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Vegetarian Tofu “Hamburger” Tacos

Taco-spiced with chili powder, smoked paprika and garlic, these vegetarian tofu “hamburger” tacos look and taste like the traditional ground beef tacos my mom used to make. Except these are made with tofu. The trick is how you treat the tofu to give the filling its crumbly meat-like texture. Read on!

Tacos filled with Tofu “Hamburger”, plated ready to eat with garnishes on background plate

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

How to make tofu “hamburger” filling:

  • The trick: To get the “hamburger” texture, you freeze the tofu right in its package, water and all. Once the tofu has frozen solid, bring the package out to thaw. Drain off the water. Because you changed the texture of the tofu by freezing, it’s now quite sponge-like.
  • You want to squeeze the tofu well, to wring out as much water as possible. Squeeze again—more liquid will release. When you feel like most of water has been wrung out, place the tofu in a bowl. Using your fingers or a fork, break the tofu break into small pieces–crumbles.
  • Cook the crumbles with sauteed onion and garlic, and flavor them with a generous dose of taco spice. Like 1/4 cup of chili powder, further enhanced with cumin, smoked paprika, and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
  • Finally, use a potato masher to get those crumbles into smaller crumbles, until it resembles cooked ground beef. Now your tofu “hamburger” filling is ready for tacos!
seasoned tofu "meat" in skillet ready for Tofu “Hamburger” Tacos

Do you buy tofu and don’t get around to using it until the expiration date? Pop the package in the freezer for tofu hamburger tacos later. When you plan to make these tacos for dinner, bring the frozen package out to thaw that morning. At room temperature it will thaw in about 6 hours.

You just have to remember ahead of time to put the package in the freezer. Tip: *** If you’re like me and decide to make tofu hamburger tacos closer to dinnertime, hurry up the thaw by running the package under warm water.

Engraved in my memory are vignettes of my Mom or Mrs. Hills, my bff’s mother standing at the stove frying tortillas one at a time. While taco production was on, the mothers never sat down.

No more standing at the stove frying tortillas for tacos. No more softening tortillas in 1/4-inch of oil. Here’s how to skip that greasy labor.

How to soften corn tortillas the easy healthier way:

Place the tortillas on a baking sheet and spray both sides lightly with cooking spray. Place the pan of sprayed tortillas in a preheated 350°F oven for about 5 minutes, until the tortillas are hot yet still flexible. Fold each tortilla in half and lean against cups or glasses so they hold their folded shape. I finally bought some of these metal tortilla holders (affiliate link) and now I just place the folded tortillas in them.

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

Put all the add-ins for your traditional tofu “hamburger” tacos on a plate so everyone can help themselves at the table. Offer finely shredded cabbage, or iceberg lettuce like Mom did. Have an array of other condiments like avocado, chopped tomatoes, and green onions and cilantro. If you wish, add a pile of grated white cheddar cheese. Keep these tacos vegan by just skipping the cheese.

Always offer some sort of salsa, purchased or homemade. Check out my easy-to-make salsas, like this Mexican tomato salsa or this green tomatillo salsa verde.

Instead of avocado slices and/or in place of salsa, offer avocado lime crema–you’ll find the recipe included in this recipe for Chard and Pepper Jack Quesadillas.

More vegetarian taco ideas:

Two tacos on plate ready to eat

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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.

This is an update of the Tofu “Hamburger” Tacos recipe originally posted in 2014!

14 comments

  • 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

4.23 from 9 votes (8 ratings without comment)

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