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Very Good Vegan Tacos



Vegan Tacos on a red plate with ingredients to  side
Photograph by Travis Rainey, Prop Styling by Alexandra Massillon, Food Styling by Luciana Lamboy

These easy vegan tacos from our Feel Good Food Plan are startlingly satisfying, all thanks to one underrated ingredient—soy curls. Elusive in stores but available online (with thousands of glowing reviews), this plant-based protein is made solely from soybeans, just like tofu. But unlike tofu, which is perishable, soy curls are shelf-stable. That means you can keep them in the pantry and always be minutes away from a budget-friendly, fiber-rich meal. (They’re also gluten-free if that’s a hurdle for you with seitan.) I was led to this product by BA alum Sarah Jampel (who calls them her “go-to meat substitute”) and cookbook author Gena Hamshaw (who raves about them in her cookbook The Vegan Week). It took me only one bite to start buying them in bulk.

I won’t sugarcoat it: In the package, soy curls are not cute. When I brought them into the test kitchen, some of my coworkers even wondered if they were edible. But after a swift soak in broth, the dehydrated curls plump into tender pieces, like shredded rotisserie chicken. Sauté these on the stovetop until crispy and golden, and you get something even carnivores can’t resist. Test kitchen editor Kendra Vaculin immediately ordered eight bags. Senior test kitchen editor Shilpa Uskokovic dubbed herself “an instant convert.” With this humble ingredient, infinite vegan or vegetarian meals await. Roll them into a wrap, sprinkle them atop a salad, toss them into a stir-fry, or my favorite, turn them into tacos.

While the soy curls are hydrating for the taco filling, you can use that prep time to work on whatever toppings you’d like. A colorful salsa is a must in my book, but let the veggies at the market (or in your fridge) lead the way. Mango Salsa is wonderful here, or riff on that template with a juicy peach or nectarine. You could also opt for Pico de Gallo, Salsa Verde, or one of my all-time favorites, Salsa Guille. I like to load up my tacos with avocado slices, radish slices, cilantro, and dairy-free sour cream. But guacamole, cabbage slaw, or pickled red onion or jalapeño would all be great too. It’s your meatless taco night—do as you please. (On that note: These soy curls would be great tucked into burritos or scattered on nachos too.)

These veggie tacos are hearty enough to skip a side dish altogether, especially if it’s a weeknight. But if you want to bulk up a spread for a party, check out this black bean salad with fresh lime juice, this farmers-market-inspired quinoa, or this make-ahead lentil salad (you can swap in a vegan cheese). For more vegan taco recipes, try these Adobo Mushroom Tacos or these Cauliflower Tacos With Cashew Crema. And for more vegan recipes, we have you covered there too.

Recipe information

  • Total Time

    30 minutes

  • Yield

    4–6 servings


1 8-oz. package soy curls (such as Butler)
3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
3 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
4 tsp. ground cumin
3 tsp. smoked paprika
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt, plus more
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
⅓ cup vegetable oil
Warm corn tortillas, homemade or store-bought salsa, vegan sour cream (optional), thinly sliced radishes, sliced avocado, chopped cilantro, hot sauce, and lime wedges (for serving)


  1. Step 1

    Place one 8-oz. package soy curls in a medium heatproof bowl. Heat 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth in small saucepan over medium-high, until warm, about 5 minutes. Add 3 Tbsp. nutritional yeast and stir to dissolve. Pour over soy curls; weigh down with a small plate to keep soy curls submerged. Let sit until hydrated, 10–15 minutes.

    Step 2

    Meanwhile, stir 4 tsp. ground cumin, 3 tsp. smoked paprika, 2 tsp. garlic powder, 2 tsp. onion powder, 1 tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt, and ½ tsp. cayenne pepper in a small bowl to combine; set spice mixture aside.

    Step 3

    Drain soy curls in a fine-mesh sieve, squeezing gently to remove excess liquid. Return to bowl and add reserved spice mixture; toss to coat soy curls evenly (your hands are great for this).

    Step 4

    Heat ⅓ cup vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add spiced soy curls and toss to coat in oil. Spread out into a single layer and cook, tossing occasionally, until browned and crisp in spots, 8–10 minutes. Taste and season with more salt if needed.

    Step 5

    Build tacos with warm corn tortillas, soy curls, homemade or store-bought salsa, vegan sour cream (if using), thinly sliced radishes, sliced avocado, and chopped cilantro. Serve with hot sauce and lime wedges for squeezing over.

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