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Looking for a tasty vegan alternative to ground beef for your Tex-Mex recipes? Try our vegan walnut taco meat. It’s a meat substitute that is delicious, protein packed, freezer friendly, and easy to make!
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- Nuts: walnuts
- Fats: olive oil, vegan butter
- Vegetables: mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes
- Aromatics: white onions and garlic
- Spices: chili powder, ground cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne, salt, coconut aminos
- Zing: freshly squeezed lime juice
What is walnut taco meat?
Walnut meat is an alternative to ground beef, and is a popular choice for vegans and vegetarians. It has the texture of cooked ground beef and is flavored with the same spices. This meat alternative can be heated up in a skillet or roasted in the oven. It also appeals to those who want more plant-based proteins in their diet.
What is it made of?
For this recipe, we used walnuts, mushrooms, and sun dried tomatoes, but some other options are cauliflower florets, lentils, or quinoa. The method behind this recipe is flexible, so pick your base and then add some aromatics and spices.
What does nut meat taste like?
It tastes very similar to ground beef taco meat because of the seasonings; it just is a bit more crunchy due to the walnuts. This meat alternative can stand on its own and is very flavorful. When it is put into a taco, you can’t really taste the difference. All three of my girls loved the taste, so it appeals to meat eaters too.
How do you mince walnuts?
For this recipe, I used a food processor, since it’s the easiest and quickest way to mince 4 cups of walnuts. If you don’t own a food processor, place the walnuts on a large wooden cutting board and use a large chef’s knife to mince the walnuts to the texture you desire.
What is nut meat made from?
For this recipe, we used walnuts as the base, but you could also use a mix of walnuts and almonds. If you want your meat alternative to be nut free, try using cauliflower florets, lentils or quinoa.
What are the calories for this recipe?
For 1/4 cup serving, there are 182 calories with 7.1g carbs and 3.7g of protein. For more nutritional information, scroll to the end of the recipe card.
Can this walnut meat be made ahead?
Yes, it most certainly can. If you want to make this for a weekly meal prep, it will last in the fridge all week if it’s placed in an airtight container. Reheat in a skillet over medium low heat.
Can you freeze this recipe?
Absolutely! It freezes really well, so feel free to make a big batch and freeze some. If you happen to find yourself alone one evening for dinner, just scoop out 1/2 cup and reheat it to use on top of a baked potato, taco salad, or a plate of nachos.
What can I add this meat to?
Anything in the taco family: tacos, burritos, nachos, enchiladas, quesadillas, and tostadas. It would also taste wonderful on a taco salad or a baked potato or sweet potato.
What toppings taste great with this recipe?
- Pico de gallo
- Chipotle Corn Salsa
- Black Bean Spread
- Cilantro Lime Dressing
- Cactus salad
How to Make
Gather all the ingredients. Start by cleaning and slicing the mushrooms, juicing the limes, mincing the garlic, chopping the onion, and measuring out the spices and oil.
Start by soaking the walnuts in cold water for 18 to 20 minutes. This helps soften the walnuts and reduces the tannins, which give walnuts a bitter taste.
While the walnuts are soaking, pour warm water over the sun dried tomatoes and let them soak for 5 minutes to soften them up.
Melt the vegan butter in a large skillet and saute the sliced mushrooms over medium-high heat. Stir every once in a while.
While the mushrooms are sauteing, heat up the oil in another skillet over medium high heat. Saute the onion for a few minutes to soften it and give it more flavor. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon.
During the last minute of cooking the onion, add the minced garlic and stir constantly so it doesn’t burn.
Once the mushrooms are a nice golden brown color, remove them from the skillet.
Add the walnuts to the food processor. I started with 4 cups of whole walnuts, because that’s all I could find, but walnut pieces would be better, as they’re cheaper.
Pulse until the mixture is the texture you want. Don’t make it too small; you’ll want the texture to be like meat crumbles. If you over process, the walnuts will be more like a nut butter. Remove the walnuts and place them in the large skillet.
Place the mushrooms and soaked sun dried tomatoes into the food processor.
Process until the mixture until the texture is finely chopped. Use a plastic spatula to scrape down the sides of the food processor. Once it’s the texture you like, add the mixture to the walnuts in the large skillet.
Add the onion/garlic mixture to the large skillet, then add in the spices: cumin, smoked paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and salt.
Add the coconut aminos next, then mix everything together.
Add 1/4 cup of filtered water and stir it in. If necessary, add more water if you like your taco meat a bit more saucy. Over medium low heat, heat up the walnut taco meat for 8 minutes or until everything is heated through.
Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the freshly squeezed lime juice.
Enjoy right away while it is still hot, or serve it at room temperature. If you want to freeze any leftovers, allow the walnut taco meat to cool and place in an airtight container or freezer zip top bag.
Use the walnut meat to make your own tacos.
- Don’t need this to be soy free? Replace the coconut aminos with soy sauce.
- Want to replace the mushrooms? Try using cauliflower florets.
- Need to replace the sun dried tomatoes? Use tomato paste or fire roasted tomatoes.
- Need this nut free? Increase the mushrooms and use chickpeas instead of the walnuts.
- Need this oil free? Use vegetable broth or another fat to saute the vegetables.
- Don’t want to heat this in a skillet? Bake on a tray for 30 minutes in a 375 F oven.
- Can only find sun dried tomatoes packed in oil? Rinse, drain, and pat dry before using.
- Want to increase the heat? Add 1 or 2 seeded habanero peppers, or increase the cayenne pepper.
Other Mexican Recipes You’ll Love
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Vegan walnut taco meat is an easy recipe that’s packed with delicious Mexican flavors and is plant based, gluten, and dairy free. It requires simple ingredients, and cooks up in 20 minutes. Learn how to make the best fake meat with walnuts, mushrooms, and sun dried tomatoes.
Walnut Taco Meat
- 4 cups walnuts (453g)
- 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes (52g)
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter
- 10 ounces baby portabella mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (30 ml)
- 1/2 cup white onion, finely chopped (60g)
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup coconut aminos (57g)
- 1 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 cup water, or more if needed (60 ml)
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (60 ml)
- 6-inch tortillas, corn or flour
- guacamole (see notes)
- chipotle corn salsa (see notes)
- black bean spread (see notes)
- cherry tomatoes, halved
- pickled red onions
- pickled jalapenos
- avocado slices
- cilantro lime dressing (see notes)
Walnut Taco Meat
- Soak the walnuts in cold water for 18 to 20 minutes, then drain. Soak the sun dried tomatoes in warm water for 5 minutes, then drain.
- Melt the vegan butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Saute the sliced mushrooms until they have turned brown, stirring occasionally for about 8 minutes. Set aside.
- Heat up the olive oil in the skillet over medium high heat. Saute the onion for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the garlic and saute for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Process the walnuts in a food processor until they are small and have a texture that you like. Don’t over process, as they can turn to nut butter. Once the walnuts are the texture you want, place them in the skillet.
- Clean out the food processor, then process the sauteed mushrooms and soaked sun dried tomatoes. Use a plastic spatula to help scrape down the sides. Place them in the large skillet with the walnuts.
- Add the coconut aminos, spices, and 1/4 cup of water to the pan of nuts. Stir and cook for 8 minutes over medium low heat. If necessary, add more water. Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the freshly squeezed lime juice.
- Serve with Tex-Mex foods like tacos, burritos, nachos, salads and on top of a baked potato or sweet potato.
Making the Tacos
- Spread a spoonful of guacamole on a small tortilla to help hold the ingredients together. Top with add 1/4 cup of walnut taco meat, chipotle corn salsa, cherry tomatoes, black bean spread, an avocado slice, pickled jalapenos, pickled red onion, and a drizzle of cilantro lime dressing.
- For the recipes below, taste and adjust seasonings as you go.
- Guacamole: mashed avocados, lime juice, salt, cumin, onion, cilantro, and garlic
- Chipotle Corn Salsa: olive oil, frozen corn toasted in skillet, red onion, jalapenos, roasted poblano, cilantro, lime juice, coriander, salt, and pepper
- Cilantro Lime Dressing: cilantro, avocado, lime juice, jalapeno, lime zest, garlic, honey, EVOO, salt and pepper
- Black Bean Spread: black beans, lime juice, cumin, garlic, and water
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: vegan taco meat, mushroom walnut taco meat, vegan Mexican recipe