Protein-packed and super flavorful, this Vegan Taco Salad is easy, delicious, and filling. This delicious salad in a homemade taco shell bowl will quickly become a household favorite.
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Hey Internet, it has been a long time since I’ve gotten to share a salad with you! I’ve been having hot liquid salads (soup, lol) all winter and now that it’s spring (well, it’s Chicago, so it’s thinking about spring but it isn’t sure yet) I wanted to share a salad I’ve been loving lately.
Vegan Taco Salad is a fricken flavor party in your mouth, OK?
It’s super customizable, but I wanted to create this recipe to show you what I put in, and to tell you all about this really cool thing you can do with an air fryer:
Make a taco shell bowl! You just need an air fryer, some aluminum foil, a heavy heat safe small dish like a ramekin, something to soften the tortillas (like coconut milk or oil), and of course the tortillas themselves.
There’s also a way to do it in the oven, don’t worry. :)
Regardless of whether or not you make a taco shell bowl, this taco salad is awesome and I highly recommend it.
Alright, so let me just jump in, because who needs some random chick selling them on a taco salad when they’re already on the recipe page? Not you!
What You’ll Need
It’s optional, so don’t feel like you need to make a tortilla shell bowl. I often make this salad without if I’m feeling like a lower carb meal or if I’m just being lazy (which happens more often than you’d think, I’ll admit).
If you DO use tortillas, get the really big burrito size. I’ve found them in the tortilla section of most grocery stores.
Siete makes a gluten-free giant tortilla. I’ve eaten it and it’s really good, but I haven’t tried doing this to it yet!
So for greens, I like my taco salads super crunchy, so I tend to use iceberg or romaine lettuce. You could mix it with some spinach for some leafier greens, or just use what you like.
I love putting my homemade vegan chorizo in this salad too. Vegan ground beef or meatless crumbles are nice too, and so is vegan shredded chicken, but I just love the spice of chorizo in a taco salad.
I also put my homemade nut-free vegan cheddar cheese in there too. It shreds great and is high in protein and low in fat. But store-bought vegan cheese will also work well here.
As far as the rest of the toppings, it’s kind of based on what you like. We like to use pico de gallo (or just add diced tomatoes and onion), guacamole or diced avocado, diced bell peppers, tofu sour cream, and black olives.
Jalapenos are really good in here too, but I really wanted to top it with tons of Cholula and I’m still working on improving my tolerance for spicy food. :)
Oh, and I put cilantro on mine because I love it, but Paul thinks they’re soap herbs so he didn’t have any. More for me.
Other things that would be good in taco salad: shredded cabbage (especially marinated in lime juice and a little salt, mmm), pickled red onions, jalapenos (raw or pickled), grape tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh lime juice, vegan queso… the list goes on. Put in what you like.
And if you ARE making the tortilla shell bowl, you’ll need something to grease and soften the tortillas. I used canned coconut cream (surprise surprise… I think the solid cream works a bit better than the milk) but spray or regular neutral oil works well too, like avocado oil.
I’ve heard spray oil can wreck the coating inside an air fryer though, so if you want to use oil, maybe use the non-spray kind.
Equipment to Make Taco Shell Bowl
You can either use an air fryer (with a basket, a rack-type may not work for this) or an oven.
If using an air fryer, you’ll need aluminum foil (I recommend the heavy duty long aluminum foil) and a ramekin or similar heat-safe dish to put in there, this helps the bottom of the tortilla from puffing up.
If using the oven method, you’ll still need aluminum foil and you’ll also need a larger ramekin or something else to invert to become the “bowl.” You’ll also need a sheet pan to hold the inverted bowl.
How to Make the Bowl in the Air Fryer
First, depending on the shape of your air fryer basket, you may need to line it with some rolled up aluminum foil to get the ideal shape for your bowl. I have a big 5.5L air fryer, so my taco shell bowl would be too wide, and more like a weird straw hat.
So I cut a long sheet of aluminum foil, rolled it up like a snake, and inserted it into the basket of my air fryer. This allowed me to create a taller, but smaller circumference bowl.
Now you can grease BOTH sides of the tortilla, either with canned coconut cream or a neutral oil like avocado oil.
Fold the tortilla into the basket, folding the edges where needed. Now put another layer of foil on top. In the center, place a ramekin or similar heat safe object--this keeps the bottom of the tortilla from puffing up.
Cook for 4 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205 degrees Celsius).
Then remove the basket from the air fryer, and use tongs or an oven mitt to remove the ramekin (it’s really hot so be careful) and the TOP layer of foil.
Put the basket back in the air fryer and cook for 2 more minutes to get the shell more crispy. Depending on how brown the edges are, you may want to adjust the temperature. My air fryer runs hot, so I set it at about 385 degrees Fahrenheit to do the remaining cooking. If your edges aren’t very brown, you might just want to keep at the same height.
You can then let it cool for a bit and it will continue to harden.
How to Make the Bowl in the Oven
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius) and grease both sides of the tortilla either with canned coconut cream or a neutral oil like avocado oil.
Invert the ramekin (or similar heat-safe object) onto your baking tray and carefully fold the tortilla over it, folding where needed. Cover tortilla with enough foil to cover edges, and bake for 5 minutes until lightly browned.
Use tongs or an oven mitt to remove the top layer of foil, turn the tortilla bowl right side up, remove the ramekin, place the foil back on the tray and the bowl on top. Fold up the edges of the foil so it cradles the tortilla bowl, and covers the top edge.
Bake for 7-10 more minutes, then flatten the foil back down and allow it to cook for 2-4 more minutes until fully crispy or solid enough.
Let cool completely before filling.
Need more instructions on the baking method? Try this guide to baking crispy tortilla bowls.
Assembling the Vegan Taco Salad
I’m not sure I need to write a how-to on building the salad. But I’ll tell ya what I do.
In a cooled tortilla shell bowl or just a regular bowl, add the lettuce. Now add other veggies like diced peppers, pico de gallo or tomatoes and onions, and the black olives if using.
Finally, add any saucy toppings like salsa, guacamole (or diced avocado), vegan sour cream, or hot sauce.
Oh, and if you like cilantro (or soap herbs, as my husband calls them), add that here too or you can use green onion if you’d like.
More SATISFYING Salads
Do you like salads as much as I do? Wait, really? OK let’s be friends because sometimes people tease me.
Those people being my husband. THAT’S RIGHT PAUL I’M TALKING TO YOU.
But back to being serious, or somewhat sane, I’ve got a ton of delicious salad recipes right here on the blog for you. Check out of some of them below:
- Vegan Waldorf Salad
- Creamy Avocado Salad
- Vegan Goat Cheese Salad with Strawberries and Pecans
- Vegan Chicken Salad
- Italian Salad with Creamy Vegan Italian Dressing
- Ranch Pasta Salad
- Vegan Caesar Salad with Chickpea Croutons
- Creamy Chicken Cucumber Salad (vegan)
- Watermelon and Vegan Feta Salad
- Thanksgiving Salad with Pomegranate and Orange
As always, I hope you love this recipe–I know I do, and Mr. Zardyplants does too. We literally ate the bowl, lol.
This vegan taco salad is:
- And great for a meal, picnic to bring to a barbeque or potluck!
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!