Mexican cuisine offers many flavorful vegetarian options that are perfect for meatless Mondays or anytime you want to skip the meat. With customizable staples like burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and nachos, it’s easy to load up on beans, rice, veggies, cheese, guacamole, and salsa for a satisfying plant-based meal. Here are some of the best vegetarian Mexican dishes to order and tips for customizing your meal.
Bean Burritos and Tacos
Burritos and tacos allow you to pile on the beans, rice, cheeses, veggies, guacamole, and salsa for a hearty vegetarian meal. Opt for black or pinto beans as the protein-packed base. Add rice, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, peppers, avocado, cheese, and other favorite taco fillings. You can’t go wrong with this customizable classic.
Enchiladas make for an indulgent vegetarian main. Order cheese enchiladas which are tortillas stuffed with cheese like cheddar, queso fresco, or feta then doused in enchilada sauce. For extra nutrition, ask for added spinach or mushrooms. Serve with beans and rice or a side salad.
A cheese quesadilla offers a quick and tasty vegetarian option. Flour or corn tortillas are filled with melted cheese like cheddar, Monterey jack, queso fresco or Chihuahua cheese. For more nutrition, add sautéed veggies like peppers, onions, mushrooms or spinach. Quesadillas are conveniently served with sides of guacamole, pico de gallo, rice and beans.
Sizzling vegetarian fajitas allow you to load up on beans, veggies, guacamole, cheese and salsa. Opt for portobello mushroom, roasted veggies or grilled halloumi cheese as the protein replacements. Pair with sautéed peppers, onions, zucchini, broccoli and other favorite veggies. Serve with warm tortillas, guacamole, pico de gallo and beans and rice on the side.
Pile tortilla chips high with beans, cheese, guacamole, salsa and veggies for the ultimate Mexican veggie feast. Nachos make for an easy appetizer to share or can stand alone as a filling entree. Ask for added jalapenos for a spicy kick.
Tostadas make an easy vegetarian meal with crispy tortillas piled with beans, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, avocado, and light sour cream or crema. Swap in your favorite taco toppings. Tostadas hold up all those delicious fillings and give you a satisfying crunch.
Chiles rellenos feature roasted and stuffed Hatch green chili peppers filled with cheese then lightly fried. Get them vegetarian with your choice of cheese like queso fresco, Chihuahua or feta. An indulgent side of Mexican rice complements this flavorful dish.
Tamales make for a hearty vegetarian meal, especially when filled with cheese, potatoes, or spinach. The mixture is wrapped in a masa dough shell then steamed. Vegetarian tamales are served with sides like beans, rice, salad or crema.
No vegetarian Mexican meal is complete without frijoles. Black or pinto beans add protein, fiber and hearty flavor. Get them as a side, in entrees like burritos and enchiladas, or enjoy bean soup and dips like charro beans.
Fluffy Mexican rice is flavorful and filling. Enjoy it alongside any savory vegetarian entree or stuffed into burritos and chimichangas. Ask for cilantro-lime rice for added flavor.
Smooth, creamy guacamole adds nutrition and flavor. Order it as a side or ask for it added to items like tacos, fajitas, nachos, quesadillas and more.
Dip your chips in warm melted cheese queso for an indulgent starter to your meal.loaded with gooey cheese.
Fresh pico de gallo, salsa verde, roasted salsa, tomatillo salsa – the options are endless. Load up your tacos, nachos, tostadas and more with your favorite Mexican salsa.
Aside from chips and guac, enjoy a fresh salad with crisp greens, veggies like jicama and radishes, cotija or feta cheese, pumpkin seeds, and a creamy cilantro dressing. It balances the rest of the meal.
Best Ingredients for Vegetarian
Building a satisfying vegetarian Mexican meal is all about layering textures and flavors. Here are some key ingredients to look for:
Beans like black or pinto are a vegetarian’s best friend when it comes to Mexican food. They pack protein, fiber and hearty flavor. Get them whole, mashed or refried.
Go for melted cheeses like cheddar, queso fresco, queso Chihuahua, and feta. Grated cheeses like cotija also add bonus flavor.
Creamy, smooth avocado is key in guacamole, and as a topping for tacos, tostadas, burritos and more. Opt for hass avocados which have the richest, creamiest texture and flavor.
Fill up on all the fresh veggies! Think sautéed peppers and onions, lettuce, tomato, grilled zucchini or mushrooms, radishes, jicama, roasted chiles, and more.
Warm corn or flour tortillas wrap up all those delicious fillings into perfect tacos and burritos. Fried tortilla chips make the base of nachos. Soft tortillas are essential.
Add heat and smoky flavor with varieties of Mexican hot sauce, from milder options like salsa verde to spicier sauces like Cholula. Tapatio, Valentina, and habanero sauces also bring the spice.
Fresh, zesty cilantro adds a signature flavor to salsas, rice, guacamole, salads and many other components.
Fresh lime juice and zest add citrus flavor. Use on rice, fajitas, guacamole, and margaritas too of course!
Tips for Ordering
Here are some helpful tips for ordering satisfying vegetarian Mexican food:
Check the menu
Scan the menu thoroughly for vegetarian options. Many restaurants will have a designated vegetarian section. Tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos and fajitas are usually easily adapted.
Ask if you can substitute beans, roasted veggies, mushrooms, potatoes or halloumi cheese in place of the meat in dishes. Most restaurants are happy to accommodate.
Build your own
Choose simple dishes like burritos, bowls and tacos where you can add all your desired toppings. This way you control the ingredients.
Ask about preparation
Inquire if beans are cooked with lard or if rice is cooked with chicken stock. Request them to be prepared vegetarian style.
Clearly state you want a “vegetarian” version of a dish to prevent mix-ups. It’s safest to specify veggie instead of vegan or dairy-free which they may be unclear on.
Choose corn tortillas
Corn tortillas are traditionally vegetarian over flour tortillas that may contain lard. Plus, corn offers a tasty gluten-free option.
Request extra sides
Since meat-free entrees can be lower in protein, bulk up on extra sides like beans, rice, salad, guacamole and cheese to make it a hearty meal.
Order some apps
Chips and guacamole, vegetable empanadas, or cheese quesadillas make good starters that provide vegetarian options.
There are endless ways to give Mexican food a vegetarian twist. Use mushrooms or potatoes in place of meat in burritos, stuffed peppers, nachos or chilaquiles. The possibilities are endless.
Satisfying Vegetarian Combo Meals
When dining out, combo plates provide a simple way to enjoy a variety of vegetarian Mexican favorites in one meal. Here are some recommended pairings for tasty vegetarian combos:
|Cheese enchilada, beans and rice, salad
|Bean and cheese burrito, Spanish rice, guacamole
|Spinach quesadilla, black bean soup, mango salad
|Vegetable fajitas, pinto beans, elote corn on the cob
|Portobello mushroom tacos, cilantro lime rice, chipotle slaw
Creative Vegetarian Mexican Appetizers
Mexican restaurants also offer a variety of delicious vegetarian appetizers and starters. Try these creative options:
Crispy chips layered with beans, salsa, guacamole, jalapenos and melted cheese make mouthwatering vegetarian nachos.
Hot melted cheese dip served with warm tortillas and veggies like mushrooms, peppers and zucchini for dipping.
Jalapeno peppers stuffed with a creamy cheese mixture then lightly fried for a spicy pop.
Simple guacamole served with freshly fried corn chips hits the spot. Add pico de gallo for extra flavor.
Warm roasted corn mixed with creamy mayo, queso fresco and chili powder for a classic Mexican street food.
Citrus-marinated mushrooms and hearts of palm stand in for fish in vegetarian ceviche. It’s served with chips.
Handheld pastries like empanadas are easily adapted to vegetarian versions filled with potato, cheese, greens or butternut squash.
Satisfying Vegetarian Sides
In addition to standards like beans, rice and salad, try these unique vegetarian side options:
Rajas con crema
Strips of roasted poblano chiles combined with sweet corn and creamy crema.
Fire-roasted corn on the cob slathered in a tangy, creamy sauce and sprinkled with queso fresco.
Tender cactus paddles sauteed with onions and tomatoes offer a tasty Mexican vegetable.
Sauteed zucchini and corn seasoned with garlic, epazote and Mexican herbs.
Mild chayote squash roasted with garlic, cumin and chili powder for added flavor.
Cool cabbage slaw with crunchy jicama, radishes, cilantro and a Mexican vinaigrette dresses up any plate.
Vegetarian tamales steamed in corn husks make for a hearty, portable side dish perfect for stuffing.
Classic Mexican Vegetarian Soups & Stews
Warm up with hearty vegetarian Mexican soups and stews like:
Black Bean Soup
Hearty black bean soup can be made spicy with peppers and served with avocado, queso fresco and tortilla chips.
Traditional hominy and chili braised stew can be made vegetarian by omitting the pork.
This flavorful tomato-broth based soup is loaded with crispy strips of tortilla, avocado and cheese.
Spice up vegetable albondigas soup with mint, jalapeno and cilantro.
Caldo de Quinoa
Protein-rich quinoa and vegetables like kale and chayote swim in a Mexican herb infused broth.
A rich tomato soup with vegetables, mushrooms, panela cheese and fried tortilla strips.
Vegetarian Mexican Desserts
Finish your meal on a sweet note with traditional Mexican desserts that happen to be vegetarian.
Crispy fried dough dusted in cinnamon sugar makes churros a favorite Mexican dessert. Enjoy with chocolate dipping sauce.
Light puffed pastries served dusted in cinnamon sugar or drizzled with honey.
Silky caramel custard baked in a caramel coated pan for the perfect hint of sweetness.
Creamy rice pudding made with cinnamon and raisins offers classic comforting flavors.
Tres Leches Cake
Sponge cake soaked in three milks – sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream.
Fruit & Chamoy
Fresh mango, pineapple, cucumber and jicama topped with sweet, salty and spicy chamoy sauce.
Vegetarian Mexican cuisine offers incredible diversity with endless options for creative and satisfying meatless meals. Core ingredients like beans, rice, cheese, avocado and vegetables shine thanks to flavorful spices, herbs, chiles and sauces. Classic dishes like enchiladas, tacos, burritos and fajitas can all be adapted deliciously for vegetarians. With so many choices from rich chiles rellenos to colorful ensaladas and comforting sopa tarasca, anyone can enjoy incredible Mexican food. All it takes is an understanding of the key ingredients and simple customizations and substitutions. The possibilities are endless for vegetarians to explore and enjoy the vibrant flavors of Mexico.