Paleo Vegan “Meaty” Taco Skillet

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This Paleo Vegan “Meaty” Taco Skillet is a quick, easy, one-pot dinner your whole family will love – without carb loaded meat alternatives or weird ingredients. 

skillet with sauteed vegetables, eggplant, zucchini, tomato, and chickpeas
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Easy Vegan Meaty Taco Skillet

If you’re trying to stick to a keto diet, and trying to go vegan, there aren’t a ton of food choices that are easy to prepare especially for a large group of people – that are full of the flavors families know and love.

This deliciously easy keto vegan taco skillet tastes just like my insanely popular Cheesy Taco Skillet recipe, but with NO meat, and is full of protein and taco flavors without sugar and carb-filled meat alternatives.

This Meaty Vegan Taco Skillet recipe is one of my favorite all time vegan recipes, because it uses only natural whole foods (no processed foods here!) and doesn’t use soy meat replacements or other weird ingredients in place of meat to keep it vegan friendly. This keto vegan taco skillet also contains no beans to cut starch levels – and while it tastes absolutely amazing with beans, it has great taco flavor without them, so you don’t have to worry about extra starch in your taco skillets.

skillet with sauteed vegetables, eggplant, zucchini, tomato, and chickpeas

How to Make Vegan Taco Skillet

First assemble the following ingredients:

  • Olive oil (2 tbsp) – Olive oil provides a healthy cooking medium that adds a subtle, fruity richness to the base of the vegan taco skillet.
  • Bell pepper (1) – Bell pepper introduces a sweet and slightly crisp element, adding vibrant color and a fresh flavor to the mix.
  • Eggplant (1) – Eggplant lends a meaty texture and a mild, slightly smoky taste that absorbs the surrounding flavors beautifully.
  • Zucchini (1) – Zucchini contributes a light, slightly sweet note and a tender texture, balancing the heartier ingredients in the skillet.
  • Walnuts (1/2 cup) – Walnuts offer a unique crunch and a nutty depth, enhancing the skillet’s overall texture and providing essential omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Diced tomatoes with green chilis (8 oz) – Diced tomatoes with green chiles infuse the dish with a juicy tanginess and a gentle kick of heat, adding complexity to the flavor profile.
  • Taco seasoning (2 tbsp) – Taco seasoning envelops the ingredients in a bold and aromatic blend of spices, bringing the quintessential taco flavors to the forefront.
  • Water (1/4 cup) – Water helps to evenly distribute the taco seasoning and allows the ingredients to simmer together, melding the flavors into a cohesive and delicious whole.

Use this Method

Sautee Veg. In a large pan, heat grapeseed oil until shimmery. Add bell pepper, and cook on medium high heat until slightly browned- about 4 minutes. Add eggplant and zucchini, cook until reduced by half- about 10 minutes.

Add Nuts and Season. Add walnuts, diced tomatoes, stir well and stir in taco seasoning with water.

Simmer. Stir well to mix and be sure seasoning evenly coats mixture. Let water cook off – about 10 minutes.

skillet with sauteed vegetables, eggplant, zucchini, tomato, and chickpeas

Tips and Tricks for Meaty Vegan Taco Skillet

Choose a Variety of Vegetables: Incorporate a colorful array of vegetables like bell peppers, onions, zucchini, corn, and tomatoes to add different flavors and textures to your skillet.

Use a Good Meat Substitute: Consider using lentils, quinoa, black beans, or a store-bought vegan meat substitute as the base for your taco filling to mimic the texture and protein content of traditional taco meat.

Season Well: Amp up the flavor with a generous amount of taco seasoning, either homemade or store-bought. Don’t be afraid to adjust the spices to suit your taste preferences.

Add Fresh Herbs and Spices: Incorporate fresh cilantro, lime juice, and minced garlic for a burst of freshness that will elevate the dish.

Incorporate Healthy Fats: Avocado slices or a dollop of guacamole can add creaminess and healthy fats, making the dish more satisfying.

Don’t Forget the Crunch: Top your skillet with crushed tortilla chips, toasted pumpkin seeds, or sliced radishes for added texture.

Use a Cast Iron Skillet: Cooking in a cast iron skillet can enhance the flavors and provide even heat distribution, ensuring your vegetables are perfectly cooked.

Sauté to Perfection: Start by sautéing your aromatics and hardest vegetables first, gradually adding softer vegetables to ensure everything is perfectly tender without becoming mushy.

Deglaze with Flavor: If bits of food stick to the bottom of the skillet, deglaze with a splash of vegetable broth or lime juice to incorporate those flavors back into the dish.

Get Cheesy: Sprinkle vegan cheese over the top of your skillet in the last few minutes of cooking or once you’ve taken it off the heat to allow the residual warmth to melt the cheese slightly.

Add a Sauce or Salsa: A drizzle of vegan sour cream, cashew cream, or your favorite salsa can add moisture and an extra layer of flavor to the dish.

Experiment with Grains: For a heartier skillet, mix in cooked rice, quinoa, or bulgur to absorb the flavors and add substance.

Garnish Galore: Don’t skimp on the garnishes. Fresh diced tomatoes, chopped green onions, and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro can make the dish pop with color and flavor.

Let It Simmer: Allow your skillet to simmer for a few minutes after adding all your ingredients to let the flavors meld together beautifully.

Serve with Lime Wedges: Offering lime wedges on the side allows everyone to add an extra zing to their portion according to their taste.

skillet with sauteed vegetables, eggplant, zucchini, tomato, and chickpeas

FAQs

Can I use frozen vegetables in my vegan taco skillet?

Yes, frozen vegetables can be used and work particularly well for items like corn and peas. Just add them directly to the skillet without thawing to avoid excess moisture.

How can I make my taco skillet spicier or milder?

Adjust the spiciness by controlling the amount of chili powder, jalapeños, or spicy salsa you add. For a milder version, reduce or omit these ingredients and consider using a sweet bell pepper instead of hot peppers.

What’s the best way to serve a vegan taco skillet?

You can serve it directly from the skillet for a casual, family-style meal, accompanied by sides like tortillas, rice, or salad. Alternatively, use it as a filling for tacos or burritos.

How do I store leftovers and how long will they keep?

Store leftover vegan taco skillet in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove with a splash of water to keep it moist.

Is it possible to freeze the vegan taco skillet mixture?

Yes, the vegan taco skillet mixture freezes well. Cool it completely, then store in freezer-safe containers or bags for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat on the stove or in the microwave.

How can I add more protein to my vegan taco skillet?

Increase the protein content by adding more beans, lentils, quinoa, or a vegan meat substitute. Chopped nuts or seeds like walnuts or pumpkin seeds can also add protein and a crunchy texture.

Can I add grains to the skillet?

Yes, grains like rice, quinoa, or bulgur can be added to make the skillet heartier. If they’re uncooked, ensure there’s enough liquid in the skillet and adjust the cooking time accordingly.

What can I do if my skillet is too dry?

If the mixture seems too dry during cooking, add a splash of vegetable broth or water to reach your desired consistency, stirring well to incorporate.

Can I make my vegan taco skillet soy-free?

Yes, ensure that your vegan meat substitute does not contain soy and use soy-free sauces and seasonings. Options like lentils, beans, and quinoa are naturally soy-free and make great bases.

mushrooms being sauteed in a pan

What to Enjoy with Vegan Taco Skillet

Enjoying a vegan taco skillet can be a delightful culinary experience, especially when paired with complementary sides and accompaniments that enhance its flavors and textures. Here’s a list of items to enjoy with your vegan taco skillet:

Warm Tortillas: Serve your skillet with a side of warm corn or flour tortillas for making easy taco wraps or simply for scooping up the delicious filling.

Cilantro Lime Rice: A side of fragrant cilantro lime rice can add a fresh and zesty flavor, making it a perfect base or side for your skillet.

Guacamole: A creamy guacamole made from ripe avocados, lime juice, and cilantro complements the spiciness of the taco skillet and adds a rich texture.

Fresh Salsa or Pico de Gallo: A vibrant, fresh salsa or pico de gallo can add a juicy and refreshing contrast to the hearty skillet.

Vegan Sour Cream: A dollop of vegan sour cream can provide a cooling effect and creamy texture, balancing the spices in the taco skillet.

Chopped Salad: A simple chopped salad with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and a lime vinaigrette can offer a crisp and light side that balances the richness of the skillet.

Grilled Vegetables: A side of grilled vegetables such as asparagus, zucchini, or bell peppers can complement the skillet’s flavors with their smoky char.

Black Bean Salad: A tangy black bean salad with corn, red onion, cilantro, and a lime dressing can serve as a refreshing and protein-rich side dish.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes: Cubed sweet potatoes roasted with chili powder and cumin can add a sweet and spicy element that pairs well with the skillet.

Corn on the Cob: Grilled or boiled corn on the cob, seasoned with lime and chili powder, can offer a sweet and crunchy side that’s easy to enjoy.

Nachos: Serve the taco skillet over a bed of crispy tortilla chips for an instant nacho transformation, adding layers of texture and flavor.

Quinoa Salad: A light and fluffy quinoa salad with diced vegetables and a citrus dressing can provide a nutritious and satisfying accompaniment.

Refried Beans: A side of creamy refried beans, either homemade or store-bought, can add depth and a comforting texture to your meal.

Jalapeño Cornbread: Spicy jalapeño cornbread can add a Southern twist, offering a sweet and spicy flavor that complements the skillet.

Margaritas or Limeade: Wash down your vegan taco skillet with a refreshing margarita (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) or a glass of homemade limeade to enhance the overall dining experience.

Try these vegan recipes next:

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skillet with sauteed vegetables, eggplant, zucchini, tomato, and chickpeas

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A spoonful of low carb vegetable stew in a pan.

Paleo Vegan "Meaty" Taco Skillet

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 24 minutes
Total Time: 29 minutes

Rich, meaty, taco skillet flavor and tons of protein make this Vegan Taco Skillet a crowd pleasing winner! Soy, dairy, gluten free - whole 30 and paleo diet friendly.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, any color, diced
  • 1 eggplant, skin on, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, diced very fine
  • 8 oz diced tomatoes with green chilis
  • 2 tbsp taco seasoning
  • 1/4 cup water

Instructions

  1. In a large pan, heat grapeseed oil until shimmery.
  2. Add bell pepper, and cook on medium high heat until slightly browned- about 4 minutes.
  3. Add eggplant and zucchini, cook until reduced by half- about 10 minutes.
  4. Add walnuts, diced tomatoes, stir well and stir in taco seasoning with water.
  5. Stir well to mix and be sure seasoning evenly coats mixture.
  6. Let water cook off - about 10 minutes.
Nutrition Information
Yield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 232Total Fat 16gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 13gCholesterol 0mgSodium 540mgCarbohydrates 22gFiber 6gSugar 7gProtein 5g

Nutrition is automatically calculated by Nutritionix - please verify all nutrition information independently and consult with a doctor or nutritionist for any and all medical and diet advice.

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About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style at lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs. Sweet C's devoted to finding the best food and drinks you'll want to make or find, around the world!

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10 Comments

  1. Just googling for meatless Paleo recipes for the Apostles’ Fast and happened upon this recipe– and then you mentioned you are Orthodox too! How cool ?

    1. I am! I haven’t been posting a ton of meatless recipes this year just because they aren’t as popular – but I am going to bee posting a bunch for Lent!

  2. I have been scouring the internet for good recipes. This was absolutely amazing! My husband said “wow, this is really good” probably 5 different times!

  3. Wow! I just wanted to say this turned out way better than I anticipated. I added some mushrooms and onions in place of eggplant and zucchini, and then some black beans and avocado towards the end. It was delicious and tasted as good if not better than standard taco meat stir fry! Gracias gracias.

    1. I don’t always love substitute “meats” – but this recipe always fills me up and is so easy! Glad you love it too!

  4. I like the simplicity of the recipe. I would recommend adding some chopped onion and minced garlic to the mix for a robust flavor.

  5. Just googling for meatless Paleo recipes for the Apostles’ Fast and happened upon this recipe– and then you mentioned you are Orthodox too! How cool 🙂 I don’t find many gf-paleo-Orthodox food bloggers when I’m not looking for them. Looking forward to poking around your blog some more!