Tacos have gone from unappetizing fast-food to a Tuesday-night staple and gourmet food truck fare. Filled with meat or veggies, stuffed inside a soft or hard tortilla, and topped with cheese or guacamole (or both!), the possibilities are endless. And while there’s nothing wrong with a beefy, cheesy handheld, there are plenty of delicious ways to make healthy tacos too.
These 32 variations—organized by the main ingredient—all start with wholesome add-ins. Some keep things classic, others take on Asian influences, and more go vegan or gluten-free. Ultimately, they all confirm one thing: In any iteration, few foods in this world are as tasty as the taco.
Photo: Naturally Ella
This recipe isn’t kidding about focusing on veggies, packing in a whopping six of ‘em. Wrapped in a soft tortilla and topped with avocado cream, you may have just found your new favorite way to eat roasted vegetables. The best part? The ingredients are customizable—so go with whatever’s in your kitchen or in season!
Photo: Lorimer Kitchen
The flavors in these tacos may give off a distinct Thanksgiving-vibe, but who are we to object to healthy, holiday-themed meals any time of year? The addition of brown sugar gives the squash that irresistible caramelized-edge, while a cup of chopped pecans provide a savory, fiber-filled crunch. Cranberries blend with agave and garlic to make an antioxidant-rich spread that brings it all together. Gorgeous to look at and tasty to eat, don’t be surprised if you find yourself making these in the dog days of summer.
Photo: Sequins at Breakfast
Portobello mushrooms are widely known as meat’s vegetarian understudy. Not only do they make a hearty stand-in for steak in these soft tacos, but they also provide glucose-lowering properties for practically zero cholesterol. Layered with more veggies and topped with a fresh and zesty chimichurri sauce, these tacos are next-level good.
Photo: Amuse Your Bouche
Got a serious hankering for Mexican but no time to hit the store for ingredients? Think outside the shell and turn to this recipe, which calls for items you likely already have on hand. Ground walnuts mixed with cumin and paprika make for an aromatic serving of omega-3s, and the salsa and sour cream toppings are a nod to the traditional taco. Conventional? Hardly. Authentic? Probably not. Delicious, nutritious, and cute enough to serve guests? You bet!
Photo: Ambitious Kitchen
A roundup of taco recipes without an option for breakfast? Inconceivable! Take your standard scrambled eggs to the next level with the addition of heart-healthy smoked salmon and mashed avocado all wrapped up in a striking blue corn tortilla with some fresh dill. In just a few extra steps, you’ve amped up the protein, healthy fat, and taste factor to make for a complete morning meal.
Photo: Jessica Gavin
No matter what the weather is, these tacos will transport you (or your taste buds, at least) to the beach with their generous use of summery ingredients, including Roma tomatoes for lycopene, anti-inflammatory cilantro, and of course the fish providing those all-important omega-3 fatty acids for brain health. For an added boost of protein, try subbing the sour cream for low-fat Greek yogurt, and drizzle ’til your heart’s content.
Photo: A Dash of Megnut
Last minute guests? Home late from work? Before reaching for that delivery menu, consider this recipe. The blogger uses the popular and inexpensive tilapia, but feel free to substitute any other white fish (cod or halibut works great). Spoon on some summer peach salsa for an additional pop of brightness and call it dinner! It’s hard to believe, but aside from a quick dash to the store, half an hour is all you need to throw this gorgeous meal together.
Photo: Chili Pepper Madness
Flaky grilled salmon, often touted as a superfood fish thanks to its low mercury and high fatty-acid content, serves as the base for these non-traditional tacos. The fact that the guacamole gets some life with colorful, antioxidant-rich pomegranate seeds makes this recipe a keeper in our book!
Photo: Home Sweet Jones
These tacos are proof that an impressive and tasty meal doesn’t need to take a toll on your time, wallet, or patience. While there are several spices for the fish, most are likely in your pantry, and even the garnishes are no-frills: A four-ingredient sauce and some fresh avocado slices are all that are needed to dress up the fish and cabbage filling.
Photo: Pinch of Yum
These tacos are definitely not for the faint of heart. Shrimp tossed in a cayenne and cumin seasoning and topped with a garlic-lime sauce pack a flavorful (and spicy) punch! Cool it all down with toppings like avocado, cotija cheese, and fresh cabbage.
Photo: Host the Toast
If you’re looking to beef up regular tacos a bit, look no further than this blogger’s take on steak. Grill it to your preference, then fold it up in soft tortillas with chopped cabbage and fresh salsa. The best part is the gorgeously green chimichurri sauce, the ideal light topping for the meaty filling.
Photo: Shared Appetite
Suffering from weeknight chicken breast fatigue? So are we. Switch up your taco night with this melt-in-your-mouth slow-cooked lamb shoulder. Top it all off with some pickled onions and tequila-soaked raisins and you’ve got yourself a party!
Photo: From Cats to Cooking
When you’re too busy to babysit a skillet, this recipe will come to the rescue. Other than some advanced planning, the prep is super easy: Toss your meat in a Crock-Pot along with a fragrant concoction of spices and lime juice. Pork often gets a bad rap for its high-fat content, so feel free to use a boneless loin roast for a leaner cut that still supplies high-quality protein. Four to six hours later, you’ve got juicy goodness, ready to shred and scoop into tortillas with your favorite garnishes.
Photo: Real Food Whole Life
Whoever thought it was possible to limit tacos to Tuesdays clearly never tried these. Seasoned with cumin and garlic and garnished with a summery peach and basil salsa, these tacos are an absolute must! Health tip: Try to find pastured turkey, which may be higher in anxiety-reducing tryptophan.
Photo: Carlsbad Cravings
When buffalo sauce meets chicken tacos, the results are pretty epic. Rather than using the messy and greasy deep-fry method, this blogger lets the chicken soak up a buffalo marinade and grills the breasts to perfection. Topped with an avocado corn salad and a rich blue cheese and ranch sauce (a little goes a long way!), this is some truly taco truck-worthy stuff.
Photo: As Easy as Apple Pie
There is a reason the classics never die. Loaded with the usual tastes and textures of the time-honored mainstay, these beef tacos are further proof not to mess too much with a good thing. Topped with all things traditional, from shredded cheddar to salsa, this will likely become your go-to recipe for reliable, crowd-pleasing Mexican.
Beans and Lentils
Photo: She Likes Food
These tacos are yet another way to celebrate the current front-runner in the produce-popularity contest, cauliflower. The cancer-fighting, cruciferous veggie is roasted with chickpeas before being enveloped in corn tortillas and topped with a creamy vegan slaw.
Photo: Simple Vegan Blog
Tofu, beans, and corn come together as a satisfying stuffing for these vegan and gluten-free wraps. The homemade sour cream is also made from firm tofu rather than dairy, cutting down significantly on the fat while upping the protein. Scooping the filling into lettuce is a fantastic way to lighten up the meal without missing out on the fun of eating with your hands—no matter your age, that’ll never get old!
Photo: Coffee and Crayons
Here’s a recipe that makes veering off the beaten path look totally doable (and worth it). The simplicity of this recipe is equally as beautiful as the color you get from nutrient-dense butternut squash, black beans, and spinach! Drizzle a bit of chipotle lime cream on top and you’re good to go.
Photo: She Likes Food
If you were afraid the concepts “barbeque” and “vegan” could never belong on a plate together, you may just want to hug us—or this blogger—for bringing you this recipe. Instead of meat, black beans and quinoa get the sweet n’ savory treatment here. Don’t skip the olive oil, either; including some healthy fat helps increase the absorption of lycopene from the tomatoes.
Photo: Vegan Richa
The blue corn tortillas used here are optional, but they make the dish so visually appealing that we highly recommend them! Still, if the lentils and sweet potatoes are starchy enough for you, wrap them into romaine leaves to ease up on the carbs and avoid tipping into overly-full territory. No matter which way you go, the recipe is free of dairy, eggs, soy, nuts, and gluten, making these tacos an allergen-friendly dream come true.
Tofu and Tempeh
Photo: Veggie and the Beast Feast
There’s just so much goodness to love in this vegan taco alternative. Meaty tempeh gets amped up with a crunchy tortilla-chip coating and toppings like purple cabbage and avocado cream add antioxidants and healthy fats to round it all out.
Photo: Compassionate Cuisine
Crispy, crunchy, and creamy, these vegan tacos are a multi-textured treat. Slightly firm tofu soaks in a marinade of cayenne, cumin, and a touch of honey before being sautéed to slightly charred perfection and nestled into corn tortillas. A super simple cabbage and carrot slaw on top adds a pop of color. Drizzle (or drench, it’s up to you!) them with a zippy cashew-lemon sauce, then devour.
Photo: Delish Knowledge
Looking to expand your vegetarian protein repertoire? Offering up vitamin B2 for red blood cell production and digestive benefits thanks to its fermentation, tempeh is a great choice. Mixed with a spicy tomato salsa, the result may look and even taste somewhat like the meaty traditional, but contains considerable less cholesterol. The mango avocado salsa adds a fresh touch to cool down the heat. Making a double batch is highly advised.
Photo: Peach and Plenty
Mexico meets Vietnam in this Southeast Asian twist on tacos, where corn tortillas are stuffed with the classic ingredients of a tofu Banh Mi sandwich. Whether it’s the homemade pickled veggies or the metabolism-boosting kick of the chili sauce, every layer of this fusion recipe promises a healthy benefit—and one heck of an exotic trip for your palate!
If these colors popping off the plate aren’t enough to tempt you, maybe the ridiculously simple ingredients and preparation will do the trick. Tofu is a sponge for the flavors it’s cooked in; in this case, the calcium-rich protein is crumbled into an aromatic concoction of garlic, onions, olive oil, and tomato paste, absorbing all that spicy goodness. Served with your favorite taco fixings, this recipe is that ideal combination of easy-to-make and impressive-to-serve.
Photo: Vegan Dare
You’ll need to scroll down for the English recipe on this blog, but that extra effort will be well worth it. Tofu has no chance of tasting bland here, thanks to a generous sprinkling of garlic powder and peppery cumin—a spice known best for its digestion-stimulating benefits. With avocado spread on the tortilla (try the blogger’s homemade version) as well as sliced on top, it’s double the healthy fat, double the fun.
Photo: A Thought for Food
The long list of ingredients needed here to achieve the “jerk” component may be daunting, but don’t let that distract from what’s a surprisingly straightforward preparation. Tempeh once again plays the leading role, accompanied by a robust supporting cast of spices and topped with a unique mixture of radish and fennel. The result is a deceptively simple production, so easy to make in larger quantities that it’s fit to feed a party of two or 12.
Photo: Today’s Nest
Chocoholics, here’s another recipe to fuel your addiction. Whisking cocoa powder into the batter for the shells gives the mixture a dash of cholesterol-lowering flavanols and that irresistible bittersweet quality. Don’t be intimidated by the homemade “tortillas”—with just a few simple ingredients and a bit of practice, you’ll be churning them out like a pro in no time. Fill ‘em up with your favorite mixed fruit (the classic strawberry-banana pairing works great) and fresh coconut flakes.
Photo: Le Creme de la Crumb
In this refreshingly sweet take on tacos, a homemade crepe-like tortilla encases a fresh fruit mixture. For added decadence, feel free to top with homemade ice cream and drizzle with your favorite caramel or chocolate sauce.
Photo: Little Leopard Book
Apricots are often overlooked when it comes to fruit, but just a single one packs 13 percent of the daily recommendation for vitamin A (important for eye health and the function of several organs)—and only 17 calories. Here, the stone fruit is caramelized and sits atop rich mascarpone cheese inside of tortillas that are warmed in the oven and drizzled with honey. Drooling yet?
Photo: Sugar Dish Me
In this sweetened-up twist, cinnamon-sugar dusted tortillas are baked, then filled with honey, light cream cheese and studded with multicolored cubes of chopped berries, oranges, and pineapple. You can’t go wrong with creamy, sweet, and colorful.
Originally published December 2014. Updated July 2016.
This article was written by Anisha Jhaveri from Greatist and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.