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Get ready to enjoy some carne asada tacos made without the meat! This vegan version of the classic Mexican recipe is spot on to what I remember it to taste like growing up. It’s full of flavor, easy to make, and packed with plant protein!
Carne asada tacos, made all vegan!? Yes, you heard that right, and you definitely should be excited.
Growing up in Southern California and having many family and friends from Mexico, carne asada was a big part of our parties growing up. It is something that I have missed since going vegan, and it’s something that I’ve always wanted to learn how to make for the blog!
Also, we do want to note that we do not want to call this recipe authentic as we included a few additional ingredients that it may not typically have; this is our spin on this classic recipe.
It was easy to satisfy those cravings with pop-ups like Cena Vegan and Vegatinos in the LA area, but after Chris and I moved to the Portland area last year, we couldn’t find anything that compared, and we decided it was time to get cookin’.
Ingredients You’ll Need for This Recipe
- Soy Curls: We decided to use soy curls as the vegan mean substitute in this recipe. We also tested this recipe with ready-made seitan, and it didn’t perform as well as the soy curls, so we recommend the former over the latter.
- Vegan “Beef Broth”: We like to use this one.
- Cilantro: Used for both marinating the soy curls and for serving.
- Oranges: Both fresh orange juice + the rinds are used in the marinade.
- Aromatics: Red onion and garlic cloves are used to flavor the soy curls.
- Limes: Used for both marinating the soy curls and for serving.
- Tamari: Tastes a lot like soy sauce, but it is free of gluten, tastes slightly less salty, and is more balanced in flavor. Feel free to use soy sauce in its place if that’s what you have on hand.
- Vinegar: We used apple cider vinegar but white vinegar works as well.
- Spices: We seasoned our vegan carne asada with cumin, chili powder, and black pepper.
- Jalapeños: Optional but recommended if you want a kick of spice!
- Oil: Olive oil or avocado oil for cooking.
- Tortillas: We prefer corn tortillas, but any variety of your choice will work!
- Toppings: We like to top our carne asada tacos with white onion, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice.
Heat the vegan beef broth in a pot over medium heat and bring it to a boil. Once it is boiling, remove it from heat. Place the soy curls into a large bowl or dish and pour the vegan beef broth over the soy curls. Using a spatula, mix the soy curls and press them down into the broth to ensure they get hydrated.
Allow the soy curls to sit for 10 minutes. We transferred the soy curls to a large resealable bag after hydrating them, but it is not necessary; you can keep them in a bowl or dish if needed. Add the remaining ingredients except for the oil and mix until well combined.
Seal the bag or cover the bowl/dish with a lid and place it into the fridge to marinate overnight, or about 8 hours. If you are in a hurry, you can remove it after 2 hours, but overnight yields the best result!
Grab a large cast-iron skillet (or a large skillet of your choice) and set it over medium heat with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Using tongs, slowly remove the curls from the bag and into the pan, trying your best not to transfer the onions into the pan and leave them in the bag.
Add 1/2 cup of the marinade juice from the bag into the pan at a time and add more once the liquid cooks off. Continue until you have used up all of the marinade and cook until the carne asada has browned. If you would like, you can transfer the carne asada to a grill pan and finish it up there with nice grill marks. It is not necessary, but it does make them look nice!
Set the carne asada aside and allow it to cool. Once it has cooled, transfer it to a cutting board and chop it into bite-sized pieces.
Assemble the tacos as you desire. We like ours in a charred tortilla with onions, cilantro, and fresh lime juice.
Looking for More Taco Recipes?
- Vegan Black Bean Tacos
- Lentil & Walnut Taco Meat
- Sheet Pan Tofu Taco Meat (Gluten-Free)
- Crispy Fiesta Potatoes (Taco Bell Copycat)
- Mushroom Walnut Vegan Taco Meat (Gluten-Free)
Nutrition facts label provided by Nutri Fox.
Disclaimer: The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional’s advice. In addition, this page may contain affiliate links, which means that we earn a commission if you purchase through those links, but your price remains the same. Thank you for supporting Sweet Simple Vegan!