A healthy helping of plant-based power for you today: Tofu Tacos. Lightly spicy, crumbly (in a good way), and packed with protein and fiber, these tasty tacos are ready in less than 30 minutes. You can use the filling in all kinds of yummy ways beyond a tortilla, and it has a moderately crispy, pleasing texture that will make these tacos a hit even amongst tofu skeptics.
I first started cooking with tofu after college, which was not so coincidentally when I first became fully responsible for paying my own grocery bills. Cutting out meat was a quick way to save, but as a lifetime study in hanger management, I knew I needed to ensure that my vegetarian meals were filling and protein rich.
A friend turned me on to cooking with tofu, and I’ve been a devotee ever since. Tofu saw me through many easy dinners when I was first learning to cook, helped keep Ben and me well fed while he was in law school, and is still a regular on our dinner menus.
Tofu might sound like an obvious choice for someone looking to cook more meatless meals, but since it was not something we grew up eating, cooking with it was new territory. My impressions of tofu were that it was mushy and bland. Thank goodness I decided to try it anyway. I could not have been more wrong! Uncooked or improperly cooked tofu is mushy and bland. Well-cooked, nicely seasoned tofu (ahem, this Tofu Taco recipe) is wildly delicious. In addition to the pro-taste potential, tofu is high in protein, incredibly versatile, and far easier on your wallet than meat too.
I snagged the idea for Tofu Tacos from our favorite taco spot, which is dangerously located just a seven-minute walk from our new house. They make some of my favorite vegetarian tacos, so when a new tofu-based one came on the menu, I had to try it.
Honestly…I was let down. I am adamant that eating a vegetarian meal doesn’t mean you should have to sacrifice taste, texture, or satisfaction, and the restaurant’s tofu taco didn’t hit it home. The flavor was one-note and the texture uninteresting. I felt like I was skimping.
I couldn’t let it go. After all, these Asian-inspired Mushroom Tofu Tacos have been one of the latest, greatest hits to come from our kitchen. Surely I could come up with a recipe for Mexican tofu tacos worthy of the precious avocado I planned to slather all over the top!
How to Make the Best Tofu Tacos
Here we have it, the spicy Tofu Tacos of my dreams!
- I took inspiration from my Vegan Enchiladas and started the filling by breaking the tofu into crumbles and sautéing it. The benefit here is that you don’t have to bother with pressing the tofu first. The liquid cooks right off.
- To give the recipe the effect of smoked Tofu Tacos without the fuss of actually smoking the tofu (challenging particularly since I don’t own a smoker), I added a generous amount of chipotle chili powder, which has a lightly smoky, spicy taste. If you are sensitive to spice, you can reduce the amount. If you love your tofu tacos spicy, carry on as written and feel free to kick it up even further.
- For additional protein, I added black beans, which stretch the filling further, give the tacos additional protein and fiber, and make for a pleasing textural contrast too.
- Final flavor booster: prepared salsa. It instantly ups the tacos’ taste for almost zero additional effort.
After making the filling, although I loved the flavor, I still wasn’t 100% satisfied with the texture. I wanted the tofu taco crumbles to have the bits of the crispness that I love in meat-based tacos. Popping the skillet under the broiler a few times did the trick! The baked tofu tacos filling had the crispy bits that I’d been missing.
More Ways to Use Tofu Taco Filling
- Any-Way-You-Like-Them Tofu Tacos. We love these inside flour tortillas, piled with avocado, salsa, fresh cilantro, and a squeeze of lime. As written, this recipe is for vegan tacos; if you aren’t dairy free, feel free to pile them with cheese and Greek yogurt too.
- Tofu Nachos. Spread corn tortilla chips onto a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle the filling over the top. Sprinkle generously with shredded cheese, then place under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Tofu Enchiladas. Roll inside corn tortillas and line up side by side in a pan. Top with red enchilada sauce and shredded cheese, then bake in a 350 degree F oven until hot and bubbly.
- Mexican Tofu Hash. Top with a fried egg or mix with eggs to create a scramble.
- Tofu Burrito Bowl. Mix with rice and serve topped with lots of avocado, Greek yogurt, and cheese.
- Frozen Tofu Tacos. You can make the filling ahead then freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or more quickly in the microwave if you forget to pull it out before dinner.
Whether or not tofu is new territory to you, I hope these Tofu Tacos give you a reason either to try it for the first time or add a new vegetarian recipe to your dinner rotation. As always, if you do try the recipe, please leave a comment below. I love hearing what you think!
- 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil — divided
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce — or use tamari to make gluten free
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder — pretty hot! reduce to 1/2 teaspoon if sensitive to spice
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 (14-ounce) block extra-firm tofu — drained and patted dry
- 1 (14-ounce) can black beans — rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup prepared salsa
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- Warm corn or flour tortillas
- Sliced avocado, chopped cilantro, salsa, cheese (dairy free if needed), tomatoes, and/or any of your favorite taco fixings
Place a rack in the upper third of your oven and turn the broiler to high.
In the bottom of a large mixing bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon olive oil, soy sauce, chili powder, chipotle chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and onion powder. Crumble the tofu into small pieces in the bowl. With a fork, stir to combine. The tofu should be in small bits. Toss until the tofu is evenly coated with the spices. I find it fastest and easiest to use my hands.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, ovenproof skillet over medium high. Add the tofu crumbles. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tofu is dry and the moisture has cooked off, about 6 minutes. Add the black beans, salsa, and nutritional yeast. Cook until warmed through and the salsa liquid has cooked off, about 1 to 2 minutes more.
Spread the tofu mixture into an even layer. Place under the broiler and cook until darkened on top, about 4 minutes. Remove from the oven, stir to expose new parts of the tofu to the top, then spread back into a single layer. Return to the oven and broil 4 additional minutes. Remove from the oven and repeat the stirring and broiling once more (3 times total). Pile the filling inside warm tortillas and top with all of your favorite fixings.
- Store leftover filling in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
- This filling is also delicious served over rice, inside burritos, or even over chips and baked up as nachos. For more ways to use it, see the blog post above.
Nutrition InformationAmount per serving (1 of 4, about 1/2 cup filling) — Calories: 268, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Carbohydrates: 25g, Fiber: 7g, Sugar: 3g, Protein: 17g
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