At long last, Taco Bell has brought back its iconic Mexican Pizza after an extended hiatus. Folks got so hyped that it sold out in just a couple of weeks, and Taco Bell is looking to return it permanently this fall.
The news has brought joy to many, including Foodbeast’s Chris Abouabdo, who decided to make his own take on the Mexican Pizza as a tribute to its return.
With so many fast food chains jumping on the plant-based hype train, its only fitting that Chris made a vegan version that anyone can enjoy. His take, which brings in plant-based meat and cheese and a custom enchilada sauce, checks all of the Taco Bell flavor boxes but offers up the opportunity to skip the meat.
Maybe Chris’s recipe will one day be the blueprint for Taco Bell’s own plant-based Mexican Pizza. In the meantime, here’s how to make your own iteration.
All of these recipes are also streamed on Twitch if you want to see the full making of in action. If you have ideas for recipes, feel free to hit up our Discord as well!
1 lb vegan ground beef (we opted for Beyond Meat, but use your favorite)
1 package Taco Bell Original Taco Seasoning Mix
3/4 cup water
Note: this can be swapped with canned enchilada sauce if you prefer.
1 package vegan shredded white cheese (ie. mozzarella)
Fresh chopped tomatoes for garnishing
Add the vegan meat to a preheated skillet, and cook until browned.
Sprinkle in the taco seasoning and water, then bring to a boil and simmer low for 10 minutes.
Fry off the beans in vegan butter and a splash of water to keep them loose.
Boil your chilies in water until softened, then add to a blender with the remaining sauce ingredients. Blend, and add a splash of the chili cooking water to loosen if needed. Season to taste.
Fry your corn tortillas in oil at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until fully crispy. Keep warm in an oven until the whole batch is done.
Assemble your Mexican pizza: Lay a fried tortilla down on a baking sheet and top with beans, then meat, then another tortilla, then sauce, then your vegan cheese. Use both white and yellow cheese to keep things authentic.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until the cheese is melted.
Remove from the oven and top with chopped tomatoes.
With each passing year there’s a new plant-based brand that hits the shelves. Some of these newer products fall flat, while others are truly pushing the flavor envelope forward and achieving surprising results.
For some time, before Beyond Burger and Impossible Foods changed the game, the plant-based burger occupied a bland landscape. Similarly, new plant-based alternatives are making a mark and showing what’s truly possible with the right amount of passion, palate and plants.
Below is a list of what we consider the best plant-based brands that make faithful alternatives to many of our favorite foods.
Kicking the list off with these two hugely popular plant-based burgers. Whether you rep OG beef flavored Impossible patties or Beyond Burger’s unique approach to flavor, you’re in for a great patty. Each of these patties are juicy, take well to seasoning and are easy alternatives for plant-based newcomers.
Morning Star Farms mastered the plant-based sausage game a long time ago. Their Griller Burgers were legendary way before Impossible or Beyond were household names. Today, they continue to offer healthy and tasty plant-based proteins with the Hot & Spicy Sausage Patties being no exception.
If you enjoy your savory protein with a subtle kick, Abbot’s Butcher Spanish Smoked Chorizo delivers just the right amount of flavor. Made from pea protein with garlic, chipotle peppers and an imported Spanish smoked paprika, it’s a zesty and appetizing compliment for a wide array of dishes.
Bacon is a favorite of meat-lovers worldwide. It’s also incredibly challenging to recreate. While many contenders have put forth admirable attempts, none successfully stuck the landing. Thankfully, Sweet Earth’s Benevolent Bacon has done just that. It’s generously flavored with hickory, sage and garlic. Unlike others, it can be cooked crispy or tender. Make sure to grab some next time you have a hankering for a BLT.
In our ever-busy lives, having delicious on-the-go food options is essential. The Bay Area-based Nona Lim brand specializes in classic Asian street foods without MSG, artificial ingredients, preservatives or lots of sodium. The Dan Dan Noodles Bowl with Beyond Meat is a delicious marriage of savory broth and chewy Beyond Meat crumbles that can be ready to enjoy in 30 seconds.
Gardein has been making plant-based alternatives for some time now, providing a range of classics that help preparing dinner easier. Found in the frozen section, Gardein’s chicken tenders are great for salads, sandwich wraps and as an easy snack for kids.
This company focuses solely on making the best plant-based chicken possible. Managing to overcome the stringy, often sponge-like consistency that most chicken alternatives have, Daring’s plant-based chicken sizzles, shreds and serves just like the real thing. It goes great with Asian dishes like stir fry and fried rice. Aside from their Original flavor, they also offer Lemon & Herb, Breaded and Cajun.
Plant-based buffalo wings is one area with a high hit-or-miss average. As one of the pioneers in the plant-based space, Morning Star Farms has been making tasty alternatives for more than a decade. Their spicy nuggets have a great buffalo sauce flavor and chewy consistency that is perfect for dipping.
Omni Foods is truly doing special things with plant-based seafood. Using magic or something, they’ve managed to closely recreate the texture, taste and consistency of actual fish. Their Golden Fish Filets can be fried and baked to be the perfect plant-based centerpiece to your meal.
Also doing amazing things with plant-based seafood is San Francisco upstart Current Foods. Their resident scientists managed to create a plant-based seafood alternative that rivals the taste, texture and nutritional density of actual seafood. With Current Foods Original Tuna Filet, you can make tasty sushi at home and help support ocean restoration.
New Wave Foods was one of the first to market with a plant-based shrimp substitute, and it still stands out as the gold standard. Made from algae, their vegan replica is nearly identical from a texture standpoint, and the sweetness and flavor are a close match too. It’s exceptional as a fried shrimp substitute.
The road to the perfect plant-based scramble has been a bumpy one. That’s not surprising considering yolk is an interesting consistency that changes once cooked. Thankfully, our innate desire to achieve the impossible has resulted in JUST Egg liquid mix. With super simple ingredients and a great egg-like taste, this is the closest you’ll get to the real deal.
In the beginning, plant-based cheeses were bland and refused to do that thing we love cheese most for doing — melt. But thankfully, over the past few years things have improved considerably. With a cheesier taste, chewy consistency and satisfying melt game, Violife “Just Like” slices are the best dairy-free pick that’ll give you the experience you’re looking for.
Kite Hill’s almond-based dairy products are well renowned, and it’s pretty hard to find a tub of this stuff ‘cause it keeps flying off the shelves. When you do score one, though, the combination of chive with the slightly tangy, rich plant-based cream cheese will be a taste bagels won’t be the same without.
Easy to prepare and great for those on the go, Trader Joe’s Vegan Mac is the creamy plant-based alternative you’re looking for. It comes in a microwavable plastic container and includes two hearty servings of dairy-free deliciousness. The taste isn’t quite cheesy, yet is richer and more filling than what you’d expect from vegan mac. It also has a dash of cayenne pepper for a subtle kick.
I’m totally unsure who discovered that you could squeeze milk from oats, but they deserve a medal or something. Oatly comes in as our top pick as best plant-based milk with its well rounded yet subtle oat flavor. While not exactly dairy-esque, the oat-y flavor compliments all the usuals from cereal to smoothies, or simply drink it straight up.
Many brands are trying their hand at plant-based ice cream hoping to achieve the rich and creamy roundness the dessert is known for. From brand to brand, experimenting with a range of base ingredients like almonds, cashews and even avocado means results may indeed vary. Van Leeuwen began with only an ice cream truck before expanding nationwide. With a good selection of plant-based flavors, you’re sure to find something for your sweet tooth. I definitely recommend their super delectable pistachio flavor.
But wait there’s more! In my experience, most plant-based brands miss the mark with Cookies & Créme. They either lack the creamy consistency, an authentic flavor or only use small cookie bits. Basically, there’s always something off. While Van Leeuwen has great Cookies & Créme adjacent flavors, they do not offer the traditional mix. Thankfully, well known plant-based brand So Delicious has answered our Cookies & Créme dreams with their new Wondermilk series, which features a crazy combination of ingredients like coconut, organic cane sugar and sunflower.
Landing as our top plant-based yogurt pick is Silk Almondmilk Yogurt Alternative. The popular brand has successfully sidestepped the often chalky, liquid consistency of most plant-based yogurts. Available in several flavors, each bite is a creamy and sweet treat for your taste buds.
Creamy and rich, Earth Balance makes plant-based butter that spreads, melts and tastes like the real thing. In addition to their Original Buttery Spread, they have a wide selection of butters that perfectly compliment your preferred slice of bread.
Besides the health benefits that eating plant-based foods have, many of these brands also support great causes. The awesome thing about it all is that plant-based food is only going to get better. Next time you’re looking to add more plants to your plate, try one of these.
In the race to be the world’s pre-eminent milk alternative, oat milk has been gaining headway. That’s not surprising as oat milk offers more fiber and protein than any other alt-milk options and its oat base is more familiar to the average palate. A closer look reveals it has more health benefits than dairy milk as well.
Joining the alt-milk crusade is Ghost Town Oats, the world’s first Black-owned oat milk. It was founded by Michelle Johnson along with her partners who collectively share 40 years in the barista industry. Johnson herself is the first Black woman to qualify for the US Barista Championships, where contestants are given only 15 minutes to prepare cafe classics for a panel of judges. Their hope is to bridge the gap between minority communities and plant-based milk.
Being Black, I’m keenly aware of the health issues which impact our community. Most things are harmless in moderation, but can have negative effects depending on your lifestyle choice. For reasons too many to name, the lifestyle communities of color tend to live is often unhealthy. As a result, people of color are more likely to experience lactose intolerance, along with other health issues. Ghost Town Oats hopes to help change that by making a dairy alternative that’s accessible and approachable to marginalized communities.
Ghost Town Oats is made to pack an exceptional taste that pairs nicely with your coffee and espresso favs. Releasing this spring, you can find when and how to get your hands on some here.
As a lifelong fan of hip hop, the little kid in me would be amazed to see how far the culture has come. It was rare to see a hip hop figure expand their brand outside of music back in the days. RUN DMC, who basically reignited the Adidas cool factor with their love of the Shell Toe, were the first hip hop act to land a deal with a major sneaker brand. In subsequent years, as the genre gained popularity, many notable artists would follow suit. The rapper/sneaker combination had become commonplace.
Alcohol is another business venture hip hop acts have frequently pursued. Once upon a time, alcohol brands would receive free endorsement from music videos, but that was simply because everybody liked a particular brand. That type of free endorsement famously ended in 2006 when the managing director of popular champagne Cristal expressed prejudiced sentiments regarding its use by rap acts. The highly publicized statements threw fuel on the entrepreneurial gas of hip hop.
Since those days, hip hop has expanded beyond mere sneakers and alcohol, as rappers and artists have even begun to move into the food space in recent years. One legendary figure of hip hop culture that’s stepping in that direction is famed music producer Jermaine Dupri.
With a solidified discography, it makes sense Dupri would have his sights set on exploring another space. His newly launched plant-based ice cream brand JD’s Vegan is here to do just that. As a practicing vegan for 15 years, Dupri wanted to share the benefits he’s experienced with others. Many people are interested in healthier alternatives, but need something familiar to help them take further steps.
To help realize this dream, Dupri teamed with international dessert legend, Malcolm Stogo. Stogo has helped major ice cream chains around the world for over 25 years. The collaboration resulted in a coconut-based ice cream, with the initial offering available in three Atlanta-inspired flavors; Welcome to Atlanta Peach Cobbler, Apple Butter, and Strawberry Sweetheart. Check out the descriptions below for a taste:
Strawberry Sweetheart ($6.47) – creamy dreamy strawberry puree swirls and real strawberry chunks dipped into a velvety cloud of coconut cream will be your new sweet romance
Welcome to Atlanta Peach Cobbler ($6.47) – fresh cut slices of golden peaches and crumbled cobbler will make you feel the warm summer sun of Atlanta, Georgia
Apple Butter ($6.47) – delicious crisp apples are whipped into a fine buttery spread then stirred with a toasted cinnamon streusel crumble
You can now purchase JD’s Vegan ice cream at all participating Walmart locations. Additional flavors are Key Lime Pie, Chocolate My Way & (404) Cookies & Cream are also available.
Consumer demand for more plant-based options continues to rise, that’s why it’s quite clutch that Beyond Chicken Tenders will be available this Octoberto consumers nationwide for the first time at Walmart and other major chains, with additional availability expected to be added later this year.
Key details about Beyond Chicken Tenders that are quickly making them the go-to for plant-based alternatives include 50% less saturated fat tha regular chicken tenders, and no GMOs, antibiotics, hormones or cholesterol.
Unlike the pea-based protein in Beyond Burgers, Beyond Meat revealed that the protein-packed faba bean uniquely delivers the taste, texture, and culinary experience of traditional chicken tenders.
As many fast food restaurants like Pizza Hut and Burger King look to offer more plant-based options, Chipotle is following suit by testing a new plant-based chorizo.
This new meatless option is made up of ancho chili and chipotle peppers, tomato paste, crushed garlic, Spanish smoked paprika, extra virgin olive oil, and peas. The new offering is being tested in a limited area and timeframe, with Denver and Indianapolis locations participating from August 19 to August 29.
You can even try the plant-based chorizo with free delivery during this trial period.
Three new Impossible Foods plant-based items are gracing Baja Fresh Mexican Grill’s menu.
Impossible Foods has been one of the leaders in the plant-based meat industry, collaborating with various fast food and fast-casual chains to help spread awareness of vegan options to a wider audience. The company’s latest partnership with Baja Fresh yields the following three new items:
Impossible Taco Combo: Three tacos with grilled corn tortillas filled with Impossible meat, shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, guacamole, Baja salsa, and Cotija cheese. Served with a side of black or pinto beans and Baja rice.
Fuego Impossible Burrito: Melted jack cheese, guacamole, black beans, Impossible meat, Diablo salsa, Six Chiles salsa, pico de gallo, pickled jalapeños, shredded lettuce and sour cream, all wrapped in a soft flour tortilla.
Impossible Bowl: Baja rice topped with roasted veggies, Impossible meat, sour cream, avocado, pico de gallo and tortilla strips.
All three of these new plant-based Impossible meat options can be found at all participating Baja Fresh locations for a limited time only.