Canned Chickpeas Are The Secret To Deliciously Easy Taco Filling

When you cook for taco night, the go-to protein to fill the tortillas is probably ground beef, shredded chicken, or maybe slow cooker al pastor. To switch things up — and to take a break from meat — use canned chickpeas instead. The legume that you might use to make crispy chickpeas for a salad topper or to transform into homemade hummus can result in tacos that are so delicious and satisfying that you might not even miss traditional meat fillings.

Chickpeas are packed with protein, so they're a solid alternative if you want to eat less meat or have vegetarians or vegans on the guest list for the next taco Tuesday. And you'll still leave the table feeling full and nourished. Moreover, canned chickpeas on their own can taste rather bland, but the legumes can absorb flavor from the spices and other ingredients that go into your tacos. The canned ingredient is also much cheaper than buying meat like ground beef, so the hack will save you cash at the grocery store and time in the kitchen.

Those are some of the reasons why they work so well in our chili-lime sweet potato and chickpea sheet-pan tacos recipe from Tasting Table recipe developer Miriam Hahn. In this recipe, Hahn combines canned chickpeas with sweet potatoes and red bell peppers. To convince you further, these meat-free tacos can be on the table in 30 minutes.

Remove the skins from the chickpeas before putting in the oven

Canned chickpeas are an easy ingredient to use for tacos, but there's still some prep work involved. According to our recipe, you should skin the chickpeas in between two clean kitchen towels, per Miriam Hahn. Or make it easier and never peel chickpeas again with an easy trick using baking soda. Make sure the chickpeas are dry and then cook them in the oven on a baking sheet so they get crispy. This will ensure they have crunch, similar to cooked ground meat, so there's texture and flavor in each bite of the tacos.

Hahn seasons the chickpeas and other fillings with coriander, cumin, garlic powder, salt, and lime zest and juice, but we've got a few other ideas. To pay homage to those classic tacos you might usually cook, use a pack of store-bought taco seasoning or make homemade smoky taco seasoning with spices including chili powder, cumin, and paprika. For tacos with more intense heat, consider cayenne pepper, chili flakes, dried chilis, or adobo sauce.

Pair chickpeas with other vegetables to get contrasting flavors and textures. The best part of tacos is how easy they are to customize, and we think roasted cauliflower, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, or zucchini are flavorful options to pair with chickpeas. And don't forget the usual toppings to finish off the tacos like crave-worthy guacamole, fresh cilantro, pico de gallo or salsa, and a dash of hot sauce.