These vegan chickpea tacos are quick and easy to prepare with just a few basic ingredients and your choice of taco toppings. Perfect for a quick weeknight meal!
Chickpeas vs. garbanzo beans
In case you’re confused, chickpeas and garbanzo beans are the same thing.
The word chickpea comes from the Latin scientific name for the plant: cicer arietinum, whereas the word garbanzo is derived from the Spanish name for the legume.
Legumes are a family of plants that have edible seeds and grow in pods. Other vegetables in the legume family are peas, peanuts, soy, and lentils.
Chickpeas are common in cuisines around the world such as Mediterranean, South Asian, African, and Middle Eastern.
Can chickpeas replace meat?
Chickpeas are a popular choice in a variety of vegan and vegetarian recipes as a meat replacement thanks to their filling, “meaty” texture and versatility.
They are a much more environmentally-friendly choice than any type of meat and, of course, much more ethical.
If you’re on a budget, chickpeas are much more economical than meat, especially dried chickpeas cooked from scratch but canned chickpeas are still cheaper than meat.
Chickpeas can be spiced and seasoned in an endless variety of ways; used whole, smashed or pureed, incorporated into veggie burgers, meatballs, chilis, stews, etc.
Dried chickpeas can be ground into a flour which is often used as a egg substitute for omelettes, vegan French toast or as a binder.
You can also use the chickpea cooking liquid, popularly known as aquafaba, to replace egg whites in baking thanks to it’s whipping properties. Check out these strawberry mousse tarts and this Spanish almond cake to see how aquafaba is used.
Are chickpeas healthy?
Chickpeas are a great source of plant-based protein, adding to their benefits as a meat replacement.
They are nutrient-dense and especially high in fiber, potassium, manganese, folate, calcium and iron.
Chickpeas are low in calories and saturated fat.
A recent study demonstrated that replacing all meat with minimally-processed plant-based alternatives such as legumes not only provides the recommended amount of nutrition and could save health care systems thousands of dollars per person, it can also cut diet-related greenhouse emissions by 35% and save on grocery costs.
Chickpea taco ingredients
You really only need three basic ingredients for these chickpea tacos: chickpeas, taco seasoning and tortillas. Then the choice of taco toppings and salsa is up to you, really.
- Chickpeas: For convenience this recipe calls for canned chickpeas. For a more economical recipe you can cook some chickpeas from dried.
- Taco seasoning: I use a basic store-bought taco seasoning in a little envelope. You can also mix up your own taco seasoning using your favorite combination of spices such as cumin, chili powder, paprika, oregano, garlic powder, salt andpepper or check google for a recipe.
- Olive oil: Olive oil helps the taco seasoning stick to the chickpeas as well as frying them for better texture.
- Taco toppings: Your choice of taco toppings such as (red or white) onion, tomato, lettuce, salsa, jalapeños, etc.
- Avocado crema: This vegan avocado crema recipe is super simple and quick to prepare.
- Tortillas: You can use 5-6 inch (14 cm) corn or flour tortillas.
How to make chickpea tacos
With a prep time of just 15 minutes, these vegan chickpea tacos are super simple and quick!
- Prep your ingredients: Drain and rinse your chickpeas. Chop up whichever vegetables you have chosen for your toppings (lettuce, tomato, onion, cilantro, etc.). If making your own guacamole, avocado crema, salsa or vegan sour cream, prepare that too.
- Cook and season the chickpeas: Heat the oil in a medium-sized pan. Add the chickpeas and smash them up a bit with your fork. Smashing them will help prevent them from rolling out of your taco when you pick it up. Once the chickpeas are coated in oil, sprinkle over the taco seasoning and mix well. Give the chickpeas another minute or two to heat through, if necessary.
- Warm your tortillas: There are different ways you can warm your tortillas (see next section): in the microwave, oven or in a pan on the stove.
- Assemble and serve: Put together your chickpea tacos with your warmed tortillas, spiced chickpeas, your choice of toppings and sauce.
How to warm tortillas
Warming your tortillas, especially corn tortillas, adds so much more flavor to your tacos. Warming your tortillas also helps prevent them from cracking when you fold them. This extra step is totally worth it!
There are several ways you can warm tortillas: over a flame, in a pan, in the oven or in the microwave.
My favorite way to warm tortillas is directly over the gas stove. This method really brings out the flavor and adds nice char marks.
Just place the tortilla directly onto the gas stove and turn on the flame. Watch and check them carefully because they’ll only need a few seconds to char. Use tongs to flip them over and repeat.
If you don’t have a gas stove you can warm them in a pan over medium heat. You don’t need oil for this, just place them in a dry pan or skillet for about 30 seconds, then flip them and repeat.
To save time you can warm several tortillas at once in the oven or microwave while you prepare your taco fillings.
Wrap 5 tortillas in aluminum foil and place them in a 350 F (175 C) oven for about 15 minutes or until heated through.
To warm tortillas in the microwave, put 5 tortillas on a microwave-safe plate and cover them with a damp paper towel. Microwave them in 20-second increments until heated through.
Once your tortillas are warmed, you’ll want to keep them that way by wrapping them in a kitchen towel or aluminum foil.
The possibilities for vegan taco toppings are endless! Here’s some ideas you can pick and choose from:
- Avocado crema
- Salsa, store-bought or this delicious roasted tomato salsa
- Pico de Gallo
- Diced tomatoes
- Red, white or pickled onions
- Vegan refried beans
- Fresh or pickled jalapeños
- Curtido (pickled cabbage and veggies)
- Grated vegan cheese
- Dairy-free sour cream, store-bought or homemade from cashews or tofu
- Sliced or diced avocados
- Squeeze of lime juice
Substitutions and variations
Everybody loves tacos because of how versatile they are. This chickpea taco recipe can be adapted to your taste in so many different ways!
Alternatives to chickpeas: Chickpeas can be substituted for black beans or pinto beans. Tofu can be cubed and fried until crispy. Roasted and seasoned vegetables such as cauliflower, sautéed mushrooms, potatoes, sweet potatoes or squash are popular vegan taco fillings. TVP (textured vegetable protein) is a great meat alternative and takes on flavors very well (like in this vegan burrito recipe).
Taco bowls: Instead of traditional tacos, make a tortilla bowl by placing your tortillas in an upside down muffin tin or over a ramekin and baking them until they harden into a bowl shape. See instructions here. Fill with your taco-spiced chickpeas and choice of toppings and sauce.
Seasonings: If you don’t have taco seasoning to spice your chickpeas, try barbecue sauce or buffalo sauce.
Generally speaking, for 5 - 6-inch tacos you’ll serve three tacos per person.
Yes, canned chickpeas are already cooked and ready to eat after draining and rinsing. For this chickpea taco recipe, you simply reheat them in a pan with seasonings for flavor.
Most store-bought taco seasonings are vegan but there a few taco seasonings that contain milk derivatives such as lactose or sodium caseinate. It’s always a good idea to read over the ingredients before purchasing. You can also make your own taco seasoning from a blend of common spices.
Most major tortilla brands are vegan because they are made with vegetable oil. However, some artisanal Mexican tortillas are made with lard. If you’re buying from a specialty Mexican shop, be sure to check the ingredients. Also be aware that low-carb or gluten-free tortillas may contain eggs or egg whites.
Make-ahead and storage tips
All the ingredients for these chickpea tacos can be prepped ahead of time if you’re hosting a taco bar or are meal prepping for the week.
Simple prepare the chickpeas, chop up your veggies and make your sauce of choice. Store everything in airtight containers in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. Keep the chickpeas separate from watery vegetables like tomatoes.
I recommend warming the tortillas just before serving for the best flavor and to prevent the tortillas from breaking when folded.
The ingredients for these vegan tacos can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
What to serve with chickpea tacos
These chickpea tacos can be served as a stand-alone dish for a very quick lunch or dinner. Or they can be accompanied by any of the following side dishes:
- Cilantro-lime rice
- Spanish rice
- Nachos with salsa or guacamole
- Vegan pozole or sopa de fideo
- Corn salad, vegan Mexican street corn or grilled corn on the cob
- Roasted vegetables
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 (14-oz / 400 gram) cans chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 4 teaspoons taco seasoning
- 1 medium onion, red or white finely diced
- 2 tomatoes diced
- 2 cups (150 grams) chopped lettuce
- A handful of cilantro roughly chopped
- Avocado crema
- 12 (5 - 6-inch / 14 cm) corn or flour tortillas
- Chop all your veggies and prepare the avocado crema.
- Heat the oil over medium-heat in a medium pan. Add the drained and rinsed chickpeas. Use your fork to mash them up a bit.
- Sprinkle over the taco seasoning and stir to combine well. Cook for another minute or two until the chickpeas are hot.
- Warm your tortillas either in the oven, microwave or on the stove (see instructions on how to do this in the post above).
- Assemble your tacos by spreading each tortilla with some avocado crema and topping with the spiced chickpeas and veggies. The avocado crema can be thinned with water to a pourable consistency if desired.