This easy recipe for vegan lentil tacos is a great addition to your taco Tuesday lineup. The mashed lentils make an excellent base and the spices add plenty of flavour with a little kick. It’s the perfect plant-based weeknight dinner that everyone will enjoy! 

Hand picking up a vegan lentil taco with avocado, carrot and salsa.

Thank goodness for lentils!  They’re one of my favorite foods to use in plant-based cooking because they are so versatile and nutrient dense. They’re a staple in my kitchen and great food to include in a plant-based diet or any diet for that matter. 

They also make a great meat substitute because of their texture and protein content. In this recipe, you’ll mash up cooked green lentils along with Mexican spices, garlic, and onion for a taco filling that will keep everyone coming back for more. 


Features

  • Lentils are a budget-friendly food that packs in a lot of nutrition and flavor for a very small price.
  • You can find all of the ingredients in this recipe at any grocery store making it easy and accessible. 
  • Lentils are great at absorbing the flavors of whatever you put with them giving them lots of flavors. 
  • The leftover filling can be used in salads, burritos, or eaten on its own. 
  • Makes a great introductory meal for those who are transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle.

Ingredient Notes

Complete list of ingredients with amounts and instructions is located in the recipe card below.

  • Cooked Lentils – You’ll need cooked lentils for this recipe which you can purchase canned or make at home from dry on the stovetop (see below for instructions).
  • Garlic & Onion – These aromatic veggies infuse the lentils with a garlic and onion flavor that pairs well with the lentils and seasonings. 
  • Olive Oil – Used to saute the garlic, onion, and lentils to make the filling. 
  • Spices – A mix of chili powder, cumin, and red pepper flake makes the perfect basic taco seasoning. 
5 lentil tacos lined up on a piece of parchment paper.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Before You Start: If you don’t have green lentils prepared, see below for how to cook them. You can also use drained and rinsed canned lentils.

Step 1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring often.

Sauteed onions and garlic in a black skillet with a wooden spoon.

Step 3. Add the lentils and spices, stir and saute while mashing somewhat with a large spoon until completely heated through. If they’re on the dry side, you can add a bit of vegetable broth to the pan. 

Step 4. Prepare the green peppers, carrots, cilantro, avocado, salsa and any other fillings you’d like.

Step 5. Remove the mashed lentils from heat and place them in a bowl. Set out the tortillas, begin by filling them with the lentil mixture and then add your toppings. Enjoy!

Vegan lentil taco filling in a white bowl plus bowls with carrot, avocado, salsa and cilantro.

How to Cook Green Lentils

Can’t find canned lentils or prefer to make your own? Make green lentils from scratch on the stovetop by following these simple steps: 

  1. Rinse the lentils under cold water and pick out any stones or oddly shaped pieces that tend to sneak in during sorting.
  2. Add lentils to the pot along with water. You’ll need 4 cups of water for every one cup of lentils. 
  3. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer with the lid on for 20 -30 minutes or until the lentils are tender and soft. Cooking time may vary. Drain and serve.
Vegan lentil taco meat in a corn tortilla with cilantro, carrot and avocado.

Recipe Tips

  • If you’re cooking your lentils from scratch, there’s no need to pre-soak as lentils are small enough to cook quickly. 
  • Choose the level of spice desired by adding as much or as little of the red chili flake as you like. 
  • To make more of a wet filling, add some vegetable stock to the skillet to help break the lentils down further. 
  • Prepare your tortillas and toppings while the filling is cooking to make kitchen time more efficient.

Taco Filling Ideas

There are so many ways to enjoy lentil tacos making this dinner not only healthy but very versatile. Try topping your lentil tacos with these fun foods:

5 lentil tacos lined up on a piece of parchment paper.

FAQs


How many tacos will this make?

The lentil filling makes enough for about 10 small taco shells.

What can I do with any leftover filling? 

If you have extra taco filling, you can use it in a taco salad with the rest of the taco fillings piled on a bed of romaine lettuce, add it to my quinoa fiesta salad or make a vegan burrito for lunch the next day. It’s also great in a savory breakfast bowl alongside tofu scramble or in vegan breakfast tacos or burritos.

Can I substitute in a taco seasoning packet?

Yes! Add one tbsp at a time of your favorite vegan taco seasoning until desired taste is reached. 

Storing & Freezing

  • Storing: Lentil taco filling will stay fresh in the fridge if stored in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Reheat using the microwave or on a skillet over medium heat. 
  • Freezing: Cooked and cooled lentil taco filling can be stored in the freezer in small portions packed into freezer-safe bags for 4-6 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating and serving.
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5 lentil tacos lined up on a piece of parchment paper.

Vegan Lentil Tacos

  • Author: Deryn Macey
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 10 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Mexican
  • Diet: Vegan

These easy-to-make vegan tacos are a great option for weeknight dinners. The mashed lentils make an excellent base and the spices give them an awesome kick. This recipe makes enough to fill approximately 10 small tortillas.


Scale

Ingredients

For the Lentil Taco Filling

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 19 oz cans of cooked green or brown lentils, well-rinsed (4 cups cooked lentils)
  • 1 white or yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (use more or less depending on how spicy you want them!)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

For the Taco Toppings

  • 1 diced green pepper
  • 1/2 cup packed chopped cilantro
  • 1 chopped avocado
  • 4 grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • small corn or wheat taco shells

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan (or use water or broth for an oil-free recipe).
  2. Add the chopped onion and garlic. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Stir in the lentils and all of the spices. 
  4. Cook for 7-8 minutes until completely heated through, mashing slightly with a wooden spoon to create some texture. If the pan starts to dry out, add a splash of broth to add moisture.
  5. Prepare the green peppers, carrots, cilantro, avocado, salsa and any other taco fillings you’d like.
  6. Remove the mashed lentils from the pan and place in a serving bowl.
  7. Set out the tortillas. Begin by filling them with the lentil mixture and then add your toppings and enjoy.

Notes

Storing: Lentil taco filling will stay fresh in the fridge if stored in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Reheat using the microwave or on a skillet over medium heat. 

Freezing: Cooked and cooled lentil taco filling can be stored in the freezer in small portions packed into freezer-safe bags for 4-6 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating and serving.

Nutrition Facts: The nutrition facts are estimated for 1/10th of the lentil taco mixture and do not include any fillings or the taco shells.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 taco
  • Calories: 127
  • Fat: 4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 17 g
  • Fiber: 6 g
  • Protein: 7 g

Keywords: vegan tacos, lentil tacos

This recipe was originally published April 3, 2013.