This lentil taco meat is the perfect filling for your taco night! The lentil mixture is loaded with Mexican flavors and aromas, so delicious that you won’t even think those tacos are vegan, gluten-free and high-protein based!
This spicy vegan version for taco meat uses lentils instead of minced beef and the flavour is so rich and delicious that even my husband who loves meat ask me to cook it from time to time.
This delicious taco filling is super easy to prepare and you won’t even miss the meat! Packed with fiber, protein, and delicious Mexican flavors this lentil taco meat is the perfect way to add more vegan recipes into your daily meals.
Ingredients for lentil mixture
- Lentils: The lentils I’m using brown lentils from Castelluccio (an Italy’s region) because they’re the best quality I can find here. Use brown or green lentils for a yummy lentil taco meat, as other types, such as red lentils becomes too mushy.
- Vegetables: Tomatoes, onions, jalapeño peppers, and red bell peppers. I didn’t discarded the seeds and veins from jalapeños but feel free to do it if you don’t like your food too spicy.
- Spices: I used a mix of spices, such as smoky paprika (which gives an amazing flavor!), cumin, oregano, marjoram, garlic, salt and pepper. If you have in your pantry a taco meat seasoning, you can use that instead.
Related article: Everything you need to know about lentils.
For topping your tacos
Tortillas: We made some small tortillas with our recipe for gluten-free corn tortillas. But we also have a recipe for flour tortillas, AND for blue corn tortillas! so check them up and make the ones your prefer. Or simply, use your favorite brand of store-bought tortillas.
Sauces: My favorite sauce for tacos is guacamole salsa taquera, so I went for it. But actually other salsas works just well for tacos, such as molcajete salsa, pico de gallo, fake guacamole, or tomatillo salsa.
Veggies: I toped those tacos you see on the picture below with shredded lettuce, diced red onions, and vegan cream. Other’s toppings such as Mexican cabbage salad or red pickled onions are also nice additions.
Other uses for lentil taco meat
- Burritos – Replace the chicken on this burrito with this lentil taco meat and enjoy a meatless Mexican meal.
- Tostadas – Use tostadas (crunchy tortillas) instead of soft tortillas and top with the same toppings we suggest or add your favorite ones.
- Totopos – Serve it on a bowl and top with tortilla chips (totopos), enjoy as appetizer or as a snack on a movie night!
The easy recipe
Cook lentils with one garlic clove (skin-on), 1 bay leaf and salt. You can cook them with whatever method you prefer, such as in the instant pot, crockpot, or the stove. Drain lentils and set aside.
Chop onions, tomatoes and jalapeño peppers. Dice bell peppers and set aside.
On a medium skillet or non-stick pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add bell peppers first and cook, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes. Then add onions and jalapeño peppers and sauté until onions will be transparent and soft (about 3 minutes).
Add tomatoes and cook for 1 minute. Season with salt, pepper, cumin, garlic, and paprika. Stir for 1 minute to allow the spices to release their aroma and flavor.
Add lentils and stir for one minute.
Pour in one and half cup of vegetable stock or water, mix and bring to a gently simmer.
Let the lentil taco meat cook, covered for 5 minutes. Uncover and keep cooking until almost all liquids are gone.
Adjust seasonings, turn off heat, stir in cilantro and that’s it. Your lentil taco meat is ready!
Make your tacos
- Warm up tortillas on a pan or skillet, you can use a little bit of oil or just place them onto the smoky hot pan and warm for about half minute on each side.
- Lay flat a tortilla on a plate and add two spoonful of the lentil taco meat.
- Top with lettuce, onions, guacamole salsa and finish with a squeeze of lime. Enjoy!
- You can also use canned lentils (plain, not flavored).
- I always soak my lentils but actually is not that necessary, I think is just more a habit than anything. I do same when I cook de la olla beans. But actually, if the legumes are of good quality and not too old, you don’t really need to soak them.
If you got leftovers, place them on an air-tight container and store in the fridge for up to 3 days. To reheat the mixture, add a splash of water and heat in a pan on the stove.
This recipe freeze wonderfully too. Place leftovers on zip bags or a freeze-proof container and freeze for up to 3 months.
Lentil Taco Meat
- 4 cups cooked lentils (drained)
- 1 large red bell pepper (diced)
- 1 medium white onion (chopped)
- 1 large tomato (diced)
- 2 Tbsp cilantro (finely chopped)
- 2 jalapeño pepper (chopped)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp hot paprika
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 ½ cups vegetable stock (or water)
- salt & pepper
- On a medium skillet or non-stick pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add bell peppers first and cook, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes.
- Add onions and jalapeño peppers and sauté until onions will be transparent and soft (about 3 minutes).
- Add tomatoes and cook for 1 minute. Season with salt, pepper, cumin, garlic, and paprika. Stir for 1 minute.
- Add lentils and mix, cooking everything for one minute.
- Pour in vegetable stock or water, mix and bring to a simmer.
- Let the lentil taco meat cook, covered for 5 minutes. Uncover and keep cooking until almost all liquids are gone.
- Adjust seasonings, turn off heat, and stir in cilantro.
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