This easy lentil taco meat recipe is your perfect meat replacement for a taco night!
Bonus, it takes just 15 minutes to make a batch of this vegan lentil taco meat, and it’s also gluten-free and packed with plant-based iron.
What Is Lentil Taco Meat?
Lentil tacos are healthy tacos made with plant-based ingredients.
The traditional meat is replaced with cooked lentils for a meat-like taste and texture. The tortillas can be either classic wheat tortillas or lentil tortillas.
It’s a high-protein wholesome lunch or dinner that brings a lot of nutrients and can be made in under 15 minutes!
How To Make Lentil Taco Meat
Lentil taco meat is the easiest, healthy meat replacement recipe you can whip at home in less than 15 minutes.
It’s also very cheap to make and perfect for anyone who starts a vegan diet and looks for a tasty, filling protein meal.
All you need to make lentil taco meat are:
- Cooked lentils – Use canned brown lentils. This is the faster way to make this recipe. Of course, you can also use raw brown lentils or raw green lentils, soak them overnight and cook following the packaging instructions. But this is time-consuming, and the nutrition properties will be pretty similar. So if you are hungry for a healthy dinner, use canned lentils!
- Olive Oil – I always use locally-sourced extra-virgin olive oil for the best taste.
- Onion – Yellow or red onions work fine.
- Cauliflower rice – I used frozen ready-made cauliflower rice. You can also use a fresh head of cauliflower and pulse it in your food processor with the S-blade attachment to make your own. Another option is to make lentil walnut taco meat and replace cauliflower with finely chopped walnuts.
- Vegan Worcestershire sauce or tamari sauce.
- Tomato Paste – Use classic tomato paste or whole canned tomatoes.
- Vegetable Broth
- Spices: Cumin, Salt, Paprika, Oregano, Chili powder, Garlic powder
Making The Lentil Meat
In a large frying pan, heat olive oil under medium heat. Stir fry onion until fragrant and golden.
Then, stir in cooked, drained canned lentils and cauliflower rice – fresh or frozen.
Add all the spices and stir fry for 2 minutes until fragrant.
Finally, pour the vegetable stock, tomato paste, and vegan Worcestershire sauce. Reduce heat, and simmer for about 5 minutes, occasionally stirring until the mixture thickens.
Using Lentils As A Meat Substitute
You can use this taco lentil recipe as a meat substitute for any Mexican dish like:
- Taco Salad
- Vegan tacos or burritos – this makes a delicious, flavorsome taco filling to fill into my coconut flour taco shell recipe or paleo tortillas for burritos.
- With my Pupusas
- On the side of my Vegan Cornbread
But also to replace meat in vegan lasagna, spaghetti, or to stuff a spaghetti squash recipe.
Assembling Lentil Tacos
Dice some avocados into small cubes, slice some fresh bell pepper and wash a bunch of fresh cilantro.
Lay a few tablespoons of lentil meat on the tortilla, add diced avocado and bell pepper slices, and pour a few teaspoons of coconut yogurt on top.
Lay a few strands of cilantro and fold the wrap!
Lentil taco meat can be stored for up to 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
You can also freeze the mixture and thaw them the day before using it in any recipe.
Frequently Asked Questions
To make lentil taco meat, you must use cooked lentils. It can be:
– Cooked Green Lentils
– Cooked Brown Lentils
– Red Split Lentils – It’s not my favorite choice because precooked red lentils often turn mushy if cooked for too long in a sauce.
You can cook raw green or brown lentils on a stovetop or slow cooker.
As a general rule, you need 3 cups of water or vegetable stock per cup of dry lentils.
Place the raw lentils into a large saucepan, and cover with cold liquid.
Bring to a boil, cover tightly, and reduce heat. Simmer until the lentils are tender – depending on lentil varieties, it can take between 15 to 20 minutes.
Red split lentils cook way faster – more around 8-10 minutes.
Lentil is very much comparable to meat when it comes to iron:
– 1 cup of cooked lentils has 6.6 mg of iron.
– 1 cup of cooked ground beef has 6.5 mg of iron.
However, iron from animal sources is made of 40% heme iron and 60 % non-heme iron, compared to plants that are made of 100% of non-heme iron.
Studies have shown that non-heme iron is not as readily absorbed as heme iron. So while lentils are great sources of plant-based iron on a vegan diet, it is not as well absorbed as meat iron.
Since lentils are 100% made of non-heme iron, you have to eat a larger amount of cooked lentils than cooked beef to reach the same level of iron intake.
Also, to improve iron absorption, it’s important to pair lentils with vitamin-C-rich food, like tomato sauce or orange juice.
You can absolutely replace meat with lentils in most meat-based recipes.
It has a similar texture to ground meat, and when seasoned with the right spices, it tastes like beef.
You can replace cauliflower rice with many other options.
Some people are sensitive to cauliflower, so below, I listed some IBS-friendly replacements for cauliflower. Choose from one of those:
– Chopped walnuts
– Sunflower seeds
– Cooked quinoa – quinoa is a complete plant-based protein and a great addition to lentil taco meat to boost the protein profile of the recipe.
– Cooked brown rice
– Hemp hearts
If you are after a spicier recipe, try my Vegan Birria Tacos and for a recipe rich in calcium, try my Tempeh Tacos.
More Vegan Tortillas Recipes
Below I listed my favorite homemade vegan tortillas and tacos recipe to fill with this taco meat recipe and enjoy a vegan taco night.
Did You Like This Recipe?
Lentil Taco Meat
- 2 teaspoons Olive Oil
- ½ Yellow Onion - diced
- 1 ¼ cup Cooked Brown Lentils - equivalent 1 can 15 oz, rinsed, drained
- 1 ¼ cup Cauliflower Rice - fresh or frozen, see note to make your own*
- 1 teaspoon Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Garlic Powder
- ½ teaspoon Paprika
- ½ teaspoon Oregano
- ¼ teaspoon Chili Powder
- ¼ cup Vegetable Broth
- 3-4 tablespoons Vegan Worcestershire Sauce - or 1 tablespoon of tamari sauce
- ½ cup Tomato Paste
- In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat olive oil and stir fry the onion until fragrant – about 1 minute.
- Stir in cooked, drained, canned brown lentils and cauliflower rice and stir fry for 1 minute.
- Stir in spices: cumin, garlic powder, paprika, oregano, salt chili powder.
- Stir in tomato paste, vegetable broth, and vegan Worcestershire sauce.
- Reduce heat, and simmer for 5-6 minutes or until the mixture thickens. The longer you cook the lentils, the thicker and dryer the sauce. For a smoother sauce, stop the heat after 3-4 minutes of cooking.
- Serve hot in my vegan, gluten-free flatbread recipe and follow my vegan, lentil taco recipe for filling tips!