Made in one pan, my vegetarian Mexican taco skillet is an easy, healthy recipe for those eating more plant-based.
When I'm unable to get out for authentic Mexican food in the city, I love cooking Mexican-inspired food at home. Combined with one pan meals, my weeknight lifesaver, you get a super easy and delicious meal: this Mexican taco skillet!
If you tried my one pan lazy enchilada skillet, you're going to love this recipe too. Similarly, it doesn't follow traditional preparation methods, however it's my spin using Central American and Mexican flavours.
I also wanted to make an option that was vegetarian (but also flexitarian friendly), as I know many of you are looking to eat more plant-based. Served with tortilla chips and homemade guac, this vegetarian Mexican taco skillet is such a satisfying dinner!
Why This Recipe Is Dietitian Approved
- High protein vegetarian meal. This is a great choice for Meatless Monday, with black beans and quinoa to provide plant-based protein. One serving of this taco skillet has 28g of protein!
- One pan and minimal prep. A one pan skillet recipe checks all the boxes for an easy weeknight meal. It's the best for those nights you don't feel like cooking, but want something warm and yummy.
- Budget friendly. We use affordable and shelf stable or freezer ingredients like quinoa, corn, and beans. Healthy eating doesn't have to break the bank if you approach it strategically.
Quinoa. Contrary to popular belief, quinoa is actually a seed instead of a grain. It's a delicious for a high fiber, higher protein carbohydrate option. If you don't have quinoa, rice or orzo works.
Black beans. High in fibre and plant-based protein. Look for a low-sodium canned bean option or use dried beans, cooked according to package instructions. You can substitute for lentils, kidney beans or another canned/dry pulse of choice.
Salsa. This provides moisture, in addition to a ton of flavour. Look for a lower sodium salsa if possible, or make my homemade garden salsa!
Spinach. Once it's cooked down, you'll hardly notice it. Spinach is an easy way to add extra greens and nutrition into meals. Frozen spinach works well in this recipe.
Frozen corn. You may use fresh corn if you have it available, but frozen corn works great!
Olive oil. Any neutral tasting oil will work, such as avocado oil.
Onion. Yellow onions are best in this recipe.
Bell pepper. I prefer the taste of red bell pepper, however any colour works.
Garlic. Fresh garlic is always best, although you may use jarred, pre-pressed garlic if you are in a pinch.
Spices. Chili powder, cumin, paprika, and oregano are the only spices you will need.
Cilantro. Optional. If you are someone who thinks cilantro tastes like soap, feel free to skip it. Otherwise it adds some additional flavour and colour.
Cheese. Cheddar cheese works great in this recipe. I recommend a cheese that melts well, including monterey jack or havarti.
The complete ingredient list with measurements can be found in the recipe card below.
In an oven safe 19.5 inch skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add onions and pepper and cook until soft (about 5 minutes). Add pressed garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add spices and stir.
Add dry quinoa to the skillet along with vegetable broth and salsa. Bring to a boil and cover. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until quinoa is fully cooked (about 20 minutes).
Add beans, corn, ½ cup of cheese, cilantro (if using) and spinach. Stir to combine. Continue stirring until the spinach has wilted.
Top with the remaining cheese and broil in the oven for about 10 minutes until the cheese has melted and begun to brown. Top with sliced green onions, additional cilantro and avocado if desired and serve with tortilla chips.
Substitutions and Variations
To make gluten-free: This recipe is naturally gluten-free.
To make dairy-free and vegan: Use a dairy-free cheese that melts well like this one.
To make nut-free: This recipe is naturally nut-free.
If you're flexitarian, you can add 1 lb of cooked ground beef or turkey meat into this skillet.
For additional plant-based protein, add crumbled vegetarian ground “beef” directly into the skillet when cooking the vegetables.
- Oven safe skillet
Taco skillet leftovers can stay fresh in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container. To freeze, divide cooled leftovers in airtight containers and freeze for up to 3 months.
Allow to defrost overnight and microwave for about 1 minute to reheat. Leftovers can also be reheated in the oven at 325F for about 15 minutes.
You may need to add the spinach 1 cup at a time. This allows the spinach to wilt, creating enough space!
If your quinoa is taking longer than anticipated to cook, you may increase the heat to medium. I recommend stirring every 5 minutes to avoid the quinoa sticking to the bottom of the pan.
If you find the liquid absorbing faster than the quinoa is cooking, your heat is likely too high! To fix this, you may add an additional ¼ cup of liquid and reduce the heat.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you may replace the quinoa with 1 cup of dry basmati rice. Just ensure it is not long grain or wild rice, as this will increase the cook time significantly.
Yes, you can make this dish ahead of time! Since there is no meat in it, it will store well in the fridge for up to 5 days.
More Easy Weeknight Recipes
Loving the Mexican-inspired easy meals? Try these next:
- One Pan Lazy Enchilada Skillet
- Sheet Pan Tofu Fajitas (Vegan)
- 20 Minute Air Fryer Shrimp Tacos
- Mexican Tuna Salad
PS. I love seeing my recipes in action! If you decide to make this vegetarian Mexican taco skillet, don't forget to snap a photo and tag me on Instagram- @nourishedbynic or leave a comment and rating below letting me know how you liked it!
One Pan Vegetarian Mexican Taco Skillet
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic pressed
- 2 red bell peppers diced
- 2.5 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- 1 cup dry quinoa
- 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 2 cups salsa
- 1x 540 mL can black beans rinsed and drained
- 1 cup frozen corn (canned corn will also work)
- 3 cups spinach (1 cup defrosted frozen spianch will also work)
- ¼ cup cilantro chopped (optional)
- 1.5 cups cheddar cheese shredded
- Green onions
- Tortilla chips
- In an oven safe 19.5 inch skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add onions and pepper and cook until soft (about 5 minutes). Add pressed garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add spices and stir.
- Add dry quinoa to the skillet along with vegetable broth and salsa. Bring to a boil and cover. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until quinoa is fully cooked (about 20 minutes).
- Add beans, corn, ½ cup of cheese, cilantro (if using) and spinach. Stir to combine. Continue stirring until the spinach has wilted.
- Top with the remaining cheese and broil in the oven for about 10 minutes until the cheese has melted and begun to brown. Top with sliced green onions, additional cilantro and avocado if desired and serve with tortilla chips.