This Vegan Taco Salad is inspired by the Southwestern Tex-Mex flavors in the Santa Fe Salad. Crispy romaine lettuce, black beans, cherry tomatoes, corn, crushed tortilla chips, and tempeh taco meat all drizzled with the best creamy, vegan taco salad dressing. Try this recipe for easy vegan meal prep or quick weeknight dinners!
But if I am going to eat a salad, it’s got to meet a few strict requirements of mine:
- Be packed with protein. Protein helps keep me full and satiated.
- Have a crunch.
- Have an AMAZING salad dressing (we really eat salads for the dressings, right?).
- Include something sweet to balance the savory.
This vegan and vegetarian taco salad bowl checks all the boxes!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- This salad gets a bulk of it’s protein from the black beans and tempeh taco meat. 21 grams of protein per serving, to be exact!
- Crushed tortilla chips or even Fritos is the perfect salty, delicious crunch on any taco salad.
- Cashews are the secret to making this salad dressing so creamy and flavorful, yet completely dairy free!
- Sweet corn gives this salad the best subtle sweetness to balance the savory!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Taco meat – Traditional taco salads typically include shredded or grilled chicken. I like using my vegan taco meat in this recipe. It’s neutral enough not to overpower the salad, but still hearty and chicken-like. I also love using my BBQ marinated tempeh for a BBQ flare. You could also use a store-bought vegan taco meat for extra convenience!
- Romaine – I like using romaine in my taco salads, but you can also use the more classic iceberg lettuce.
- Corn – White sweet corn or yellow corn will work here. I always use frozen corn that I’ve thawed under cool water, but you can also use corn cut off the cob or even my homemade Roasted Chili Corn Salsa (Chipotle Copycat!).
- Cherry Tomatoes – My favorite tomatoes for salads! So sweet and easy to prep! You can also substitute diced tomatoes or even pico de gallo.
- Black beans – Add extra protein and make this salad hearty. Chickpeas would also be great here!
- Tortilla chips – I use store-bought tortilla chips or even crushed Fritos corn chips! (Yes, Fritos are vegan!).
- Vegan taco salad dressing – For this salad you can use any dressing! Try my taco salad dressing made with cashews, lime juice, dijon mustard and spices, a store-bought vegan ranch, or my chipotle honey mustard dressing (pictured)!
Step by Step Instructions
- Prepare the vegetarian taco meat
- Follow the full step by step instructions to prepare my taco meat on this separate post.
- You can add this taco meat to your salad warm or cold!
- Prepare the vegan taco salad dressing
- Add the cashews, lime juice, water, and spices to a high speed blender and blend until completely smooth. If your blender is not a high speed blender, it may have trouble blending this dressing smooth. To assist, I’d recommend soaking the cashews in hot, boiling water for at least 30 minutes.
Note! If your blender is not a high speed blender, it may have trouble blending this dressing smooth. To assist, I’d recommend soaking the cashews in hot, boiling water for at least 30 minutes. Do not try blending this dressing in the Ninja Professional 1000W Blender. It is not capable of blending sauces smooth because the stems go up the blade and merely chop instead of pulling the ingredients to the bottom and pulverizing.
- Taste the dressing and adjust the spices to your satisfaction.
- Transfer to a glass jar and refrigerate while you prepare the remaining salad ingredients. If you have the time, I recommend refrigerating at least a couple of hours ahead of time. It will cool the dressing down and thicken it up nicely.
- Build the salad
- You can make this salad in one large bowl for serving at parties or gatherings, or in 4 individual sized bowls.
- First add a layer of romaine lettuce, black beans, corn, and taco meat.
- Then finish by adding the cherry tomatoes, crushed tortilla chips, and tossing together with the dressing!
Frequently Asked Questions
To bulk up this salad even more for a great main dish, I recommend adding cilantro lime rice or vegan Spanish rice!
To keep this salad fresh for as long as possible, I recommend storing the salad separately from the tortilla chips and dressing. Add the tortilla chips and dressing just before enjoying for best results!
Yes, my cashew sour cream recipe would work great as a dressing on this taco salad!
- Prep this salad on Sunday night for a super easy vegan lunch option!
- Customize this taco salad to use up what you’ve got! Try adding fajita veggies, red onion, cilantro, vegan cheese shreds, guacamole, or roasted cauliflower!
- Like spice? Try adding a couple of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce to the salad dressing to give it a spicy kick!
More Vegan Lunch Ideas
- Summer Strawberry Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Dressing
- Chickpea Avocado Salad Sandwich
- Easy Vegan Tofu Bánh Mì with Quick Pickle Recipe
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Vegan Taco Salad with Tempeh
Taco Salad Ingredients
- Prepare the taco meat by following the instructions on this post here. This can be done the night before or right before making the salad.
- Prepare the dressing: Add all ingredients to a high speed blender and blend until completely smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings, as desired. Transfer dressing to a glass container and store in the refrigerator while you prepare the remaining salad ingredients.
- Build the salads: Divide the romaine, black beans, corn, taco meat, and cherry tomatoes between 4 bowls. Crush tortilla chips overtop and drizzle with dressing.
- If making salad for meal prep, store the salad separately from the dressing and tortilla chips.
- For a slightly spicier taco salad dressing: Add 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce to the blender or try my Chipotle spiced Vegan Honey Mustard Dressing with this salad!
- You will likely have some leftover taco meat, but save it for tacos!
- No need to cook the canned beans before use. Just give them a thorough rinse.
- Can substitute the homemade dressing for any creamy dressing or vegan ranch, if desired.
- Prep time does not include making the taco meat.
Note about salt
Please pay attention to the type of salt called for in the recipe (if applicable). Not all salts are made equal and cannot be substituted 1 for 1. If you are substituting table salt for kosher salt, you will need to cut the amount called for in the recipe by at least half.
Disclaimer: The Nutritional Information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.
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This recipe was originally published June 29, 2020 and was updated on September 23, 2021 to include a new and improved recipe, new photos, step by step instructions, and tips for success.