Here in the States, beef, chicken, pork, and cheese are often staples of Mexican foods eaten at home and at restaurants. Think: tacos al pastor, chicken tinga, carnitas…yum. However, none of those foods really work anymore for people trying to shift to a more plant-based diet.
But the truth is, traditional Mexican food is inherently plant-based, which makes the cuisine particularly suited for vegetarian and vegan eaters. Corn, avocado, tomatoes, beans, and rice are all core ingredients in most Mexican dishes. Besides being nutrient-rich, these ingredients are also sustainable and inexpensive, a triple win. All of this is to say: cooking up plant-based, Mexican food is easier than you think. Plus, depending on your interpretation of a plant-based diet (from eating a little meat and cheese to eating no animal products at all), there are tons of tasty dishes that will fit the bill.
However, it can be hard to reimagine your favorite Mexican dishes sans meat without just defaulting to another meal of rice and beans. To give you some cooking inspiration, check out these 10 delicious vegetarian Mexican recipes. Whether you’re craving tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, or another classic dish, you’re sure to find your new favorite go-to recipe here.
Keep reading for some tasty vegetarian Mexican recipes to try at home:
While there are some great alt-meat products out there, you can also make your own beef substitute at home using quinoa. As when making any Mexican meal, spices play a big role in this recipe—namely cumin, chili pepper, and garlic. You will be surprised at how closely it resembles seasoned ground beef.
This recipe is a bit complex, but the end result is worth it. It’s full of tons of healthy ingredients, including tomatoes, plantains, goji berries, nuts, and seeds. Dora Stone, the recipe creator, loves serving the mole with corn tortillas and cauliflower.
Beans are used in place of meat in this enchiladas recipe, but that hardly means you’re missing out on protein. Black beans, ICYMI, are super high in protein and fiber, making them a satiating superstar ingredient. You’ll also find spinach and broccoli in this dish, which up the fiber even more.
4. Easy burrito bowl
When combined, brown rice, beans, sweet corn, and salsa make the perfect, yummy burrito bowl without having to wait in a long line at Chipotle. Eat as is, or serve with chips or corn tortillas.
With two types of beans, onion, tomato, lettuce, and avocado, these burritos take plant-based to a whole new level. Paprika, cumin, and cayenne pepper add heat to the meal, but the creamy avocado prevents it from getting too fiery.
This is one of the most unique vegetarian Mexican recipes on this list, but definitely worth trying. It uses corn in a new way, blending it into a delicious, creamy soup. To get the texture just right, cook the kernels on the stove with broth and butter, before mixing in the flour and milk (which thickens it up). It’s great with a little queso mixed in, too.
Roughly translated to “little squash,” calabacitas is a popular vegetarian Mexican recipe, especially in the summer. This recipe uses zucchini, but really any type of squash works. Other veggies in this dish: tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, and corn. There’s also quite a bit of garlic, which is a healthy ingredient on its own!
Watch the video below to see why garlic is so good for you:
What would a Mexican recipe roundup be without street corn? Cilantro and lime juice are the standout ingredients in this recipe, both of which add bursts of brightness. Chipotle chili pepper is also used to add some spiciness, which balances out the tart lime perfectly.
Any dinner that only requires dirtying one dish is already a win, and this one is also quick and healthy. The ingredient run-down: quinoa, canned beans, canned corn, vegetable broth, and garlic. While they all simmer together, just add chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, and cilantro. Ten minutes later, this well-rounded, plant-based meal is ready for your plate.
Instead of a noodle-meat-and-cheese formula traditional lasagnas follow, this smart, Mexican-inspired recipe lasagna uses tortillas as the layers and beans and veggies as the filling. If you like your food on the spicy side, be generous with the diced green chilis. Top with avocado for extra creaminess.
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