Tacos have gone from unappetizing fast food to Tuesday night staple and gourmet food truck fare. Filled with meat or veggies, stuffed inside a soft or hard tortilla, and topped with cheese or guacamole (or both!), the possibilities are endless. And while there’s nothing wrong with a beefy, cheesy handheld, there are plenty of delicious ways to make healthy tacos too.
These 36 variations of the Mexican mainstay—organized by the main ingredient—all start with wholesome add-ins. Some keep things classic, others take on Asian influences, and more go vegan or gluten-free. Ultimately, though, they all confirm one thing: In any iteration, few foods in this world are as tasty as the taco.
This recipe isn’t kidding about focusing on veggies, packing in a whopping eight of ‘em including the salsa ingredients. Roasting vegetables is already one of the yummiest ways to get in that daily dose, but wrapped in a soft, whole-wheat tortilla and topped with avocado crema, you may refuse to eat them any other way going forward. The best part? The ingredients are customizable—so go with whatever’s in your kitchen or in season!
The flavors in these tacos may give off a distinct Thanksgiving vibe, but who are we to object to healthy, holiday-themed meals any time of year? The addition of brown sugar gives the squash that irresistible caramelized edge, while a cup of chopped pecans provide a savory, fiber-filled crunch. Cranberries blend with agave and garlic to make an antioxidant-rich spread that brings it all together. Gorgeous to look at and tasty to eat, don’t be surprised if you find yourself making these in the dog days of summer.
Portobello mushrooms are widely known as meat’s vegetarian understudy. Not only do they make a hearty stand-in for steak in these soft tacos, but they also provide glucose-lowering properties for practically zero cholesterol. No need to bother with a marinade in this recipe, either; seasoning them as they sauté in the skillet then squeezing lime overtop will provide more than enough flavor and slash cooking time to 20 minutes total. Score!
Got a serious hankering for Mexican but no time to hit the store for ingredients? Think outside the shell and turn to this recipe, which calls for items you’re likely to already have on hand. Ground walnuts mixed with cumin and paprika make for an aromatic serving of omega-3s, and the salsa and sour cream topping are a nod to the traditional taco. Conventional? Hardly. Authentic? Probably not. Delicious, nutritious, and cute enough to serve guests? You bet!
A roundup of taco recipes without an option for breakfast? Inconceivable! Take your standard scrambled eggs to the next level with the addition of sautéed vegetables and few dashes of hot sauce, all wrapped up in a tortilla with some Feta. In just a few extra steps, you’ve amped up the fiber, carbohydrate, healthy fat, and taste factor to make for a complete morning meal.
No matter what the weather is, these tacos will transport you (or your taste buds, at least) to the beach with their generous use of summery ingredients, including Roma tomatoes for lycopene, anti-inflammatory cilantro, and of course the fish providing those all-important omega-3 fatty acids for brain health. To cut down on the cholesterol in the chipotle mayo, try subbing some of it for low-fat or nonfat Greek yogurt, and dollop to your heart’s content.
Last minute guests? Home late from work? Before reaching for that delivery menu, consider this recipe. The blogger uses the popular tilapia, but feel free to substitute any other white fish (cod or halibut works great). Spoon on some corn and tomato salsa for an additional pop of brightness and fiber, and finish it off with a tangy, cilantro-jalapeno Greek yogurt topping. It’s hard to believe, but aside from a quick dash to the store, half an hour is all you need to throw this gorgeous meal together.
Tacos go Thai with flaky, grilled salmon (often touted as a superfood fish thanks to its low mercury and high fatty acid content) and a cabbage slaw bursting with the fresh Southeast Asian flavor medley of mint, basil, cilantro, and lime. A pinch of palm or brown sugar whisked into the red curry paste lends a balancing sweetness to the coconut milk-based sauce. Feel free to adjust the amount of chili paste to your preference, but the heat really does make this healthy dish all the more addictive, so don’t be afraid to spice things up more than usual!
These tacos are proof that an impressive and tasty meal doesn’t need to take a toll on your time, wallet, or patience. While there are several spices for the fish, most are likely in your pantry, and even the garnishes are no-frills: a four-ingredient sauce and some fresh avocado slices are all that are needed to dress up the fish and cabbage filling.
If there’s ever an instance where being flaky is a good thing, fish tacos are it. Use any firm white variety, such as snapper or the even lower-in-mercury chum salmon, to achieve the optimal flake-factor. The strawberry and mango salsa is a unique step away from the more common avocado topping, lending a fruity twist to complement the peppery grilled protein along with some extra vitamin C and fiber.
If you’re looking to beef up regular tacos a bit, look no further than this blogger’s take on steak. Grill it to your preference, then fold it up in soft tortillas with chopped tomatoes and avocado. Throwing in some Feta gives them that cheesy calcium that may be easier to digest for those weary of dairy. The best part is the gorgeously green chimichurri sauce, the ideal light topping for the meaty filling.
Kick your next taco night up a notch by adding a Middle Eastern twist. Sure, there are four tablespoons of butter in this recipe, but keep in mind the batch makes up to six servings. Plus, it turns out that some saturated fat isn’t ao terrible for you—and you can cut back some in this recipe! Stew the meat along with spices, and four to six hours later you’ve got exotic, restaurant-quality results.
When you’re too busy to babysit a skillet, allow this recipe to come to the rescue. Other than some advance planning, the prep is super easy: Toss your meat in a Crock-Pot along with a fragrant concoction of spices, enchilada sauce, and broth. Pork often gets a bad rap for its high fat content, so feel free to use a boneless loin roast for a leaner cut that still supplies high-quality protein. Six to eight hours later, you’ve got juicy goodness, ready to shred and scoop into tortillas with your favorite garnishes.
Whoever thought it was possible to limit tacos to Tuesdays clearly never tried these. With spices from cumin powder to dried oregano making an appearance, they’re such a delicious way to get in your antioxidants that we wouldn’t blame you if you made them all week. Try to find turkey that is grassfed and pastured, which may be higher in anxiety-reducing tryptophan.
When buffalo sauce meets chicken tacos, the results are pretty epic. Rather than using the messy and greasy deep-fry method, this blogger dredges chicken breasts in flour before pan-searing them to a satisfying crisp and coating them in the thick, tangy buffalo sauce. Topped with avocado, Gorgonzola cheese (just a little goes a long way!), and sauce, this is some truly taco truck-worthy stuff.
There is a reason the classics never die. Loaded with all the usual tastes and textures of the time-honored mainstay, these beef tacos are further proof not to mess too much with a good thing. Topped with all things traditional, from shredded cheddar to salsa, this will likely become your go-to recipe for reliable, crowd-pleasing Mexican.
Beans and Lentils
These tacos are yet another way to celebrate the current frontrunner in the produce popularity contest, cauliflower. The cancer-fighting, cruciferous veggie is roasted with chickpeas before being enveloped in corn tortillas and topped with a tart lime and sour cream sauce. Again, feel free to sub in plain Greek yogurt for a similar texture. What isn’t negotiable: the buttery avocado garnish.
This fun, veggie-packed variation of the street-side treat brings an entire spectrum of colors and textures together. Crunchy roasted chickpeas provide filling protein and fiber, while corn tortillas keep things gluten-free. Add sautéed golden pineapple and a topping of cilantro, tomatoes, and avocado, and these edible rainbows could just be too pretty to eat. But they’re too tasty not to.
Tofu, beans, and corn come together as a satisfying stuffing for these vegan and gluten-free wraps. The homemade sour cream is also made from firm tofu rather than dairy, cutting down significantly on the fat while upping the protein profile. Scooping the filling into lettuce is a fantastic way to lighten up the meal without missing out on the fun of eating with your hands—no matter what your age, that’ll never get old!
Here’s a recipe that makes veering off the beaten path look totally doable and worth it. While there are a fair number of ingredients, the actual cooking is super simple. The blogger trades traditional shredded lettuce for a warm sauté of chard and cholesterol-controlling leeks. The salsa is also an exercise in experimentation, but it pays off: Zucchini and avocado make a delectable duo, especially when pumped up with lime juice, honey, and some chopped jalapeño to get that metabolism revved up.
If you were afraid the concepts "barbeque" and "vegan" could never belong on a plate together, you may just want to hug us—or this blogger—for bringing you this recipe. Instead of meat, pinto beans get the sweet n’ savory treatment here, simmered in a blend of tomato paste, brown sugar, and cayenne. Don’t skip the olive oil, either; including some healthy fat helps increase the absorption of lycopene from the tomatoes.
The blue corn tortillas used here are optional, but they make the dish so visually appealing that we highly recommend them! Still, if the lentils and sweet potatoes are starchy enough for you, wrap them into romaine leaves to ease up on the carbs and avoid tipping into "overly full territory." No matter which way you go, the recipe is free of dairy, eggs, soy, nuts, and gluten, making these tacos an allergen-friendly dream come true.
Tofu and Tempeh
This taco swaps out shredded lettuce for bok choy (a.k.a Chinese cabbage). Not only is this underutilized leafy green an even more vibrant shade of jade, but it also comes with high levels of vitamin A and C, as well as folate to boost brain function. Sriracha, soy sauce, and sesame seeds round out the Asian-inspired flavors of the recipe, but don’t worry—good ol’ guacamole still works perfectly as a cool and creamy topping!
Crispy, crunchy, and creamy, these vegan tacos are a multi-textured treat. Slightly firm tofu soaks in a marinade of cayenne, cumin, and a touch of honey before being sautéed to slightly charred perfection and nestled into corn tortillas. A super simple cabbage and carrot slaw on top adds more color and veggie action. Drizzle (or drench, it’s up to you!) them with a zippy cashew-lemon sauce, then devour.
Looking to expand your vegetarian protein repertoire? Offering up vitamin B2 for red blood cell production and digestive benefits thanks to its fermentation, tempeh is a great choice, and this recipe is the perfect introduction for soy skeptics. Crumbled into chopped veggies and dusted with all the standard taco filling seasonings from cumin to chili powder, the result may look and even taste somewhat like the meaty traditional, but contains considerable less cholesterol. Making a double batch is highly advised.
Mexico meets Vietnam in this Southeast Asian twist on tacos, where flour tortillas are stuffed with the classic ingredients of a tofu Banh Mi sandwich. Whether it’s the cilantro paired with ginger, the metabolism-boosting kick of Sriracha blended into Vegenaise (or mayonnaise, if keeping things vegan isn’t a huge concern), or the jalapeño in the fiber-filled cucumber-carrot slaw, every layer of this fusion recipe promises a healthy benefit—and one heck of an exotic trip for your palate!
Tempeh joins forces with walnuts, which provide omega-3s and vitamin E, an antioxidant that keeps your immune system strong, in this hearty dinner. Although the mixture does have to sit for at least an hour to really sop up the marinade, the wait is probably the hardest part of the recipe. Once ready, spoon the heated filling into crunchy shells and eat up!
28. Spicy Tofu Tacos
If the colors popping off the plate in the photos of these tacos aren’t enough to tempt you, maybe the ridiculously simple ingredients and preparation will do the trick. Tofu is a sponge for the flavors it’s cooked in; in this case, the calcium-rich protein is crumbled into an aromatic concoction of garlic, onions, olive oil, and tomato paste, absorbing all that spicy goodness. Served with your favorite taco fixings, this recipe is that ideal combination of easy to make and impressive to serve.
29. Cumin Tofu Tacos
You’ll need to scroll down for the English recipe on this blog, but that extra effort will be well worth it. Tofu has no chance of tasting bland here, thanks to a generous sprinkling of garlic powder and peppery cumin—a spice known best for its digestion-stimulating benefits. With avocado spread on the tortilla (try the blogger’s homemade version) as well as sliced on top, it’s double the healthy fat, double the fun.
The long list of ingredients needed here to achieve the "jerk" component may be daunting, but don’t let that distract from what's a surprisingly straightforward preparation. Tempeh once again plays the leading role, accompanied by a robust supporting cast of spices and topped with a unique mixture of radish and fennel. The result is a deceptively simple production, so easy to make in larger quantities that it’s fit to feed a party of two or 12.
Chocoholics, here’s another recipe to fuel your addiction. Whisking cocoa powder into the batter for the shells gives the mixture a dash of cholesterol-lowering flavanols and that irresistible bittersweet quality. Don’t be intimidated by the homemade "tortillas"—with just a few simple ingredients and a bit of practice, you’ll be churning them out like a pro in no time. Fill ‘em up with your favorite mixed fruit (the classic strawberry-banana pairing works great) and fresh coconut flakes.
These handheld treats will fool everyone into thinking they’re beef tacos. Crumbled brownies are the "meat" while colored shredded coconut is "lettuce" and "cheese," and strawberries are "tomatoes." What really steals the show is the homemade cookie shell.
Add a little kick to dinner’s end by mixing jalapeño with pineapple, kiwi, and strawberries, and stuffing it all inside cinnamon-and-sugar-dusted tortillas. The contrast of heat and sweet is surprisingly addictive, plus the fruit salsa provides fiber and vitamin C.
34. Chocolate Tacos
Chocolate mousse made from heart-healthy avocados, flavonoid-rich dark chocolate and cocoa powder, and coconut oil—which boosts "good" cholesterol—fill these chocolate taco shells, so this dessert will make both your mouth and your heart happy. The wrapper does take some work, but don’t worry if they’re not perfectly smooth or circular—they’ll still taste delightful.
Apricots are often overlooked when it comes to fruit, but just a single one packs 13 percent of the daily recommendation for vitamin A (important for eye health and the function of several organs)—and at 17 calories. Here, the stone fruit is caramelized and sits atop rich mascarpone cheese inside of tortillas that are warmed in the oven and drizzled with honey. Drooling yet?
36. Mini Fruit Tacos
In this sweetened up twist, cinnamon-sugar dusted tortillas are baked, then filled with honeyed, light cream cheese and studded with multicolored cubes of chopped berries, oranges, and pineapple. You can’t go wrong with creamy, sweet, and colorful.