Layered Cheesy Taco Salad Bake

Jump to Recipe


Shoutout to Core + Rind for partnering together for this post and providing their cashew cheesy sauce for our review!

More about them in a moment, first let’s talk about this plant based recipe inspiration – because there is a story behind the recipe and it is a good one.

The Layered Cheesy Taco Salad Bake Story

Let’s travel back a few years for this story- specifically to my early teenage years. The scene: my older sister had invited me to help her and her husband move to a new home in North Carolina. Being a young teenager (I was 14 at the time) and being that it was summertime (aka I had nothing better to do), I went to help out with the move for a few weeks.

Moving day arrived and after every box, piece of furniture and more was transferred into the new home, everyone was hungry! For some reason, I got tasked with making dinner – even at that age I loved to cook and play in the kitchen – so I whipped together a taco salad bake. At that time I was not vegan, so the recipe was a pretty standard taco meat, salsa, cheese, layered with chips, topped with some shredded ice burg lettuce casserole. Even though the dish was simple, it was a huge hit.

Now here is the funny thing! At that time, my sister and her husband had a beautiful German shepherd mixed dog named Sammy. As with most couples and their first dog, it really was their ‘baby’.

We get done eating dinner and everyone started to put their plate on the floor (including the extended family of my brother-in-law). Immediately, I started a weird inner dialogue of “Should I put my plate on the floor? Why is everyone putting their plate on the floor? What is going on here?”. So I casually (or not so casually as my sister would point out later), glanced around and tentatively set my plate on the floor too, having decided at that point that this was some odd North Carolina ritual that me as 14 year old Hoosier teenage gal didn’t know about.

Later, or not so later, I would find out that this was a way to let Sammy lick the plates clean! I know right – hilarious and maybe a little gross? The plates did go from the floor to the dishwasher – butttttt…

Well, now every time my sister brings up that story, we can’t help but roll with laughter, because of course, she noticed my discomfort the whole time and was watching the whole scenario play out wondering how I would react! Oh, for the love of having an older sister.

Good Food Memories

I love that story and actually every time I think about it, I start to laugh too. I truly hope you have some good food stories that lead you to laugh or cry or both! In fact, I would love to hear them. Drop me a message on social media @badtothebowl and share your food memory story so I can laugh and smile with you.

Really, though, I think that is what good food does – it comes with a memory attached to it.

And that is my hope for you and this dish! Create it for someone you love, friends or family, make it together or just serve it and gather round as everyone digs in and shares stories around the table.

On to the Recipe and Oh! That Cheesy Sauce

When I came across, the Instagram account of Core + Rind and learned about their Cashew Cheesy sauce I was immediately intrigued and had to try it out for myself.

Their cheesy sauce is plant-based, vegan, gluten free, soy free and organic. I love that it is made from ingredients you can pronounce! Seriously, if you are looking for a cashew cheesy sauce that is dairy free and creamy, this is your sauce.

Can I tell you about the ingredients of the original sauce? I love this list of only 12 ingredients! Yes, you read that right. Only 12 that include: water, pumpkin, cashews, apple cider vinegar, EVOO, nutritional yeast, dijon mustard, sea salt, tomato paste, and garlic, onion and turmeric powder.
Simple deliciousness.

Another thing that I love, is the entrepreneurial spirit of Candi and Rita the founders of Core + Rind. They are both culinary nutritional experts with a passion for making others journey to health easier and tastier.

And this plant based cheesy sauce takes this Layered Cheesy Taco Salad Bake from sub – par to outstanding. You know, you could leave it out, but sub par won’t make for that amazing story like I mentioned above, will it?
Ummm, no. You need this cashew cheesy sauce pronto!

So I took my recipe for the original non – vegan taco salad bake and gave it a much needed plant based makeover using the Core + Rind Cashew Cheesy Original Sauce! You could also give it an extra spicy kick and use the Core + Rind Cashew Cheesy Spicy Chipotle Sauce. Either sauce would be delicious.
Using smashed pinto beans as my ‘meat’, I layered that with our favorite salsa, crumbled corn tostadas and Core + Rind cheesy sauce. I upgraded the ice burg lettuce of old with fresh spinach to give it a more vibrant color and taste.
It is all then baked in the oven, which melds it together into a flavorful taco sensation. I topped ours with all the taco favorites: fresh tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, pickled jalapeño’s and then drizzled it all with more cashew cheesy sauce!
Literally, I think the first words out of mouth to my husband after tasting it was – “I didn’t think I could make this old time favorite dish again after going plant based – but now I have and it is 110% better than the original’.
So, what are you waiting for? Head over to Core + Rind’s website and get some of their plant based cashew sauce to make this vegan layered cheesy taco salad bake pronto!
If you make this dish, we would love to know! Tag @badtothebowl on social media.
*disclaimer: I was provided product for this post. All opinions are my own. 


layered cheesy taco salad bake
Print Recipe
No ratings yet

Taco Layer Bake

Everyone will love this taco layer bake that is made with wholesome ingredients and both dairy free and gluten free.
Course: Main
Keyword: taco layer bake


  • 1/4 cup red pepper , diced
  • 1/4 cup onion , diced
  • 3 tablespoon vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon garlic , minced
  • 1 15.5 ounce can pinto beans , rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • 9 corn tostadas
  • 4 tablespoon dairy free cheesy sauce
  • 1/2 cup fresh spinach
  • Additional ingredients: pickled jalapeño, green onions, cilantro, tomatoes, avocado slices


  • Coat 1.5 quart baking dish with cooking spray and pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In small skillet, sauté red pepper and onion with garlic and vegetable broth until tender 3 – 5 minutes. Place in bowl.
  • Drain beans, reserving 2 Tblsp of aquafaba from beans. Rinse beans well. Place in bowl with sautéed vegetables along with taco seasoning and favorite salsa.
  • Crumble 3 tostadas and place in bottom of dish. Top with 1/2 of bean mixture, 2 Tblsp cheesy sauce and 1/2 cup spinach. Crumble another 3 tostadas on top of spinach. Add remaining bean mixture and 2 Tblsp cheesy sauce. Crumble remaining 3 tostadas on top.
  • Bake in oven for 30 minutes.
  • Top with your favorite ingredients and drizzle with additional cashew cheesy sauce.


Dairy free cheesy sauce: I used Core and Rind Sharp and Tangy Cheesy sauce

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating