Lentil taco meat is a healthy, flavorful, and satisfying meatless option for tacos, burritos, bowls, and so much more. Perfectly seasoned and easy to prepare in an Instant Pot or on the stovetop. Ready in no time! This recipe is whole-food plant-based (WFPB), gluten-free, and soy-free.
We're really enjoying this lentil taco meat lately. Don't get me wrong, I still LOVE this Soy Curl Taco Meat when I have soy curls on hand, but it's also nice to switch things up. Lentils are an affordable, nutritious way to do that.
If you have an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker, you'll love how easy this recipe is. It's a dump-and-start recipe, for sure.
And preparing the lentils on the stovetop is pretty darn easy, too!
- Lentils - feel free to use brown, green or black lentils for this recipe. Avoid red and yellow lentils since they will be too mushy.
- Onion - any variety you have on hand will do.
- Garlic - 2 large cloves gives the lentils great flavor without being too garlicky. Garlic powder also works if that's what you have on hand. About ¾ teaspoon is perfect.
- Jalapeño - with the seeds removed jalapeños don't add much spicy heat, but feel free to omit the pepper if you're not a fan. Or if you LOVE jalapeño, use two!
- Chili powder - this refers to the blend commonly found in grocery stores, not a specific chili pepper.
- Walnuts, optional (not pictured) - for slightly richer and more filling lentil taco meat I like to add ground walnuts, but if you avoid nuts or need a very low fat dish, feel free to omit. For a nut-free addition sunflower seeds are a great option.
How To Make Lentil Taco Meat
There are two easy ways to cook this lentil taco meat.
In an Instant Pot:
- Combine all ingredients in the Instant Pot and stir. Lock on the lid, set to sealing, and cook at high pressure for 8 to 9 minutes.
- If including ground walnuts, pulse them in a food processor while the lentils are cooking.
- Quick release the pressure, and carefully remove the lid. Strain away any excess liquid left in the pot (there shouldn't be much). Stir in the ground walnuts. Let stand for a few minutes, and serve.
On the stovetop:
- Sauté the onion and jalapeño for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and spices, and cook for another minute, stirring frequently.
- Add the lentils, water, and salt, and bring to boil.
- Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes.
- While the lentils cook, process walnuts into a finely ground texture (if using). Once the lentils are done, strain away excess liquid. Stir in the ground walnuts, and let stand for a few minutes before serving.
Ways to Use Lentil Taco Meat
I'm perfectly happy with a simple bowl of rice and lentil taco meat with fresh toppings like lettuce, lime, and pico de gallo or salsa. But of course it's great for so many other dishes, too... like tacos, obviously.
You can also add lentil taco meat to pizzas, flatbreads, and salads.
Spread a layer of lentils inside Oil-Free Quesadillas.
Pile them on nachos, and use them for these Easy Baked Taquitos.
Definitely. Follow the stovetop instructions and skip the water. Add the lentils when adding the spices, and cook until the lentils are heated through. If the lentils are already salted be sure to reduce or omit the salt, to taste.
Store leftover lentils in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave.
Yes. Once it's completely cool, transfer to an airtight container and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat as described above.
I hope you enjoy this healthy lentil taco meat. If you try the recipe comment below to let everyone know. Hearing from you makes my day, and your feedback helps others find recipes they'll love!
Lentil Taco Meat (Stovetop or Instant Pot)
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 large jalapeno, stem and seeds removed, diced - Include the seeds if you like it spicy.
- 2 cloves garlic, minced - Or a scant ½ tsp garlic powder.
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup dry brown lentils, sorted, rinsed and drained - Sub green lentils, if desired.
- 2 ¼ cups water for Instant Pot or 3 ¼ cups water for stovetop method
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ cup raw walnut halves, optional - Omit or sub ⅓ cup raw sunflower seeds for nut-free option.
Instant Pot Instructions:
- Combine all ingredients EXCEPT walnuts in a 6 quart Instant Pot. Lock on the lid, set to sealing, and cook at high pressure for 8 minutes. The pot will take about 10 minutes to come to pressure.
- If including the walnuts, while the lentils cook, pulse walnuts in a food processor until the texture of crumbs. Set aside.
- When the Instant Pot beeps at the end of the 8 minutes, carefully quick release the pressure. Once it's safe to do so, remove the lid. Strain away any excess liquid left in the pot (there shouldn't be much). Stir in the ground walnuts. Let stand for a few minutes, and serve.
- Preheat a soup pot or large saute pan over medium heat. Saute the onion and jalapeño for about 5 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and spices, and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
- Add the lentils, 3 ¼ cups water, and salt, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer, and cook uncovered until tender, about 20 minutes.
- If including the walnuts, while the lentils cook pulse walnuts in a food processor until the texture of crumbs. Set aside.
- When the lentils are done, strain away excess liquid. Stir in the ground walnuts, and let stand for a few minutes before serving.
Estimated Nutrition (per serving)
Nutrition information is an estimate and will vary depending on the exact amounts and specific products and ingredients used. We calculate this information using the online calculator cronometer.com.
I made these tonight for family game night, and my adult kids devoured them. These are simply scrumptious! I doubled the recipe so we'd have plenty and cooked it on the stove. I can't recommend these highly enough! Great recipe!
This was absolutely delicious! Made in the instant pot and added more garlic and red pepper!
Absolutely love this dish. Flavorful, easy and so many ways to serve it. Husband enjoyed it too!
Thanks for this great recipe. I love that I can use the instantpot too!
Would it be ok to freeze this do you think?
Definitely. I find that lentils freeze very well. As with any food, just make sure they are well protected from air. They should be fine in the freezer for at least a couple of months. Glad you enjoy the recipe!
this looks amazing. I try and avoid nuts and seeds due to the oils. What would be a good substitute?
That ingredient is totally optional, so you can simply leave it out. Enjoy!