These vegan lentil tacos are made with classic taco seasonings and are ready in just 30 minutes! This recipe is perfect for weeknight meatless meals.
If you're looking for an easy meatless meal, look no further than lentil tacos! Whether you're vegan or not, lentils are a great ground beef replacement because they are high in protein and fiber and low in saturated fat.
This recipe is inspired by the ground beef tacos that I grew up eating. Those tacos used a packet of taco seasoning for ease, but my lentil version uses a homemade spice blend.
- Quick & easy: Ready in just 30 minutes using inexpensive plant-based ingredients.
- Healthy & filling: At 9 grams of protein per ½ cup of filling, brown lentils are a great protein source to fill up on! Just load up high with lettuce, salsa, and guacamole for a satisfying meal.
- Versatile: The taco-seasoned lentils are great in more than just tacos. I like to make a big batch to serve throughout the week in taco salads, burritos, burrito bowls, etc.
- Dietary features: vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free
These tacos are made with the same taco-seasoned lentil filling that I use in my stuffed sweet potatoes. If you're like me and just love tacos in general, you'll have to check out my roasted cauliflower tacos and baked tacos as well.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Lentils: You can use brown or green lentils for lentil tacos. Brown lentils, which are the most common variety in grocery stores, take 20-30 minutes to cook. Green lentils can take up to 45 minutes to cook. You can use red lentils but they will have a much softer texture, making them better for coconut curry and red lentil burgers. Feel free to use canned lentils to cut down on prep time.
- Taco seasonings: Garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cumin, and oregano are the main ingredients in the lentil filling. Save time by using homemade taco seasoning or a packet of taco seasoning instead. You can also add ¼ teaspoon chipotle chili powder or smoked paprika for smokiness.
- Corn tortillas: Use small white or yellow corn tortillas, soft or crispy. Flour tortillas also work.
- Vegetable broth: Cooking lentils in vegetable broth adds a lot of flavor. I actually prefer using vegetable bouillon mixed into water, but any broth works.
Step by step instructions
This recipe is adapted from my vegan tempeh taco meat, another of my favorite ways to add protein to tacos.
Making the lentil taco filling is really as easy as simmering and stirring.
Step one: Cook brown lentils until tender in simmering water. This takes about 15-20 minutes. The lentils will absorb most of the liquid while cooking. When cooked through, drain off any excess liquid.
Remove the bay leaves, if you're using them.
Add spices and tomato sauce. Stir to combine. Simmer the lentils and seasonings for 5 minutes, until fragrant and thickened.
Assemble the lentil tacos with corn tortillas and your favorite toppings.
Serve on corn or flour tortillas with your favorite salsa and homemade or store-bought guacamole.
My favorite quick guacamole: Mash 2 large avocados with ½ teaspoon coarse salt, ¼ cup diced yellow onion, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice. Taste for salt & freshly ground black pepper.
Variations and tips
Taco seasoning: This recipe uses homemade taco seasoning, but if you have a packet of taco seasoning on hand that will also work. Look for a seasoning packet labeled "low sodium" or "no added salt" for a heart-healthy option.
You can also use 2 tablespoons of my homemade taco seasoning instead.
Type of lentils: I recommend sticking to brown or French green lentils. You can use red or orange lentils if you are in a pinch but the texture will be much softer. Canned lentils also work, just make sure to drain them first.
Extra spice: Add ¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon hot sauce, or a diced jalapeno for a spicy version of the lentil filling.
- Leftovers: For best quality, refrigerate the lentil filling in reusable containers for up to 5 days.
- Reheating: To reheat on the stove, add to a small saucepot with a splash of vegetable broth. Cover with a lid and heat on medium-low until warmed through, stirring as needed.
- Freezing: Yes! Store in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
The lentil filling makes enough for 10 tacos on 6-inch tortillas. I love serving lentil tacos on corn tortillas with a bunch of toppings (like pickled onions!), but there are so many more ways to serve them.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to serve the lentil filling other than in tacos:
- Wrapped into a vegetarian burrito
- Mixed with salad greens for a taco salad
- On top of vegetarian nachos
- Tossed with roasted veggies and rice
- Burrito bowls
- Lentil stuffed sweet potatoes
- As the protein source in tostadas
More ways to use lentils
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Vegan Lentil Tacos
- 1 cup dry brown lentils rinsed and sorted
- 2 and ½ cups vegetable broth or water
- ½ teaspoon salt divided
- 2 bay leaves optional
- 6 ounces tomato sauce ¾ cup
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- 2 tablespoons lime juice from 1 lime
- 10 6" yellow corn tortillas
- 2 cups lettuce greens
- 1 cup guacamole see note #2 for homemade
- ½ cup salsa of choice
- ¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro
- Combine 1 cup rinsed brown lentils with 2 and ½ cups vegetable broth, bay leaves, and ¼ teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer uncovered until lentils are cooked through, about 15-20 minutes.
- Drain excess liquid from the lentils, then return the lentils to the pot. Remove from the bay leaves.
- Add the tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, and remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt.
- Simmer uncovered over medium-low for 5 minutes to allow flavors to develop. This will also thicken the sauce. If the sauce becomes too thick, add 1 tablespoon water at a time. Squeeze with fresh lime just before serving.
- Meanwhile, heat the corn tortillas on a large skillet over medium-high heat. Flip when golden on one side (or when lightly browned spots appear).
- Assemble tacos: Add a few pieces of lettuce to the center of each tortilla. Add a little less than ⅓ cup of lentil filling on top. Top with fresh guacamole, salsa, and chopped cilantro. See notes for additional topping ideas.
- The lentil filling makes enough for 10 tacos.
- Lentils: Dry brown or green lentils work best. Red lentils work in a pinch but will be much softer. One cup dry lentils = about 3 cups cooked.
- Homemade guacamole: In a small bowl, mash the flesh of two large avocados. Add ½ teaspoon coarse salt, ¼ cup diced onion, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice. Taste for salt & freshly ground black pepper.
- Taco seasoning: You can replace spices with one packet of premade taco seasoning if desired.
- Storage & reheating: For best quality, keep lentils refrigerated for up to 5 days. Freeze for up to 3 months. Reheating: To reheat on the stove, add to a small sauce pot with a splash of vegetable broth. Cover with a lid and heat on medium-low until warmed through, stirring as needed.