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Red Lentil Taco Meat – vegan

Red Lentil Taco Meat – vegan

Red Lentil Taco Meat


Vegan taco flavoured red lentils, great for taco salad, taco Tuesdays or filling for our previous post vegan Mexican lasagna. Red lentil taco meat is a fast, tasty alternative to ground meat in taco salad. 

The addition of beets, onions and celery to this recipe gives the red lentils an earthy and rounded out flavour, which is perfect for taco meat. It also has the approximate texture of taco meat, although this is not intended to be a ‘meat like’ substitute, it is nice to have a mouth feel that is familiar. This makes the fine dice you put on your vegetables a little more important than just getting the veggies cut up. Red lentils cook up faster than green or brown lentils, making red lentils in this recipe perfect for their flavour and ease of use! Red lentils cook up like rice, so if you’ve never cooked lentils before, it’s easy.

We eat a lot of Mexican in our house, it has all the right ingredients and can be dressed up to individual tastes. I encourage you to take this red lentil taco meat recipe and alter it to your family’s tastes. We have added jalapeno, olives, mixed it with black beans and varied up the spices to add variety to our favourite meal. The most important part of the spice mix that always stays the same is the cumin, paprika, coriander, cinnamon, salt and cayenne pepper ratios. I encourage adding to this or substituting like products, smoked paprika or chili powder for paprika,  reduce the cayenne or substitute it for chipotle pepper, add garlic or roast garlic, you get the idea.

I’ve presented this red lentil taco meat as taco salad. I would also make this for tacos. I have made this for the vegan Mexican lasagna that we eat regularly, I’ve also mixed it in with cheese on quesadillas. We are currently talking about making it for Mexican pizza (we might post that soon), the options on this recipe are really endless, so it keeps us from getting bored with it.


Red Lentil Taco Meat

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican, Vegan
Keyword: red lentil
Servings: 4 people


  • sauce pan
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • wooden spoon


  • 1 ½ cup red lentils
  • 2 ½ cup water
  • 1 small onion, fine diced
  • 1 small beet, fine diced
  • 1 stalk celery, fine diced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp lime juice


  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp cayenne, optional



  • Fine dice, celery, onion and beet.
    Measure out all spices.
    Measure out lentils, water and lime juice into separate vessels.
    Red Lentil Taco Meat


  • Heat oil in sauce pan
    Red Lentil Taco Meat
  • Add beet and saute for about 5 minutes
  • Add onion and celery, saute until the onions are just turning translucent.
    Red Lentil Taco Meat
  • Add spices and stir to coat the onions, beets and celery.
    Red Lentil Taco Meat

Cook lentils

  • Add lentils and stir to coat, saute 1 minute then deglaze with lime juice.
    Red Lentil Taco Meat
  • Add water and stir. Let lentils and water come to a boil.
  • Reduce to simmer, cover and cook for another 15 minutes.
    Red Lentil Taco Meat
  • Lentils are cooked when they are soft. There should be a little liquid left in the lentils, although you could cook them another minute to dry them out if you prefer.
    Red Lentil Taco Meat

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