Taco Bowls with Cucumber Jalapeño Ranch

Taco Bowls with Cucumber Jalapeño Ranch

I’ve had this one planned for awhile now. Every few months, I’d glance at my upcoming list of potential recipes and start salivating over the idea of this summer taco salad. I love summer, I love tacos, and I really really love salads, so here we go!

Instead of taco meat, I mix red quinoa and black beans with lime juice, chili powder, smoked paprika, and a touch of maple syrup – all of this helps create a bit of a smoky flavor. Quick tip: keep this quinoa mix on hand in the fridge to build lunchtime salad bowls throughout the week.

Taco Bowls with Cucumber Jalapeño Ranch

Now onto the “ranch” sauce – I used blanched, slivered almonds (unpeeled almonds work best and it’s not fun to peel almonds yourself), Almond Breeze Almondmilk, cucumber, lime juice, jalapeño, and spices. It makes the perfect cool, creamy ranch-like sauce.

Jack and I had a long argument about whether this tastes similar to “authentically” bottled ranch dressing. He said “it tastes more like tzaziki because of the cucumber” and I said “that’s the COOL part about cool ranch.” The argument came to an abrupt, unsatisfying end when Jack found a bottle of ranch dressing in the back of my parent’s fridge that expired last December that we both refused to try. I continued on, and once the taco bowls were assembled with this creamy vegan ranch-ish sauce, we were both very happy.

Taco Bowls with Cucumber Jalapeño Ranch Taco Bowls with Cucumber Jalapeño Ranch

This recipe has a few components – but all of them can be made in advance: the sauce, the quinoa – even the baked tortilla strips.

Taco Bowls with Cucumber Jalapeño Ranch

You can assemble your bowls however you like – I use chopped romaine lettuce, fresh raw corn kernels, chopped tomato, and tons of cilantro.

The sauce recipe makes extra – store it in the fridge and put it on more bowls, in tacos, or use it as a dip for raw vegetables.

Taco Bowls with Cucumber Jalapeño Ranch

4.9 from 8 reviews
Taco Bowls with Cucumber Jalapeño Ranch
Serves: serves 4
  • 3 corn tortillas, thinly sliced
  • 6 cups shredded romaine lettuce
  • Kernels from 3 medium ears of corn
  • 2 tomatoes, diced, lightly salted
  • 1 jalapeño, stem and ribs removed, sliced (optional)
  • 1 avocado, pitted and diced (optional)
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • Lime slices, for serving
Creamy Cucumber Jalapeño Ranch (makes extra)
  • 1 cup peeled and blanched slivered almonds
  • ¾ cup Original Almond Breeze Almondmilk Unsweetened
  • ⅓ cup chopped peeled cucumber
  • 1½ tablespoon lime juice + ½ teaspoon zest
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ to 1 jalapeño pepper, stem and ribs removed
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Spiced quinoa
  • 2 cups cooked red quinoa
  • 1 cup cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice + ½ teaspoon zest
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder, more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika, more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  1. Make the Cucumber Jalapeño Ranch dressing: In a high speed blender, blend the almonds, almond milk, cucumber, lime juice, lime zest, vinegar, onion powder, garlic powder, jalapeño, salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Chill until ready to use.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the tortilla strips with a drizzle of olive oil and a few pinches of salt. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until crispy.
  3. Make the Spiced quinoa: In a medium pot, combine the quinoa, black beans, olive oil, lime juice, lime zest, chili powder, smoked paprika, maple syrup, salt, and several grinds of black pepper. If desired, heat until warmed through, then stir in the scallions. This can also be served cold.
  4. Assemble the taco bowls with the romaine, Spiced quinoa, corn, tomatoes, jalapeño and avocado, if using, and the tortillas strips. Top with the cilantro and drizzle with the Cucumber Jalapeño Ranch dressing. Serve with the lime slices and extra sauce.
A high speed blender, such as a Vitamix, works best here to blend the creamy sauce.


almondbreeze This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almondmilk. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that keep us cooking!

If you make this, let us see! Tag your photo with #loveandlemons on Instagram.


  1. stanp from enamelcookwareplus.com on said:

    Like this recipe, particularly the ranch dressing and spiced quinoa recipes.

    Want to try the spiced quinoa as a side dish.

    Thanks for the new ideas.

  2. Leslie on said:

    The BEST taco bowls! (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

  3. Lynn on said:

    Just recently went dairy free so can’t wait to try the cool ranch dressing! Looks delish!

  4. I’m loving this ranch dressing. And loved the backstory just as much! I’m always up for a good taco bowl and make them often with a base of beans and corn. Will definitely try your quinoa base with this ranch dressing!

  5. Gaby Dalkin from whatsgabycooking.com on said:

    I LOVE a good taco bowl! And your jalapeno cucumber ranch sounds like the perfect touch!!

  6. Sabrina B from newkitchenlife.com on said:

    the creamy cucumber ranch looks wonderful! I’ve made a version of this as taco salad with ground beef, but not with ranch, and really want to try this with quinoa as a nice alternative, so thank you for this recipe!

  7. Jessie Snyder from faring-well.com on said:

    I am SO making this Jeanine! That sauce combo is so stinking brilliant! Hoping you two are doing so well on your traveling adventure <3.

  8. I absolutely love this! just love the sauce!

  9. spiced quinoa, jalapeno ranch, and that corn.. um –> WOWZA! perfection in a bowl! love that almond breeze too!

  10. Summer in a bowl! Crushing on these major. And that sauce sounds delicious. I haven’t had traditional ranch in forever, but I bet this is way better! 🙂

  11. Maria on said:

    I could eat these bowls every night!

  12. I officially want that ranch sauce on EVERYTHING!!

  13. Aidan on said:

    Hey Jeanine!

    This looks awesome (kind of amused that I stumbled across it while eating the grilled pepper taco salad from your book!)

    Just a question about the almonds – do you specify blanched & slivered for consistency’s sake? I just happen to have about 3 lbs of skin-on, whole almonds so it would be great if they were a possible sub, but would definitely go and grab some blanched ones if it makes a difference.



    • Marianne on said:

      I used whole almonds and soaked them in water and the ranch dressing was yum!

      • Aidan on said:

        Thanks for the tip!! I figured that soaking might make the difference. 🙂

  14. Gerry Speirs on said:

    Gorgeous shots!! 🙂

  15. Lexi @Lexi'scleankitchen on said:

    This looks amazing!! You had me at Cucumber Jalapeño Ranch! Cannot wait to try this dressing!

  16. Stef on said:

    Hi Janine,

    Any recommendations on what to sub in for the almonds/almond milk for those with nut allergies?

    Thank you!

  17. michel from kashishfood.co.nz on said:

    It looks absolutely delicious!!! The presentation of recipe shot is amazing. Thank you for sharing one of the easiest & tasty cucumber recipe. I liked it so much!!!!

  18. Jenny on said:

    Just made this taco bowl for the fam and everybody loved it 😀 Thanks for making my cooking life easier 😀

  19. Claudia on said:

    Made this for lunch today, and the entire fam gobbled it right up! Thank you for this absolutely positively fantastic recipe!

  20. Susan on said:

    YUM!! This sounds absolutely delicious! I will definitely have to try it. This is my first visit to your blog and I’m really pleased to see a recipe I want to make.

  21. Meg on said:

    Great recipe, although I think the spice ratio is off. I used 1+ tablespoon of both smoked paprika and chile powder. I also added cumin and garlic powder to make it more “taco-like” and it was delicious!

  22. stanp on said:

    Tried the spiced quinoa as a side dish with another recipe and really enjoyed it.
    Cook quinoa frequently so will definitely use again !
    Thanks !

  23. Eden Passante from sugarandcharm.com on said:

    Love this idea to freshen up taco night!! Looks so delicious and healthy!

  24. ali raza from sooperchef.blogspot.com on said:

    Yummy and Delicious Dish. This is my favorite dish. I just made it at home with my mom. So tasteful, I loved your cooking recipes and way of cooking it’s amazing Before I will also find the same soup recipe from one website sharing a link with you::: http://sooperchef.blogspot.com.

  25. J Willis on said:

    Just made this tonight for dinner and it came out pretty well. My only complaint is that our jalapeño’s were too spicy! Even without the seeds, my husband and I couldn’t eat them! Not sure why they were packing so much heat! Great dish!

    • depending on where & when they were grown, I’ve noticed that their spiciness can vary a LOT. When we lived in Austin, they were always really spicy, here in Chicago, I find them pretty wimpy (at least the ones that I find in regular grocery stores). I try to always leave a range when it’s being blended into a sauce – was 1/2 jalapeño in the sauce too much?

      • J Willis on said:

        You know..we just moved to Atlanta from Columbus, OH and our jalapeño’s in Ohio never packed this much heat. The sauce was fine but I used chobani greek yogurt for the sauce instead of the almond milk and chopped almonds since I have a tree nut allergy; I wonder if that’s what cooled the sauce down. It was the chopped jalapeño’s that we put on top of the bowl that were too hot.

        • I bet they’re spicier down there! 🙂 Glad to hear the sauce was great with the yogurt.

  26. Megan on said:

    I made this recipe yesterday for a memorial day party and it was a big hit! Multiple people asked for the recipe. The cooling jalapeno ranch combined with the spiced quinoa and crunchy tortilla strips is delicious. I kicked it up a notch with fresno chili peppers, chipotle powder, pepitas and avocado. Thanks!!

  27. Kate S. on said:

    i finally made this and it is amazing. i can’t decide if i like the taco “meat” or the ranch better, both are incredible and will be a part of my normal meal rotation. Thank you!!

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