Vegetarian Taco "Meat" from the faux martha

We’re not vegetarians, though Hallie would tell you otherwise. But most days, especially during the hurried weekday dinner hustle, we eat a vegetarian diet, leaning on quick-cooking pantry staples to pull off dinner. I had to figure out a meatless swap for our favorite crunchy, meaty tacos in order to keep it in the regular dinner rotation. With the help of quinoa, black beans, and a little ketchup (just trust me), I give you vegetarian taco “meat.”

how to make Vegetarian Taco "Meat" from the faux martha

What’s in Vegetarian Taco “Meat”?

Usually once during this meal I say in shock, and very deliberately, “These are so good!” And they are. This vegetarian taco “meat” is made with a mixture of cooked quinoa, black beans, taco seasoning (made from individual spices in my spice cabinet), and a generous squeeze of ketchup. I know ketchup sounds weird, but it’s the best trick I learned from my mother-in-law to add a touch of tomatoey sweetness. 

black bean and quinoa taco meat from the faux martha

The combination of black beans and quinoa carries the protein while also creating a toothsome texture similar to what you’d expect of taco meat. 

quick Vegetarian Taco "Meat" from the faux martha

Spicy, salty, and slightly sweet. Dinner from the pantry. Ready in under 30 minutes.  Vegetarian taco “meat” is the trifecta. 


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Vegetarian Taco "Meat" from the faux martha

Vegetarian Taco “Meat”

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  • Yield: stuffs around 9 tacos 1x


Vegetarian taco “meat” made from pantry staples—quinoa and black beans. It’s a tiny bit on the sweet side from the ketchup, but when combined with everything, it’s so excellent. This is just a recipe for the filling. Add seasonal toppings to your hearts desire!


  • 3/4 c. quinoa
  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 15 oz. can BPA-free black beans, drained and rinsed
  • scant 1/4 c. organic ketchup
  • 3 tbsp. water
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 tsp. cumin
  • 3/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon pepper
  • Sriracha, to taste


  1. In a saucepan, combine quinoa, water, and salt. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook on low for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed.
  2. Remove from heat. Stir in remaining ingredients. If you have taco seasoning on hand, forgo the individual spices and add 2 1/4 tsp. taco seasoning. Heat for about 5 minutes on medium-low heat. Taste and adjust seasonings. More than likely, you’ll need a bit more salt and heat. Serve in hard or soft taco shells and top as you wish.
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