Quinoa Taco Meat

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Several corn tortillas with Easy Quinoa Taco Meat for a healthy gluten-free vegan meal

Were you a picky eater as a kid?

I was (kind of). When it came to fruit I remember only liking canned pears (yeah, weird, I know).

Lunch was almost always a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and dinner was often cheese and shells. If my parents put creamed corn on the table, it was a guaranteed meltdown (hated the stuff).

Desserts on the other hand? So easy to please, so long as coconut flake, cherries, or raisins weren’t involved.

Pot of freshly cooked quinoa for making vegan Quinoa Taco Meat

Another menu item I could always get behind? Tacos. My family loved crispy tacos with ground beef and lots of salsa. My favorite thing to do was mix in some corn to the filling – I know, classy move. You don’t have to tell me how refined my palate was at 6 years old.

These days, ground beef isn’t my go-to filling for tacos*. But sometimes the 6-year-old in me misses its crumbly texture and flavor.

I think you see where this is going. Quinoa makes an excellent substitution! It’s almost uncanny. Come see how.

*Note: you can learn about the origins of tacos here.

Mixing together quinoa and spices to make healthy, easy Quinoa Taco Meat

This recipe is simple, requiring just 9 ingredients and simple methods.

Prepare quinoa, season with spices and salsa, bake until crispy, devour. See? I told you it was easy.

I got the idea for this recipe when I made my Quinoa Stuffed Peppers for dinner one night and some of the quinoa spilled over in the pan and got all crispy and delicious while baking – I couldn’t get enough. That was my light bulb moment.

Baking sheet with freshly baked crispy Mexican Vegan Taco Meat
Corn tortillas stuffed with homemade vegan Quinoa Taco Meat for a gluten-free plant-based meal

I hope you all LOVE this recipe! It’s:

Easy
Healthy
Extremely flavorful
Picky-eater-approved
Versatile
Satisfying
& So delicious

This is the perfect filling for all your Mexican night needs: Tacos, burrito bowls (find my 30-minute recipe in our Everyday Cooking Cookbook!), taco salads, nachos, enchiladas, tostadas (also in the cookbook) – you name it, it works!

If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a picture #minimalistbaker on Instagram so I can see! I love seeing what you come up with. Cheers, friends!

Gluten-free corn tortillas stuffed with our Vegan Quinoa Taco Meat recipe

Quinoa Taco Meat

Amazingly flavorful taco “meat” made with quinoa, smoky seasonings, and salsa! Baked until hot and crispy. A healthy substitute for ground beef (just 9 ingredients)!
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Hard shell corn tortillas filled with Quinoa Taco Meat
4.95 from 387 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 6 (1/2-cup servings)
Course Entrée
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Mexican-Inspired, Vegan
Freezer Friendly 1 month
Does it keep? 4-5 Days

Ingredients

QUINOA

SEASONINGS

  • 1/2 cup salsa (slightly chunky is best – I love Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp each sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp olive or avocado oil

Instructions

  • Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add rinsed quinoa and toast for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add vegetable broth and water and bring back to a boil over medium-high heat. Then reduce heat to low, cover with a secure lid, and cook for 15-25 minutes, or until liquid is completely absorbed. Fluff with a fork, then crack lid and let rest for 10 minutes off heat.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C).
  • Add cooked quinoa to a large mixing bowl and add remaining ingredients (salsa, nutritional yeast, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and oil). Toss to combine. Then spread on a lightly greased (or parchment-lined) baking sheet.
  • Bake for 20-35 minutes, stirring/tossing once at the halfway point to ensure even baking. The quinoa is done when it’s fragrant and golden brown. Be careful not to burn!
  • This quinoa taco meat goes extremely well in crispy taco shells and soft taco shells, and I also think it would be perfect on nachos, taco salads, tostadas, and in enchiladas. Dream big!
  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator up to 4-5 days. Reheat in the microwave, in a 350 degree F (176 C) oven, or in a skillet on the stovetop.

Video

Notes

*The vegetable broth infuses more flavor into the quinoa. But if you don’t have it, just sub water and adjust spices/salsa as needed.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate.

Nutrition (1 of 6 servings)

Serving: 1 half-cup servings Calories: 147 Carbohydrates: 21.4 g Protein: 5.7 g Fat: 4.5 g Saturated Fat: 0.6 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 415 mg Fiber: 2.6 g Sugar: 0.8 g

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  1. Paige says

    This was AMAZING! I skipped the yeast and added some paprika and cayenne for extra spice. Went perfect with my tacos!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Paige. Thank you for the lovely review and for sharing your modifications! xo

  2. Andrea says

    This recipe is a 10! We eat it weekly at my house as a family of six that varies from three vegans, one vegetarian, and two who still count meat in their diet. One of the few recipes that everyone eats and enjoys. Thank you for sharing!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Amazing! We’re so glad it’s a hit with everyone in the household. Thank you for the lovely review, Andrea! xo

  3. Leah says

    I made this tonight to stretch 6 oz of ground beef for taco night. It did not crisp up properly but I think it was too thick in the pan size I have. It was still really great and my kids, who don’t “like” quinoa, thought it was all beef. 😊

    We’re on a low sodium diet and so I used less broth/more water, skipped the salt and used no salt added petite diced tomatoes instead of salsa. It was still great and brought the sodium down a lot. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad it was a hit with the whole family! Thank you for sharing, Leah! xo

  4. Tamara says

    Have you substituted quinoa in other ground beef recipes? I’m specifically thinking about bulgogi? Would appreciate your thoughts…

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Tamara, we haven’t! The texture would probably be quite different, but it may be tasty and worth a try. Let us know if you do some experimenting!

  5. Sarah says

    This was so good! I was very eager to make the recipe but I only had 1/3 cup of dried quinoa, so I made this smaller batch and then added in 2 cups of frozen riced cauliflower to fill in for the missing quinoa (to the salsa and seasoning mix) and then baked as directed. This is the BEST plant based taco meat I’ve tried and I’ve tried a lot. I’m not even a quinoa fan and I can’t wait to make this again. Oh yes, I forgot to use the oil and it was still great. The result was a slightly chewy, crispy filling for tacos. I eat meat, but I like to take a break from time to time and really want something with that meaty mouth feel, and this is the closest I’ve gotten. :) Thank you for giving me a way to enjoy plant based tacos!

  6. Sara says

    I was a little leary about this recipe but I have a vegetarian child who doesn’t enjoy beans so I gave it a shot. I decreased the chili powder a bit as I don’t enjoy that flavor but otherwise made the recipe as written. It’s very good! My kids (6 and 3) munch it down as well. I make up a double batch and throw the extras in the freezer. When I need a quick meal I pull them out and either warm it on a dry frying pan or add a small amount of water. It’s becoming a taco staple at my house.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad it’s been a hit with the whole family, Sara! Thank you for sharing your experience! xo

  7. Heather says

    I’m generally indifferent to quinoa, but I’m trying to incorporate more of it into my diet for health reasons. I tried this recipe and it’s great! I mixed the quinoa with some TVP (seasoned the same way) and it was delicious and filling. My toppings included cashew sour cream, lettuce, tomato, and extra salsa. Thank you for this innovative way to use a highly nutritious seed.

  8. Alana says

    I stuffed this into hard-shell tacos last night with some mexican inspired coleslaw and man was it delicious! I always cook my quinoa with a 1:1.5 dry to liquid ratio or else I find it’s too soggy. The only other change I made was adding a little less nooch than called for. I’m already thinking of other recipes to try it with.

  9. Ashlee says

    I used this recipe and made wet burritos…..they turned out delicious although next time I am going to use less of the cumin. I like the amount of cumin but it tends to give a few of the people I cook for heartburn. Already have recommended this recipe to others.

  10. MommyShark says

    Everyone agreed it turned out tasty. It was plenty for a family of three without any sides. We had it both soft and hard shell, we like the complimentary flavor of the toasted corn tortillas.
    I used heaping amounts of the seasonings, six chili instead of regular chili powder, a garlic herb mix instead of regular garlic powder and added paprika.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Yum! We’re so glad you and your family enjoyed it! Thanks so much for the lovely review. xo

  11. AdlM says

    This recipe is an absolute game changer. I tried it once a few weeks ago and failed miserably, probably because I tried to do it with half the ingredients just to see how it would be without creating too much waste if it wasn’t good…which resulted in too thin a layer in the oven baking stage so it was dry and burnt. Also my kids don’t really like salsa so I tried to just put less in. That did not work. But I couldn’t let go of it. I was desperate to try again. THIS time I substituted the salsa for tomato paste mixed with some water. That worked perfectly for our family! I didn’t use the nutritional yeast but I’ll admit that I did have grated cheese available as a topping so probably why we didn’t miss the cheesiness. We also had as toppings: corn, sautéed red onions and peppers (‘taco’ spiced), lettuce and sour cream. My kids absolutely loved it. I have never written a recipe review before, despite being an avid recipe blog user, but I couldn’t NOT for this one! I have been searching for years to find a good replacement for meat in tacos that my kids will eat, and finally, here it is. THANK YOU!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Aw, YAY! We’re so happy to hear your kids love it! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a review and share your experience! xoxo

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Olivia. Those additions sound amazing! Thank you for sharing! xo

  12. Tamara says

    This is one of our all-time favorites! Even my most carniverous kid loves it! So does my picky six year old!

    My one hitch is that I can’t seem to get the quinoa crispy if I add the salsa before toasting in the oven. (We’ve just been adding it as a topping to the tacos themselves when we assemble them.) The real problem is my quinoa-making. It always seems to turn out kind of “glompy.” The oven toasting in this recipe helps to compensate for this, but adding *more* liquid seems to get me further away from where I’m trying to go. I’m doing something wrong…

    The fact that this recipe is so good even in the midst of all this is saying something!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you and your family enjoy it, Tamara! Thank you for the lovely review! We’d say try using a thicker/less watery salsa to see if that helps with texture.

    • Vanessa says

      I used to have clumpy wet quinoa too until I started making it in the instant pot. It’s super easy that way. This blog has the instructions or you can just google it. Now my quinoa comes out really nicely and no need to fluff or stir or anything.

  13. Katie says

    Hi! I’ve been searching for a vegan / GF option for a taco bar for our upcoming wedding. Reviews are looking GREAT! My question is, can you tell me EXACTLY how I would freeze and then reheat large batches of this to serve on the night of the wedding to ~50 guests? TIA

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Katie, It won’t turn out “crispy” with making a huge batch at once, but the flavor would still be good! We’d recommend freezing in airtight containers and then transfer to the refrigerator 1-2 days before serving. When ready to serve, reheat in several ~9×13-inch baking dishes in the oven until warmed through – probably about 15-20 minutes. Hope that helps!

      • Katie says

        I don’t mind making smaller batches to get the “crisp” right. My question was more about the freezing / reheating. Thanks so much for the quick reply!

  14. Sarah says

    Is the nutritional yeast only for nutritional purposes, or does it somehow affect the taste/texture of the dish?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Sarah, nutritional yeast adds a savory, “cheesy” taste to dishes. Hope this helps!

  15. SBS says

    Oh my! This was the first dish I made for company after I went plant-based. We have a weekly potluck at our house and Taco Salad was the plan…so I made ground beef taco meat and this as another option. Someone actually took the leftover quinoa “taco meat” home with them they liked it so much. I was really concerned about how well I’d hold up to this new way of eating, but figured if most of the dishes could turn out as good as this one, I wasn’t going to miss a thing!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you and your company enjoyed it! Thanks so much for the lovely review! xo

  16. Marci says

    I made this exactly like the recipe says and loved it! Even my very picky kids ate it. For them, I used it inside of corn tortillas with sweet potatoes and cheese and pan-fried the whole taco. For me, I mixed it with black beans and topped with avocado in a tortilla. Amazing recipe!

  17. Irene says

    Thank you for sharing, this looks amazing! I’m excited to give this a go. One question: at the moment I don’t have an oven. Do you have an alternative way of preparing the quinoa, or is the oven the only way?

    Thank you!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Irene! We think this could be done on the stovetop, however, it might not get as crispy! Hope you enjoy!

    • P. Lipscomb says

      This might be a good recipe once I got it all together but all the ads in between and the being spread out so much across the page is just ridiculous. Was it good, it was okay, it would have been nice if you had give us more directions on how and where to use it. You mention tacos, but don’t give us any ideas for them or any other items. For those of us who are just learning to eat vegan and aren’t even taco people — it would be helpful to have a little more guidance. As a 68 year old southern cook — they aren’t exactly my bailiwick. Back to the website— If people want to give away recipes do it and stop trying to make money and interrupt the recipe flow. Make your money off cook books, private video cooking recipes for those who want to be involved with making food, or allow ads but only in certain locations like at the end of the recipe. It’s terrible. I wanted some vegan recipes but it’s a nightmare swimming through all the mess. I probably won’t come back to this page because it’s not enjoyable to spend time on the page. Make photos a little smaller and little smaller font for the text. Folks today need to learn how to set pages or websites up or hire a graphic artist. We shouldn’t have to jump over all the poorly positioned ads and a page that just takes up a huge volume of space.

      Thank you.

      • Tamara says

        One tip that might help: for your convenience, there is a “jump to recipe” button on the right just under the name of the dish that will bypass the additional details and take you straight to the recipe itself. Using that button could make the website experience easier for you. Most food blogs are formatted this way. If it turns out that food blogs just aren’t your thing, you might prefer to just purchase Minimalist Baker’s cookbook or check it out from the library. Bon apetit!

  18. Kellie says

    Making this now! Am I able to freeze this safely? If so, how long does it store in the freezer? I definitely made too much for just two people 😆

    • P. Lipscomb says

      My suggestion is to cool to room temp and then in the refrigerator prior to packaging and putting in freezer. Put in portion control freezer bags, get as much air out as you can and then wrap the group of bags with Press and Seal or what I actually did for similar recipes is I wrapped the portions directly in the Press and Seal two directions so I knew the air was out of it. Then I took all my little portion control packets and dropped into a gallon size freezer bag, got as much air out and bent over where there was extra space. I have found they lasted 3-4 months. Did the same for vegan bean, oats, veggies burgers – put the number I needed in each pack. No problems — air is the enemy of freezer food. Also make sure your freezer doesn’t constantly start thawing food and refreezing and that it’s cold enough. A lot of times people leave the freezer open, or with a lot of people in the house constantly getting ice, or frozen fruits, etc it starts the defrost cycle and too many of these the food will get ice crystals especially if air and moisture is high.

      I have found after many year Press and Seal is superior to other plastic wraps and worth the extra cost if packaging food for freezer. Just make sure you wrap tightly. As the name says “press and seal”.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Definitely! It might be a bit drier, so if the spices don’t stick you might want to add a bit more oil or a splash of water.

  19. Holly says

    Has anyone omitted the salsa? We are trying to eat a low salt diet and many canned salsas contain so much salt. Thank you.

    • Erin says

      Hi Holly!
      I have some suggestions you might find helpful in your case (I often have to make modifications due to no onions, which most premade salsas have). Depending on what you have on hand, could add tomato sauce or paste (if adding paste, I’d premix it w a bit of water to dilute); with that I would also add onion, green onion or shallots, again what’s on hand! Consider increasing garlic and spices to taste. If you like heat, definitely add some diced peppers, jalapeno, serrano, etc. If at that point it’s still missing “something”, add an acid at the end, could be a tiny dash of vinegar or generous squeeze of lime/lemon. Hope that helps!

  20. Julie A Farr says

    I’ve made this several times, its very satisfing and has just the perfect texture.
    The only difference is I add in 2 cups of corn, it gives the “meat” a pop of sweetness and texture.

  21. Donna says

    I am anxious to try this recipe. I’m curious as to why the nutritional yeast is used? I have never used it before. Does it help with the crispness?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Laura, you can store this in an airtight container in the refrigerator and reheat it in the microwave or a low temp oven. Hope this helps!

  22. Sundee says

    I have made this multiple times for vegetarians and meat eaters alike and it gets RAVE reviews every time. I typically use the meat in an enchilada recipe and phrase like “the best I’ve ever had” are not uncommon. Thanks for the idea of toasting it before using it- I really think this is where the “meatiness” of it shines through.

  23. Donna says

    I got a lot of grumbling when my family found out I was making quinoa tacos for dinner. From you know I don’t like quinoa to ewe that doesn’t sound good. The jokes on them because they loved them and asked me to make them again. Also, you should know; when I am making a new recipe my husband can be a little negative right up to when he finds out I got it from your site. Then it is oh well that sounds good. He has gotten to trust your recipes. As for me I am all in. Right up my alley, everyday ingredients, not complicated, and always tasty! Thank you

  24. Amber says

    I normally don’t write reviews but this recipe was DELICIOUS! I followed the instructions as written. My daughter was very upset this wasn’t “meat” (I’ve shifted our household to more vegan/vegetarian options only 10 days ago), but she had to admit her tacos tasted good and my taco salad was divine. Looking forward to leftovers. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad everyone ended up enjoying it, even if initially reluctant ;) Thank you for taking the time to leave a review! xoxo

  25. Jordan says

    Amazing! I was skeptical of how “meaty” this would taste but as a ground substitute it works perfectly – even better I would argue. The recipe is lengthy, but I do feel the finished product is worth the amount of steps you need to take to get there. Would I make this again? Absolutely. It pairs so well with pico de gallo, guacamole and veggie toppings with corn taco shells.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Amazing! We’re so glad it feels worth the effort. Thank you for sharing, Jordan!

  26. Kate says

    We were surprised at how good this was! We have been plant-based for a couple of months and have had as many disappointments as we have successes and this was definitely a success! We will use this recipe from now on when we have tacos. Thank you!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Yay! So happy to hear this was a success for you, Kate. Thanks so much for the great review!

  27. Laura says

    I have yet to find a recipe of yours that I don’t like! It was such a good toppping for loaded nachos. The whole family loved it.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Ooo sounds SO delish! Thanks so much for the great review, Laura. We’re so glad everyone enjoyed!

  28. Donna says

    Thank you so much for a delicious alternative to ground beef tacos. Trying to help reduce cholesterol and eat more plant based. We gobbled them up. I will be making this again.

    Donna

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you enjoyed the tacos, Donna! Thank you for the lovely review! xo

  29. Andrea says

    Hi, I was wondering if this could just be fried instead of baked? Does it really need that oven heat? I dread cracking up the oven in summer.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Andrea, That should work, but it might not get quite as crispy. Let us know if you try it!

      • Andrea says

        I tried cooking on a stove top and it works just fine. I made a ton of this and portioned it off into 3 separate flavors; jalapeno, chipotle and the normal taco flavor. They were all good. For jalapeno I just added diced jalapeno to the mix and for chipotle I substituted 1/3 of the chili mix for ground chipotle.

        Grilling on the stove was quicker and it came out just as crispy. No oil, just in a non stick skillet.

    • P. Lipscomb says

      Yes it worked fine. I did it two different ways — the first time I used my Dutch oven which has plenty of room and did in two batches to get the crispy bits.

      The second time, I made it up and prior to toasting it, I put in frig. Then as I wanted to use it over the week, I just pull out a 1/2 cup or more and used my cast iron pancake pan. It’s flat with just about an inch of height but if was making for crowd, would use my cast iron frying pan or do in batches. This worked well because it was “cooked” as needed. I mean the quinoa is already cooked, you are just adding the seasonings. You can even wait until frying up to add in the salsa. I added more salsa and veggies anyway to the taco. I will say though adding the spices and salsa to quinoa and letting it sit overnight allowed it to take in more of the seasonings.

      I cooked up onions, and poblano pepper strips, along with cauliflower rice and added to the quinoa mix the last time (when getting ready to toast the quinoa up). With fresh salsa*, slices of avocado*, and some black beans* added to the freshly toasted taco mix, it was terrific —particularly on the cast iron. Not in the total mix but on the taco.

      Really suggest folks try their hand at making both flour tortillas and corn version. They are like night and day from the grocery store and I made up a bunch and put in separate packets for the freezer. They are so easy to make it’s not funny. You can just flatten them out by hand (actually your hand), a small pan or heavy cup, etc. or get the special little press. It takes couple minutes to mix up and press them out. I didn’t realize it was so simple.

      One note on this and have found this for decades ie 6 from making spoonbread, cornbread, hush puppies, etc. — get fresh ground cornmeal directly from a mill that actually grinds their own. You can call and ask them what works best for your recipe. You can get white or yellow ground and in different textures. Plus they sell other products including mixes for baking etc. The mill I use is in NC and has been around century or more. It’s the Old Mill of Guilford grinding grain for 240 years since 1700s — https://oldmillofguilford.com/

      Fresh ground like this doesn’t have preservatives nor insecticides so you will want to keep it, like most ground grains, in the freezer if not using right away ie single, or empty nesters, or just don’t make up corn products often . It will stay fresher not get rancid, and weevils etc won’t get into to it. And it won’t have chemicals in it. Also I use this mill because they get in fresh loads of corn, oats, etc everyday or so and actually grind that day. Some mills are more for show, everything is made up somewhere else and they package it to sell or it comes in already packaged. You have to ask, do you grind corn, whatever on the property? You also want someone who still stone grinds versus steel cutters or grinders. I find the stone grinding gives a better texture. And I can call these folks and get the grind I want, the corn I want (white) for making up my grandmother’s 3 ingredient corn cakes. — fine stone ground white corn meal, boiling water and salt to taste. No set amount, just put in the amount you need say a cup of flour and add boiling hot water to make a medium thick pancake consistency. Let sit covered so it can absorb the water and become fully hydrated. Then add salt (start with 1/2 tsp) and test if it’s what you want — add until you get what you like. You can test the actual mix — the boiling water cooked it, the frying pan just browns and crisps it. Or you can cook up a couple of small cakes — normal would be 1/4 to 1/2” thick, around 3” diameter until golden brown and crispy around the edges. Taste and add more salt to the bowl if needed. If you have too much — make up another half or quarter batch and mix in to dilute the salt. Once browned, immediately butter in a saucer. Use whatever oil you want — whether some vegan super healthy like avocado, Crisco shortening which is vegetable so somewhat healthy, or go full fledge and use drained bacon grease though not vegan that’s for sure—But it tastes wonderful. Peanut oil may be a good choice, not sure. Olive oil doesn’t work — you want either a very neutral like grape seed or something like avocado which is nutty tasting, etc. olive oil just doesn’t compliment the curb, I don’t think. I know this sounds simple but they are delish with beans, chili, collards, cabbage, etc. This is one of those great sides that you can cook up quickly if you have a certain amount of dinner planned and all of a sudden, the husband’s brother has arrived unplanned and you really need to stretch dinner. These buttered corn cakes will fill folks up. It may take you a few tries to get it right both in salt and in frying it right. If it doesn’t have enough salt after cooking, put in your saucer, butter and sprinkle a little salt, course or flake if you have to make up the difference.

  30. Loryn says

    I love this recipe. The quinoa pilaf alone (before baking) is so good that I make it and eat it over braised greens with some sun dried tomatoes. Then I bake the quinoa the second night and make tacos, per the recipe. And any leftovers become taco salad. This recipe is so versatile and each iteration is delicious!

  31. Lori G says

    I made this and was not disappointed – used it for burritos – and my husband and I each had two servings – and we are folks who have always used meat in our tacos and burritos but this recipe did not leave us missing the meat. I have recommended this recipe to family and friends.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We love to hear this! Thanks so much for the great review, Lori. So glad you both enjoyed!

  32. Sheri says

    This was so good! Used it for taco salad, and both my boys ate it up. I cooked the quinoa in my instant pot (using instructions from this blog), and then moved it to the air fryer after seasoning to get it crispy. Wasn’t willing to heat up the house using the oven on this warm evening! I lined the bottom of the basket with parchment paper and cooked at 370 for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Perfection!

  33. Bethany says

    Would rate 10/10 if I could. This recipe is on permanent rotation at our house. It freezes beautifully so I make a double batch. I Do NOT toast the quinoa first and can’t tell the difference. I also just use water to cook. There are so many wonderful spices added that it doesn’t need it. We use it as a baked potato filling with queso or for tacos and enchiladas. Also love it for Taco salads. And I just eat it plain by the spoonful right out of the oven. On my “Top 10” recipe list for sure.

  34. Robin says

    I just finished this today. It is delicious, I left out the oil and just doubled up on the salsa and it is awesome

  35. Hanna says

    Looking forward to cooking this recipe! However, I do not have an oven- only a stovetop. What would you recommend instead? Could I just cook on the stove? Thanks!

  36. April says

    I first made this about 2 years ago and haven’t made a meat filling for tacos since. My husband and I both love it. We stopped eating meat at home and this has helped a ton! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  37. Sharon says

    This recipe has totally rocked my world! Since going plant-based tacos, burritos & nachos have not been the same. Beans just weren’t cutting it for me. I tried this recipe today and literally ate over the kitchen counter muttering to myself “I am so HAPPY”, lol. Can’t thank you enough for sharing! Only thing I did different was using Taco seasoning in place of the Cumin and Chili powder but I don’t think that made it too far off from the recipe.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Yay! We love to hear this! Thanks so much for the great review, Sharon. So glad you enjoy this recipe!

    • Tess Rosalynd Kingsmere says

      Sharon, those taco packages are basically cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and some flour or cornstarch to thicken the sauce. You can look up a recipe to make the taco mix yourself and save a ton. It also removes any stabilizers used to make the packaged version last, and I personally cut the salt way down. I generally mix up a quadruple batch when I’m getting out the spices. Then I don’t have to do it again for a month if you have tacos once a week.

  38. CC says

    This recipe is genius! It takes quinoa to a whole new level. I did omit the oil and the nutritional yeast, and added a bit more taco seasoning. Very tasty. Thanks for the recipe, Dana!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Woohoo! Love to hear this. Thanks so much for the lovely review, Rebekah! So glad you both enjoyed!

      • Heath says

        I truly could not believe how good this was. I feel no need to ever do ground beef tacos at home again! It’s flavorful, toothsome, texturally wonderful, filling, and goes great with any other taco filling (we did white onions, cilantro, lime, and a little bit of queso fresco). Definitely recommend with crunchy shells. I think the texture would have been slightly less satisfying with soft shells.

  39. Samantha says

    Time consuming process (especially with quinoa needing rinsing & drying prior to starting) but worth it! Will be on my rotation going forward. I previous was not a fan of quinoa either. This recipe has convinced me of its potential to actually taste great. Thank you MB. :)

    • Sharyn says

      This sounds fantastic! I am making a vegetarian option for a HS youth group taco potluck. I need to make a large quantity. Have you tried making this with quinoa, lentils, and black beans?? If you did, how did/do you adjust the recipe for success? TIA, I hope!

      • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

        Hi Sharyn, we haven’t tried it, but other readers have reported success with adding lentils or black beans. We’d suggest searching the comments to see what they did. If you press “ctrl+f” on a PC or “command+f” on a mac, a find bar should pop up that allows you to search for specific words in the post and comments. Hope that helps!

  40. Annie says

    I generally hate quinoa, but LOVED this recipe! It went really well with a crunchy taco shell, not sure if I would have liked it with a soft taco/burrito. Taco night came together in just about an hour which makes it great for a weeknight meal that is really nutritious. You can get your other toppings ready while the quinoa is cooking/baking. Excited to have this in my rotation and up my intake of quinoa!

  41. Amanda Hale says

    This was absolutely incredible. I made it just as the recipe says although I didn’t have vegetable broth so I used water and added a little butter and salt to compensate for the lack of broth. Otherwise, to the letter. I can’t believe how much this actually tasted like a ground beef taco, which I love but try not to eat to avoid red meat. Thank you for this recipe!! Will make again!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Woohoo! We love to hear this. Thanks so much for the lovely review and for sharing your modifications, Amanda! xo

      • Amanda Hale says

        I’m eating the leftovers today over spring mix and some fresh veggies. Doesn’t even need heating or salad dressing. Fantastic as-is right out of the fridge. I might even start making this each week for easy and satisfying salad lunches. Thanks again – a solid recipe.

  42. Babs says

    You’re amazing. I’ve made a lot of your recipes over the past few years, but this one inspires me to let you know how much I enjoy your work. I really love the beefy flavor of this. Thank you!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Woohoo! We love to hear this. Thanks for the lovely review Babs, so glad you enjoyed! xo

  43. Raquel says

    Delicious – even my meat eating teenage son approved! I only used half the chilli and was still spicy.
    3 of us ate the whole thing – to serve 6 would be a stretch.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you and your family enjoyed it, Raquel! Thank you for sharing! xo

  44. Debbie Johnson says

    I tried this for the first time today for lunch. The texture and flavour were both great. I made tacos with Navajo Fry Bread for the first time. Both were really good. I printed off this recipe to add to my favourites. I find your recipes consistently good and know I can trust them. Thanks!

  45. Michelle K says

    Thank you for this delicious recipe!! I love it!! I have made it a few times for me and my husband (he loves it too!). It is now one of my favorite recipes of all time! I add diced mango and avocado too.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Yay! We’re so glad you both enjoy it, Michelle. Thank you for the lovely review! xo

  46. Valencia Vargas says

    Wow! This was simple, easy, and delicious! I’m vegetarian and my boyfriend is too and we both loved ot. I followed the recip exactly and made simple fajitas as an extra taco topping (red and green pepper, onion ,and mushroom) . Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe!

  47. Deborah Rubio says

    I have made this for my Vegan friend and we all loved it! Made it again for me! Great easy delicious recipe!

  48. Ari says

    Made it with your red salsa recipe as well! Soo good i loved this recipe alot. I also doubled it and it worked out perfectly 🪄✨

  49. Kathy says

    This is the best!! I’m vegetarian but my family isn’t. We also have a dairy issue. Finding a recipe that everyone gets excited about is rare. Everyone devours it! I quadruple the batch for 4 people and it’s gone in 2 days! This is super yummy on a breakfast tostada with a poached egg on top.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Woohoo! We’re so glad everyone in your family enjoys it. Thanks so much for sharing, Kathy!

  50. Leah says

    Yum, yum, yum!!! I didn’t have salsa on hand so I made your basic salsa recipe and it was all very tasty!

  51. Trina says

    I made this tonight to use tomorrow. I was out of chili powder so used some taco seasoning that I make a big batch of. I also doubled the seasonings. It is so good. I keep nibbling at it as I wait for it to cool down. This “meat” is a keeper.
    Thank you

    • judith l long says

      This is a super great recipe I added a handful of unsalted pumpkin seeds and walnuts diced to the mix in fact I made one batch the regular recipe and one with the nuts and seeds to feed my family this week ! Winner winner ! Thank You💜

      • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

        Amazing! Thanks so much for the lovely review and for sharing your modifications, Judith! xo

  52. Joanne Klemow says

    I love this recipe and make it quite often I use it in tacos burritos stuffed peppers and nachos

  53. Ellen says

    I put quinoa tacos on the menu this week and my husband was very sceptical about it (he hates quinoa). I told him I wanted to try a new recipe and I was just going to make it and when he didn’t like it he could tell me how terrible he thought it was. Well I made it tonight for dinner and he had to eat his words! It was so good!! This is my greatest triumph. 😆

    I also wonder if this recipe might be tweaked to make vegan sloppy joes? 🤔

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Yumm! Thanks for the review, Ellen. We have a lentil sloppy joe recipe HERE, and we haven’t tried sloppy joes with this quinoa taco meat, but it could work. Let us know how it goes if you try it! xo

  54. Candia W says

    I made this tonight and I love it. I didn’t have tri-colored quinoa, so I just used regular quinoa. I gave it to my five year old, and he is super picky but also loved it. Now, I can do Taco Tuesday without being left out.

  55. Paula says

    This recipe is just so good there are no words. I love tacos and this is the perfect addition to all my other veggie ingredients. Love it!!

  56. Jeff says

    Made this for the first time and it was awesome! I made the recipe exactly as prescribed and had in the oven for about 35mins. I made nachos and wanted a beef substitute, this was SO GOOD!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Jeff! Love that serving idea too. Thanks for the lovely review!

    • Donna says

      Made it exactly as the recipe said. Delicious! Being new to a vegan diet, recipes like this make it EASY. I do wonder how it would taste using taco seasoning…..

      • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

        Amazing! Thanks for the kind review, Donna. Let us know how it goes if you try it with taco seasoning! xo

  57. Janice says

    My picky and meat eaters alike love this. They ask for this many times now. Thinking of trying this in stuffed peppers
    Thank you

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Woohoo! We’re so glad everyone enjoys it. Stuffed peppers would be great! Thanks for the lovely review, Janice! xo

  58. Elizabeth says

    Terrific!

    I’m new to the plant-based diet thing, and prepared plant proteins don’t agree with me, this was great for when the rest of the family had traditional tacos.

    I omitted the oil, and replaced it with a non-stick olive oil spray (doctor’s idea not mine). Served on a whole wheat tortilla, with chopped onions, cilantro, and a dab of guacamole.
    Thank you!

  59. Shannon says

    This recipe is incredible! I can’t go a week without making it for taco night. I use leftovers in the morning to mix it into scrambled eggs or sprinkle on top of avocado toast. Thank you!!!

  60. Lacey says

    I’m working on transitioning to plant based and it’s hard while I’m still getting used to it. Nothing tastes like what I want and expect. It’s always a little disappointing. This taco “meat” was not. I was shocked at how delicious and satisfying it was. This will probably be my new favorite thing. You made my day. I can’t wait to share it with my non plant based friends because I know they’ll love it too.

  61. Emily says

    Five stars! Just served this to my family of four and everyone gobbled it up. My husband (an omnivore) declared it delicious and my picky six year old made me promise to make it again.

  62. AA says

    I’m obsessed with this recipe. My boyfriend hates quinoa but will eat it only if I make it this way. Use it for tostadas and enchiladas. Nachos will be next! 😊

  63. AmyO says

    Excited for this plant-based taco meat that doesn’t rely on “fake” meat products (which my family dislikes). Bonus- I have a huge bag of quinoa lurking in my cupboards and lots of veg stock in the freezer. I made a double batch, used at least 2x as much salsa as called for and added diced red peppers that needed to be used up. We thought it was on the dry side (guess we like our tacos more “saucy”) so stirred in more salsa at the end. Next time will add a can of black beans or some frozen corn, maybe some chopped onion as well. Yum! served in tortillas with lettuce, tomato, avocado, pickled red onion and cheese.

  64. Elizabeth Galloway says

    This went beyond my expectations! I did 9 servings for 4 people and we had enough for a taco “salad” the next day. I subbed Better Than Bouillon Beef stock in the quinoa as I didn’t have veggie on hand and it was great. I also cooked an additional 15 minutes as my baking pan was pretty full and it wasn’t as crispy as I’d like. The kids LOVED it. Next time I might prep the Quinoa the night before so it’s a bit of a faster mid week recipe and have some vegan sour cream on hand ;-) We used both hard taco shells and soft. Thank you for this!

  65. Jess says

    Walk, don’t run, to your kitchen and make this today. I added a can of black beans and used it to make nachos with a sharp cheddar, avocado and tomatoes, cotija and roasted pumpkin seeds. Amazing! Trying it with tacos this week.

  66. Summer B says

    I’m trying this out tonight. I’m a semi-newbie to plant-based cooking and I cannot wait to try this out tonight for our taco salads. I’ll be sure to come back and give a rating & my thoughts! It sounds great. :)

  67. Michele says

    I’m on an SOS free plan (no salt, oil, sugar) and this recipe was outstanding even with omitting the salt. It’s flavorful, the texture is perfect, and my kids loved it too! This is a new staple recipe, thanks!!

  68. Julie A says

    Five Stars!!!! I made this for a dinner that included a vegan and non-vegans. I made a traditional ground beef and the quinoa. Of course the vegan raved about the quinoa filling so everyone tried. we all actually like the quinoa better than the traditional ground beef!!! for the non-vegans, the meal became more vegetarian as we used traditional cheese. we all loved them best with guacamole! The cream guac and the crispy quinoa were the perfect compliment to each other.

    • Kathy says

      Wow! This is absolutely delicious! I followed the recipe exactly but added frozen corn and black beans. I am the only veg in the family but this is a new favorite of everyone. We literally ate it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Day after on a tostada shell with an egg and scallions…perfect way to start the day!
      Thank you!

  69. Kristen says

    I discovered this recipe about two weeks ago and have made it *3* times since then. My meat eating husband loves it in burritos and tacos and I have been eating it with just tortilla chips. It is so filling, delicious, hearty and the perfect texture. We used pre-mixed taco seasoning but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. We have been mixing it with the vegan queso from the cook book. I’ve started freezing batches of quinoa just so I can add the seasonings and pop it in the oven whenever I’m hungry.

    Your recipes are amazing! Thank you so much for making it easier for plant based people like me to live our lives and still have amazing food!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Amazing! We’re so glad you both enjoy it! Thanks so much for your kind words and lovely review, Kristen =)

  70. Donnell miranda says

    This is my go to recipe! We love it. When we have “haystacks” and go to friends they always want me to make this. Love all your vegan quick recipes. Thank you for sharing😊👍🏻

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks so much for your kind words and lovely review, Donnell. We are so glad you enjoy it! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating with your review? It’s super helpful for us and other readers. Thanks so much! Xo

  71. Sharon hagan says

    This was the absolute BEST version of meatless taco meat I’ve ever tasted!! So easy and dii oh es nor taste much different than beef. This will definitely be a weekly recipe for me!!

  72. TJ says

    I have made this twice now and we really like it.
    The first time I was being lazy and just pan fried it like a couple others had done. We used that one for nachos.

    The second time I made it I used Ancho Chilli powder and used the oven (as the recipe directed). I definitely prefer it baked in the oven. This time we used the filling in tacos. We heated up some refried beans and spread that on a soft tortilla shell and wrapped that around a hard shell which we filled with the quinoa taco filling.

    Thank you for the recipe. It was very good.

    • TJ says

      Actually, I forgot to mention that I reduced the cumin by half because I really don’t like it that much. Which leads me to a question.
      Since I usually halve the cumin in recipes, I often find the food is missing ….something. It didn’t happen with this recipe but it did with the Stuffed Poblano Peppers on your site. What would you recommend to replace the missing cumin? Maybe a bit more of the other spices in the recipe?

      • Heather says

        I JUST made this, sans the whole salsa jar (I only use a little ever) but HOLY YUMMM! I DO like it a little spicier? So I added:
        ⅛ tsp red pepper flakes
        ½ tsp oregano
        ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
        ¼ tsp paprika
        I made it with some sauteed veggies on tortillas for dinner with black beans (with habanero cheese) and it was absolutely perfect! ( my daughter had regular cheese)

        I’m preparing my breakfast with this and the left over veggies, and a few eggs. Lunch will be this, lettuce, peppers, avocado for a quick pick me up!

        Thanks for this!!!

  73. Julie Pellow says

    Hi Dana,

    Love your website and recipes!! I was looking at the Quinoa Taco Meat and was reading how you did not like fruit except canned pears as a kid. I haven’t met or read about anyone else that didn’t like fruit. My youngest son is in that category. The only fruit he likes is cherry smoothie. Fortunately, he eats his veggies. He’s nine now but I’m wondering as you got older if you started liking fruit or if you still dislike it now. Just curious. I have him try fruit periodically and he wants to gag pretty badly but I keep hoping that will improve.

    Thanks and keep up the great recipes!!

    Julie Pellow

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Amazing! Thanks for sharing, Julie! I absolutely LOVE fruit now! I eat so much! Our palette definitely changes as we grow older!

  74. chris david says

    We tried this recipe with beck and bulow buffalo meat. the taste was yummy delicious output came and my kids are really liked the recipe.

  75. Judy Jones says

    Have just made this and it’s unbelievably tasty – who knew quinoa could be so yummy? Followed instructions to the letter and it’s perfect! Currently feeding spoonfuls to my little one who seems rather taken with it too!