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Vegan Taco Salad (Healthy and Easy Recipe)

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Are you craving a healthy and flavorful meal that’s perfect for warmer days? You’re going to love this vegan taco salad recipe! This colorful dish brings all the flavors of your favorite tacos into a refreshing & plant-based salad.

vegan taco salad

Packed with crisp vegetables, protein-rich chickpeas, and a tangy cumin-lime dressing, it’s a satisfying meal that comes together after just 15 minutes of prep time. This vegan taco salad won’t break the bank (like many takeout options), and it’s perfect for meal prep. With simple ingredients like chickpeas, fresh veggies, and spices you probably already have, it’s an easy way to eat well all week. Spend a little time prepping on Sunday, and you’ll have tasty lunches or dinners ready in no time.

Why you’ll love this recipe

We’ve all had those heavy taco salads loaded with meat and cheese. This plant-based version keeps all the flavor without weighing you down. The marinated chickpeas step in for meat, giving you plenty of protein to make this a hearty meal, while creamy avocado takes the place of cheese providing a creamy, satisfying touch. Trust me, you won’t miss the dairy in this loaded salad!

The southwest dressing is what really makes this salad pop. Lime juice, cumin, and smoked paprika give it that classic taco taste. A touch of maple syrup balances out the tang, and fresh jalapeño adds just the right amount of heat. Toss it all with crisp veggies and crunchy tortilla chips, and you’ve got a perfect mix of flavors and textures in every bite.

Love vegan tacos? Be sure to check out my collection of Healthy Vegan Taco Recipes and don’t forget to try my other Vegan Salads for more ideas for healthy meal prep lunches! 

Vegan taco salad

Recipe highlights

  • This vegan taco salad is naturally vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and nut-free, making it a great option for various dietary needs.
  • Packed with protein from chickpeas and fiber from fresh veggies, this salad will keep you full and satisfied.
  • The zesty dressing brings all the taco flavors together you love without being overpowering. It’s just enough to make every bite interesting.
  • Customize it to your heart’s content! Swap in your favorite veggies, add some corn, or throw in some vegan cheese if that’s your thing.
  • Perfect for meal prep. Chop your veggies and make the dressing ahead of time for quick assembly throughout the week.

Ingredients needed

The full list of measurements for each ingredient is in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.

  • Chickpeas – I use these for protein and texture. You could also try black beans, pinto beans, or even brown lentils if that’s more your style.
  • Romaine lettuce – Crisp romaine lettuce is my go-to base, but feel free to mix some spinach or kale in your bed of greens for extra nutrients.
  • Tortilla chips – I love the crunch these add! I usually go for smaller pieces, but if you only have large chips, just break them up a bit.
  • Avocado – A must-have in my book. It adds creaminess and healthy fats.
  • Tomatoes – I use regular tomatoes, but cherry tomatoes work great too if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Bell pepper – I typically use red or orange for color, but any color works!
  • Cucumber – For extra freshness. I leave the skin on for added fiber, but peel it if you prefer.
  • Olive oil – This is the base of our dressing. You could use avocado oil if you like.
  • Dijon mustard – This adds a nice tang and helps emulsify the dressing.
  • Maple syrup – I love the subtle sweetness this brings. You could use agave if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Lime juice – I always recommend fresh, but bottled will work in a pinch.
  • Spices – My mix of cumin, dried oregano, smoked paprika, salt and ground coriander creates that taco seasoning flavor we’re after. You could also add chili powder for a bit more smokiness. 
  • Garlic – Fresh is best here, but pre-minced garlic can save time if you’re in a rush.
  • Jalapeño – Adjust the amount based on how much spice you like. You can also cut out the ribs and seeds if you want to make them less spicy. 
  • Green onions – I love these for mild onion flavor. Red onion works too if you want a stronger kick.

You can also customize this vegan taco salad bowl with any other ingredients you like! Vegan sour cream, fresh corn kernels, red bell peppers, and fresh cilantro would all be fantastic additions. 

How to make the best vegan taco salad

How to make vegan taco salad

Make the dressing – In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, mustard, maple syrup, and all the spices. Add the minced garlic, jalapeño, and green onions. Give it a taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Marinate the chickpeas – Add the drained chickpeas to the dressing and let them soak up all that flavor. I like to do this for at least 30 minutes, but you can leave it for up to a day if you’re prepping ahead.

Prep the veggies – While the chickpeas are marinating, chop up all your veggies. I find it’s best to keep everything roughly the same size for easier eating.

Assemble the salad – In a large bowl, layer your chopped lettuce, vegetables, and tortilla chips. When you’re ready to eat, add the marinated chickpeas and dressing, then give everything a good toss.

Serve immediately – This salad is best enjoyed right after it’s mixed. If you’re meal prepping, keep the components separate until you’re ready to eat.

Storage and serving

This vegan taco salad is perfect for meal prep, but you’ll want to store the components separately to keep everything fresh. Here’s how I do it:

  • Dressing and marinated chickpeas – These can be stored together in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. The flavors actually get better over time!
  • Chopped vegetables – I store these separately in airtight containers or zip-top bags. They’ll stay crisp for about 2-3 days in the fridge.
  • Lettuce – I wash and dry the lettuce, then wrap it in a paper towel and store in a plastic bag. It usually stays fresh for up to 5 days this way.
  • Tortilla chips – Keep these in their original bag or an airtight container at room temperature to maintain their crunch.

When you’re ready to eat, just toss everything together in a bowl. If you’re taking this to work, pack the components separately and assemble just before eating. This way, you’ll avoid soggy chips and wilted lettuce.

Remember, avocado browns quickly once cut, so I usually chop that just before serving. If you need to prep it ahead, try brushing the cut sides with a bit of lime juice to slow down browning.

When it comes to serving, I like to make this Vegan Taco Salad the star of the show. It’s hearty enough to be a meal on its own, but if you want to round things out, try serving it with some tortilla soup or a side of Mexican-style rice. For a refreshing contrast, a simple fruit salad with tropical fruits like mango and pineapple pairs wonderfully.

If you’re making this for Taco Tuesday for the family, consider setting up a “taco salad bar” with all the vegan taco salad ingredients separate. This way, everyone can customize their salad to their liking. Don’t forget to save some extra chopped cilantro, sliced jalapeños, and wedges of lime for garnish. And if you’re feeling indulgent, a side of homemade guacamole or black bean salsa never hurts!

vegan taco salad

Recipe FAQs and Tips

  • If using canned chickpeas, give them a good rinse and drain well. This removes excess sodium and helps them absorb the dressing better.
  • To keep your salad crisp, add the chips and dressing just before serving. This prevents soggy chips and wilted lettuce.
  • Taste the dressing before adding it to the salad and adjust the lime juice and salt as needed.

Can I make this salad oil-free?

Sure! Try substituting the oil in the dressing with mashed avocado or cashew cream for a creamy dressing that is oil-free.

How can I add more protein to this salad?

You can easily boost the protein by adding some grilled tofu, tempeh, or your favorite plant-based protein.

Can I use a different type of lettuce?

Absolutely! While I love romaine for its crunch, feel free to use any lettuce you prefer. A mix of greens can add interesting textures and flavors.

I can’t wait for you to try this vegan taco salad! It’s a fresh twist on taco night that’s perfect for warm evenings or when you’re craving something light yet satisfying. Whether you’re plant-based or just looking to add more veggies to your diet, this colorful, flavorful salad is sure to become a new favorite.

Other vegan salad recipes to try

Vegan Taco Salad

Vegan taco salad
This crunchy vegan taco salad is the perfect recipe for a healthy lunch or dinner.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Serving Size 4

Ingredients

Dressing

  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ¾ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ medium jalapeno minced
  • 2 medium green onions

Taco Salad

  • 1 head romaine lettuce rinsed and chopped
  • 2 cups tortilla chips or corn chips
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas drained/rinsed
  • 2 avocados cubed
  • 2 tomatoes diced
  • 1 bell pepper diced
  • ½ English cucumber cubed

Instructions

Make the zesty dressing

  • De-seed the jalapeno. Mince the garlic and jalapeno and finely chop the green onion.
  • Combine with all the remaining dressing ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk until blended.
  • Add the drained chickpeas, cover, and marinate for at least 30 minutes (or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator).

Assemble the taco salad

  • Wash and dry the lettuce and chop into thick strips.
  • Chop and cube the bell pepper.
  • Diced the tomatoes. Scoop the avocado and cut into 1/2 inch cubes.
  • Layer all the vegetable ingredients in a large bowl. Add on the tortilla chips and pour over the marinated chickpeas and dressing. Toss and serve immediately.

Notes

*Smaller chips work best. You can also make your own corn chips by cutting corn tortillas into strips and frying them till golden brown. Add additional salt to make up for the homemade chips.
* For make-ahead, all veggies except the avocado can be chopped in advanced and stored for up to a day.
 
Calories: 438kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 355mg | Fiber: 16g | Sugar: 11g | Calcium: 130mg | Iron: 5mg

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One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    Made this last night for Taco Tuesday because I was craving a good taco salad. It was delicious! Thanks for the recipe

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