Turn taco night into a plant-based feast with these lentil tacos! Filled with a quick and easy homemade lentil taco meat, these tacos are packed full of vegetarian protein and fiber, without forgoing flavor.
Whether you’re celebrating Taco Tuesdays or looking to add more plant-based and vegan recipes to your repertoire, this 30-minute lentil tacos recipe is a delicious and nutritious way to try something new. In fact, the lentil mixture is so flavorful that I’m willing to bet even the biggest meat lovers in the family will enjoy it.
Not to mention, this lentil taco meat makes great leftovers and works equally well as a salad topping! Just add it to your favorite taco salad to create a well-balanced meal for lunch or dinner the next day.
Ingredients for Lentil Tacos
You’ll need the following ingredients to make lentil taco meat:
- Lentils: You can use brown or green lentils in this recipe, I do not recommend using red lentils are they become too mushy once cooked.
- Onion: To flavor the lentil taco meat.
- Tomato Paste: To season and thicken the lentil mixture a little.
- Taco Seasoning: The recipe calls for a mixture of chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, and salt to season the taco “meat”, however, you can use a package of taco seasoning if you like.
In addition to the above, you’ll also need flour or corn tortillas and toppings of your choice.
To Make them Gluten-Free: No adaptations are needed, this recipe is gluten-free.
To Make them Dairy-Free: No adaptations are needed, this recipe is dairy-free.
How to Make Lentil Tacos
Lentil taco meat is very easy to make, here’s what you’ll do:
- Cook the lentils. Boil the lentils in a pot of well-salted boiling water until tender, but not mushy, and then drain off any excess water. If you’d prefer to use canned lentils, you can skip this step.
- Sauté the onion. While the lentils are cooking, sauté the onion in olive oil in a pan on medium-high heat.
- Add lentils to the pan. Add the cooked and drained lentils to the pan with the sautéed onion.
- Add the spices. Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, and salt to the pan, and stir to coat the lentils.
- Add the tomato paste. Add the tomato paste to the pan, stirring to ensure it’s well incorporated with the lentil mixture.
- Assemble the tacos. Once the lentil taco mixture is cooked, assemble the tacos with toppings of your choice.
Pro Tip: For extra flavor, cook the lentils in vegetable broth instead of water.
You can find the detailed instructions in the recipe card below.
Red’s Nutrition Tip
Compared to other vegetarian protein sources, lentils are one of the most protein-dense plant-based foods. While they are primarily a source of carbohydrates, containing more than double the number of carbohydrates than protein, they contain more protein per serving than beans, grains, nuts, and seeds, which makes them the perfect filling for these tacos.
Best Toppings for Lentil Tacos
These lentil tacos pair well with all traditional taco toppings, so feel free to use any toppings you like. Suggested toppings include:
- Shredded lettuce
- Shredded cabbage
- Chopped tomatoes
- Pickled red onion
- Sliced jalapeños
- Pico de gallo
- Sour cream
- Hot sauce
I opted to top my tacos with shredded lettuce and red cabbage, sliced tomatoes, mashed avocado, sour cream, and a little sprinkle of cotija cheese.
Brown and green lentils will work best in taco meat as they have a sturdier and heartier texture than other lentils when cooked.
Lentils are a good replacement for ground beef in tacos, as well as burgers, meatballs, lasagna, meatloaf, shepherd’s pie, and meat sauces such as bolognese.
You can replace 1 pound of ground beef with 1 cup of uncooked lentils, just be sure to cook the lentils before adding them to a recipe.
Yes, you can replace the 1 cup of dry lentils in this recipe with two 14-ounce cans of cooked lentils. Ensure that the lentils are strained and rinsed before adding them to the recipe.
Storage + Reheating
To Refrigerate: Allow the lentil taco meat to cool completely and then store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5-7 days.
To Freeze: Once cooled, the lentil taco meat can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 6 months.
To Reheat: Once thawed, the lentil taco mixture can be reheated in a pan on medium heat for 5-10 minutes or in the microwave for 2-3 minutes.
More Brown Lentil Recipes:Print
These vegan lentil tacos are high in fiber and full of plant-based protein. You can enjoy the taco meat on tortillas or as a topping to a taco salad.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 8 tacos 1x
- Category: Mains
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Mexican
- Diet: Vegan
- 1 cup green or brown lentils, dry
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 8 tortillas
- Toppings of your choice
- In a small container or bowl, combine the chili powder, garlic powder, oregano, cumin, and salt, and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add lentils, and cook for 13-15 minutes until tender. You want the lentils to be fully cooked but not mushy. Once cooked, drain the lentil in a mesh colander or sieve to remove excess water.
- While the lentils are cooking, warm the olive oil in a large skillet or pan over medium-high heat, then add diced onion and cook for 3-5 minutes until tender.
- Reduce the heat to low-medium, add the drained lentils and spice mixture to the pan with the onion, and stir to combine.
- Add the tomato paste and 2 tablespoons of water (plus more as needed), stirring again until everything is well combined. Then simmer the mixture for a final 2-3 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and thickened and all of the water has been absorbed. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- Once the lentil mixture is cooked, assemble the lentil taco filling in tortillas with toppings of your choice.
If using corn tortillas, it is best to warm them in a pan or cast-iron skillet for 15-30 seconds per side before serving.
- Serving Size: 2 tacos (no toppings)
- Calories: 378 calories
- Sugar: 4 grams
- Fat: 8 grams
- Carbohydrates: 62 grams
- Fiber: 7 grams
- Protein: 18 grams