Black Bean Tacos are a fast & easy weeknight dinner idea. This recipe uses canned beans for convenience, and when you top them with a creamy avocado cilantro sauce, they taste like they came from a restaurant.
Why You’ll Love Them
They taste amazing. Featuring sautéed onion, garlic, black beans, and spices, this taco filling is ultra-flavorful. When you pair it with a tangy cilantro sauce, it’s hard to resist!
They’re filling. Black beans are a great source of fiber and plant-based protein. When you pair them with creamy avocado, they will keep you feeling full for hours.
They are easy to customize. Taco night is one of my favorite family-friendly meals, because you can layout the various toppings and let everyone add their favorite toppings. My kids aren’t quite brave enough to try the green sauce yet, but they loved the black bean filling with some shredded lettuce and cheese on top!
They are fast to prepare. When you use canned beans, this taco filling is ready to serve in just about 20 minutes. All you have to do is chop an onion and some garlic to get started.
They are allergy friendly. This recipe is dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan as written, as long as you use gluten-free taco shells. Corn tortillas are gluten-free, just make sure to check the label to ensure there isn’t any other flour added.
There’s very little oil required. The cilantro sauce uses avocado + water as the base, instead of oil, for a healthier taco night. All you need is a drizzle of oil in the pan to sauté the veggies, but if you follow an oil-free regimen, you can use water or broth, instead.
Ingredients You’ll Need
What are black bean tacos made of?
- Canned black beans
- Red onion
- Ground cumin
- Smoked paprika
That’s all you need to make a super-flavorful taco filling. You’ll take the flavor over the top when you add a fast cilantro sauce, too!
If you don’t have time to make the sauce, you can always stick with your standard taco toppings, like shredded lettuce, with salsa or guacamole. The filling is so delicious, it goes with practically anything.
How to Make Black Bean Tacos
1. Prepare the sauce.
In a high-speed blender, add the water, avocado, cilantro, shallot, garlic, vinegar, red pepper flakes, salt, and. maple syrup. Blend until very smooth, then pour the sauce into a storage jar with a lid.
Set it aside until ready to serve. You can make this sauce up to 3 days in advance, if you want to plan ahead.
2. Sauté the veggies.
In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and chopped red onion. Stir until it softens, about 5 minutes.
Add in the minced garlic, cumin, and smoked paprika, and stir for 1 more minute, just until they smell fragrant.
3. Add the black beans.
Rinse and drain the black beans well, then add them to the pan. Season with a 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and add in a 1/4 cup of water, to make sure none of the spices are sticking to the bottom of the pan.
The water will evaporate as the beans warm up.
Stir often until the beans are warmed through. I like to use a potato masher to mash some of the beans, so they aren’t all whole. (I find this prevents them from falling out of the taco shell so easily.) Feel free to mash as many beans as you like, or leave them all whole. It’s up to you!
Taste the bean mixture, and add a squeeze of lime juice, if you like, to brighten the flavor. You can also add more salt, if needed. Then, this filling is ready to serve.
Serve the cooked black bean mixture in soft or crunchy tortillas, with the avocado cilantro sauce on top, along with any other toppings you like.
I like to offer shredded lettuce or cabbage, sliced tomatoes, sour cream, hot sauce, shredded cheese, and salsa as topping options.
Substitutions & Common Questions
Can I use different beans? Yes, pinto beans are another common bean found in tacos, so feel free to swap those, if you’d like.
Can I skip the sautéed veggies? If you’re in a hurry, feel free to simply add onion powder and garlic powder to the canned beans, instead. I’d start with a 1/2 teaspoon of each.
Which tortillas work best? My family prefers flour tortillas lately, but we also like crunchy corn tortillas. For a grain-free option, try Siete brand cassava flour or almond flour tortillas. Or, you can always use a lettuce wrap, if you prefer!
Any ideas for the leftovers? The black beans make a great salad topping, or you can use them in a bowl with Mexican rice and any extra taco toppings you have. I also love the black beans on their own, as a side dish.
Black Bean Tacos
Black Bean Tacos
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 red onion , chopped
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans , drained and rinsed
- fine sea salt (I use Real Salt brand)
- 1 tablespoon lime juice (optional)
Creamy Cilantro Sauce
- 8 to 12 small tortillas
- shredded lettuce
- sliced cherry tomatoes
- To prepare the sauce, add the cilantro, avocado, water, shallot, garlic, vinegar, red pepper flakes, salt, and maple syrup. Blend until very smooth, then pour the sauce into a storage jar with a lid. Set it aside until ready to serve.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and chopped red onion. Stir until softened, about 5 minutes. Add in the minced garlic, cumin, and smoked paprika, and stir for 1 more minute, just until they smell fragrant.
- Add the drained beans to the pan and season with a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add in a 1/4 cup of water and use a spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan, making sure none of the spices are sticking. The water will evaporate as the beans warm up. Cook until the beans are warmed through, about 5 minutes, then use a potato masher to mash some of the beans. (I find this texture prevents them from falling out of the taco shell so easily.) Feel free to mash as many beans as you like, or leave them all whole. It's up to you!
- Taste the bean mixture, and add a squeeze of lime juice, if you like, to brighten the flavor. You can also add more salt, if needed. Then, this filling is ready to serve. Add the black bean mixture to each tortilla, then top with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and a generous spoonful of the cilantro sauce. Serve right away. Leftover beans and sauce can be stored separately in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 4 days.
If you try this black bean tacos recipe, please leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how you like them!