Carne asada refers to beef steak strips marinated in citrus juices and grilled or in another way cooked over high heat. This recipe for vegan carne asada tacos replaces the meat with steak-style plant protein. It’s equally good made with seitan.
I’ve made these tacos with both plant-based steak and seitan, both to great success. They’re a satisfying alternative to the more common plant-based ground-filled tacos, and just as easy to make. This recipe makes 4 substantial tacos. If you’re feeding a hungry crowd (or love tacos) it’s easy to double the recipe.
Vegan steak-style protein: You can also swap this type of prepared meat alternative into the recipe in place of seitan (as mentioned above, it’s a product that’s often wheat gluten-based, like seitan). Look for steak-style plant protein in your natural foods store or online.
A couple of favorite plant-based “steak” brands include Very Good Steak (Very Good Butchers) and Cowgirl Veggie Steaks (Viana). This Complete Guide to Vegan Steak gives you more great options.
Seitan: Seitan is pure wheat gluten, the protein portion of wheat. It offers an appealing protein alternative for those who have no wheat/gluten intolerance or allergies. This site’s wildly popular Easy Homemade Seitan Recipe is for those of you who’d like to make your own. The recipe yields about four times the amount you’ll need for these tacos, so you’ll have plenty left for another use or to pop into the freezer.
If you’d like to start with readymade seitan, you’re more likely to find it at a natural foods store than at the supermarket. Some popular brands are Pacific, White Wave, Westsoy, Sweet Earth, and Upton’s Naturals.
Excerpted from Plant-Powered Protein: 125 Recipes for Using Today’s Amazing Meat Alternatives by Nava Atlas, © 2020. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved. Photos by Hannah Kaminsky, BittersweetBlog.com.
The “carne asada”
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 8 to 10 ounces steak-style plant protein or seitan, cut into strips (see brands in Notes)
- 4 soft taco size flour or corn tortillas
- Finely shredded lettuce or cabbage, as needed
- Pico de gallo or your favorite variety of salsa
- 1 medium ripe avocado, mashed with a little lime juice
Optional garnishes (use any or all)
- Lime wedges
- Cilantro leaves
- Jalapeño slices
- Combine the oil, lime and orange juices, chili powder, and cumin in a shallow container and whisk together. Add the plant protein strips, stir together, and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
- When you’re ready to cook, heat a lightly oiled grill pan or skillet. Arrange the plant protein strips on the surface, and drizzle with remaining marinade, minus the garlic (it might burn). Turn the strips after a few minutes.
- Cook over medium-high heat until sizzling hot and turning crisp on most sides.
- To assemble, arrange a little lettuce in the center of each tortilla. Divide the beefy strips over it, followed by pico de gallo and some mashed avocado. Embellish with any of the optional garnishes and serve at once.
See various brands of steak-style plant protein above the recipe card, or link to our Easy Homemade Seitan Recipe.
If you like “meaty” plant-based tacos, you might also like …
Here are lots more delicious and easy vegan tortilla dishes.