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Walnut Lentil Taco Meat

Looking to change up Taco Night at home? This recipe for Walnut Lentil Taco Meat is high in protein, satisfying, and ready in under 30 minutes. Try it in lettuce wraps or on top of nachos! 

close up of walnut lentil taco meat in a tortilla with peppers and limes

What is walnut lentil taco meat?

Lentil walnut taco “meat” is a high protein vegan dinner recipe made by blending chopped and toasted walnuts with cooked lentils and spices. It’s very hearty and a nice way to bring added flavor and protein to a plant-based, Mexican-inspired dinner.  It is ready in under 30 minutes, making it a perfect solution for a busy weeknight. We call it “meat” but in reality it is a filling that’s perfectly suited to take the place of true meat in burritos, tacos, and on nachos. 

Ingredient Details 

Lentils make up the base of the filling. I use brown lentils as they are the most accessible typically and hold their shape fairly well. Do not use red lentils as they will fall apart too easily when processed. Using precooked lentils (Trader Joe’s sells some) would definitely save a few minutes if you’re really looking to cut down on time. 

Walnuts also form the bulk of our filling; they add some heart-healthy omega-3s and have a nice, nutty texture when toasted for a few minutes. They can burn very easily in the oven so if you’d like to skip this step, that is OK. 

Cumin, oregano, chili powder, and optional cayenne pepper add a traditional “taco” flavor profile to this dish. Feel free to use more/less of these spices to your preference. 

Fresh garlic adds a characteristic bite; you can also substitute some garlic powder for convenience (or just leave this out). 

Salt is essential, as per usual! Here I use a coarse sea salt, so if you’re using Diamond Crystal  or Morton Kosher salts you may need more/less than recommended. Always taste as you go. If it feels “flat,” this could be a sign that more salt is needed. 

Olive oil contributes a level of richness and also helps bind the filing together.

overhead shot of a bowl of vegan walnut lentil taco meat with cilantro and a spoon

Can you freeze walnut lentil taco filling?

Yes! This recipe is easily made ahead. Ideally to freeze, spread taco meat on a small tray and chill it quickly before moving to a container or bag for longer term storage. This will help the filling stay in individual “clumps” as opposed to one large, mushy mass. However, I often just throw this in a freezer-safe box and pull it out to thaw when ready to eat. It will last for a few months in the freezer or 4-6 days in the refrigerator. Therefore, it’s great for meal prep! 

What to Serve It With

Sautéd peppers and onions are a classic pairing for this dish. To make, slice and de-rib one large Bell pepper. Peel and slice one small yellow onion into rounds. Heat a skillet over medium heat with 1-2 TBS neutral oil. Add pepper and onion with a pinch of salt and sauté for 5-7 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking, until browned.

hand holding a taco full of walnut lentil taco meat and taco fixings

Some other serving ideas for this recipe include:

  • Lettuce wraps (Romaine or butter lettuce)
  • Tortillas or tortilla chips
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Salsa 
  • Avocado or guacamole 
  • Cilantro 
  • Pico de gallo
  • Lime wedges

Other Vegan Mexican-Inspired Recipes

Creamy Kale Potato Tacos (from Chaia)

Mini Tacos

Vegan Queso

Vegan Mexican Street Corn (Inspired by Elote)

overhead shot of three walnut lentil tacos with peppers and onions on a circular wood board
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close up of walnut lentil taco meat in a tortilla with peppers and limes

Walnut Lentil Taco Meat

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Emily
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 5 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


Looking to change up Taco Night at home? This recipe for Walnut Lentil Taco Meat is high protein, satisfying, and ready in under 30 minutes. Try it in lettuce wraps or on top of nachos! 


  • 1 cup raw walnut pieces
  • 1 cup dry brown or green lentils (a little over 2 cups cooked, if using pre-made)

  • 2 tsp ground cumin

  • 2 tsp dried oregano

  • 2 tsp chili powder

  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper, optional if you like some heat 

  • 1 clove garlic, or ½ tsp garlic powder 

  • ¾ tsp sea salt 

  • 2 tsp olive oil

  • Water to thin

  • Options to serve: lettuce wraps, tortillas, chips, salsa, avocado, cashew cream, vegan queso, or sautéd peppers and onions



Walnut lentil taco meat can be stored in the refrigerator for 4-6 days and in the freezer for a few months.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: Mexican


  • Serving Size: One fifth of recipe
  • Calories: 261.7 calories
  • Sugar: 0.9 grams
  • Sodium: 352.9 milligrams
  • Fat: 17.4 grams
  • Saturated Fat: 1.7 grams
  • Unsaturated Fat: 15.7 grams
  • Trans Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 19.3 grams
  • Fiber: 6.2 grams
  • Protein: 10.7 grams
  • Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
Portrait of Emily Meyers, founder of Garlic Head

About the Author

Emily (Frigon) Meyers is the founder of Garlic Head, a plant-based recipe website for all eaters who want to easily, affordably, and sustainably incorporate more vegetables into their diets while saving time and money. She is a lifelong vegetarian and 10+ year vegan. Garlic Head does not focus on labels - it focuses on creating food that everyone can enjoy.

Emily earned a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from Cornell University along with degrees in Economics, Spanish, and Global Sustainability from the University of Pittsburgh. She has been featured on numerous podcasts and websites including The Food Institute, VegNews, Buzzfeed, and the Boston Globe.

Meet Emily here.

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