This vegan lentil walnut taco meat is easy to make and versatile. Put it in tacos, enchiladas or use it in burritos. Super flavorful and family friendly!
I love a good taco, but I like to switch it up. So creating all different types of meaty filling is key to keeping things exciting. This easy recipe is the perfect addition to our component meals!
Vegan Taco Meat
When it comes to a meaty like taco meat made from plants, there are many ways you can go. One of my favorite bases is walnuts paired with lentils like I do for my Vegan Shepherd’s Pie. This combo gives a great texture and satisfying flavor when combined with taco seasoning.
Once you make the taco meat, all you need to do is gather a few basic ingredients and you'll be on your way to amazing meaty like tacos!
There are two types of walnuts, English and black walnut. I prefer to use English walnuts as they have the most health benefits and can be grown in the USA. Most walnuts are grown in California, which ensures you can buy quality nuts and support local businesses.
You might be thinking, taco meat made out of walnuts? And I am here to tell you absolutely! Walnuts are a great vegan alternative to make things like taco meat and can be bought in bulk, making your life even easier.
How To Make Lentil Walnut Taco Meat
- Add the rest of the ingredients.
- Cook until lentils are soft and the broth has evaporated!
How To Use Lentil Walnut Taco Meat
This walnut taco meat can be used in so many different recipes. My favorite is in good, old fashioned tacos. But I also enjoy putting this meat into enchiladas, quesadillas, a taco bowl or taco salad.
Can't decide what to pair this walnut taco meat with? Try these!
- Vegan Sour Cream
- Mexican Coleslaw
- Vegan Queso Blanco
- Black Beans
- Citrus Cream or Salsa
Tips and Tricks
This is a pretty full proof recipe, but here is some info to help you along the way!
- If you want to add some veggies to this, you can definitely pulse in some neutral things like cauliflower, carrots, or zucchini. If you mince greens you may be able to get away with adding a little and pass it to the kids as herbs.
- This can easily be prepped ahead of time by making sure everything is chopped and the spices are pre-measured.
- Make this walnut meat at the beginning of the week to eat all week in different ways. It goes great in tacos, but also in burritos, bowls, enchiladas, quesadillas or even soup!
- Store unused taco meat in an airtight container in the fridge. You can also freeze it for longer shelf life.
- It lasts about one week in the fridge and a good 6 months or more in the freezer.
The easiest way to get walnuts nice and finely chopped is using a food processor.
Yes! I like to put a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the top of the walnut meat so it is touching it. Then store in an airtight container. This helps prevent freezer burn.
This walnut taco meat is delicious in tacos, but I also love all the toppings. Any traditional taco topping would go great, but you can also add some roasted veggies for a little extra nutrition.
Vegan Lentil Walnut Taco Meat
- 1 cup raw walnuts , soaked overnight
- 1 cup green or brown uncooked lentils
- 3 ½ cups veggie broth
- drizzle of your favorite oil to sauté , or about ½ cup broth if oil-free
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 5 tablespoon cumin
- 3 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1-3 teaspoon cayenne pepper , optional for taste
- Using a food processor, pulse dry uncooked lentils until partially chopped and chunky. Set aside. You can also skip this step and pulse the cooked end result.
- Next pulse walnuts until chopped into small pieces. Set aside.
- In a large pan over medium heat, sauté chopped onion in oil or broth until onion begins to get translucent. About 5 minutes.
- Add walnuts and sauté 3 more minutes until mixture begins to caramelize.
- Add chopped lentils to the pan and sauté for 1 minute.
- Add 3 ½ cups veggie broth and spices and mix well.
- Cook covered for 10-15minutes until lentils have softened and broth is almost gone.
- Uncover and sauté until all broth is gone and mixture begins to brown and get dry, about 3 minutes. If you prefer, pulse once cooled a bit instead of at the beginning.
- Serve however you please!
- It’s best to soak the walnuts overnight, however, if you forget, you can also soak in hot water for 2-3 hours or boil for 30 minutes in a pinch.
- You can also use brown lentils for this. The green will cook a little more “al dente” than the brown.
- This makes about 4 cups. Serving size is ½ cup.
- Cook some lentils separately and add spices of choice from those listed. Puree and serve. You can also add cooked onion before blending. For toddlers make as is without the spice.
Recipe by Veggies Don’t Bite, visit our site for more great plant-based recipes.
Nutrition and metric information should be considered an estimate.
Oh my goodness these are so good! We topped with lettuce, cilantro, salsa, guacamole, and some roasted peppers and corn. Will definitely be making again!
Yay!! So happy you guys liked them!!!
Is there another but meat that can be used? My family has a sensitivity to walnuts. Walnuts "burn" our mouths just like drinking too hot coffee will. I can tell within minutes when I have gotten into walnuts. We don't know how to prevent the reaction and it seems to happen with both English and black walnuts. This sounds wonderful but I just can't do the walnuts.
Hi Kristy! You can use another nut in this recipe if you like, maybe cashews or almonds? Or you can make this taco meat instead: https://www.veggiesdontbite.com/high-protein-low-fat-vegan-taco-meat-made-with-whole-foods/
This recipe made the most delicious taco! I accidentally added smoked paprika instead of paprika, and they were still so good! I definitely recommend this recipe 😉
I am so happy you liked it!! Thanks Christine!!
Can you substitute the walnuts with another nut?
Hi! Sure thing. You can sub with something else you prefer. The walnuts give the best texture and flavor since they are softer than other nuts and the oils are mild. But go ahead and use what you have on hand or prefer!
We transitioned to a full Whole Foods Plant Based diet 4 weeks ago and your recipes have been a lifesaver. Made this tonight for nachos paired with your queso blanco (I could eat a vat of that!). I would absolutely have eaten this if I wasn't vegan. Going to try the leftovers in a vegan version of Mexican macaroni and cheese. We will keep working our way through your recipes, thank you for making this change so much easier.
Ha!! So happy you are liking them Pam!! Thank you so much for the great review and get in touch if you need anything at all!
Super easy, super delicious! I am a TERRIBLE cook and, unfortunately for my better half, the one cooking for us during our 'stay safe at home' during these uncertain times. I am also a vegan so he has lost weight being forced to eat my cooking but this recipe is so good and so 'meat-like' and tastes just like tacos that we were both unable to stop eating it until we needed to be rolled away from the table!!! Thank you so much!
Haha Beth!! I am SO thrilled you liked it! Your better half is happy now! Thank you so much for the great review!