Quinoa Taco Meat

Despite the fact that I never cared for the taste of meat really, as a kid you could have found me at either McDonald’s or Taco Bell. Though I would order a hamburger or a taco, if I sensed one bite of what I called the taste of beef I would revolt it out of my mouth, into my napkin and quickly shove back into my mouth a handful of fries or Cinnamon Crisps (bring the REAL version back, will you Taco Bell?!) Or better yet, replace your meat with quinoa (could it be a Quinoa Taco Meat?!) and then we have a deal!

A hearty vegan taco filling made with quinoa and spices.

No wonder as an adult I typically choose the veggie version over the real thing. Thankfully there are so many ways to make that veggie version taste significantly better–you would never miss the meat. And think about all that natural goodness that comes from this Quinoa Taco Meat. No need to worry about any bacteria in this faux red meat. That always relaxes me.

Quinoa taco meat filling--full of protein and packed with flavor!



Quinoa Taco Meat
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: Fills approx. 6 tacos
  • ½ c. uncooked quinoa (cooked with 1 c. vegetable broth)
  • 2 Tbsp. green chiles, canned
  • 2 Tbsp. thinly chopped fresh cilantro
  • ¼ of an onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • ½-1 tsp. cumin (depending on your taste preference)
  • ½ tsp. ancho chile pepper
  • ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • pinch of sea salt
  1. In a skillet, saute the onion with oil for about 3-5 minutes. Add green chiles and stir.
  2. Add cumin, paprika, ancho chile pepper, cayenne, and salt. Mix into quinoa and cook another minute. Stir in cilantro last.
  3. Stuff into these AMAZING homemade gluten free tortillas and serve with favorite taco toppings.



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  1. I love this idea, I’ve been doing it for a few months now and it’s a serious staple in my culinary rotation. I will say, though, that I like to mix grains for a variety in texture. Sub a little of the quinoa for wheat berries or whatever you have hanging around. The wheat berries are a favorite of mine, they give such a great taste and texture, plus if you take the leftovers and sautee it in a little oil, it picks up this little toasty, crispy, browned happy flavors that will make you swoon. Also, this same setup with seasonings like chorizo is amazing.

  2. This was great! I made 1/2 c dry quinoa with 3/4 c stock, and then added 4oz of pre-cooked tempeh to add a little extra heft. I used this on tostadas last night and it was such a nice accompaniment to my beans!

  3. What a splendid idea, Cara! Much healthier than the faux ground meat I’ve been buying for sure… :) Cheers and thanks for sharing!

  4. Barbara says:

    sounds great………can one use red Quinoa, I like it better thanks

  5. rachel says:

    unless of course you are at Haven. just sayin’ :)

  6. How creative! I’m trying these for my fiancee tonight :)

  7. Those are amazingly beautiful and sound delicious! Sorry I have been so absent from your blog lately. I have much more free time now so, watch out, I am going to be so clingy. Haha. Was that creepy?!

  8. Lentil tacos are so last season! bring on the quinoa!

  9. This sounds so tasty! Something about summer and tacos that just go together. This has me dreaming of eating tacos on a patio with a beer to go with 😉

  10. Well, not to be pro-meat or anything, but I hardly think Micky D’s or Taco Hell are good restaurants to judge meat by. Ick. That said, even if they served top choice organic, grass-fed, humanely raised beef, I’d pick your version any day!

  11. Yup another amazing recipe. So creative! I have to try this.

  12. Looks tasty! Love quinoa and love tacos!

  13. Omg, the photos are fantastic and the tacos looks so yummy!!

  14. This looks beautiful Cara. I’ve seen quinoa as taco meat but not quite as beautiful. I’ll definitely be making this.

  15. PERFECT! Seriously. I was just thinking about how much I wanted to have a veggie taco night, but am so sick of the usual alternatives. Now I’ll try this!

  16. Yum! I haven’t had crunchy tacos in so long, may need to do something about that now…

  17. We love quinoa tacos and quinoa-lentil tacos. They are family favorites and we eat them weekly. I’ve never added green chilis to mine but I love green chilis so I’ll need to try your version soon. I like to make extra for leftover taco salads.

  18. Eek! It’s ALIVE (you, not the meat) and this look delicioso. Score. Again. <3

  19. Oh, intriguing! This sounds delicious! If I could only have one food for the rest of my life, I would have to choose tacos. I don’t know why someone would require this of me, but I’m going to jot down your recipe now just in case. 😉


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