Vegan at Taco Bell

Seems like the question most often asked of vegans is, “So…what do you eat?” The answer “Anything plant-based” doesn’t seem to help much, for whatever reason, but it covers a LOT of options. Some of those options are fast food (yay!). Today I’m going to tell you how to go Vegan at Taco Bell. (I promise I’ll have some healthy smoothie recipes soon, but I’ve actually been getting a lot of requests for a Vegan at Taco Bell guide!!)

Vegan at Taco Bell | Orthodox and Vegan

Black Beans & Rice, Fiesta Potatoes with Guac, and the Frito Burrito made vegan at Taco Bell

Things to Know Before You Go

How to Order Vegan at Taco Bell | Orthodox and Vegan
Fresco! Order anything “fresco” and Taco Bell will automatically replace any creamy sauces, cheese, sour cream, and/or guacamole with pico de gallo. Sad about the guac, but it’s a quick way to remove all dairy – you’ll still have to specify no meat, or replace the meat with beans.

-The Taco Bell drive-thru has a little screen that shows your order as it’s being entered, including any substitutions, additions, or subtractions. This is very helpful as you can see if the clerk makes an error – if you asked for no cheese but the screen doesn’t read No Cheese, say something!

-Taco Bell has a nifty online menu that lets you see all your options in advance (and in some areas you can also order online). They have a huge menu, so it’s less overwhelming if you have an idea what you want before you show up.

-Taco Bell fries items containing eggs & dairy in the same oil used to fry items made with vegan ingredients. This is why certain items that don’t contain animal products themselves cannot be certified vegan. From what I’ve seen in my research, they do not actually fry any meat products in the oil.

Certified Vegan Ingredients at Taco Bell
Border Sauce – Fire
Border Sauce – Hot
Border Sauce – Mild
Border Sauce – Verde
Cantina Salsa
Green Chili Sauce
Green Tomatillo Sauce
Mexican Pizza Sauce
Pico de Gallo
Red Sauce
Salsa Del Sol

Black Beans
Premium Latin Rice
Refried Beans
Romaine Lettuce

Taco Shell
Tostada Shell

Rainforest Coffee

Vegan Ingredients, But No Certification Due to Shared Fryer
Chalupa shell
Cinnamon Twists

I know this doesn’t look like much, but use your imagination. The first thing you need to know is the beans at Taco Bell are vegan, and you can always substitute beans in place of meat. Most additions will cost you something, usually 25 cents to 50 cents each – BUT you can add onions and red sauce for freeeeeeeeee!

So, what can you make with these ingredients? Taco Bell’s menu is too huge for me to veganize the entire thing for you, but I’ll give a few ideas and I think you’ll get the hang of it. Hint: Nearly everything can benefit from the addition of free onions, and guacamole for 30 cents!

How to Order Vegan at Taco Bell | Orthodox and Vegan

Cheap Vegan at Taco Bell

Let’s start with a few cheap options for those of us on a budget. I’m using Taco Bell’s Dollar Cravings menu & sides, but the tacos from the regular menu aren’t much more expensive. Of course the cheaper items are smaller amounts, but you can get a decent light meal for $5.

Fiesta Potatoes
No Cheese
No sour cream
Add red sauce and onions
Cost: $1.39
Luxuries Add guac to replace the cheese for an extra 30 cents.

Frito Burrito
Substitute beans for meat
No cheese
Optional: add red sauce and onions
Cost: $1.00
Luxuries Consider adding extra Fritos and guac for an additional 30 cents each
Pro Tip: Eat this burrito immediately or the Fritos will get soft

Pintos and Cheese
No Cheese
Optional: Add onions
Cost: $1.29
Luxuries Add guac for 30 cents.

Spicy Potato Soft Taco
Order it Fresco-style and they’ll automatically replace the cheese and chipotle sauce with pico de gallo.
Cost: $1.00

How to Order Vegan at Taco Bell | Orthodox and Vegan

Spicy Potato Soft Taco from the $1 Menu at Taco Bell. Add guac for 30 cents!

Spicy Tostada
No Cheese
No Chipotle Sauce
Optional: Add onions
Cost: $1.00
Luxuries Add guac for 30 cents.

Triple Layer Nachos
No cheese
Add onions
Cost: $1.00
Luxuries Add guac for .30 or pico de gallo for .25

Already Vegan at Taco Bell: Sides

Chips & Pico De Gallo
Chips & Guac
Chips & Salsa
Black Beans & Rice, $1.49 each

Luxuriously Vegan at Taco Bell

How to Order Vegan at Taco Bell: Smothered Burrito | Orthodox and Vegan

Vegan Smothered Burrito from Taco Bell: Fresco-style, beans instead of meat, extra red sauce & onions on top.

If you have a few more bucks to spend and are just looking to save time, Taco Bell definitely has something for you. Haha, I’m so cheap, I’m calling these luxury selections.

Smothered Burrito
Order it Fresco-style
Substitute black beans for meat
Ask for extra red sauce and onions on top
Cost: $3.99

Cantina Power Burrito – Veggie
No cheese
No sour cream
No avocado ranch sauce
Add onions
Add refried beans for .25
Cost: $4.04

Crunchwrap Supreme
No cheese
No sour cream
Substitute beans for meat
Add onions
Add guac for .30
Cost: $3.49
Pro Tip: Eat the Crunchwrap immediately before the tostada shell inside gets soft!

Cantina Power Bowl – Veggie
No cheese
No sour cream
No avocado ranch sauce
Add double red sauce, and onions
Cost: $4.99

Breakfasting Vegan at Taco Bell

For a vegan breakfast at Taco Bell, you basically have hash browns, juice, and coffee unless you’re feeling bold. And by that I mean unless you feel like starting your day fueled by large amounts of carbs. That sounds good to me.

Breakfast Crunchwrap California
No bacon
No cheese
No eggs
If I were you, I would ask if you could have an extra hash brown for free since you’re leaving out the meat, eggs, and cheese (if you ordered “extra” of each of those ingredients it’d cost $1.30. An extra hash brown is .99). If they refuse, stick it to ’em and add the regular potatoes for only .50!
Cost: $2.79 (or $3.29)

How to Order Vegan at Taco Bell: Cantina Bowl | Orthodox and Vegan

Dairy-free Cantina Power Bowl. It ain’t pretty, but it’s tasty and filling.

I have to admit Taco Bell is my new guilty pleasure, and I really enjoyed “researching” for this post! I was also inspired to create my own copycat recipes to share with you all, and I’ll post those soon.*
*UPDATE: Here’s my vegan Copycat Crunchwrap!

If you’ve gone Vegan at Taco Bell, what was your favorite item? Know any awesome tricks for making the best of a trip to Taco Bell? Let us know in the comments below!

36 thoughts on “Vegan at Taco Bell

  1. Great Post! Qdoba also has a lot of Vegan options and tastes much better than Taco Bell, in my opinion.

    • Well, they’re two different animals. Taco Bell is more about convenience and low prices – and also good if you’re just craving junk food! If they made taco shells out of Sweet Chili Doritos instead of the cheesy kind, I’d be all over that!

      But yeah, I may need to do a Qdoba post next.

  2. All well and good especially the photos…I’m concerned about over processing of foods at joints like TB. Add the GMOs, butane, and fillers galore…not a pretty picture right?

  3. Damn it! I said I was NEVER going there again. But now I want one of those crunchy things. If you drive, I’ll treat.

    Great post!

  4. I’m so glad you posted this! Taco Bell is my favorite fast food place! I have some “vegan tips”: I get the tostada with only 2 toppings: refried beans and red sauce. For years, the tostada wasn’t on the menu – it was a secret menu item. Now, they have “Spicy Tostada” on their dollar menu. It’s not vegan, so here’s how you order: “I’ll have a tostada with nothing on it but beans and red sauce. Add extra beans and extra red sauce.” 25 or 30 cents for the extra beans, depending on which location. The cashier will say “No cheese? No chipotle sauce? No lettuce? No tomato?” The chipolte sauce isn’t vegan. You can get it with lettuce, tomato, onion, pico de gallo, guac – I’m sure you can get whatever you want on it. That’s just how I order it. I highly recommend it with just those 2 ingredients, refrieds and red sauce. I think it is top-notch quality (very few ingredients in either the beans or the red sauce), and the excellent flavors combined with the simplicity of it – it is sublime! I know that sounds crazy to say about a Taco Bell dish, but it’s true! It comes so loaded with beans and red sauce I eat some of it off with a spork before picking it up to eat the the tostada. Taco Bell’s “refried beans” are low-fat and vegan and have the authentic mild fresh taste you’ll find in good Mexican cuisine. The “red sauce” is rich and decadent and vegan and is the traditional enchilada sauce found in Mexican cuisine, without the chicken stock. I see no reason to call this tostada “junk food”.

    • Oh my goodness, that has got to be the most beautiful and eloquent description anyone has ever applied to Taco Bell 😀 Haha. That is amazing, and now I really want to try your “recipe”. Thanks for the tip!!!

  5. I have more vegan Taco Bell tips but my first post was too long. I also love to order this: “I’ll have the regular bean burrito, minus the cheese, plus extra extra extra beans.” Yep – that’s 3 times more beans (which means you’re getting a quadruple bean burrito), at only 25 to 30 cents extra for each extra beans. At Taco Bell each “extra beans” is another full-serving, so you’re really adding value each time you add an extra beans (Seems like my total bill is usually $2.22). They don’t even blink, other than sometimes they’ll say “Wait, how many extra beans?” but they really don’t bat an eye, in fact once I said 4 x the beans, and they were fine with it. I’ve done this at Michigan St, and at Plainfield, and West Leonard. Lately, at P’field and Michigan, they’ve told me “Oh it’s not a problem because we have a larger tortilla we use for the bigger burritos.” and they don’t charge for the larger tortilla! Oh, and did I mention: It’s a delicious burrito!

    • Ooooh, that’s really good to know about the larger tortillas! I’m glad they’re nice about it. At the Caledonia location on Kalamazoo near 68th, I could pretty much hear the girl giving me an eye roll when I was making all my substitutions. But…can’t say I cared!

      • Yeh – Taco Bell is so ahead of other fast-food chains as far as being vegan-ready in placing orders. As you said, you can always place your order “beans instead of meat” (I think their cash register literally has one button for that) and when you say “make it fresco” (literally one button removes all cheese and dairy-based anything and adds pico de gallo) which makes it easier on the workers. Then, you can say “no pico de gallo” if you want, and they just punch one button. I prefer to go inside to order take-out, rather than drive-thru. It’s better/easier to order in person because you can smile and be kind to cashier rather than shouting your order through a speaker. Taco Bell has made it so easy for the workers, they don’t even look at me sideways. Taco Bell is SMART to be so vegan-friendly – I’ll bet they get a chunk of customer base that can’t order food at the other joints!

        • I bet you’re right. I cannot believe other fast food restaurants haven’t realized it yet – although I guess Subway has the veggie patty and White Castle has the sliders. But still. When O When will Burger King have a vegan veggie burger and vegan buns to go with it?? I heard it through the grapevine, though, that we are one day going to have an all-vegan fast food burger joint in Grand Rapids one day 😀 When that day comes I will be celebrating!!

  6. I don’t order “fresco style” because their pico de gallo often doesn’t taste fresh. I am crazy about the Diablo Sauce in the black packets, but it is really hot – too hot for some people. I also love the Hot sauce in packets and the Fire sauce in packets. I’ve found the Green sauce in packets is a really good thing to add to homemade guac!

    • I’m scared to try the Diablo Sauce. I like hot stuff, but certain kinds of heat, for some reason, gives me hiccups! And it’s really embarrassing. But maybe I’ll grab some the next time I’m eating alone 🙂

      Courtney can I just say it really makes my day that you are so happy about this post and that you know Taco Bell so well and have all these great tips! I’ve never met anyone that got so excited about Taco Bell 🙂 But actually, this has been my most popular post of the year as far as first day views are concerned. I’m amazed. And I’m sure people will love your tips! Thank you so much for commenting!!!

  7. Taco Bell’s black beans are vegan and are insanely delicious. They taste just like the Cuban black beans I used to get with my family in Key West. The menu makes you order “black beans and rice” (white rice) as a side, but you can order it w/o the rice, extra beans. Plus you can order a tostada or burrito with them. I like ’em best as a side.

  8. What do you mean by “certified vegan”? Who did the certification? Are you sure that the sugar is vegan (not refined through bone charcoal)? Are you sure that the flour is vegan (not processed with l-cysteine, not enriched with anything animal-derived)?

    And “premium latin rice” is on your list, but do they have other types of rice too? Is all of their rice vegan? Or is some enriched with non-vegan stuff?

    • Hi Robyn!

      Sorry about the delayed response. I am not sure who did the certification, only that some items are noted “certified vegan,” while other items appear to be vegan (no obvious animal-derived ingredients) but are not noted as such – I believe those are items that may be fried in a shared fryer with dairy products. I contacted Taco Bell to confirm, but have not yet heard back.

      It’s rare that vinegar isn’t vegan, isinglass isn’t very popular in the filtration process for vinegar. Given that, and the fact Taco Bell notes some items containing vinegar as “certified vegan,” I feel pretty safe with it. I also don’t see any rice options other than Premium Latin Rice.

      Hope that helps. If I’m able to get in touch with Taco Bell, I’ll definitely post an update!

  9. I get the nacho bell grande minus nacho cheese, minus sour cream, sub beef for black beans, add guacamole, and romaine lettuce.

  10. Are the tortillas truly vegan? Do they use bleached flour/sugar? Because if they don’t then I’d absolutely love to get some taco bell again, but if it’s bleached then it’s not truly vegan and I’ll be sad 🙁
    Because I’ve seen a few different blog posts about veganizing taco bell, but no one has yet to address the flour or sugar being bleached. If you know please reply and let me know 😀 Thank you for this awesome post.

    • Hi Shirin,

      I’ve never heard that about bleached flour, and after doing some googling, I’m not convinced it’s not vegan. It appears various chemicals may be used to bleach it, but I don’t see any animal products. Regardless, the Taco Bell website shows they use “Enriched White Flour”, and it lists the tortilla as “certified vegan”. It does contain sugar, but not all white sugar is processed with bone char. I’m sorry I don’t have more information than that, you may want to try emailing Taco Bell. Good luck!!!!

      • Bleached flour/sugar being derived from animal products is a well know fact. At least in the U.s.
        I know that much of Canada doesn’t refine their products with Bone Char, but in the u.s. the majority of companies use bone char unless otherwise stated on the packaging (naturally refine) and for a steaper ticket price. Strict vegans avoid it at all costs. So I guess taco bell’s tortillas are not vegan. It’s alright for me since I haven’t gone since being vegan anyway. Just thought for other strict vegans that it’d be important to know before mistakingly going to Taco Bell.

        • I’m afraid I have to disagree, Shirin.

          First of all, it doesn’t seem to be a well known fact at all that bleached flour is refined with bone char or some other animal product. In fact, when I google “is bleached flour vegan”, the first two results are one website saying “I’ve heard it mentioned before, but can find little evidence to support the claim” (I’m paraphrasing) and another website where someone contacted The Vegan Society of NSW and got a response saying bleached flour IS vegan. I also posted the question in a vegan group on facebook, and no one had ever heard that bleached flour isn’t vegan. I then brought it up at a vegan dinner party, and no one had heard of it there. On Yahoo Answers, 6 out of 7 responses confirmed it is vegan, though I’ll grant you there was one dissenter. Still, you can find a ton of information about sugar, but not bleached flour.

          Now, as far as sugar goes: the two most common types used are cane and beet. Beet sugar is the cheapest, and is Not refined with bone char. Cane sugar, the more expensive one, is sometimes – but not always – refined with bone char. I really doubt Taco Bell is choosing to go with the more expensive cane sugar, especially when they’re going to the trouble of specifically notating the vegan items on their menu. And if they do spend more on cane sugar (hard to believe since those tortillas are ingredients in some dollar menu items), there’s still the possibility they’re using cane sugar that isn’t refined with bone char.

          But since I don’t work for Taco Bell, this is the best answer I can give. I suggest any strict vegans (whatever that means?) contact Taco Bell directly, as I have, and maybe they’ll respond if enough of us send inquiries.

  11. I’m busting to share something, but is it okay if I post it here?? Yesterday I discovered that one of our popular common candies (a beloved chocolaty treat) has quietly become vegan. I went to Meijer and checked the ingredients, and it’s actually vegan now!

    • I’m just gonna post it here: I discovered that Junior Mints quietly got rid of the gelatin, and now it is gone from the ingredients! I heard about it from vegan Youtuber, Viet Vegan. NOTE: The Junior Mints still contain confectioner’s glaze which some vegans will shun. It’s an insect derivative, and used scantily; I view it like honey. I allow myself an occasional treat if the only non-vegan ingredient is a scant amount of honey, and I feel the same way about a little confectioner’s glaze (listed almost last in ingredients), although I might change my mind. For now, I will allow it. I’ve been a strict vegan for almost 7 years, but I do allow a teensy bit of wiggle room at times. I don’t go haywire about it. So anyway, gelatin-free Junior Mints are $1 for a movie box at Meijer. I bought 5 boxes yesterday. Such a delicious trip down memory lane!

      • Your comments are always welcome here!!! That’s funny – I didn’t know they contained gelatin, I always though they had milk in them. Shows what I know.
        I have to admit I only found out about the confectioner’s glaze recently. It turns out I don’t really eat much that has it, anyway. I do avoid it if I’m buying for myself, but I may have had it when someone gifted me candy that was otherwise vegan. It kind of creeps me out thinking where it comes from!
        Anyway, I’m glad they got rid of the gelatin, maybe they’ll go all the way with it eventually 🙂

        • Yeh I’m with you on that. I’m going to give away the rest of my boxes of Junior Mints. Further research showed me they are still not cruelty-free. I had thought insects didn’t suffer for it, but PETA says they suffer for confectioner’s glaze, so it’s off my list. Ugh, sorry for posting bad info.

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