When asked to describe the component parts of a taco, many of us would simply say, “meat, cheese, and shell.” And while this simplified description of a taco would get the job done in many cases, it happens to exclude some of the most delicious tacos this world has to offer. Because yes, tacos usually involve some kind of shell. And the tastiest ones tend to include a little cheese, too. But meat isn’t necessarily on the menu—and anyone who’s indulged in one of the internet’s finest meatless taco recipes knows that to be true.
Meatless tacos may sound oxymoronic to anyone who swears by ground beef, pulled pork, or grilled chicken. But they exist, and they can be incredibly yummy—not to mention, flavorful, filling, and genuinely fun to cook. Many meatless taco recipes call for some kind of protein base. (Black beans, chickpeas, and tofu are all popular choices.) This keeps the dish feeling hearty and substantial—more like a meal than a snack. Beyond that, though, there’s nothing particularly out-of-the-box about them. Throw your protein in a shell, sprinkle on a little cheese, and load up on toppings.
What’s cool? Meatless tacos are, at their core, a little bit different from some of the tacos you’ve had in the past. So they give you the chance to experiment with new flavors—and to explore classic flavors in new ways. Some meatless tacos recipes may call for ingredients you wouldn’t have thought to throw in a taco. (Cauliflower, sweet potato, and shredded cabbage all spring to mind.) Others may call for more standard taco ingredients, combined in fresh, interesting ways. (Your go-to taco spice blend is liable to taste a little different on tofu than it does on ground beef.)
This dash of adventure is what makes meatless tacos not just tasty, but genuinely fun. They leave dinnertime feeling more like a culinary experiment than an obligation—and that’s something the whole family can surely get behind.