This Lentil Walnut Taco Meat is a delicious filling for your tacos, burritos, and more! Vegan, oil free, gluten free, and soy free, it’s a great recipe for taco night!
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I love Taco Tuesday, and tacos just about any day! This awesome recipe for vegan lentil taco meat is perfect for vegans as well as meat eaters! It has plenty of protein, and an absolutely delicious flavor! Whether you pair it with flour tortillas, corn tortillas, or in a salad or grain bowl, it’s a perfect taco meat substitute.
This recipe will keep well in the refrigerator, so you can enjoy a vegan taco or burrito all week long! You might even consider making a double batch to freeze for meal prep!
Ingredients for this taco filling recipe
- Lentils – I used dry lentils, but you can save time by using canned lentils. The canned lentils have more salt, so be sure to adjust the salt in the recipe accordingly, perhaps by using low sodium veggie broth. Brown lentils or green lentils are recommended, but I would not use red lentils as they fall apart when cooked.
- Vegetable broth – I choose to cook the lentils in vegetable broth to add more flavor to the recipe. If you are watching your sodium level, be sure to choose a low sodium broth.
- Walnuts – these provide a chewy texture to the taco filling. These can be substituted with another nut or seed. Pecans are a good option. If you need a nut free option, leave out the nuts or substitute with sunflower or pumpkin seeds.
- Onion and garlic – for flavor
- Taco seasoning – Oregano, chili powder, paprika, and chipotle chili powder make a tasty spice blend for this vegan lentil taco meat. You can substitute smoked paprika for the sweet paprika for a smokier flavor. You can adjust the spice level of this filling by using more or less chipotle chili powder.
How to make lentil walnut taco meat
Rinse and drain the dried lentils to remove dirt and debris. Place them in a medium saucepan with 2 1/2 cups of vegetable broth. I use Better Than Bouillon and water, but use whatever broth you prefer.
Bring the pot to a boil, then cover the pot, reduce heat to low and simmer the lentils for 20 to 25 minutes, just until they are soft, but not mushy.
While the lentils are cooking, chop the walnuts. This can be done with a knife, a nut chopper, or in a food processor. I like to leave some pieces slightly larger then the lentils.
Sauté the onion in a large skillet over medium heat. I use my Ozeri Stone Earth nonstick skillet. Sauté until the onions are translucent, adding a small amount of water or broth to deglaze the pan.
Add the garlic and sauté for about a minute, until the garlic is fragrant. Then add the chopped walnuts, and sauté for a few minutes to toast them, stirring frequently to prevent them from burning.
Stir in the seasonings and tomato paste, coating the onions and walnuts. Then add the cooked lentils and stir until combined. Don’t overcook, or the lentils will become mushy. If you want the lentils to have more of a refried bean texture, you can add a bit of water and continue to cook until they soften more.
How to serve this lentil taco meat
This taco filling would be delicious in so many Mexican dishes:
Lentil walnut taco meat is a perfect replacement for ground meat in burritos made with my Fat Free Tortillas, tacos, nachos, taco salad, enchiladas, taco bowls, and more! Serve along with lettuce or cabbage slaw, tomato, pico de gallo or hot sauce, onions, Vegan Cheddar Cheese, Cashew Cheese Sauce, cilantro, olives, and maybe some vegan sour cream.
My Vegan Spanish Rice and Beans would be nice accompaniment to any of these Mexican dishes.
Frequently asked questions
Lentils have a very neutral taste and take on the flavor of different seasonings. No, they don’t taste like meat, but with the right herbs and spices, they have a delicious flavor. Their texture is slightly similar to cooked ground meat, and are a great meat substitute for vegans and vegetarians.
Red lentils don’t hold together well for this recipe. I recommend using brown lentils or green lentils, because they hold their shape when cooked.
Store this lentil taco meat in an airtight container for up to a week. For longer storage, you can freeze this taco filling for up to 3 months.
For more tasty Mexican recipes, see:
- Soy Curl Fajitas
- Black Bean and Grilled Vegetable Tacos
- Mexican Vegetable Saute
- Vegan Taco Salad
- Whole Wheat Tortillas
- Mexican Brown Rice
- Cherry Tomato Salsa
- Vegan Tostadas
To see all of my Mexican and Southwestern cuisine recipes, check out my roundup of Cinco De Mayo Recipes!
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Lentil Walnut Taco Meat
- 1 cup dry brown lentils
- 2 ½ cups vegetable broth
- ¾ cup chopped walnuts
- 1 cup diced onion
- 3-5 cloves garlic finely minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
- Place the lentils and vegetable broth in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 20 minutes, until the lentils are soft, but not mushy.
- In a non-stick or stainless steel skillet, sauté the diced onion until it becomes translucent. Add a small amount of water to the pan if it begins to stick.
- Add in the garlic and sauté for another minute, until the garlic is fragrant.
- Add the walnuts, and sauté for a few minutes to toast them. Then add the spices and tomato paste, and stir to coat the onions and walnuts.
- Mix in the lentils and cook briefly. If there is liquid left from cooking the lentils, simmer until the liquid is evaporated. If the mixture is too dry, add a small amount of water.
- Cooking longer will result in mushier lentils, more like the texture of refried beans.
7 thoughts on “Lentil Walnut Taco Meat”
I halved the cumin and chili powder. I did not have chipotle chili powder so I left that out. I put all ingredients including walnuts that I had run through food processor to make them very small into the instant pot. texture came out good cooking it for 6 minutes and letting it depressurize on its own. Normally I cook lentils for 8 minutes in the instant pot so next time I will probably do that. They are good at 6 but may need just a bit more cooking. I ended up adding some salt and a bit of taco seasoning which is chili powder and cumin! LOL. I served on white corn tortillas with the sour cream chopped tomatoes lettuce and avocado. As one person (Dean) mentioned putting it in a dish I actually prefer that as well. It was great both ways
I have tried various ways to use lentils and walnuts as a taco filling. Many of the ways I have tried worked fine, but following the process in this recipe has been the best by far. I really enjoy the spice combination, too.
I served this recipe in a bowl and topped with fire roasted tomatoes, lettuce and the cashew cheese sauce (also on this website…thank you). It was the best plant based Mexican dish I have had in a long time. 😋 This recipe will go well alongside a plate of refried beans, too.
I would love to show you a picture of the dish, but can’t load it here in the comments.
Thank you for your wonderful feedback! Your bowl sounds delicious!
I have made this and while it does look like taco filling, even after soaking, the walnuts stay crunchy, and that is not very appealing to me. Is this to be expected, or is there an alternative method of preparing this so it will be better texture?
I didn’t soak the walnuts, or do you mean after simmering with the other ingredients? If they were too soft for you, you can add the toasted walnuts in at the end of cooking.
Is there a way to make the walnuts LESS crunchy? It’s a bit off-putting to me to have hard bits in my taco “meat.” Thanks!
Chop the more finely, or if you really don’t care for the texture, you can leave them out.