Just say yes to inspired vegetarian Mexican recipes

7 Recipes
Plates with tacos on them.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times; prop styling by Kate Parisian)

Plant-based tacos, quesadillas, chilaquiles and more


A great thing about Mexican food is that it can be quick and easy to prepare at home and still taste so delicious that people will think you spent hours making it. A few simple tricks with ingredients and techniques make it easily adaptable to suit vegetarian and vegan diets (and the carnivores at your table will never miss the meat). Whether you are cooking for Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays or just because you are in the mood for a Mexican meal, these recipes are packed with flavor and texture. And several can be made in an hour or less.

The tortillas in Wes Avila’s Drought-Friendly Vegetable Tacos are made with yams, which give them a delicate orange hue and a soft, almost creamy texture. The roasted salsa components impart a robust, smoky spiciness to complement the grilled (or roasted) vegetable filling.

Mushrooms and black beans give Jonathan Melendez’s quesadillas an almost meaty chew — a perfect complement to the gooey, melted cheese. Quick and easy to prepare, they are perfect for a weeknight meal.


Jackfruit takes on the texture of shredded pork in Jocelyn Ramirez’s Vegan Jackfruit Carnitas Tacos. Piled onto a corn tortilla and heaped with salsa, the jackfruit could easily be mistaken for its pork inspiration.

Perfect for warmer weather, founding French Laundry chef Sally Schmitt’s Tomatillo Tortilla Soup swaps tomatillos for tomatoes and includes lots of citrus to make a lighter, brighter, tortilla-thickened soup.

One of the secrets to preparing the filling for Tacos 1986’s Tacos al Hongo is to not use any salt while searing the mushrooms so that they get crisp like fried chips. The other secret is to then douse those crunchy mushrooms in salsa macha, which infuses them with nutty, chile flavor and heat. Sesame seeds are used in place of nuts for an even nuttier flavor.


Genevieve Ko’s Vegan Chilaquiles get their rich taste from a combination of fresh and dried mushrooms. The charred salsa verde, chipotle vegan crema and vegan queso fresco can be made in advance for a brunch or dinner that comes together quickly.

Condiments like pickled blueberries, vadouvan spiced almonds and avocado leaf powder add zest and texture to Ray Garcia’s inspired version of Esquites. Manzano chiles lend subtle heat and boost the intensity of the color and flavor of the deep yellow corn sauce.

Black Bean and Mushroom Quesadillas with Avocado Crema

A bright avocado cream adds freshness to these cheesy vegetarian quesadillas teeming with mushrooms and black beans.
Time25 minutes
YieldsServes 4

Vegan Jackfruit Carnitas Tacos

This vegan jackfruit carnitas tacos recipe is shared by Jocelyn Ramirez of L.A.-based catering company Todo Verde in her cookbook, "La Vide Verde."
Time45 minutes
YieldsServes 4 to 6

Tomatillo Tortilla Soup

French Laundry chef Sally Schmitt's comforting tomatillo tortilla soup recipe reflects her place in California's culinary history.
Time45 minutes
YieldsServes 4

Tacos 1986 Tacos al Hongo

Jorge Alvarez-Tostado sears the mushrooms for his tacos al hongo until they’re as crisp as chips, then soaks them with a salsa macha vinaigrette.
Time35 minutes
YieldsServes 4

Vegan Chilaquiles

These vegan chilaquiles develop deep, rich flavors from both fresh and dried mushrooms. They're also quick and easy to prepare.
Time20 minutes
YieldsServes 6 to 8

Drought-friendly vegetable tacos

Yams in the masa make the tortillas orange. The grilled eggplant, haricot vert, green onions, cannellini beans and peas are doused with sherry vinegar to make the flavors pop.
Time3 hours
YieldsMakes 24 tacos


This chile-spiked sweet corn casserole is topped with a pattern of pickled blueberries and vadouvan-spiced almonds, avocado-leaf powder, grated goat cheese and fresh herbs.
Time1 hour 30 minutes
YieldsServes 8 to 10