I commonly get asked how I choose the recipes I make for this blog. The answer is quite simple – I make the foods that I feel like eating! It’s why you’ll see a salad recipe next to a pizza recipe next to a sauce or dressing that I’m pouring over everything at that moment. When I cook from other people’s cookbooks, however, I choose recipes with an entirely different intention. I always look for a recipe that would have never occurred to me to make on my own. That could mean a baking recipe that I wouldn’t have otherwise attempted or a flavor combination that is unfamiliar to me. These vegan tacos are in the latter category. The recipe comes from the Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook by Nisha Vora who, by the way, has the most gorgeous instagram account @rainbowplantlife. Instantly go follow her! You can thank me later 🙂
When I flipped through her book, these jerk spiced jackfruit tacos caught my attention because combining jerk seasoning with ginger, tamari, and meaty jackfruit isn’t something I would have thought of myself. But wow, wow, wow, were these delicious! Whether you celebrate Taco Tuesday or Taco Wednesday, you have to make these vegan tacos!
Vegan Taco Meat
The vegan taco meat in this recipe is a Jamaican Jerk-spiced jackfruit. I’ve used jackfruit as a pulled meat substitute before, and it was a great hearty filling for these vegan tacos too – its texture is a lot like that of chicken tinga! As we made these, Jack and I couldn’t stop talking about how meaty they looked.
To make it, Nisha spices up canned jackfruit with a homemade jerk seasoning blend. With ingredients like cinnamon, black pepper, cumin, and cayenne, the jerk spices are ones you likely already have in your pantry. It’s a combination of familiar ingredients, but the jerk seasoning blend is aromatic, sweet, and spicy.
Nisha cooks the vegan taco meat in an InstantPot, but since I’m the only person left on the planet who doesn’t have one, I made made mine in a regular pot on the stove, and it came out great. Along with the spice mix, lime juice, tamari, and tomato paste create a sauce for the jackfruit that becomes deliciously tangy & juicy as it cooks.
After just 20 minutes on the stove, your vegan taco meat will be ready. Load up your tortillas, and enjoy!
How to Make Great Vegan Tacos
Vegan tacos are great quick and easy plant-based dinner recipes! Luckily, it’s not hard to make really good ones. Here’s a taco template that I like to follow, whether I’m making these vegan tacos or any tacos. Nisha’s vegan taco recipe checks all these boxes:
- Something meaty: This recipe uses jackfruit. Some of my other favorites include black beans, sweet potato, butternut squash, or shiitake walnut taco “meat.”
- Something sweet & juicy: Nisha’s mango avocado salsa is the perfect sweet topping for the spicy jackfruit in this recipe. For other taco variations, I like mango salsa, pineapple salsa, or pico de gallo.
- Something bright: Lime is one of my favorite bright taco ingredients, and it’s in Nisha’s salsa. Otherwise, I turn to tomatillo salsa or pickled jalapeños or onions for a bright pop.
- Something creamy: Avocado is usually a must for me. If it wasn’t already included in this salsa, I would add a scoop of guac.
- Something crisp: Cucumbers (like in this recipe), radishes, shredded cabbage, and chiles are some of my favorites.
- And something spicy: I like to top my tacos with jalapeño or serrano slices, but – fair warning – the jackfruit in this recipe is pretty spicy on its own. If you’re sensitive to spice, you might want to hold back on adding extra peppers. If you’re like me, spice it up!
What to Serve with Vegan Tacos
Otherwise, these tacos are delicious with classic taco sides like tortilla chips, guacamole, and cilantro lime rice. A zesty salad, like my watermelon salad, taco salad, Mexican corn salad, or summer Asian slaw, would pair well with these vegan tacos too.
Make this vegan taco recipe for a weeknight dinner, or use it for entertaining! Throw a taco party and set out the taco meat, salsa, and your favorite fixings so that guests can customize their tacos. I like using a taco night theme for parties because you can prep the fillings ahead of time. In addition, tacos are especially dietary-restriction friendly. This recipe is already vegan and nut-free, and with corn tortillas, it’s gluten-free too! Of course, if your guests aren’t vegan, they could add cheese to their tacos.
What are you waiting for? Go eat tacos! Also, be sure to check out The Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook. It includes SO MANY recipes that I want to make, like her Tofu Cauliflower Tikka Masala and her vegan Cookies ‘n’ Cream Cheesecake.
If you love these vegan tacos…
- 2 cups peeled and diced mango (about 2 medium)
- 1 medium ripe avocado, diced
- ¾ cup diced red onion
- ½ cup diced cucumber
- 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- ½ cup cilantro, finely chopped
- Sea salt
- 1½ teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon sweet or hot paprika
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 (20-ounce) cans jackfruit in brine or water
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 scallions (white and light green parts), sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1½-inch piece fresh ginger, grated
- 1 habanero, serrano or jalapeño pepper, minced
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar or agave nectar
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ¼ cup tamari
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 12 corn tortillas, charred or warmed
- Make the mango-avocado salsa. In a medium bowl, combine the mango, avocado, onion, cucumber, orange juice, lime juice, and cilantro and mix gently. Season to taste with salt.
- Make the Jamaican Jerk Seasoning. Combine all of the spices together in a small bowl.
- Prepare the jackfruit: Drain the canned jackfruit and lightly rinse under water, shaking off excess water. Use your fingers to remove any thick cores and pull the pieces apart so that it resembles shredded pork.
- In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the the scallions and cook until browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and chile pepper and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Add all of the Jamaican jerk seasoning, stir to coat, and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly, until very fragrant.
- Add the shredded jackfruit, coconut sugar, tomato paste, tamari, and lime juice. Stir well. Pour in ½ cup water and mix again. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Serve the jackfruit with the tortillas and mango avocado salsa.