The easiest healthy Butternut Squash Tacos with spicy butternut squash, black beans, cilantro, and queso fresco. Ready in less than 30 minutes and no one will miss the meat!
These easy Butternut Squash Tacos are a great pantry meal using fresh or frozen butternut squash and canned black beans. Make them in less than 30 minutes for delicious vegetarian tacos everyone will love.
So you may or not have guessed already that tacos are definitely one of my favorite foods. In fact, it's my opinion that they should be an entire food group!
All that aside, this past weekend I had a vegetarian friend coming into town and it just happened to be Taco Tuesday! So some veggie tacos were the obvious choice. Normally I make these Sweet Potato Tacos for a plant-based taco night, but since I was out of sweet potatoes I decided to switch things up and use butternut squash.
And let me tell you, these are just so good! The roasted butternut squash is sweet and slightly spicy from the seasoning. The squash caramelizes on the edges and pairs great with the earthy black beans. Yum!
Ingredients and Substitutions
Here is everything you need to make this vegetarian taco recipe. Plus some easy swaps in case you don't have everything on hand.
- Butternut squash: This recipe can be made with fresh butternut squash or you can swap in frozen squash. It will also work with sweet potatoes, acorn squash, delicata squash, or any other winter squash you enjoy. Always peel the butternut squash.
- Black beans: Use any type of bean you like for these tacos including black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, white beans, or chickpeas. Leave out the beans if they aren't your favorite or simply add a dollop of refried beans to each taco.
- Spices: This homemade spice blend use cumin, cinnamon, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Swap in taco seasoning or blackening seasoning. You could also just use kosher salt and pepper.
- Corn tortillas: Corn tortillas are more nutritious than white flour tortillas so normally I reach for those. The sweetness of the corn also pairs nicely with the butternut squash. Swap in any tortilla you like or use lettuce wraps for something lighter.
- Toppings: These are served with fresh cilantro and queso fresco. Make them vegan by leaving out the cheese. Swap in feta cheese if you can't queso fresco or queso cotija. Consider adding some pickled onions, salsa, pumpkin seeds, or creamy coleslaw.
Shortcut ideas: The hardest part of this recipe is peeling and chopping the butternut squash. Save time by using packaged cubed butternut squash or frozen cubed squash. Use taco seasoning for a faster spice rub and grab store-bought salsa.
How to Make Butternut Squash Tacos
Making these is as easy as making tacos with meat.
- Peel and chop the butternut squash: Start by cutting off the end of the squash using a sharp knife. Then use a sharp vegetable peeler to remove the skin. If this process is particularly difficult, you can pierce the squash with a fork and microwave it for 2.5-3.5 minutes to soften the skin slightly. Then cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Chop it into bite-sized pieces. Remember, the smaller you cut the squash, the quicker it will cook. Then toss the squash with the spices.
- Roast or saute the squash: Add olive oil to a large saute pan and cook the squash, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes or until it's cooked through and tender. Ttest with a fork if you're not sure. If the squash burns at all, add a splash of water to the pan. Heat up the black beans in a saucepan or microwave while the squash is cooking. You can also add them right to the skillet and simply warm them through once the squash is cooked. To roast, make sure to toss with olive oil. Then spread them out on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast at 425 degrees for 25-35 minutes.
- Assemble the tacos: Heat up the tortillas by toasting over an open flame (if you have a gas stove), or toasting in the oven for a minute. Add the squash and beans and your favorite toppings. I like queso fresco and cilantro, but I'll discuss other toppings that will go great with these vegetarian tacos, below.
Butternut Squash Taco Toppings
Tacos are great for piling on the toppings! They just beg to be stuffed with all the goods. These Butternut Squash and Black Bean Tacos are no different! Sometimes I make them simply to let the squash and bean flavors shine through, other times I pile them high with some of my favorite ingredients like:
- Fresh cilantro
- Pickled red onions
- Pickled (or fresh) jalapenos
- Queso fresco, queso cotija, or shredded cheese
- Corn salsa
- Shredded lettuce, cabbage, or slaw
- Diced tomatoes or pico de gallo
- Guacamole or diced avocado
- Sour cream or Greek yogurt
- Crunchy seeds like pepitas
- Creamy chipotle sauce, jalapeno ranch, or ranchero sauce
- Fresh lime juice
Side Dish Ideas
As much as I love piling my tacos high, I also love all the sides that go with tacos too. Make these to serve with your tacos, or use some of these sides as toppings. When you make tacos, I think anything goes!
- Mexican Cauliflower Rice is a great vegetarian and low-carb option for a side that is as delicious as it is nutritious!
- A simple side salad with mixed greens and your favorite toppings is an easy way to add more veggies on the side with your tacos.
- Slow Cooker Pinto Beans are an easy way to make a side that cooks while you are busy making these tacos. Use these beans instead of the black beans if you prefer.
- Try a side of brown rice with a little bit of cumin, lime juice, queso fresco, and cilantro stirred in it. You won't be disappointed!
- A Healthy Mexican Street Corn Salad is another yummy side to serve with these squash and bean tacos.
Are these squash tacos spicy?
The only spicy component in these tacos is the chili powder, which tends to be mild. If you want them to have more kick, then you will need to add some more spice. Consider adding red pepper flakes, ancho chili powder, cayenne pepper, or a diced chipotle pepper in adobo.
Another way to add spice is with toppings. Drizzle the butternut squash with your favorite hot sauce. Top the tacos with sliced serrano peppers. Use a spicy red or green salsa for serving.
How to Cut Butternut Squash
Cutting up the butternut squash is the worst part of this entire process, but I promise it's so worth it! I have found that cutting it in the following way works best.
- Wash and pat dry the squash.
- Cut off the top and bottom, then cut the squash in half.
- Peel both halves with a sturdy and sharp peeler. If the squash is particularly hard to peel, pierce it all over with a fork. Then microwave for 2.5-3.5 minutes to soften the skin.
- Cut the halves in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
- Cut the remaining squash into quarter-inch pieces.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most common questions about making these butternut squash tacos.
To make a vegan version of these butternut squash and black beans tacos, simply leave off the queso fresco. They still have plenty of flavor without the cheese!
These tacos can easily become a bowl by serving the roasted butternut squash, black beans, and toppings on a bed of rice, quinoa, or greens. Add some extra toppings like diced tomatoes, bell peppers, and Romaine lettuce to make it feel more like a taco bowl.
Butternut Squash Tacos
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- 1 butternut squash
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp ground pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp coriander
- 14 oz. canned black beans, drained and rinsed
- 8 corn tortillas
- 4 tbsp chopped cilantro
- 4 tbsp queso fresco
- cooking spray
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Option 1: Add the olive oil to a large saute pan and saute for about ten minutes until cooked through and tender, stirring frequently. If they begin to burn or aren't softening, add a few tablespoons of water to the pan. Add the beans to the skillet and continue to cook until heated through. Option 2: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss the squash with olive oil and spices. Place in a single layer on a sheet pan. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until fork tender. While the squash is cooking, heat up the black beans in a saucepan or in the microwave.
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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