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Traditional Tacos with Tofu “Hamburger”

These traditional tacos with tofu “hamburger” are meatless, but the filling looks, feels, and tastes much like the cooked ground beef filling of yesteryear tacos. This chile powder and paprika seasoned “meat” is made with tofu!

Traditional Tacos with Tofu “Hamburger” | Letty's Kitchen plated ready to eat with garnishes on back plate

Click here to PIN Meatless Traditional Tacos with Tofu “Hamburger”!


To get the “hamburger” texture, freeze the tofu, right in the package, water and all. When it is frozen solid, bring it out to thaw. After the tofu thaws, wring it out like a sponge. You just have to remember ahead of time to put the package in the freezer.

Do you ever buy tofu and never get around to cooking with it until the expiration date approaches? I do. So I pop it in the freezer. Bring it out to thaw on the counter in the morning if you’re planning on these tacos for dinner.

When the tofu has thawed, you squeeze it like a sponge to get rid of excess water. Break it up with your hands as you squeeze.

To flavor the tofu “meat”, sauté onions and garlic, then stir in the tofu crumbles and taco seasonings. 

seasoned tofu "meat" in skillet ready for Traditional Tacos with Tofu “Hamburger”

Engraved in my memory are vignettes of my mother or Mrs. Hills, my bff’s mother, standing at the stove in their respective kitchens frying tortillas one at a time. Before handing a soft fried tortilla to us, they would spoon in cooked ground beef.

The kids would all line up, plates in hand, waiting for their tacos. We ate our fill. While taco production was on, the mothers never sat down. Once at the table, we added our cheese, tomatoes and shredded iceberg lettuce. 

These “tofu hamburger” tacos skip the part of frying the tortillas in 1/4-inch of oil to soften them. Here we spray corn tortillas with cooking spray and soften them in the oven. Healthier for sure. The other bonus is you don’t have to stand at the stove, one hand cupping folded paper towels, the other holding tongs, pulling softened tortillas from the oil and shaping and blotting into the paper towels.

veggie taco garnishes on a plate. Cabbage, tomato, avocado, green onions, cilantro and cheese

In lieu of iceberg lettuce, garnish your traditional tacos with “tofu hamburger” with finely shredded cabbage and an array of condiments like avocado, chopped lettuce and green onions. If you wish, put out some grated white cheddar cheese. Don’t forget the salsa, either purchased, or one of my easy-to-make salsas, red or green.

For vegan traditional tacos with tofu hamburger, skip the cheese.

Do you have a childhood food memory that you’ve made healthier? What is it?

More vegetarian taco ideas:

Two tacos on plate ready to eat for Traditional Tacos with Tofu “Hamburger”

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4 from 7 votes
Traditional Tacos with Tofu “Hamburger” | Letty's Kitchen
Traditional Tacos with Tofu “Hamburger”
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
50 mins

These meatless tacos are a fun dinner for family and friends. The "hamburger meat" is made from frozen then thawed tofu cooked with onion, garlic, and taco seasoning.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican, Vegetarian
Keyword: tacos, tofu
Servings: 8 tacos
Calories: 137 kcal
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • Cooking spray or olive oil, as needed
For the filling:
  • 1 (14-ounce) package extra firm organic tofu, frozen solid
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 pinches cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons avocado or grapeseed oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup water or beer
The garnishes:
  • Chopped green cabbage or shredded lettuce
  • Avocado slices
  • Grated Monterey Jack or pepper Jack cheese, optional
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Chopped green onion
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Green or red salsa
Make the filling:
  1. Remove the package of frozen tofu from the freezer. Without breaking the seal, let the package thaw. The fastest way is under running warm water. If you plan ahead, thaw for a day on the kitchen counter or about 3 days in the fridge.
  2. When the tofu has thawed, break the seal and remove the tofu from the water. It will be very sponge-like. Squeeze the tofu well to wring out as much water as possible. Squeeze again—more liquid will release. Place in a bowl. With your fingers or a fork, break into small pieces.
  3. Mix together the chili powder, paprika, garlic salt, black pepper and cayenne. Set aside.
  4. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium flame. Add the onion; cook and stir until the onion is translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another few minutes.
  5. Add the tofu pieces to the onions and garlic. Stir in the spice mixture. Cook, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes, until the spiced tofu is cooked through. Reduce the heat to low flame. Using a potato masher or a fork, mash the tofu and onions until the mixture looks like hamburger meat. Mix in the water or beer and mash another minute. Keep warm.

To serve:
  1. Place the cabbage, avocado, cheese, tomatoes and green onion in separate bowls. Or all next to each other on one big plate. Estimate a small amount for each taco. (E.g. 2 tablespoons cabbage, 1 slice avocado, 1 to 2 tablespoons cheese, 1 tablespoon tomatoes, and a bit of green onion and cilantro per taco.)
  2. Heat the oven to 350° F. Arrange the tortillas on baking sheets, next to each other but not overlapping. Spray each tortilla with cooking spray. Turn them over and spray the second side. Alternatively, brush both sides lightly with olive oil.
  3. Heat the tortillas in the oven, 3 to 4 minutes, until they are pliable and warm. (Be careful to not let them get crisp—you want to be able to fold them.) Fold the tortillas in half to make taco shells. Let them heat in the oven another minute.
  4. Spoon about 1/3 cup of the tofu “meat” in each taco shell and arrange on plate.
  5. Allow each person to garnish their taco with their choice of condiments and salsa.
Recipe Notes

Baked tofu that has been frozen and then thawed before cooking has an incredibly meaty texture. Freeze the tofu in its package. Pull from the freezer, allow to thaw, then wrap the thawed tofu in a tea towel. Place a weight on top and set aside to squeeze out some of the water. The pressed tofu will look like a sponge.
The filling can be cooked the day before. The garnishes prepped earlier in the day. Soften tortillas in the oven a few minutes before serving.

Nutrition information is meant to be an estimate only and does not include cheese or the cooking spray used to soften the tortillas. Of course numbers will vary based on the quantity consumed, brands used and substitutions that are made.

Nutrition Facts
Traditional Tacos with Tofu “Hamburger”
Amount Per Serving
Calories 137 Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Fat 6g9%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 160mg7%
Potassium 73mg2%
Carbohydrates 14g5%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 6g12%
Vitamin A 166IU3%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 86mg9%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


  • They look delicious! What a brilliant idea. Reply · 22 April, 2014

    • Letty

      Thanks Kalyn! Reply · 22 April, 2014

  • laurie

    I’m grateful for YOU! Reply · 23 April, 2014

    • Letty

      ¡Egualmente! Grateful for longtime girlfriends. Thanks for the comment. Reply · 23 April, 2014

  • Charlotte

    Hi Letty, please post a recipe for the corn tortillas.We live in a small town in N.Z and don’t have tortillas available. Love your blogs and recipes. Thanks Reply · 23 April, 2014

    • Letty

      I am thinking you do not have access to masa harina either. That’s a finely ground corn flour, finer than corn meal. The ratio is 2 cups masa harina to about 1 1/2 cups water. Mix and knead. Roll out walnut size balls. Bake in cast iron pan stovetop–about 90 seconds–45 on each side. This recipe helps. You can order masa harina via Amazon. Let me know how it goes. Reply · 23 April, 2014

  • I am so inspired by your pictures communicating with my eyes and your flavors communicating with my taste receptors! Thanks, Letty! Reply · 23 April, 2014

    • Letty

      Thanks Karen. Reply · 23 April, 2014

  • Dennis Halloran

    I’m thankful for family and all four of my Sisters. Bea Morales became a good friend of Mom’s when we all( First 5) went to St Joes . She taught Mom all her mexican Dishes from their restaurant in Santa Ana. I think we have GMO corn farmers in our family so we should hear from them.
    I taught my kids how to make Tacos that way and to this day Wichita knows Tacos. I skip the fried in oil part and just heat the tortillas on the open flame and flip them with tongs
    Your Photo skills are great by the way
    Bro Reply · 24 April, 2014

    • Letty

      Thanks Denny! Try my oven method of heating the tortillas–closer but definitely not as calorific as Bea Morales and Mom’s. Reply · 24 April, 2014

  • Ricardo

    Looking like some yummy tacos, but I’m not sure they have tofu at Chapitos! Reply · 24 April, 2014

    • Letty

      Tofu in Chapitos over by the cheese. Reply · 24 April, 2014

  • Ian

    Just made a batch with some avocado and pickled red onions I had laying around – super easy and well worth it! Mine came out a little on the spicy side, but that’s just how I like em 🙂 Reply · 8 February, 2018

    • Thank you Ian. So happy to learn you enjoyed this recipe. It’s one of my favorites! Reply · 9 February, 2018

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