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 100 percent 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 black bean 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!
Black Bean 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.
Yum, my husband and I eat a variation of this at least once a week. I love that it is quick, simple healthy, but big on flavor! I like things spicy so I just discovered by putting pickled jalapeno juice in my slaw dressing it really kicks the flavor up a bunch! It used to be that I used up the pickled peppers first…now I’m adding their juice more frequently. It’s all about the search for balance, eh? Thanks Kate!
Oh I like the pickled jalapeno take! Thanks for sharing. yes, balance is key. :)
Whoa, is it something in the air:)? Without a word of a lie, I put two cans of black beans and a package of frozen tortillas out on the counter 10 minutes before your email about this recipe arrived. The terrific recipe, all the subbing suggestions, AND your downright scary timing are greatly appreciated!!
Worlds colliding! I hope you loved them. Thanks so much for sharing!
Absolutely did love them, thanks! (I’ve even got evidence, in the form of a repeat this past week. Insert happy taco smile here!)
A recipe I actually have all the ingredients for in my cupboard! Hallelujah. Definitely making it this week. Simple, quick Mexican food is something I craving hard. Thanks Kate :)
You’re welcome! Let me know what you think, Hayley.
I love that you give so many options in case we are “out” of something. I’m often one or two ingredients short of a recipe and then have to think twice about whether to ditch the idea or go to the shops. I’m going to try this recipe tonight :)
I don’t want to be rude, but tacos made following this recipe would be virtually flavorless. And I just don’t do bland. We regularly make really good black bean burritos, and this is how we do it:
1. Medium dice one large red onion (white onions just aren’t as flavorful),
An option: also add a medium diced large green pepper.
Sauté in a tablespoonful of oil in a 12-inch skillet until just translucent. Stir in 3 TB of red chili powder (the mix; Frontier has a good one) and a few tsps cumin. Alternative if spices aren’t available: Chinese Sweet Chili Sauce to taste. Please understand, if you choose a red chili mix (milder) that these spices will make the mixture flavorful, but not hot. When the onion is well colored, remove onion and pepper (if using) from skillet.
2. Add contents of 2 15.5-ounce cans of black beans; drain but do not rinse, because the residual fluid that clings to the beans will thicken your mixture.
Start a sauté after adding just a little more oil.
3. As the beans warm, add 1 16-ounce container of your favorite salsa. We use a mild peach-mango salsa, because we don’t like a lot of heat. By using the salsa of your choice you are layering in as much or as little flavor as you want, effortlessly. Once the black beans and salsa are incorporated, add the onions and spice, and peppers if using. Option: add a can of drained sweet corn.
Bring to a light boil, then lower to simmer for an hour or so, with a lid on top just cracked. Or you could even just let it sit on the unlit stove for an hour or so after 20 minutes of simmer time. The idea is to give the flavors a chance to develop if you plan to eat the burritos on the same day you made the filling. If you let the filling meld overnight, it will be much more flavorful.
4. If using burrito shells, I toast them in a toaster oven until the top of the shell just starts to bubble. Remove immediately and fill. This process ensures that the tortilla is fragrant, flavorful, and bends easily. We haven’t used corn tortillas in so long that I forget how to prepare them; sorry about that.
5. Fill heated tortilla to taste. You can sprinkle with some cheese of your choice, but it is unnecessary as far as additional flavor being needed. We do like to spread a bit of sour cream on top, and Kate’s yoghurt crema would be great here. I like to add some sliced ripe black olives here but my daughter doesn’t care for them. Sometimes I add chopped cherry or grape tomato if fresh tomatoes are out of season. Some lettuce or Kate’s cabbage topping would be a great addition. And all of her other topping suggestions would be yummy, depends on how much trouble you want to go to. Chipotle-restaurant style rice would be a nice filler too. But we are usually perfectly happy with the basic toppings, because the black bean filling itself is full of flavor. Once you are satisfied with your toppings, fold.
I usually pile my fillings down the center of the top half of the burrito shell, then fold the bottom half up, and fold the sides over. There is probably a better method.
I am not accustomed to writing up recipes, so my apologies if in my spontaneity I have (undoubtedly) made errors and omissions.
We have found these black bean burrito/tacos very tasty, cheap and fast.
Kate, I love your blog and have benefitted many times from your recipes and ideas. I really hope I haven’t offended you in any way. In this post you published a recipe template that I am familiar with, for once, and I was worried about how bland the black bean portion would be and wanted to just jump in and help. Hope it is actually helpful to someone!
I so enjoy your recipes Kate and. I love the simplicity of this one. My time is both limited and precious, and my body processes food so much more efficiently with fewer ingredients. Delicious!!!
You don’t see how commenting on a recipe to someone who does this for a living with an entirely different recipe (seemingly from someone who doesn’t do this for a living) could possibly be rude?
these look seriously tasty and so easy to whip up.. those epic ones look amazing too! and although I have not tasted them yet, I know what this will taste like… hello dinner tonight!! thanks
I hope you love them, Sylvia! Be sure to come back to let me know what you think of this recipe.
I sure will!
These look great, Kate! I’ve been craving tacos – also, fajitas :) Thanks for the link to the homemade tortillas, I’ll give them a try!
You’re welcome! I hope you love them, Kris.
Really yummy and had most of the ingredients in the house – except the cabbage (which I’m going to use later this week to make the mango burrito bowl recipe!) also loved that this was so filling! Thanks Kate!
You’re welcome! I love when you can make a recipe work with what you have on hand. Thanks for sharing, Marielle!
This came on my feed at the perfect time- we’d pretty much run out of food but I was holding out for our grocery pickup tonight, so last night I was about to go get taco Bell, when I saw this recipe. I had enought of the stuff to make it so I thought great! Save me a trip and some money!
Anyways, I’d say it’s more of a 3 or 3 1/2 star recipe as far as it’s not really anything special or mind-blowing, but it was great for what it was- a very simple, probably have most of the stuff on hand and can make in a pinch recipe, which was probably your intent I imagine, so I’m giving it 4 stars bc I believe it accomplishes it’s purpose.
I’m not sure I’d make it again but I’m thankful you posted it and that it saved my dinner plans last night
Thanks Laura! I’m glad these tacos saved the day. It’s a strange time and I’ve been struggling to come up with recipes that seem appropriate. So yes, this one was designed for maximum versatility and ease, whereas I’m usually more focused on overall flavor. Choosing a more fresh sauce option (suggestions provided in post) would definitely make it more exciting!
I didn’t have high hopes for these since I try and try on black beans to no avail. I had 2 jars in my freezer of black beans so I thought I would try again. Yummy!! These were so good. I might be a convert to black beans after all!!
So easy! I loved this recipe. I also decided to make my own tortillas since I had some extra time because this recipe came together so simply. Loved it. Thanks for constantly providing excellent recipes. I’ve grown so much in confidence in cooking since finding your blog and cookbook. Thanks so much!
Hi there Kate. My husband and I really enjoyed this recipe for black beans. We did not have tortillas so had everything else as a burrito bowl. It looked so colourful, was fun putting together and tasted really good. I spiced it up with chipotle paste. We would definitely have this again. I am really enjoying your posts and recipes and looking forward to purchasing your cook book. Thank you Kate for such a delightful and interesting website.
I bought a ton of black beans so I’m really excited to make this! I’m probably just missing it but I didn’t see where to add the salt for the refried beans. Just want to make sure I get it right since your recipes are always perfect
Hi Arielle! Thank you for asking. I forgot to include where to add the salt! I’ve added it to step one. :)
Hi! Great catch. Sorry about that, I have added it to the instructions.
This recipe was super easy and so delicious and nutritious. I loved the refried beans! I am working on getting meat out of my diet and eventually all animal products. I feel I can rely on your recipes to be so tasty. P.S. I love dogs, too!
Another amazing recipe! We love all your recipes. The black beans were easy and so flavorful. The crema was so good. We cook your recipes weekly and always share with friends.
5stars and thank you
We tried the Easy Black Bean Tacos and loved them! In fact, we had them two days in a row, we generally alternate meals. They are like you said “easy and delicious”!
Thanks for sharing!
I purchased the app and it’s useless to me because I can no longer like recipes to save them to my likes list. I can’t find a customer service email or contact on the website. Suggestions??
Hi Kristen! I’m sorry you are frustrated. You should have received and email regarding your app purchase. As of June 1, I have decided to no longer move forward with the app. If you would like more information, please email email@example.com.
Made this with your aji verde sauce instead of the crema, and it was such an easy and delicious lunch! I seem to frequently have leftover black beans in my fridge– good to have a go-to recipe to help use them up :)
I love that! I bet it was delicious. Thank you for sharing, Melissa!
Thanks for this recipe, Kate,
I tried these tacos recently and liked them a lot. Only change: I didn’t know what to do with the remainder of a whole head of red cabbage and used store-bought red cabbage slaw instead.
The crema is the best taco sauce I’ve ever had. We are planning to jar it up and give it away for Christmas, if we can ensure it will taste as good beyond day 1. And if not, we’re not disappointed at the thought of having to eat it all ourselves in one sitting. Either way, fabulous combination of flavors. If you like this recipe, you’ll love Cookie + Kate’s black bean sweet potato burgers and the black bean sweet potato enchiladas. So so good.
I loved this! I’m not vegetarian, but I watch calories and fat, so I do love to fix vegetarian meals. Thanks for the recipes and tips. P.S. I put a little chili powder in the leftover beans, and it made awesome chili dogs (sorry).
Thank you for sharing, Suzanna! I appreciate your review.
This is a pretty good and easy recipe. I did not follow the recipe exactly and made a few modifications. This recipe provides a good base and I’m sure that it is good as written.
I added a bit of chili powder and some smoked paprika to the beans also. I think that this is probably better with red cabbage but I already had green cabbage on hand so that it what I used for the slaw. I also added a few finely diced jalapenos, a bit of lime juice, some ground coriander, and a small amount of honey to the slaw. If I make this again with my vegan daughter I’ll leave out the honey in the slaw or use a bit of agave. I followed the crema recipe as is and also made the shatta. Your mujadara recipe is one of our favorites and I like shatta with that and thought that it would also be tasty here. We had a bunch of cherry and grape tomatoes from the garden that needed to be used up so were diced and also went on the tacos.
You mentioned that you prefer flour tortillas. I used to also prefer them because I found the corn tortillas found at most grocery stores to be sort of sweet and they did not seem authentic compared to the corn tortillas I’ve had at good Mexican restaurants. I asked a woman at a store that I shop at that has a good assortment of Hispanic foods what she recommended as a good yellow corn tortilla. I don’t like white corn tortillas. She recommended El Milagro brand. I heat them in the oven beforehand and think that they’re superior to flour. They don’t use preservatives, though, so the shelf life is not very long. If you can find them near where you are you should try them.
If I’m using 3 cups of black beans (not canned) that I’ve soaked how much water should I add?
Hi Norman, check out my How to Cook Black Beans (From Scratch!). I found these ratios to work the best when cooking black beans.
Do you add taco seasoning to your beans for taste?
Hi, I do not use tacos seasoning, but refer to the recipe for how I add flavor to the beans for this recipe.
Fantastic recipe! Really flavorful and filling. I added pickled onions and sprinkled elote seasoning on top as well.
Thank you, Meghan!
I like to add extra heat with sriracha and added diced fresh pineapple.
Totally irresistable. YUM….!
Thank you for your review, Vikki!
It says in the “notes” to omit mustard and lemon juice but I can’t find those ingredients in the main recipe? Is it just a lack of proof reading or am I missing something?
Tacos with mustard sounds a bit odd but what do I know… they do look delicious though!
Hi Colonel, it’s referring to my vegan sour cream recipe if you were to use that for your “cheese”.
Is it ok to eat raw black beans
Hi, These are cooked. I hope you enjoy the recipe, Tauruss!
Wow. Made this for dinner tonight with some homemade flour tortillas. Amazing!! At first I thought there was too much liquid but it really thickened up nicely.
The crema with hot sauce really makes the recipe! I couldn’t taste the cabbage although it adds good color. After trying the feta I decided it doesn’t complement the other flavors. So I made a quick recipe even quicker and more tasty.
Hi Kate. I made this recipe last night and it came out great. I definitely recommend flour tortillas, as the corn ones are so flimsy. I followed your recipe exact. We ate this with some non-vegetarian neighbors and it was a hit. Thanks!
Great to hear, Dana!
This is delicious and simple!!! Thank you. I love your pickled red onion with it.
Great to hear, Robyn! I appreciate your review.