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Lentil Walnut Taco Meat

4.84 from 6 votes

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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!

Two open face lentil walnut tacos with taco ingredients in background

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

Labeled image of ingredients for lentil walnut taco filling
  • 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

Lentil walnut taco filling in nonstick skillet

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.

Hand holding lentil walnut taco

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, Cashew Cheese Sauce, cilantro, olives, and maybe some vegan sour cream.

Frequently asked questions

Do lentils taste like meat?

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.

Can I use red split lentils for this recipe?

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.

How to store leftovers

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.

Open face lentil walnut taco surrounded by taco ingredients

For more tasty Mexican recipes, see:

To see all of my Mexican and Southwestern cuisine recipes, check out my roundup of Cinco De Mayo Recipes!

Bowl of lentil walnut taco filling with taco ingredients in background

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And come join my Oil Free Vegan Recipes and Support Facebook group, where you can share your favorite oil free vegan recipes, and give and receive support on your plant based journey.

Open face lentil walnut taco surrounded by taco ingredients

Lentil Walnut Taco Meat

Teresa Sklenicka
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!
4.84 from 6 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
30 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 4
Calories 248.4 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 248.4kcalCarbohydrates: 29.8gProtein: 11gFat: 10.4gSodium: 282.6mgFiber: 15.2gSugar: 3.6gVitamin A: 683.94IUVitamin C: 4.5mgCalcium: 74.23mgIron: 4.13mg
Keyword lentils, Oil Free, Vegan
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
By on January 23rd, 2022

About Teresa Sklenicka

I love creating tasty, oil-free, vegan recipes that everyone will love (even non-vegans)! Here you'll find vegan versions of your favorite comfort foods, as well as some new tastes! Join me on a path to improving your health, helping the planet, and saving animals.

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4 thoughts on “Lentil Walnut Taco Meat”

  1. 5 stars
    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.

    Reply
  2. 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?

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply

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