Vegan Taco Salad

See you never, boring salads! This vegan taco salad is hearty, healthy, and packed with texture and flavor. It’s an easy plant-based recipe that’s perfect for both lunch and dinner.

Kirsten Nunez, MS

By Kirsten Nunez, MS

2 Ratings

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Vegan taco salad in a white bowl.
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

If you’re a fan of tacos, you’ll love this vegan salad recipe. It features plant-based taco meat, creamy vegan dressing, and plenty of veggies atop a bed of greens. The result is a filling and delicious meal that’s perfect for weeknight dinners.

The taco “meat” is made of toasted walnuts and tempeh. Once sauteed with spices and salsa, the combo transforms into a wonderfully satisfying salad topping.

As for the actual vegetables in the salad? You can have a lot of fun with this part. We used veggies like canned corn, cherry tomatoes, pinto beans, and avocado — but you’re welcome to experiment with different types of vegetables.

Serve this salad with your favorite hot sauce or a splash of lime juice. Another idea is to make it brunch-friendly by adding chunks of our Vegan Chickpea Eggs. Enjoy!

Key Ingredients

Top view of ingredients for vegan taco salad.
Photo: Kirsten Nunez
  • Tempeh. You’ll use protein-rich tempeh and walnuts to make a plant-based taco meat.
  • Beans. For even more filling plant-based protein, add beans of your choice.
  • Leafy greens. Use your favorite leafy greens, like spinach, kale, or lettuce.
  • Plain vegan yogurt. This will serve as a base for the creamy taco salad dressing. Be sure to use an unflavored, unsweetened vegan yogurt.
  • Tortilla chips. Crushed tortillas add texture and crunch to this dish.

How to Make Taco Salad Dressing

Before preparing the salad, make the dressing first. You’ll need to chill it in the refrigerator to let the flavors develop.

To make the dressing, simply combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust the ingredients as necessary, then cover and chill for at least 20 minutes.

You can find the full recipe at the bottom of this post.

Vegan taco salad dressing with cilantro.
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

How to Make Tempeh Walnut Taco Meat

While the dressing is chilling, prepare the tempeh walnut taco meat. Feel free to use a pre-packaged taco seasoning or your favorite homemade spice mix.

1. In a dry skillet, toast the crushed walnuts for 3 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool slightly.

Toasted walnuts in a pan.
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

2. To a food processor, add the tempeh and toasted walnuts. Pulse until crumbly.

Tempeh in a food processor.
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

3. Warm 1 tablespoon of oil in the skillet. Add the tempeh, walnuts, spices, and salsa. Toss to coat the tempeh. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until the tempeh is browned.

Walnut tempeh taco meat in a pan.
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

How to Make Vegan Taco Salad

To construct this vegan taco salad, you’ll need the taco salad dressing, tempeh walnut taco meat, and plenty of veggies. Keep in mind that the vegetables in our versions are just suggestions; feel free to use your favorites or whatever you have on hand. Again, you can find the full recipe card with ingredients at the bottom of this post.

1. Divide all the taco salad ingredients between two shallow bowls. Top with tempeh walnut taco meat.

Vegan taco salad.
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

2. Drizzle two tablespoons of taco salad dressing on top. You will have dressing leftover.

Enjoy as is or toss before eating.

Vegan taco salad with dressing.
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

Recipe Tips, Variations, and Substitutions

  • Use vegan sour cream. You can use plant-based sour cream in place of mayo.
  • Add water to thin the dressing. If the dressing is too thick for your liking, add one or two tablespoons of water.
  • Use store-bought taco seasoning. If you don’t want to use individual spices, feel free to use store-bought seasoning. You’ll need about 1/2 packet for the tempeh walnut taco meat.
  • Skip the walnuts. The walnuts add crunch and texture to the taco meat. However, if you don’t have any on hand or dislike walnuts, you can skip it.
  • Switch up the vegetables. The veggies in this recipe are just suggestions. Don’t hesitate to use different beans, like black beans or chickpeas, or other types of leafy greens. You can also add radishes, olives, or diced bell peppers.
  • Top with vegan cheese sauce. Try topping this salad with our vegan nacho cheese sauce instead.
Top view of vegan taco salad with a fork.
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

Can I store leftovers?

Like most salads, this dish won’t keep well if you’ve already added the dressing. We recommend refrigerating the fresh vegetables, tempeh walnut taco meat, and dressing separately in the friegerator. This way, you can reheat the tempeh meat if you’d like. You should also store the tortilla chips at room temperature.

Serving Suggestions

Vegan taco salad

Vegan Taco Salad

See you never, boring salads! This vegan taco salad is hearty, healthy, and packed with texture and flavor. It’s an easy plant-based recipe that’s perfect for both lunch and dinner.
Click stars below to rate, or leave a full review in the comments
2 Ratings
Print Rate it Now Pin Recipe
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Mexican
Diet: Vegan
Keyword: vegan taco salad
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 2
Author: Kirsten Nunez, MS

Ingredients

Taco Salad Dressing

  • ½ cup vegan yogurt
  • ¼ cup vegan mayonnaise
  • cup salsa
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp fresh cilantro chopped

Tempeh Walnut Taco Meat

  • 8 oz tempeh
  • ½ cup walnuts chopped
  • ¾ cup salsa
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp oil

Vegan Taco Salad

  • 4 cups leafy greens
  • 1 cup canned corn
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes sliced
  • ¼ cup red onion diced
  • 1 cup beans
  • 1 cup vegan shredded cheese
  • 1 avocado sliced
  • ½ cup tortilla chips
  • 1 jalapeno pepper sliced (optional)
  • tempeh walnut taco meat
  • taco salad dressing
  • lime optional

Instructions

Taco Salad Dressing

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust the ingredients as necessary.
  • Cover and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Tempeh Walnut Taco Meat

  • In a dry skillet, toast the crushed walnuts for 3 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool slightly.
  • To a food processor, add the tempeh and toasted walnuts. Pulse until crumbly.
  • Warm 1 tablespoon of oil in the skillet. Add the tempeh, walnuts, spices, and salsa. Toss to coat the tempeh. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until the tempeh is browned.

Vegan Taco Salad

  • Divide all the taco salad ingredients between two shallow bowls. Top with tempeh walnut taco meat.
  • Drizzle two tablespoons of taco salad dressing on top. You will have dressing leftover.
  • Enjoy as is or toss before eating.

Notes

  • If the dressing is too thick for your liking, add one or two tablespoons of water.
  • The walnuts add crunch and texture to the taco meat. However, if you don’t have any on hand or dislike walnuts, you can skip it.
  • If you use about two tablespoons per salad, you will have dressing leftover.
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