Like everyone, I’m craving some adventure and daydreaming future destinations. Mexico City might be my first stop. It’s a vibrant, energetic city with incredible food around every corner. I hopped down there a few summers ago and came back with a list of restaurants to try next someday.
For now, we can make tacos at home. I can’t claim these black bean tacos are authentic, but they are easy, quick, tasty, and quite versatile. (If you’re looking for truly epic tacos, here they are—but they are a bit more time-consuming and reliant upon fresh produce.)
I hope these tacos are exactly what you need right now. I’ve provided suggestions on ingredient substitutions and alternate sauce ideas below.
Serve them as-is for an easy dinner, or keep on reading for side dish suggestions!
Taco Ingredient Substitutions
- Out of black beans? Pinto beans would be great.
- No yogurt? Following a dairy-free or vegan diet? Substitute vegan sour cream (use lime juice in place of the lemon and omit the mustard). Or pick a different sauce option altogether—see the section below.
- Out of lime? Omit it, or thin your yogurt with water as needed, or choose another sauce (see below).
- No tortillas? Though I’ve never tried, you can make your own flour tortillas or corn tortillas. Or, turn your tacos into a burrito bowl (see leftovers note below).
- Out of Cotija or feta? Some shredded sharp cheddar cheese would not be bad. I love the tanginess of the feta—you could find similar tangy flavors in quick-pickled onions or radishes.
- No cilantro? Hate cilantro? Use a sprinkle of chopped green onion instead, or even thinly sliced radish—or skip it altogether.
The recipe below includes a very simple riff on real Mexican crema, made simply with plain yogurt thinned with some lime juice. As you’ll see, I stirred in a generous tablespoon of my favorite hot sauce, which is entirely optional (you could serve your tacos with hot sauce on the side).
Or, change up your tacos by choosing another sauce altogether. Here are some great options:
- Aji Verde, a creamy, spicy, Peruvian-inspired green sauce made with mayo, cilantro and jalapeño.
- Cilantro Hemp Pesto, a dairy-free pesto made with fresh cilantro, hemp seeds, and an optional jalapeño pepper.
- Creamy Chipotle Sauce, made with a simple combination of mayo and adobo sauce, from a can of chipotle peppers. (Or use Tabasco’s chipotle hot sauce.)
- Creamy Avocado Dip or Guacamole
- Shatta, a Middle Eastern hot sauce made with fresh jalapeño, cilantro and parsley. I’d suggest choosing pepitas to go with these tacos.
Suggestions for Serving & Leftovers
These tacos are pretty hearty and well-balanced on their own. Round out the meal with any of the following!
- Dips with chips: Guacamole, Easy Red Salsa, Pico de Gallo, Chunky Avocado Salsa or Creamy Vegan Queso
- Salad: Green Salad with Jalapeño-Cilantro Dressing or Fresh Herbed Avocado Salad
- Rice: Cilantro Lime Brown Rice
- Cocktails!: Fresh Margaritas, Mezcalitas, Frozen Strawberry Margaritas or Frozen Blueberry Margaritas, or Pineapple Cilantro Serrano Cocktail
- Leftovers? Store individual components separately, and reheat as needed. Or, you could easily turn this recipe into a burrito bowl by serving the black beans and toppings on a bed of cilantro-lime brown rice or plain brown rice. You could even top your bowls with a fried egg.
Easy Black Bean Tacos
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 10 tacos 1x
- Category: Entree
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Mexican
- Diet: Vegetarian
Make these simple tacos tonight! They’re easy, inexpensive and quite versatile—start with a base of seasoned black beans, top with crisp cabbage and finish it off with a delicious yogurt-based sauce (find several other sauce options within the post). Recipe yields about 10 hearty tacos, and could easily be halved.
Refried black beans
- 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, or 3 cups cooked black beans
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup plain Greek or regular yogurt
- 2 tablespoons lime juice (from 1 small lime)
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Optional: Your favorite hot sauce, to taste (or just serve it on the side with your tacos/I love Tabasco’s chipotle hot sauce)
- 8 to 10 small corn or flour tortillas (I think I like flour better)
- 3 cups finely sliced red or green cabbage (about ½ medium head of cabbage)
- ½ cup or more crumbled Cotija or feta cheese
- Big handful of fresh cilantro leaves and/or thinly sliced green onion
- To make the black beans: We’re going to use the cooking liquid from one can of beans (or substitute ⅓ cup water for the cooking liquid). Rinse and drain the other can of beans. Once the beans are ready to go, warm the olive oil in small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the cumin, garlic and salt. Cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Pour in the can of beans with all of its liquid (or ⅓ cup water). Stir to combine. Mash up a portion of the beans with a potato masher or serving fork. Cook for a few minutes, stirring often, until the mixture reaches a simmer. Mash up the beans once more, then add the rinsed and drained beans.
- Stir to combine. Simmer for a few minutes, then reduce the heat to a bare minimum while we finish the remaining ingredients. Cover the pot, and stir it every few minutes so the beans don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
- To make the “crema”: Combine the yogurt, lime juice and salt in a small bowl. Stir to combine. If desired, add hot sauce, to taste. Set aside.
- Warm the tortillas in a large skillet over medium heat in batches, flipping to warm each side. Alternatively, you can warm them directly over a low flame on a gas range. Stack the warmed tortillas on a plate and cover with a tea towel to keep warm.
- Soften the cabbage just a bit by sprinkling it with a couple dashes of salt. Then use your hands to “massage” it by scrunching up handfuls of cabbage until it is slightly wilted and fragrant.
- Finally, assemble your tacos: Spread a layer of beans down the center of each tortilla, followed by a small handful of cabbage, a generous drizzle of sauce, and sprinkles of cheese and cilantro and/or green onion. Serve immediately.
Make it gluten free: Be sure to use certified gluten-free, 100 percent corn tortillas.
Make it dairy free/vegan: Omit the cheese. Instead of the yogurt-based sauce provided, try vegan sour cream (use lime juice in place of the lemon and omit the mustard), avocado sauce, shatta (make it with pepitas) or guacamole. You might especially enjoy the addition of quick-pickled onions or radishes, to make up for the tang otherwise provided by feta.