High-Protein Vegan Taco Pasta


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(Note: this post was originally published on March 25, 2021. It has since been updated with a few tweaks.)

What is Taco Pasta?

You may be wondering what this crazy fusion creation is. Taco pasta is the best of both worlds: taco ingredients and flavors but in a pasta dish. It's fun, unexpected, and easy to make. The flavors are Mexican-inspired (chili powder, cumin, black beans, charred veggies, spicy peppers, avocado, cilantro) but in an Italian format.

Unfortunately, many taco pasta recipes are loaded with heavy ingredients like refined grains, ground beef, and tons of cheese. My vegan taco pasta omits the traditional heaviness and instead uses nutrient-dense bean-based pasta, black beans, a rainbow of veggies, flavorful spices, and whatever taco garnishes you enjoy.

This is a dish that I find myself making again and again because I love the flavors and it's easier than making tacos. I can't wait for you to try this re-imagined healthy taco pasta!

Heatlhy taco pasta with Mexican flavors and vegetables

How to Make Healthy Taco Pasta

Many of the taco pasta recipes I saw around the web seemed heavy and really focused on animal products. This version is much fresher and lighter, is entirely plant-based, and is loaded with good protein. There are a few key swaps I've done to make this vegan taco pasta a nutritional winner.

First, instead of traditional pasta, I suggest making this recipe with a bean-based pasta. There are so many great options available now that are just as delicious as regular pasta. Red lentil, green lentil, and chickpea pastas will all work great in this recipe and they're all much higher in protein and fiber. Of course you can use traditional pasta if you prefer, but I enjoy this vegan protein pasta dish most with a short, fun, twisty cut of bean-based pasta. To add even more protein and celebrate the taco theme, you'll also incorporate black beans.

Second, this healthy taco pasta is loaded with fresh veggies. You'll start with caramelized red onion, add delicately spicy poblano peppers, then add a bunch of other colorful veggies including cabbage, corn, and bell peppers. You can also garnish the dish with additional fresh produce like avocado and cilantro. There are so many nourishing plants in this dish!

Healthy and vegan taco pasta topped with avocado, cilantro, and pepitas

Taco Pasta Variations

There are so many ways you can change up this taco-inspired vegan protein pasta recipe to suit your own tastes. Feel free to mix and match the veggies, stir in a some hearty greens like kale at the end, or even add another flavor powerhouse like finely chopped veggie chorizo. I've shown relatively simple garnishes (avocado, cilantro, and pepitas) but you can load this dish up with any and all toppings you like to put on tacos.

A Saucy Version

As written, this recipe is for a relatively simple pasta tossed with veggies and spices; it's not really "saucy". It you prefer a saucier dish, this vegan taco pasta is easily adapted. Just stir in about a cup of crushed or diced tomatoes at the same time that you add the veggies and spices (step 6 in the directions). Allow the sauce to simmer in the skillet for 10-15 minutes, especially if you've used canned tomatoes, before adding the pasta. This will work especially well if you can find fire-roasted diced tomatoes.

Make-Ahead Tips

This vegan taco pasta is a great option for make-ahead applications and healthy meal prep because all of the ingredients are hearty. You can make the entire dish ahead of time and store it in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for up to a few days. When you're ready to enjoy the leftovers or your meal prep portions, you can either reheat the pasta or have it cold like a pasta salad; the latter option works great for a BBQ, potluck, or even a picnic. Just make sure to add the garnishes right before serving.

Close-up of high-protein vegan taco pasta made with bean-based pasta and black beans

Ingredients and Substitutions

Here's what you'll need for this vegan protein pasta recipe, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.

  • Bean-based pasta. Green lentil, red lentil, and chickpea pasta all provide great protein, although you could use traditional wheat-based pasta if you prefer. I think this healthy taco pasta works best with a fun, twisty shape like rotini.
  • Oil of choice for cooking
  • Red onion
  • Salt and pepper
  • Poblano peppers. Poblanos have a very subtle heat. Feel free to sub in green bell peppers if you want no heat at all or add a couple jalapenos if you really like heat.
  • Red cabbage
  • Red bell pepper
  • Corn. Either frozen or canned is fine. If you happen to be making this recipe during the summer when corn is in-season, you can also use fresh kernels cut off the cob; in that case, add the corn at the same time as the cabbage and bell pepper.
  • Black beans
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin
  • Lime juice
  • Garnishes of choice. I've shown fresh cilantro, avocado, and pepitas, but you can use whatever taco toppings you like. Other great options would be a sprinkle of cheese, a few dollops of sour cream, pickled jalapenos, or hot sauce. This vegan protein pasta is a blank canvas for all your taco favorites!

Colorful, healthy taco pasta made with lots of vegetables

Closing Thoughts

Well, have I convinced you to try this vegan taco pasta? Having these Mexican-inspired flavors in an Italian format is so fresh and fun. It has all the best taco ingredients and flavors, but in a package that's heartier and easier than tacos. For all those reasons, this is a recipe that I come back to at least once a month and often more frequently.

This is one of those dishes that can become whatever you want it to be. A pasta salad for a summer picnic? A cozy winter comfort food dish? A quick, portable meal-prep option for busy evenings or lunches? With so many options, you can really make this healthy taco pasta work for your diet, lifestyle, and time of year.

Vegan protein pasta recipe with Mexican flavors, topped with avocado

Share It!

It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.

Suggested Pairings

Ginger Margarita

Caramelized Onion Guacamole

Healthy Mexican Street Corn Stuffed Peppers

Spicy Skillet Orange Jalapeno Brussels Sprouts

Rainbow Vegan Citrusy Slaw (see the Mexican-inspired variation)

High-Protein Vegan Taco Pasta

This vegan taco pasta is loaded with plant-based protein and all your favorite taco flavors. It's easy, fast, and makes for a great healthy comfort food dinner, especially when finished with all the best taco toppings.



  • 12-oz box of bean-based pasta
  • Oil of choice for cooking
  • Medium-sized red onion
  • Generous salt and pepper
  • Two poblano peppers
  • Small wedge of red cabbage
  • Red bell pepper
  • 2 c corn kernels
  • 15-oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Juice of a lime
  • Garnishes of choice such as fresh cilantro, avocado, and pepitas


  1. Start heating a large pot of water for the pasta.
  2. Dice the red onion. In a very large skillet with your cooking oil of choice, saute the onion with generous salt and pepper.
  3. Meanwhile, dice the poblano peppers. When the onion is just barely beginning to caramelize, add the poblanos to the skillet and cook for a few more minutes.
  4. Dice the red cabbage and red bell pepper. Add them to the skillet and cook for another five minutes.
  5. Cook the pasta according to the box directions.
  6. Once the red cabbage and red bell pepper are tender but not soft, add the corn, black beans, and spices to the skillet. Cook it all in the dry skillet for a minute or two to toast the spices, then decrease the heat and add a small splash of water. Let everything simmer for five more minutes until the liquid has evaporated.
  7. Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet, add the lime juice, and toss until evenly combined. If your skillet isn't big enough to combine the pasta and veggies, you can transfer everything to a large mixing bowl.
  8. Transfer the finished pasta to a serving dish and add the fresh garnishes on the top, or serve them on the side for adding to individual portions.

Leave a Comment

Please Share Your Thoughts!

Did you make this recipe? Did you make substitutions? How did you serve it? Any helpful tips? Please share your thoughts, since these insights are really useful to both me and to other readers.

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August 31, 2022
What fun. My kids love taco night but don't love beans. This seems like a good way to sneak some beans in, they'll never know if I use chick pea pasta.
April 9, 2021
This was a fun dinner, full of flavor. We added some crushed tomatoes.