This simple to make lentil taco meat is packed with fiber, plant protein, and big on flavor. Make your own vegan tacos in 30 minutes or less, and add your favorite toppings like avocado, chopped tomato, cilantro, and green onion in a soft of crunchy tortilla!
Who doesn’t LOVE tacos? Whether it’s Tuesday or any day of the week, tacos are always a family favorite!
There are so many different types of tacos out there, but not that many vegan options. It turns out lentils make an excellent substitute for ground beef! This tasty lentil taco meat is seasoned with traditional spices and has an excellent texture. It’s a great recipe to prepare for your vegan meal prepping!
My picky kids and meat-eater husband request these tacos on a weekly basis!
Why This Recipe Works
- Quick and Easy 30 Minute Meal
- Simple ingredients you can find at your local grocery stores!
- Vegan and Dairy-Free
- Super Flavorful
- Family Friendly Dinner
- Rich in Plant Protein
- Easy Meal Prep Recipe!
Ingredients and Notes
For the vegan lentil taco meat:
Brown Lentils: I prefer to use brown lentils for this recipe because they hold their shape and create a ground meat-like texture.
Olive Oil: Used to sauté the vegetables. If you are oil-free, you can use a few tablespoons of water, vegetable stock, soy sauce, or tamari (gluten-free).
Spices: A combination of taco seasoning spices is used to amp up the flavor. You’ll need chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and paprika.
Additional ingredients for your tacos…
Whole Wheat or Corn Tortillas: To keep this recipe healthy and high in fiber opt for whole wheat tortillas, corn tortillas, or taco shells rather than white flour tortillas for serving.
Toppings: I opted for diced avocado, cherry tomatoes, scallions, and fresh cilantro for these vegetarian tacos. Other toppings you might like to add to include vegan sour cream, vegan adobo sauce, salsa, guacamole, or anything else you enjoy with your vegetarian taco meat!
Scroll to the bottom of the post to the recipe card for complete measurements and instructions.
Variations and Substitutions
Taco Salad: Create a taco bowl with this perfect filling of vegetarian lentil meat. Use chopped iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, and fresh corn!
Burrito Bowls: Use this vegan taco meat to create a burrito bowl without the tortilla! Instead use brown rice, cauliflower rice, or quinoa, and lots of chopped veggies!
Add Black Beans: Cut the lentils in half using ½ a cup of dried lentils and 1 1//2 cups of water, and combine with a 15 oz can of black beans.
Make it Spicy: Add some chipotle peppers, or jalapeño to the onion and red pepper mix to turn up the heat!
Step by Step Instructions Instructions
You can choose to use prepared lentils from the refrigerated section of the grocery store, or you can cook your own.
Prepare the Lentils: Bring 3 cups of water or vegetable broth and lentils to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain any extra liquid.
Sauté Vegetables: While lentils are cooking sauté onions, peppers, and garlic until soft, over medium heat for about 5 minutes in a tablespoon of olive oil.
Add Spices: Add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, and garlic powder to the vegetables. Cook an additional minute stirring to combine.
Add Lentil Taco Meat: When lentils are soft but still firm, combine them with the onion mixture.
Ways to Serve: Serve on whole wheat tortillas with your favorite toppings.
There are many different varieties and colors of lentils. Some of those include brown, green, red, yellow, black, and beluga.
Brown lentils are the most common and can be found in any grocery store. They have a mild and earthy flavor. They are great in soups or in this amazing lentil taco meat recipe!
Green lentils are firm in texture and have a slight peppery flavor. They take the longest to prepare. They are delicious as a salad topping.
Red lentils are smaller than green and brown lentils. They cook quickly and are a staple in Mediterranean and Indian dishes. Soft in texture and mild in flavor, they taste great in dal recipes, and soups.
Like red lentils, yellow lentils are also small and soft in texture. They are sweet and nutty in flavor. They are a staple in Indian cuisine often used in curry and dal recipes.
Black or beluga lentils got their name for the similarity in the way they look to beluga caviar. They have an earthy flavor and are firm in texture. They are delicious in salads or as a side dish.
The red and yellow lentils are too soft in texture. Brown or green lentils are perfect! They’re firm, mild, and earthy in flavor. When stuffed in a taco they resemble the typical ground beef tacos you are probably used to from your childhood. But these tacos are so much healthier!
Refrigerator: Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. Then transfer to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
Freezer: Transfer to an airtight freezer-safe container. Store in the freezer for 2-3 months.
Reheat: From the freezer, transfer to the refrigerator to defrost overnight. Or place in a skillet to defrost from frozen.
- Chop all the vegetables while the lentils are cooking to help save time with this lentil taco meat recipe.
- Use packaged lentils, I often use the ones from Trader Joe’s in the vegetable section, if you do not want to prepare the lentils from dried.
- Mash the mixture a bit with a potato masher to achieve a vegan ground beef like texture, or use a food processor to mix the lentils before adding to the pan with the veggies.
- Sprinkle with sunflower seeds for added crunch and protein!
More vegan family dinners!
If you made this recipe, please comment below and leave a ⭐️ rating. You can also follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook for more family-friendly vegan recipes!
Vegan Taco Meat (Lentil Taco Meat)
- 2 cups prepared brown lentils
- 1 yellow onion chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 bell pepper chopped
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 8 crunchy or soft corn tortillas
- 1 avocado sliced
- ½ cup halved cherry tomatoes
- cilantro for garnish
- scallions/green onion for garnish
- If you have prepared lentils, you can skip this step. If not, rinse 1 cup of dry lentils. Cook on stovetop with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until lentils are soft. Lentils will double in size. Be sure to use a large enough pot.
- In a large skillet, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, add onions, garlic and diced peppers. Sauté until soft about 3 minutes.
- Add spices to onion mixture. Sauté an additional minute.
- Add cooked lentils.
- Assemble tacos. Add avocado, tomatoes, cilantro, and any additional toppings you desire.
- Keep in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Keep frozen for 2-3 months.
- Chop all the vegetables while the lentils are cooking to help you save time with this vegan taco recipe.
- Use packaged lentils, I use the ones from Trader Joe’s in the vegetable section if you do not want to prepare the lentils from dried.
- Mash the mixture a bit with a potato masher to achieve a vegan ground beef-like texture, or use a food processor to mix the lentils before adding to the pan with the veggies.
- Sprinkle with sunflower seeds for added crunch and protein!
Shaina Alissa Clingempeel
These are amazing!! I left out the cumin and used red pepper instead of chili powder (based on what I had), and they were great.
Do you think I could do a chickpea version?
Yes, you could use this recipe with chickpeas!
Always looking for new vegan options to try and these lentil tacos were amazing! They had such a great taste and will definitely be in my Taco Tuesday rotation!
LOVED the spice on these!!! They were perfect for my meatless Monday and hubs loved them (shockingly!!)!
I love this idea of using lentils in tacos! Such a great way to cook and eat nutritious tacos. Thanks for the idea- making these for taco tuesday!
Such a delicious taco Tuesday recipe, I loved how easy it is to assemble these tacos
My family love tacos and lentils so I can see a lot of empty plates!
This recipe will make my working nights simplified. My kids will love this and there will be no leftovers.
I am always looking for new ways to use lentils and these tacos look amazing.
Did you say lentil tacos? I am all in! These look so good.
These tacos look so good! I’ve never thought to try using lentils as a vegan replacement for taco meat, this is such a great idea, they look delicious and so quick to make!
Tawnie K Kroll
I love the step by step photos! Thank you so much!
What a great looking recipe! I will definitely be adding this to my dinner line up this week!
These tacos look great I am going to give them a try for sure.
I can’t wait to try these for Taco Tuesday tonight! They look incredible and I know my family will love them!
Courtney | Love & Good Stuff
Lentil tacos are a weekly staple in our house! Definitely a favourite around here!
These sound delicious, and it is such a fabulous idea. The perfect family meal – I will be making these over the weekend for sure!
Thanks! Your recipes look delicious too!
This is wonderful! And it’s exactly the sort of recipe I talk about with my clients—it allows people to “chef” their own meal, adding the pieces they like, skipping what they don’t (although at our house, veggies are always a requirement. 😉 I love any recipe that can be turned into a “bar”—chili, tacos, nachos, bake potatoes, pasta….
Yes, so true! It’s so much easier when you have the kind of meal everyone can assemble and make their own.