Easy Vegetarian Taco Salad Recipe
Vegan & Vegetarian Taco Salad
How to Make a Healthy Taco Salad without Meat in a Baked Tortilla Bowl
A deliciously easy vegetarian taco salad recipe that’s also vegan-friendly—made with pulled jackfruit, greens, veggies, and a creamy salsa dressing! Flavorful, nourishing, and oh-so-satisfying, served in crispy homemade baked tortilla bowls. Perfect for a family meal or a gathering with friends. Learn how to make a healthy taco salad without meat in 1 hour or less!
As with any salad, this vegetarian taco salad recipe is totally customizable. You can make it with pulled jackfruit, black beans, refried beans, tofu, or with your choice of protein. Use whichever variety of greens and vegetables that you enjoy. And, if you want to make this a completely vegan taco salad instead, just use vegan cheese shreds and your favorite vegan salad dressing!
Of course, my favorite part of this Mexican salad is the crispy, crunchy baked tortilla bowls. Yes, I love the deep fried taco bowls at a Mexican restaurant, but I don’t want to deal with the hassle (or health concerns) of deep frying. This homemade taco salad recipe lets me enjoy a nourishing meal and the crunch I crave in a taco salad bowl – right at home!
Are taco salads unhealthy?
At a restaurant, taco salads tend to be high in calories and fat, mostly due to the deep fried taco bowl. Yes, fried foods come with health concerns about trans fats and other harmful byproducts. But, calories and fat don’t make a meal “unhealthy”—we need these nutrients to survive! This homemade taco salad recipe is still a hearty meal, with nourishing calories and fats, but served in a healthier baked taco bowl instead.
What can you put in taco salad instead of meat?
You can make a meatless taco salad in many ways. Personally, I made my vegetarian Mexican salad with taco-seasoned pulled jackfruit. It’s flavorful, rich in fiber, and has a satisfyingly “meaty” texture. Other options include seasoned black beans, vegan refried beans, chickpeas, crumbled tofu, tempeh, or even just greens and vegetables without a protein!
Vegan & Vegetarian Taco Salad Ingredients
- Baked Tortilla Bowls. These are incredibly easy to make at home with a large burrito-size tortilla (8-10 inches) and a large bowl (1-quart) that’s oven-safe!
- Pulled Jackfruit Taco Meat. A fantastic vegan meat substitute with a hearty, pull-apart texture that mimics pulled pork! With its neutral flavor, unripe jackfruit readily takes on the flavors of taco seasoning, or whatever you cook it in.
- Romaine Lettuce, Spinach & Kale. Feel free to use just one or two of these greens in your healthy taco salad, or whichever leafy greens you prefer.
- Bell Peppers. I like to use two colors of bell peppers for some festive flair! Alternatively, you can saute some fajita veggies if you prefer cooked peppers instead of raw.
- Corn Kernels. Canned corn, fresh corn off the cob, or frozen and thawed corn will all work in this salad.
- Cherry Tomatoes. A refreshing source of acidity and brightness! Or, you can swap out fresh tomatoes for pico de gallo or salsa instead.
- Red Onion. One of my favorite ingredients on any salad! If you’re not a fan, or if you choose to saute fajita veggies with onions, just omit the red onion.
- Cheese. A flavorful addition to your vegetarian taco salad that can also add some protein! Of course, you can make this a vegan taco salad recipe by skipping the cheese or using vegan cheese shreds.
- Cilantro. An optional but fragrant garnish that brings all of these Mexican-inspired flavors together.
- Creamy Salsa Dressing. Personally, I love this creamy salsa dressing for taco salad – or any salad really! Made with sour cream, mayo, and salsa, it adds irresistible flavor and taco flair.
- Avocado. Finally, some creamy avocado makes this meal all the more delicious and satiating! Feel free to use sliced avocado or guacamole if preferred.
- Taco Bowls: Instead of baked tortilla bowls, simply serve your vegetarian taco salad in the large bowl of your choice. If you still want some satisfying crunch, serve it with tortilla chips on the side, or add tortilla strips on top!
- Jackfruit: As alternatives to pulled jackfruit, try making a meatless taco salad with beans, tofu, or tempeh. If you don’t need this to be a vegan taco salad recipe, try pulled pork, ground beef, shredded chicken, or your choice of meat!
- Greens: Any leafy greens can work in this recipe. For convenience, you can also use a pre-made mix of leafy greens.
- Fillings: If you’re not a fan of bell peppers or onion, skip them. If you love rice or hot sauce, add it. Make this the best taco salad recipe for your taste buds!
- Toppings: Add baked tortilla strips or plantain chips, finely chopped green onion, a drizzle of regular or vegan sour cream—whatever you like!
- Dressing: Of course, use whichever taco salad dressing you prefer here—store-bought or homemade. If needed, be sure to use a vegan dressing. (Or, make my creamy salsa dressing with vegan mayo and vegan sour cream!)
What are the best taco salad toppings and fillings?
If you’re looking for inspiration to customize this vegetarian taco salad recipe, try some of these other popular fillings and toppings:
- Salsa or pico de gallo
- Rice, white or brown
- Black or refried beans
- Sour cream, regular or vegan
- Hot sauce
- Tortilla strips or plantain chips
How to Make Taco Salad at Home
First, you’ll need to prep your healthy taco salad components. You can saute the pulled jackfruit “meat” on the same day or ahead of time, so it’s ready to go when you want it. Then, prepare as many homemade baked tortilla bowls as you plan to serve, allowing time for them to cool. And, if desired, blend up my creamy salsa dressing so it’s ready when you toss your salad.
Next, prepare the salad itself—which will yield around 4 servings. In a large bowl combine all vegetarian taco salad ingredients, except for avocado or other toppings. Drizzle the dressing over the whole salad and toss to coat. Finally, distribute the dressed salad into your taco bowls (or bowls of choice) and finish with desired toppings!
To Prep Just One Serving:
Rather than prepping all 4 servings, you can also prep just 1 serving of healthy taco salad at a time. To do this, combine all homemade taco salad ingredients but don’t toss with the dressing. Instead, distribute 2-3 cups of undressed salad into your bowl, toss with dressing, and finish with toppings. Then, store the remaining undressed salad and unused dressing in the fridge to use later.
What else goes with taco salad?
- Air Fryer Tortilla Chips
- 4-Ingredient Salsa
- 4-Ingredient Guacamole
- Baked Bunuelos Chips
- Air Fryer Quesadilla
- Homemade Crunchwrap Supreme
- Vegan Crunchwrap Supreme
- One Pot Mexican Quinoa
See how to make this vegetarian taco salad in my Vegan Jackfruit Tacos + Taco Salad video!
Vegetarian Taco Salad Recipe
- 4 homemade baked tortilla bowls
- 2 cups pulled jackfruit, (or seasoned black beans)
- 1 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
- 2 cups spinach or kale, chopped
- 2 bell peppers, sliced, (or fajita veggies)
- 1 cup corn kernels, (canned, fresh, or frozen and thawed)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
- ⅓ cup red onion, thinly sliced
- ½ cup shredded Mexican cheese blend, or cheese of choice
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
- ½-1 cup creamy salsa dressing, or dressing of choice
- 1 large avocado, sliced
- Cook pulled taco jackfruit. (This can be done on the same day or ahead of time.)
- Prepare homemade baked tortilla bowls and allow to cool.
- If desired, prepare creamy salsa dressing, or use taco salad dressing of choice.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all taco salad ingredients, except for avocado.
- Drizzle on dressing, to taste, and toss entire salad to coat. (To prep only 1 serving of taco salad: distribute salad into bowl and only add dressing onto individual salad. Store the rest of undressed salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.)
- Distribute dressed salad into baked tortilla bowls or bowls of choice.
- Serve topped with avocado or any additional desired toppings and enjoy!
- Yields 4 vegetarian taco salads.