Lentil Tacos

The other day at work, a friend and I were discussing different kinds of food (because, usually, if I am not actively talking about work, I am very actively talking about food-my favorite topic in the whole world. If you work with me, you know this.)  We got on the topic of lentils.  She figured that I, as a non-meat eater, would have ample experience in the land of this particular legume.  Sadly, I sheepishly admitted that I hadn’t tried too many dishes highlighting the major protein powerhouse called the lentil.  Found in a variety of colors, these little guys are packed full of protein, essential amino acids, and tons of vitamins, including vitamin B12 (something all vegetarians should make sure to get enough of in their diets, right?).

So, I was intrigued (and craving Mexican food, as usual.)  I came across this recipe coincidentally that same day, and I knew I had to try it.  Lentils are super cheap, healthy, and would satisfy my desire to experiment in the kitchen.  Let me tell you, I was very pleasantly surprised with this recipe-I liked it so much I ate every single leftover.  Texture-wise, lentils definitely don’t stand up to the traditional ground beef or soy crumbles, but I know a few of the readers here aren’t fans of soy crumbles, so this is definitely worth a trip into the land of legumes.  After they cook down, they soften up quite a bit and when mixed with taco seasoning, that flavor that I so desperately craved was there.  I topped my tacos with queso fresco, Monterey Jack, lettuce, and tomatoes, but feel free to dress yours up any way you like.  Without cheese, you can enjoy a vegan version of the taco.

Yep.  I can still eat tacos and be meat-free.  And I can’t wait for the next one.



Lentil Tacos

Servings: 4


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped finely

1 clove garlic, minced (1 teaspoon)

Salt, to taste

1 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed well

One 2.25 ounce taco seasoning

2 and 1/2 cups vegetable broth

8 taco shells

For garnish:

Lettuce, tomato, Monterey Jack cheese, queso fresco, sour cream, etc.



1. In a saute pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil until shimmering.

2. Add the onion, garlic, and salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is softened and translucent, about 4 minutes.

3. Add the lentils and taco seasoning, mixing well until heated through, about one minute.

4. Add the vegetable broth to the lentil mixture and mix well, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.

5.  Reduce the heat and cover the lentils, allowing them to simmer.  Make sure to check on the lentils and stir occasionally to avoid burning the bottom of the pan, until the lentils are tender, about 20-25 minutes or so.

6. Remove the cover and allow the lentils to cook until the mixture thickens, about 5-6 minutes or so.

7. Transfer the lentils to a large bowl and let sit for a minute or two to slightly cool.

8. Using a potato masher, gently mash the lentils to your desired consistency.

9. Assemble the tacos by placing a few tablespoons of the lentils in each taco shell and garnishing as desired.


Source: Barely adapted from Self Magazine via Epicurious.


August 30, 2011 - 9:28 am

DessertForTwo - When I was a strict vegetarian in college, I discovered lentil enchiladas. Since then, I’ve always loved lentils w/ taco seasoning!

August 30, 2011 - 12:27 pm

Rachel - Oh yeah, lentils are a vegetarian’s best friend. I’ve made lentil tacos before but I’ve since forgotten about them. Time for a come back! My husband loves tacos and would eat them every other night, alternating with pasta, if I served them.
Lentils are also awesome in a vegetarian “bolognese” sauce : )

August 30, 2011 - 12:28 pm

Caroline @ chocolate and carrots - I’m pretty sure that I would absolutely love this. Yum!

August 30, 2011 - 1:23 pm

natalie (the sweets life) - I’ve made sloppy joes with lentils and was a big fan…now I need to try these!

August 30, 2011 - 3:35 pm

Megan - This is such a smart idea! I love tacos and their flavor, but I’m not always in the mood for beef and I definitely don’t enjoy soy crumbles. So tasty looking!

August 30, 2011 - 5:20 pm

Sarah - Beautiful. As a taco of any sort lover, this looks delicious :]

August 30, 2011 - 9:44 pm

Happy When Not Hungry - What a great recipe! Would’ve never thought to use lentils in tacos. Yum!

August 31, 2011 - 10:20 am

Kim (Feed Me, Seymour) - Hmm… I’d never think to put lentils in a taco! But this looks yummy and is a really interesting twist on the standard taco! I’ll definitely be putting this on my “to try” list.

September 2, 2011 - 9:14 pm

Lauren @ hey, who cut the cheese? - I never would have thought to do this, but what a great idea! If only I could convince my husband that tacos do not necessarily have to contain meat… Thanks for sharing this!

September 21, 2011 - 10:35 pm

Emily - My entire family loved these! My kids went for seconds, and that is saying something! Thank you for sharing your delicious recipes!

September 22, 2011 - 3:15 pm

Jen - My son became a vegetarian last year (I’ve been one for 20 years), and tacos are one of those foods that he’s really missed. We’re not a fan of the crumbles, and hadn’t found any other good substitute. I made these last night, and they totally hit the spot (even for the omnivores in the family) – they’ve got a spot in the regular rotation now. Thank you!

January 7, 2012 - 11:05 pm

Marian Barton - Made these tonight, very yummy, however I think the recipe would have served 12, not 4. We had a lot left over. Next time I would use just a half cup of lentils.

April 12, 2012 - 8:31 pm

Five Ways to Make Meat-Free Tacos | GoodVeg powered by Squidoo - […] 2.) Lentil Tacos. No meat is needed in these hearty tacos that stand on their own. Dried brown lentils are combined with sauteed onions, garlic, and taco seasoning and then simmered in vegetable broth. Check out the recipe and garnish suggestions at The Curvy Carrot. […]

May 23, 2012 - 10:39 pm

What’s cookin- vegetarian « ctcarra - […] Lentil tacos- never know the difference […]

June 1, 2012 - 3:42 pm

Nicole - I’ve done something very similar with barley & it turned out great! I didn’t even miss the meat as it had great texture. Will have to try with lentils now 🙂

September 10, 2012 - 8:36 pm

Stephanie - I found you on Pinterest (I’m trying to eat a more vegan diet) and pinned the recipe. Made these for dinner tonight and these were AMAZING. I ate mine with fresh spinach, fat free vegetarian refried beans, avocado, and salsa, and they were so, so good. My 10 year old son said that they were better than meat tacos, and could I please make these again? TOTAL WIN. I was worried that I’d never get to enjoy tacos again- they’re pretty much my favorite dish, but these were fabulous and I couldn’t at all tell the difference (except I feel better knowing these are much better for me!). Thank you so much! These will be going into my regular dinner rotation. 🙂

March 16, 2013 - 8:19 am

Lentil Tacos | The Healthy Junky - […] From: The Curvy Carrot […]

May 9, 2013 - 7:55 am

Lentil Tacos - […] source:  thecurvycarrot.com […]

June 18, 2013 - 1:05 pm

Whitney - This is my go-to recipe for taco night! Love it!

June 18, 2013 - 2:22 pm

srlacy - Yay! I am so glad you like them!

December 18, 2014 - 9:05 pm

Sam G - This has become a staple at my house. I served these to my in laws a few weeks ago and they were surprised that these were made with lentils. So yummy, and you can keep all the ingredients in the pantry. I have the ingredients for 2-3 lentil taco dinners in the house at all times for last minute dinners.