May 9, 2012

Vegan Lentil Tacos

Simple vegan lentil tacos! A great introduction to plant-based meals.

Vegan Lentil Tacos! These are the BEST swap for ground meat tacos with the same amount of protein and half the fat! Lentil Tacos! AKA the BEST swap for meat tacos- same amount of protein, 1/2 the fat! #vegan and #glutenfree option

Of all the recipes that I’ve put on this blog, these vegan lentil tacos are my favorite. My I-hope-you-will-make-these-first recipe, as I am confident in their ability to win over any die-hard omnivore.

Not only is this meal healthy, it’s also pretty inexpensive and quick to make. A win-win in my book. Of all the subs for ground beef, lentils are probably one of my favorite. They are high in fiber, iron and protein and one cup provides almost all of your daily folate needs.

If you’re trying to lower cholesterol levels then try subbing lentils for ground beef, turkey or chicken in your pasta sauces, burgers, and these tacos. I’ve made these for many carnivores and everyone asks for the recipe.  And, coincidentally, this lentil taco recipe is gluten-free if you sub corn tortillas for flour. Vegan, gluten-free, these lentil tacos please everyone!

Lentil Tacos! AKA the BEST swap for meat tacos- same amount of protein, 1/2 the fat! #vegan and #glutenfree option

How to make vegan lentil tacos

The good news is that these tacos couldn’t be easier to put together! First, saute an onion until translucent and soft. This helps give the lentils more flavor and adds to the overall texture of the dish. 

From there, you’ll add the spices and let cook until you start to smell them. Cooking the spices in the fat of the onions and oil is called blooming, which is just a fancy way of making the dried spices more potent.

Then, add in cooked lentils and cook until warmed through. The secret to getting these lentils to act like ground meat is to gently smash some of them using the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher. 

Can I use canned lentils?

Canned lentils are fine to substitute here. A reminder that you don’t have to soak lentils first before cooking them, so you can cook a large batch at once to use in these tacos, then in my lentil loaf, lentil masala, or lentil tacos with cauliflower later in the week. 

Which lentils are best for vegan lentil tacos? 

Brown or french green lentils are best as they hold their shape after being cooked. Split lentils or red lentils will turn to mush once cooked, so avoid them in this recipe. If you cannot find lentils, you can substitute cooked black beans or pinto beans. 

Can I substitute in a taco seasoning packet? 

If you’re short on time, sub in the spice mixture for a taco seasoning packet. You may need to add in a little vegetable broth along with the lentils as taco seasoning packets tend to have added thickeners in them that will absorb moisture in the recipe. 

Lentil Tacos! AKA the BEST swap for meat tacos- same amount of protein, 1/2 the fat! #vegan and #glutenfree option

If you try these lentil tacos, make sure to come back to leave a comment and rate them! Your feedback helps others and seeing you make my recipes makes my day. 

vegan lentil tacos

Vegan Lentil Tacos

  • Author: Alex
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 8 tacos 1x
  • Category: Dinner, Vegan, Main
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Mexican


Vegan Lentil Tacos! These are the BEST swap for ground meat tacos with the same amount of protein and half the fat!

  • Author: Alex
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 8 tacos 1x
  • Category: Dinner, Vegan, Main
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Mexican
  • Author: Alex
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 8 tacos 1x
  • Category: Dinner, Vegan, Main
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Mexican


  • 2 cups lentils, cooked (from 1 cup dry lentils)
  • 1 white onion, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 12 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable broth
  • Corn or Flour Tortillas, for serving
  • Taco toppings: shredded lettuce, sliced jalapeños, homemade guacamole

Spice mix:

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper


  1. In a large frying pan over medium high heat, sweat the onion in 1 tbsp. oil. Stir frequently, about 4-5 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and spice mixture and cook for another minute or two, stirring frequently. You don’t want to burn the spices just crank up the flavor by cooking them.
  2. While you are cooking this, warm the tortillas. You can do this in the oven or microwave. I just place them on the burner behind my frying pan and let them warm up while I cook the filling, this way I don’t have to turn on the oven.
  3. Add the lentils and stir to combine. Add the vegetable broth and using a potato masher or fork, gently mash the lentils until they start to look like ground meat. Cook another few minutes until hot. If the lentils start to dry out, add another tbsp. or two of vegetable broth (can also use salsa here)
  4. Place a heaping spoonful or two into the taco shell and add your fillings. The filling will make about 10-12 tacos, depending on how stuffed you like them!


  • If you are using dried lentils, you’ll need to cook them first. Rinse the lentils, then place in a saucepan with enough water to cover by 2-3 inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and let simmer until tender, about 25-30 minutes.
  • Instead of the homemade spice mix, you can use a packaged taco seasoning. Start with 2 tablespoons, then add more as desired.

did you make this?

Tag @delishknowledge on Instagram and hashtag it #delishknowledge

If you love these vegan lentil tacos, then you will love these other lentil taco recipes:

Instant Pot Lentil Walnut Tacos, Vegan Zucchini and Lentil Tacos, and 10-minute black bean tacos. 

Vegan Lentil Tacos! Looking for a healthy, weeknight dinner? Make these vegan tacos. They taste like beef tacos, with just as much protein and zero cholesterol. | #vegan #vegetarian #dinner #main #lentil #tacos #plantprotein


The Ultimate Plant-Based Protein Cookbook + Course

(Includes 40+ recipes!)


Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, Plant-Based Chef and Yoga Instructor. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.


leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. Only lentil recipe for tacos/ burritos I make, I double up the spices and add chopped spinach to sneak veggies to the toddler and he loves it, and I use leftovers in quesadillas the next day- so good.

  2. This is a great recipe. We are meat eaters and love beef or chicken tacos but recently started a Meatless Monday routine. I had some lentils in the pantry and came upon this recipe. The taco lentil preparation is awesome. We cannot tell it isn’t beef. We made it per recipe and loved the spice mix. I will probably use this spice mix with beef or chicken tacos too instead of using packets in the future. We put our usual fixings in the tacos and used hard taco shells. It was great. Will definitely make them again and probably regularly. All meat eaters will enjoy these. Thanks for publishing this recipe!!

  3. […] times and that is the worst time to discover you all hate lentils! Here is our current favourite Lentil Tacos! Super Tip 3: It is a good idea to go over what you have before doing a big shop. You might […]

  4. Sooo I just made this and it was delicious!!! So easy to make! Easy cleanup and everything!! Thank you thank you! This is a perfect college recipe.

  5. I’ve just made these with brown lentils and it came out amazing. Great texture – creamy yet ground-like (hard to explain, really). I added a pinch of turmeric and substituted the paprika for smoked paprika. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. Giving these a try tonight in homemade sourdough spelt tortillas. We love sprouting buckwheat and cooking in the skillet with sautéed veggies in a similar way. Have you tried that in a taco?

  7. Alex, I now make this recipe weekly thank you! It is a family favourite with my kids especially (8 and 4) better than my usual Italian plain lentils as the kids then add vegetable toppings to their taco. Can’t wait to try more of your recipes. Greetings from Ireland! Maria

  8. We made these tonight and they were absolutely delicious! My husband and I both agreed we liked them more than any meat taco we’d ever had. Thanks for the recipe!

  9. You can never have enough garlic! . Thank you for sharing your wonderful recipes and i Am a die hard omnivore but reading your recipes I could imagine giving up meat

    • Your spice mix will determine how spicy the tacos are; the one listed here is mild, but if you add more cayenne pepper, it will be more spicy. To decrease any spice, remove the pepper all together.

  10. I was blown away at how delicious these were! They will be added to our regular meal planning rotation. Thank you!!!

  11. This is the fantastic!!! I asked my meat loving boys to try and they liked. Cheap, flavors are great and you can’t be the nutritional value of lentils. This will become a staple for meatless Monday’s.
    PS.. I cook my lentils in the rice cooker .
    Thanks a bunch.

  12. For a novice chef, such as myself, with barely any experience using lentils, it would have been nice to include preparing the lentils before adding them to the skillet

  13. I can’t wait to try these. I’m afraid I don’t have all the spices but I do know I have a package of taco seasoning. How much of it would I use? Does 1 cup dried lentils equal 1 lb meat?

    • Hi Cara- I’d do 1/2 of a packet with a little broth or water to see how that tastes- you can always add more, but I wouldn’t want it to be too salty!

  14. Planning on making these tonight. My love just had bypass surgery almost 3 weeks ago and is working on building up his iron again and lentils are a great source of iron, along with other great health benefits. I’m thinking of using low sodium beef stock to boil then in to impart some flavor. Any thoughts on that?

    • Hi Donna- I havent tried it with beef broth before but I can’t imagine that it won’t work. I often cook my lentils with vegetable broth, so I assume the same thing will work here.

  15. Love, love, love the lentil tacos!!! One of our first vegetarian meals, will be searching your site for more. Thank you so much!

  16. These taste as good as any taco mix I have ever had – like ever. The taco seasoning mixture is perfect. Amazing, 100% healthy to my temple. Doing the Daniel Fast and these fit right in with rightly made taco shells. Thanks so so so much. Blessings.

  17. I never leave reviews but I tried your recipe tonight as I try to live my life healthier. AMAZING!! Better than normal tacos even. Thank you so much for sharing!

  18. Unless you mean to use 1 cup of dried lentils…because I don’t see how 1 cup of cooked lentils can make 10 to 12 tacos!!

      • Thanks! I guess the wording just threw me off. I assumed 1 cup lentils, cooked, meant 1 cup of cooked lentils. Oops! Giving these another go tonight.

          • How do you recommend cooking the lentils? I love them but I’ve never cooked them before.

          • Hi Mackenzie, to cook from dried, cook on a stovetop, using 3 cups of liquid (water, stock, etc) to 1 cup of dry lentils. Be sure to use a large enough saucepan as the lentils will double or triple in size. Bring to a boil, cover tightly, reduce heat and simmer until they are tender. For whole lentils, cook time is typically 15-20 minutes.

  19. Oh. My. Gosh. My husband is crazy about Mexican food. (Seriously crazy. If we visit a Mexican restaurant and English is the primary language on the menu, we leave.) It’s been difficult to transition that into a vegan diet, but he LOVED these. RAVED about them. I couldn’t believe it. A million gracias-es. 🙂