In the south, a lot of our food is influenced by Mexican cuisine. Americans have created their own versions of many classic Mexican dishes into what we call Tex-Mex like burritos, enchiladas, and, most popular of all, tacos.
In the United States, tacos often contain ground beef, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese, all layered perfectly in a hard-shelled taco. And while they are tasty, we love to incorporate more traditional, authentic ingredients into our tacos, with a vegan twist! Eating delicious vegan food doesn’t have to be a struggle. Whether you’re a master in the kitchen or can barely cook a frozen pizza, this vegan taco recipe can be made by anyone.
Tacos are the perfect party dish. They’re not too heavy, but they will definitely fill you up if you eat enough. This makes them great for serving at events or gatherings since everyone can eat their fill. You can prepare all the ingredients in advance, and each guest can build their own tacos exactly how they want, making it much easier for the host to accommodate each person’s tastes.
The history of tacos
Tacos originated in Mexico, with the name coming from the Nahuatl word ‘tlahco,’ meaning “in the middle.” The base of a traditional taco is a small, soft corn tortilla stuffed with filling and folded in half. They were often filled with stewed meat or beans, slow-cooked in spices like paprika, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. However, the type of meat, beans and variety of chilies would vary based on the region of Mexico. Traditional Mexican tacos are not served with lettuce or cheese. Instead, they are topped with pico de gallo, corn, and cilantro. Additionally, the filling itself isn’t usually spicy, but they are served with salsas that vary in spice levels.
In the early 1900s, tacos made their way to America. The recipe was adapted based on the available ingredients since many varieties of chili aren’t available above the border. Americans also used ground beef as the filling since it was more readily available and topped tacos with tomato, lettuce, and cheddar cheese. Fast-forward to the mid-1900s, and tacos made their way into the fast-food industry in America. That is when the hard taco shell was introduced, making it easier to serve them faster.
How to make tacos vegan
There are many varieties of traditional Mexican tacos that are already vegan. You can find them with fillings made from nopales (cactus), mushrooms, or grilled vegetables. Whether you prefer a more authentic, traditional taco style or the American style, you can veganize this dish without sacrificing the smoky, meaty taste.
There are many plant-based meat options, from pulled pork to mince beef, but vegan jerky is our favorite way to create a flavor explosion in vegan tacos. Our Prickly Pear Chipotle Jerky is sweet, mildly spicy, and provides a meaty texture to your tacos. In this recipe, we saute the jerky with onions, spices, and Hatch chilies which infuse it with flavor and help it to soften.
Buy Prickly Pear Chipotle Jerky
Perfect for making vegan tacos
Why do we use Hatch chilies in our vegan tacos?
Hatch chile peppers are a variety of pepper grown in the Hatch Valley of New Mexico. The unique growing conditions produce a one-of-a-kind pepper that is slightly milder than jalapeno, but their best flavors come out when they are roasted. When hatch chilies are roasted, they become smoky, earthy, and richer in taste.
No chili is better suited to a vegan taco than the hatch variety. Paired with our Prickly Pear Chipotle Jerky, the Hatch chilies round out the spice, allowing you to experience a more diverse range of flavors in each bite.
The best tortillas for vegan tacos
There are tons of different taco varieties available in the United States. If you purchase a pre-made taco kit at the grocery store, they usually have soft wheat tortillas or hard-shell, U-shaped shells. They even have the flat-bottomed “stand and stuff” variety now. But the best way to enjoy vegan tacos is with soft, 100% corn tortillas. This is the traditional tortilla style and is also gluten-free!
Best toppings for plant-based tacos
Choosing the toppings for your plant-based tacos gives you the chance to play around a bit. Once you have the base of sautéed jerky, onion, and chili, you can prepare various toppings to round out the flavors and textures of the tacos. Ideally, you want to find a balance of textures by including both crunchy and creamy toppings. For taste, find a mix of sweet, spicy, and acidic ingredients.
Some great authentic topping options include:
- fresh or charred corn
- chopped white onions
- pico de gallo
- black beans
Vegan Hatch Chipotle Tacos Recipe
Vegan Hatch Chipotle Tacos
- 1 1/2 Cups of Pre-Roasted Hatch Chili Peppers
- 2 Packages of Prickly Pear Chipotle Jerky
- 1/2 Cup Chopped Onions
- 1/2 Cup Fresh Corn
- 1/2 Cilantro
- 1 to 2 Tbsp of Grapeseed Oil or cooking oil of choice
- 1 tsp of Cumin
- 1 tsp of Paprika
- 1 tsp of Garlic Powder
- Salt to taste
- 10 to 15 Corn or Flour Tortillas
- Avocado and Pico De Gallo recommended for garnish.
- Start with heating your cooking oil in a skillet at about medium to medium-high. When the oil is shimmering and ready, add the onions and sauté them until they begin to become translucent.
- Add all of your spices and stir to coat the onions. Now you can add the jerky and hatch chilis, and allow them to cook together for about five to ten minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent anything from becoming too hot and sticking to the bottom of your pan.
- Next, add your corn, and continue to sauté and stir the mixture until the corn is brighter in color and cooked through. Now you can turn your pan down to low, or even off depending on your stove and stir in the cilantro to wilt it down. Don’t overcook it! You still want it to be bright green. You can salt to taste here.
- Once it’s done, simply take the mixture off the heat, and start building some amazing tacos, y’all! Warm or fire up your tortillas for best taco results.