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Pinto Bean Tacos

These Pinto Bean Tacos are light, healthy, fresh, and crunchy! They start with saucy pinto beans and are loaded with cilantro-lime slaw, crisp fresh corn, and quick pickled red onions. We're totally hooked on these nutritious and filling tacos!
Course Dinner, Vegetarian
Cuisine American, Healthy, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword pinto bean tacos
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cashew Soak Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 416kcal
Cost $6.91


Quick "Pickled" Onion

  • 1/2 large red onion thinly sliced (~1 cup, 75g)
  • 2 tablespoons (28g) red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons white granulated sugar


  • 1/3 cup (52g) roasted and salted whole cashews
  • 1 cup (26g) fresh cilantro (leaves & stems)
  • 3 tablespoons (47g) lime juice + 1/2 teaspoon zest (1-2 limes)
  • 1/3 cup (80g) water
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder


  • 8 thin small corn tortillas (we use Mission's extra thin)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (381g) homemade pinto beans (or 1 can refried beans) Note 1
  • 1/2 head small green cabbage (~2-1/2 cups, 155g) finely shredded
  • Optional toppings: 1 large ripe avocado, 1 large corn on the cob ((~3/4 cup) or use canned or thawed frozen corn), cotija cheese, additional cilantro, and lime wedges


  • PINTO BEANS: See Note 1.
  • SAUCE: Place cashews in a heatproof bowl. Pour about 1 cup of boiling water over the cashews. Let stand for 45 minutes to an hour and then thoroughly drain. Add drained cashews, cilantro, lime juice & zest, water, olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste (I add 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper) to a small powerful blender. Blend until completely smooth. Refrigerate so flavors intensify and meld. The sauce can be made ahead of time; simply stir again before serving.
  • QUICK "PICKLED" RED ONION: In a medium-sized bowl, combine the thinly sliced red onion, red wine vinegar, salt and sugar. Toss to coat; leave at room temperature and toss every 5 minutes or so while preparing the rest of the meal. (You'll likely have some extra pickled red onions, but the recipe works best in this quantity. Add any leftovers to dishes throughout the week; they will stay good for up to 5 days in the fridge.)
  • CABBAGE AND SAUCE: Add cabbage to a large bowl and drizzle about half the sauce (just eyeball it) over the cabbage. Toss with tongs to combine and place in the fridge.
  • TORTILLAS: See Note 2 for preparing the tortillas. I typically char them over a gas flame on my stovetop, but any method works.
  • ASSEMBLY: Load up the heated tortillas! Spread beans down the center of each tortilla (about 3-4 tablespoons). Top with saucy cabbage, pickled red onions (to preference), and optional fresh corn, thinly sliced avocado, and cotija cheese. Drizzle additional cashew-cilantro sauce over tacos and serve immediately, with extra cilantro and lime wedges if desired.



Note 1: This recipe uses leftovers from these homemade pinto beans
  • Don't have the time to make from-scratch beans? It's okay! Canned refried beans work too. Gently warm them through in a small pot on the stovetop or microwave before adding to the tacos.
  • If you do make the homemade pinto beans (highly recommended!), wait until the next day so the beans are thick enough to use in this recipe (right after being made, they're a bit thin and thicken a lot overnight). Warm them in a small pot or in the microwave before adding them to the tacos.
  • For vegan beans, omit the bacon from the homemade bean recipe.
Note 2: Spray both sides of the tortillas with olive oil cooking spray and char the tortillas directly over the gas flames for a few seconds. Use tongs to flip until tortillas are lightly charred and soft. Immediately fold the tortilla in half (so it will fold into a taco nicely later) and place it under a towel to keep warm. Alternatively, warm tortillas in a large skillet over medium heat (in batches so the skillet isn't over-filled). Flip to warm each side, remove from heat, fold in half, and place under a towel to keep warm.
Vegan tacos: For vegan tacos, omit bacon from the beans and don't add cheese with the other toppings.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 416kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 605mg | Potassium: 995mg | Fiber: 13g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 4109IU | Vitamin C: 63mg | Calcium: 184mg | Iron: 5mg