What’s meaty without being literally meaty, and is brimming with Tex-Mex flavors? This Vegetarian Lentil Taco Meat, that’s what! With Mexican flavors and a combo of far-from-boring textures, this versatile vegetarian taco meat is the perfect filling for tacos, burritos, quesadillas, taco salad, and so much more.

I love to make this lentil walnut taco meat at the beginning of the week for meals all week long. It’s so easy!

My guy, who is a carnivore, will cook taco-seasoned ground beef, and then we’ll enjoy several nights of one-dish-two-ways meals: Vegetarian taco salad + meaty taco salad. Taco stuffed sweet potatoes (recipe coming soon!) Just straight-up tacos. Quesadillas. It totally works!

Table of Contents

The Story Behind the Recipe

I’ve been making a version of this recipe for years! I first caught wind of the genius of the lentil-walnut combo for taco meat in the Oh She Glows cookbook. Over the years, I started building my own recipe around the lentil-walnut combo.

I love, love, love the simplicity of this vegetarian taco “meat.” It’s just a matter of toasting up the walnuts, then cooking the veggies, sauteeing the aromatics, and simmering the lentils in everything plus the broth. Add back the walnuts, squeeze some lime juice over the top, and eat well!

Lentil Walnut Taco Meat Ingredients

  • Lentils – I prefer French green lentils in this vegetarian taco meat recipe, because they stay rather firm and don’t get mushy like other lentils can. I love how they soak up the flavors but hold their own in this recipe. I did test this recipe with common brown lentils, and it was good, but not AS good as French green lentils, in my opinion.
  • Walnuts – Chopped and toasted. They add a little nutrition and healthy fat, plus some nice texture.
  • Onion, green pepper, & garlic – These veggies/aromatics add some nice flavor and nutrition.
  • Olive oil – For sautéing the veggies and other ingredients.
  • Tomato paste – I like the rich color and umami flavor that tomato paste gives a recipe. It’s kind of a magic ingredient for vegetarian recipes!
  • Taco seasoning – I use my homemade taco seasoning in this recipe, but if you don’t have any taco seasoning mix on hand, I’ve added substitute information in the notes section of the recipe.
  • Veggie broth – Store-bought or homemade veggie broth will work! I always like to start with low-sodium vegetable broth so that I can better control the salt in the finished product.
  • Salt & pepper – For enhancing all of those flavors.
  • Lime juice – Adds a bright, zippy, acidic touch to your lentil taco meat.


  • This vegetarian taco meat is vegetarian, dairy-free, vegan, and gluten-free already, so it’s one of those great neutral recipes that works for a lot of different diets.
  • Make it spicier by adding a few dashes of Tabasco with the lime juice. You can also drop in some cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes to turn up the heat.
  • Brown lentils also work, but I really prefer French green lentils for this one.

How to Make Lentil Taco Meat

First, you toast your walnuts, then remove them from the pan and wipe the pan clean.

From there, heat the olive oil and add the onion and green peppers. Saute until soft and tender, then add the garlic, tomato paste, and taco seasoning spices. Saute until fragrant, then add the vegetable broth, lentils, salt, and pepper.

At this point, you’re going to need to simmer your vegetarian taco meat for a bit to cook down and the lentils get tender. Splash in a bit of broth if it gets too dry.

Then, stir in the toasted walnuts, squeeze in some lime juice, add more salt and pepper if you like, and voila! Taco time!

Can I Freeze This Vegetarian Taco Meat?

Yes, this taco meat freezes really well! Just place it in an airtight freezer bag or container and freeze for up to 3 months. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop with a splash of vegetable broth or water.

More Lentil Recipes

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Vegetarian Lentil Taco Meat

Author: Kare
Yield: 6
This versatile, delicious, and full-of-flavor combo makes an incredible meatless taco filling! It's not just for tacos, though. Use this lentil-walnut taco filling for burritos, taco salads, quesadillas, and so much more!


  • 1/2 cup walnuts (finely chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion (diced )
  • 1 green bell pepper (diced )
  • 2 medium garlic cloves (minced)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning*
  • 3/4 cup French green lentils (rinsed)
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (+ up to 1 cup more if needed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt** (plus more to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (plus more to taste)
  • 1/2 lime (juiced)


  • Set a large saute pan over medium-low heat. Add the walnuts and toast, stirring frequently, for 4-5 minutes, until just beginning to turn lightly golden and fragrant. Transfer walnuts to a bowl and set aside.
  • Carefully wipe out the pan and set it back over the heat. Add olive oil. When hot, add the onion and green bell pepper. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, tomato paste, and taco seasoning. Cook, stirring, for one minute, until fragrant.
  • Add the vegetable broth, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the pan. Stir in the lentils. Increase to high, until the mix is boiling, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 25 minutes. If the mixture gets too dry before the lentils have cooked through, splash in a little more vegetable broth to keep it going.
  • Stir in the toasted walnuts along with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Squeeze the lime over the top. Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired.
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.


*If you don’t have taco seasoning mix on hand, sub in:
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprrika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
** I usually use about 1 teaspoon kosher salt, but I kept the salt content low with the option to add more because tastes vary.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1g, Calories: 202kcal, Carbohydrates: 22g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Sodium: 307mg, Potassium: 169mg, Fiber: 10g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 239IU, Vitamin C: 22mg, Calcium: 37mg, Iron: 2mg

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