients you use and how you prepare those ingredients. And the best news? They do not have to be even a little bit bland!
While there are a good amount of taco recipes that are not going to make your trainer thrilled, these tacos hit it out of the park in nutritional stats. Plus, they are delicious.
So, let’s talk process for these tacos, the healthiest tortillas to use, and what vegetables you can add to these tacos!
Since these tacos are meatless (and you won’t have to wait for marinating and then cooking/grilling meat) they are exceptionally fast to make.
How to make healthy tacos:
- Corn Salsa: Start with the corn salsa to let the flavors meld a bit. I like to char the corn on the stovetop (OR grill fresh corn on the cob; yum!). Let that cool and then toss with radishes, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice, olive oil, and a few seasonings.
- Black Beans: (Use the same skillet you used to make the corn salsa!) Saute an onion and garlic and then add in some black beans, salsa, and seasonings. Simmer a bit and mash some of the beans as desired.
- Cilantro “Pesto”: Add a few ingredients (cilantro, shallot, garlic, oil, & vinegar) to a blender and pulse to combine. (This mixture is somewhere in between a saucy thick dressing and pesto, but whatever you want to call it, it’s amazing!)
- Assemble: Char/grill/or warm the tortillas and layer them with the black bean mixture, corn salsa, fresh avocado (or guacamole), and plenty of the cilantro pesto/sauce. If desired, add a sprinkle of cheese, fresh lime, and cilantro.
There is a wide variety of tortillas that range from being on the healthier side to being super unhealthy. If you’d prefer to not use tortillas at all, you can serve all these fillings/toppings over rice, quinoa, or another grain as desired. To make this meal lower carb, you could serve it all on a lettuce wrap!
What are the healthiest tortillas?
As far as nutritional stats, corn tortillas are typically the healthiest followed by whole-wheat tortillas. In last place for healthy stats, we’ve got plain flour tortillas. You can read more about the nutritional breakdown of tortillas here.
The healthiest fillings for tacos? Plenty of vegetables and lean proteins!
What vegetables can you put in tacos?
- For lean protein, beans are a protein-packed healthy choice. Beans provide your body with soluble and insoluble fiber (both will help you stay fuller for longer).
- Along with the beans, we add in some salsa which is packed with vegetables – tomatoes, peppers, and onions to name a few. All of those vegetables are loaded with vitamins and minerals your body needs.
- The next vegetables: corn and radishes. Corn is associated with helping the production of red blood cells in the body and enhancing your energy. Radishes are packed with nutrients and antioxidants.
- The “pesto” is packed with good ingredients:
- Cilantro supports the health of your heart and helps balance blood sugar levels
- Shallots are rich in potassium and other vitamins/minerals
- Olive oil is loaded with healthy fats that help protect your body against strokes, heart disease, and weight gain.
More Healthy Taco Recipes
- If you’re looking for healthy tacos with chicken, try this chicken tacos recipe.
- For healthy tacos with ground turkey, try this turkey taco salad (you can serve the filling in tortillas!)
- To make healthy tacos with ground beef use the recipe below, but replace one can of black beans with 1/2 a pound of ground beef.
- For a healthy taco bowl, try these sweet potato taco bowls (vegetarian) or these navajo taco bowls.
- For healthy fish tacos, try shrimp instead of breaded/fried fish (shrimp tacos here).
- And here are some sweet potato healthy vegetarian tacos.
Healthy tacos made with seasoned black beans, a corn salsa, fresh avocado, and a delicious cilantro "pesto." Made with wholesome, good-for-you ingredients, these are the BEST healthy tacos ever! These tacos are vegetarian, but trust me, you won't be missing the meat!
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, separated
- 2-3 fresh limes (3 tablespoons fresh lime juice + 1 teaspoon lime zest, separated)
- Tortillas (corn, whole wheat, or flour), fresh avocado or guacamole, additional fresh lime and/or cilantro
- 2 cups frozen corn (OR use fresh corn on the cob if available)
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 3/4 cup thinly sliced radishes
- 1 tablespoon jalapeno pepper, finely minced
- 1 small (2/3rds cup) yellow onion, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 cans (14.5 ounces EACH) black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup mild salsa
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 cup tightly packed cilantro leaves (no need to remove every stem, just cut most the stems off in one cut)
- 1/2 of 1 small shallot, coarsely chopped (1-2 tablespoons)*
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Alternative #1: use pre-roasted canned corn -- drain and allow to dry. Alternative #2: use frozen corn -- place in a preheated large cast-iron skillet (cast iron chars better and won't ruin your pan) 3 to 5 minutes, stirring once or twice, until kernels are lightly charred. Avoid stirring too often as this will keep the corn from getting a good roast. Alternative #3: Grill some fresh corn on the cob and cut it from the cob.
Combine COMPLETELY cooled corn with chopped cilantro, thinly sliced radishes, jalapeno pepper, a generous pinch of salt and pepper (add to taste; I add about 1/4 teaspoon each), 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, and 1 teaspoon lime zest. Stir, adjust seasoning to taste, and let stand to marinate while preparing the rest of the tacos.
In the same skillet used for the corn, add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add in the chopped onion and saute for 3 minutes over medium high heat. Add in the garlic and stir for another 30 seconds. Add in the drained and rinsed black beans, salsa, chili powder and cumin. Simmer mixture for about 5 -10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Slightly mash half of the beans if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add all the ingredients except the olive oil and pulse in a blender until combined. Once it is all combined, add olive oil and pulse a few times quickly until combined. (Over mixing olive oil can create a metallic taste, so it is important to add the olive oil in last.) Season to taste with salt and pepper (I use about 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper).
Char/grill/warm tortillas and add a generous amount of the black beans mixture followed by the corn topping, some fresh avocado (or guacamole), and a spoonful of the pesto. If desired, add cheese, additional chopped cilantro, and fresh lime juice. Enjoy as soon as assembled
*If you're sensitive to shallot/onion flavor, reduce to 1 tablespoon (or less); increase to 3 tablespoons if you love the flavor.