Are Meatless Monday and Taco Tuesday weekly staples on your family's menu? Try our spicy lentil taco meat for one of those nights. It's vegan, high in protein, and healthy. Plus, it's a plant based meal that everyone in your family will love--kids included.
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Lentil taco meat is made with low cost pantry staples that are easy to find at the grocery store. Chances are, you'll have most of these ingredients already.
- Legumes: brown or green lentils
- Vegetables: onion, garlic, tomato paste
- Dried Spices: chili powder, ancho chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, cayenne, and black pepper
- Liquid: vegetable broth
- Citrus: freshly squeezed lime juice
How do I substitute lentils for meat?
Once cooked, one cup of dry lentils will plump up and double in size. Add spices, like taco seasoning, and aromatics, like onions and garlic, to make them taste more like tacos made from ground beef. One pound of cooked ground beef can be substituted with one cup of dry lentils.
What do you season lentils with?
For this recipe, we used tomato paste and homemade taco seasoning to make the cooked lentils taste like taco meat.
Do I add salt before cooking lentils?
No, add the salt after cooking or they might become tough.
Are lentils full of carbs?
Yes, since they are a type of legume, they have a high carb content. If you are on a keto diet, it's best to avoid eating lentils.
What are the calories for this recipe?
A serving size of ¼ cup has 104 calories, 2.2 g of fat, 17.4 g of carbs., 2.3 g of fiber and 5.4g of protein. For more nutritional information, scroll past the recipe card.
How to make lentils less gassy?
Soak them for 4 hours or up to overnight, then dump the soaking water and rinse with cold running water.
What can I add to my taco meat?
Try theses toppings for your next vegan taco Tuesday night: homemade pico de gallo, guacamole, fresh chopped cilantro, and avocado cilantro dressing.
How can I use this vegan taco meat?
This recipe tastes amazing when used in other Tex Mex meals like: tacos, burritos, tostados, and quesadillas. You can also use it in a lettuce wrap if you're on a low carb diet.
How to Make
Gather the ingredients to cook the lentils: vegetable broth and lentils.
In a medium saucepan, bring the vegetable broth to a full boil, then add the rinsed lentils. Cover and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 30 to 35 minutes, then uncover and cook for 6 to 8 minutes.
Gather the ingredients for the vegan taco meat: cooked lentils, chopped onion, minced garlic, tomato paste, dried spices, and vegetable broth.
In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat up the olive oil until shimmering, then cook the onion until golden brown. Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant.
For additional flavor and added color, add the tomato paste.
Next, add the dried spices. Our version of homemade taco seasoning includes the following spices: ancho chili powder, cumin, cayenne and black pepper, salt, Mexican oregano, and chili powder.
Cook the tomato paste and spices for one minute while constantly stirring.
Add the cooked lentils to the skillet and mix well to combine.
Add the remaining vegetable broth (1 ½ cups) and stir it in. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally and add filtered water if the meat starts to look dry, as lentils can absorb a lot of liquid.
Give it a good stir and taste it. You can serve it now, or take the flavor a step further.
Add 2 to 4 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime juice to the lentil taco meat. This will decrease the spiciness a bit and give a hint of lime to the meat.
This recipe makes 2 ¼ to 2 ½ cups of lentil taco meat. Serve while still warm.
- Want to change it up? Add 1 cup of chunky salsa.
- Want it spicier? Increase the cayenne pepper, add crushed red pepper flakes or hot sauce.
- Want a different texture? Mash it up or put half of it in a food processor.
- In a hurry? Substitute the chopped onion and minced garlic for 1 teaspoon each of onion and garlic powder.
- Brown lentils cook in 25 to 35 minutes and green cook in 45 to 50 minutes.
- Don't use red lentils, as they get too mushy.
- Use vegetable broth to cook the lentils, as it adds more flavor.
Other Vegan Taco Meats
Other Vegan Mexican Recipes
- Vegan Refried Beans
- Vegan Burrito Bowl
- Vegan Taco Salad
- Chipotle Pinto Beans
- Chipotle Black Beans
- Chipotle Corn Salsa
- Chipotle Fajita Veggies
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Lentil taco meat is an easy vegan recipe that is healthy and high in protein. It's a delicious and spicy plant based meal everyone will love. Try this gluten free and kid friendly recipe for your next Taco Tuesday or meatless Monday.
- 1 cup brown lentils (172g)
- 4 cups vegetable broth, reserve 1 ½ cups for later (950 ml)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (15 ml)
- 1 cup yellow onion, chopped (114g)
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice, from about 4 limes
- Bring 2 ½ cups of vegetable broth to a boil in a medium sized saucepan. Meanwhile, rinse the lentils in a strainer, then add them to the broth once it boils. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 to 35 minutes until tender, then uncover and cook for 6 to 8 minutes to thicken.
- Heat up the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, then saute the chopped onion for roughly 4 minutes. Add the minced garlic and stir constantly for one minute.
- Add the tomato paste and the dried spices and cook for a minute, while stirring constantly.
- Put the cooked lentils in the skillet and stir until well blended. Pour in 1 ½ cups of the remaining vegetable broth and cook uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding filtered water when necessary, as this meat will absorb a lot of liquid.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the freshly squeezed lime juice. If you want, you can mash the lentils or put half in a food processor to change up the texture and appearance.
- Serve while still warm.
- Brown lentils cook 20 minutes quicker than green lentils.
- Red lentils get too mushy for this recipe, so it's best to avoid them.
- Want more flavor? Use vegetable broth instead of filtered water to cook the lentils.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 55 minutes
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Mexican
Keywords: lentil taco meat, lentil ground beef substitute