Vegetarian Lentil Tacos

These gluten-free Vegetarian Lentil Tacos are perfect for vegans, vegetarians, or anyone looking to cut back on meat. Meatless Monday and Taco Tuesday just got even better with these tasty plant based tacos!

Vegetarian Lentil Tacos

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Ok so… I totally get the appeal of meat substitutes. In fact I pretty much lived off of faux-chicken patties, boca burgers, and other soy based swaps all throughout college. But have you ever read the ingredients on those things? Ugh! They’re practically a mile long!

If it were a mile long list of nothing but whole foods I’d be stuffing my face silly by now, but we all know that at least half the contents on that list will be unrecognizable and/or unpronounceable. Plus they’re pricey… and loaded with excess salt and… I rest my case.

After doing a little bit of researched on uber-processed soy, tvp, and a few of the other components of faux meats, I decided to put them on my extreme moderation list. I’m not oppossed to grabbing a morningstar veggie burger with guacamole from Burger King during a long road trip or satisfying the occasional BLT craving with some tempeh bacon… but regular consumption? Not happening. For the rest of my eats, I want them as clean and un-processed as possible. So gosh darn-it, I’ll just make my own!

Starting with this deeeelish taco filling.

Vegetarian Lentil Tacos

Vegetarian Lentil Tacos

This tasty recipe yields 4-6 tacos and the filling tastes even better the next day! YES!

These gluten-free lentil veggie tacos are perfect for vegans, vegetarians, or anyone looking to cut back on meat. Meatless Monday and Taco Tuesday just got even better with these tasty plant based tacos!
5 from 25 votes

Vegetarian Lentil Tacos

These gluten-free Vegetarian Lentil Tacos are perfect for vegans, vegetarians, or anyone looking to cut back on meat. Meatless Monday and Taco Tuesday just got even better with these tasty plant based tacos!

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword Vegetarian Lentil Tacos
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 10 servings
Calories 114 kcal
Author Jenn Laughlin – Peas and Crayons


  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 16 oz refried beans
  • a splash of healthy oil (olive, avocado, coconut)
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 4 oz mushrooms, minced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup enchilada sauce
  • 4-6 crunchy baked taco shells


  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp dried cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  • shredded romaine or spring mix lettuce
  • grated cheese + greek yogurt or sour cream (skip for vegan)
  • salsa
  • fresh ripe tomatoes
  • fresh or pickled peppers
  • fresh cilantro
  • pico de gallo
  • guacamole


  1. Rinse and sort 1 cup of lentils.
  2. Heat 3 cups of water in a pot until it’s just about to boil, add lentils, and reduce to simmer for 15-25 minutes or until tender.
  3. While the lentils are simmering, you’ll have enough time to make the entire meal.
  4. Saute onions, mushrooms, and garlic with a splash of oil until tender.
  5. Add seasoning blend and enchilada sauce at the end and stir.
  6. By now the lentils should be done! Drain and return to pot.
  7. Combine your seasoned vegetables with the lentils, along with the refried beans and heat on low, stirring gently to incorporate.
  8. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. I decided to add an extra sprinkle of each spice — feel free to follow suit! Bake your tortilla shells, prep your toppings, and assemble.

Recipe Notes

Since these tasty tacos can be either VEGAN or VEGETARIAN, simply choose the toppings that fit your lifestyle and you’re good to go! I pretty much have this insane obsession with adding sour cream or vegan sour cream to my lentil + bean tacos so totally follow suit if you’re a fan! The combination is delightful!

This recipe yields 5 cups of taco filling. Each serving is calculated at 1/2 cup – but feel free to load up your tacos with as much of the lentil veggie filling as you’d like!

Nutrition Facts below are estimated for the lentil veggie taco filling using an online recipe nutrition calculator. Adjust as needed based on choice of tortilla and toppings and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts
Vegetarian Lentil Tacos
Amount Per Serving
Calories 114 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 428mg19%
Potassium 243mg7%
Carbohydrates 20g7%
Fiber 8g33%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 8g16%
Vitamin A 165IU3%
Vitamin C 3mg4%
Calcium 29mg3%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Vegetarian Lentil Tacos

so… how are they?!

Meat who? I didn’t even notice it was missing! The mushroom-onion-lentil-pinto combo gave the tacos a meaty taste and texture (think: a hearty, tasty chili) minus the moo cow.

These are NOT your basic lentil tacos.

In fact, the ones I’ve had before were always just okay… yet never very memorable. But these tacos? They’re downright delicious!

Granted, I do think nearly any taco on this earth is a beautiful, glorious thing but — these are my magical version that I’ll be making for years to come.


After making them a bajillion million times now (totes an actual statistic, duh) I’m going to have to insist you try these vegetarian lentil tacos right meow!

You’ll be the hero of Taco Tuesday and can probably even trick a few friends and family members into thinking they’re eating conventional tacos. SURPRISE! THEY’RE MEATLESS!

This post was originally published April 2012 and updated January 2018 with snazzy new photos. Yay!

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Recipe Rating


  • Kiana

    5 stars
    We LOVE these!!! Since we made them the first time about 2 months ago, we’ve had them weekly. Seriously, so so good. This recipe is what has made it so we can stop buying beef entirely–my husband said we needed beef still for tacos until he tried this!

  • Grace

    5 stars
    These were amazing! First time ever making meatless tacos and it certainly won’t be the last. I ended up doubling the spices from the get go and adding a little more enchilada sauce (didn’t want the rest of the can to go to waste). I did not miss the meat at all!

  • Casey

    5 stars
    I’ve been making these using your recipe for literal years and was just now inspired to comment. What a completely amazing, delicious, healthy recipe. My meat eating husband can hardly even tell there isn’t meat. I just made them again last night into big ol burritos and they are just as fabulous. Thanks for such a fantastic recipe!

  • Kristin

    5 stars
    Super yummy tacos! The lentils give the taco filling the perfect texture, all while being packed with flavor. You will not miss the greasy aftertaste of ground beef or the mushy taste of beans. I’m ruined for ordinary tacos. These will be my go-to for sure!

  • Kim

    I am trying to convert my family to a more plant based diet, so I am excited to try these. Can you recommend a good, all natural or organic, enchilada sauce? Most of the canned ones have so many additives.

    • Ohmygosh yes avoid the additive ones at all cost! I’m a fan of Whole Food’s 365 enchilada sauce (SO TASTY!!!!) and when I don’t have that handy I make my own using canned organic tomato sauce (Muir Glen is my favorite) and spices to season it up.

  • Nicole

    5 stars
    Not going to lie I was skeptical about this recipe but I went ahead and made it anyways and you’re right it is absolutely delicious! I doubled the spices like everyone else suggested.

    • I’m so glad you gave it a chance and totally enjoyed it! Best news ever!

  • Sam

    5 stars
    What a great idea, never thought to use lentil in tacos! I used my favorite green enchilada sauce and it tasted delicious, thanks so much for sharing!

    • Thanks Sam – so glad you enjoyed them!

  • Jen

    5 stars
    These were delicious!

  • Bonnie Roberts

    5 stars
    Very good!

  • yum! i was always intimidated by cooking lentils – and to be honest, i haven’t completely perfected the process yet, ha – but i have been eating them more and more. this recipe looks great!

    • Thanks Kristin! Man are they worth tackling – so good and so crazy versatile! πŸ™‚

  • 5 stars
    These look incredible!! I really wanna make them this weekend, thank you for the recipe!

  • Debbie

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! Thank you for the recipe πŸ™‚

    • So happy you enjoyed it Debbie! πŸ™‚

  • Melissa

    5 stars
    I love this recipe and I make it weekly for my family. I usually add kale, corn and a can of beans to make it thicker. I have used this filling in quesadillas and just last night I used it in a enchilada style casserole that turned out fantastic.I used corn tortillas and a jar of green chili sauce and layered the lentils with a little cheese- really awesome! Thanks for all your fantastic recipes!

  • Jessica

    5 stars
    Made these last night. Will definitely be making them again. My 3 year old twins loved them and said they were the best tacos ever. When I first went Vegetarian, I made tacos from a Vegan taco mix from a box. It was meh and kind of weird, but then I read the ingredients and I was disgusted by the salt content and whatever else was in there. That’s when I went on a search for a healthier vegetarian taco recipe. This will be my taco recipe forever. Thank you!

  • Bridget and Robert

    5 stars
    I made these tonight and omg YUMMM!!!! I added lettuce, fresh avocado and cheese, and a little red taco sauce. Delish. My hubby loved them too! Thank you for this recipe!

  • Trisha

    5 stars
    This was yummy! The lentils were a nice touch. We are going to use the leftovers in burritos, which we will freeze for later lunches. I am going to put kale in mine.

  • Thanks Trisha!!!! eee! So glad you guys enjoyed them!!!! Kale would taste amaaaaazing with it! Yum!

  • LeAnne

    5 stars
    just made this recipe and i have a lot of food allergies and i can have almost all the ingredients in this recipe and tacos are my all time favorite!!!! thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • Ahhh thanks LeAnne!!!!!! I’m glad you enjoyed them! Food allergies are rampant in my family so I’ll try to keep posting recipes like this one! =) xoxo

  • Anne-Michelle

    5 stars
    My kids have dreams about these tacos. They LOVE them! My son is allergic to wheat, dairy, eggs, and nuts, and this meal fills all of our bellies! I’ve made them twice now, and they’re amazing every time. Thank you!

  • AHHHHH This just made my day!!!! [and considering I broke my toe this morning, my day needed a little TLC as it was!] Thank you!

  • Rachael C Dow

    5 stars
    Deee~licious! Thank you so very much! I have been a vegetarian for nearly 20 years and I’ve never had lentil tacos, this will be a staple here now! (In the past I’ve used frozen soy granules) I’ve been trying to eliminate processed foods, this is a GREAT alternative! Also, my husband is a big beef eater and has been advised by his doctor to go on a low cholesterol diet. We had these tonight for dinner and he liked them, as did our 14 month old.  We ate them in romaine lettuce leaves, ditching the taco shells to be a bit healthier.

  • Jaime

    5 stars
    I couldn’t get my two year old to eat this. Then, I broke up the taco shells, added some veggies and told him it was a dip. Voila! He gobbled the plate up and loved having “sauce” with his chips and veggies. It made two meals for us and we’ll definitely be making it again and again. Thank you!

  • Ohmygosh Jaime!!! My heart sunk after reading the first line~!! You scared me! Haha I’m glad he loved the “sauce” — and it totally made my day to know the little guy gobbled it up! Thanks girl!

  • Kristyn

    5 stars
    I made these dinner one night and I loved them.  You really couldn’t tell there was not beef in the taco.  My boyfriend even loved them and he is usually a big meat eater.  They were amazing and I can’t wait to have them again.  Delicious!

  • Sometimes it’s difficult to get the little ones to eat ground beef. They’d probably be more receptive to the lentils! Thanks for the recipe!

  • Esther J

    I’m glad that made your day! With all the food she’s requesting from me, my mother will be vegan before I know it.  She isn’t the biggest fan of lentils, but she absolutely loves them with the refried beans and the spices of this recipe.

    With regard to the spices, I noticed you mentioned you added more at the end, so I decided just to double them and it worked out great! As to the chipotle chili powder, that’s a curtsy to Susan Voisin of the fat free vegan blog whose recipes I use often and who also uses it in a number of her Mexican-themed recipes.
    Thanks, again! I’ll be sure to peek around for more of your recipes!

  • Esther J

    5 stars
    My omnivore Southern mother (who loves tacos) LOVED this recipe – so much so that she asked me to make it for her again the following week. I did double the spices, however, and for the second part of the chili powder, I used chipotle chili to give it a kick.

    It *is* very yummy.

    Thank you very much, ma’m!.

  • Whoo! I always add a boat-load of extra spices at the end too — I like things to wake me up when I’m eating them! hehe =) Ooh and I’ll totally try the chipotle pepper next time! My friend and I made a chipotle sauce for pizza the other night and I fell head over heels with the flavor profile! I have no idea why I’ve never cooked with it before. Must be crazy!

    So so so thrilled you guys loved the recipe! This totally made my day!

  • Yay!!!!!!! Kiddo approval is pretty much the best ever! =) Thanks Haley — SO glad they were a hit!!!

  • Haley

    5 stars
    Made these for dinner tonight! What a hit!  Even got the kiddos to eat it.  So good!  Thanks so much for sharing your recipe!

  • katy coffey

    5 stars
    These were delicious!!! Even got the thumbs up from my husband.  Thanks for sharing.  Any idea if I can freeze the lentil mix?  1 recipe was more than enough for dinner and leftover lunches for both my husband and me…

  • Yayy!!!! Thanks Katy! <3  It freezes like a champ!  Seal it up in a freezer safe bag with all the air smushed out and you’re good to go! =)  

    It also makes really yummy quesadillas if you get bored of tacos! =)

  • Julia M

    5 stars
    Waitta spread the word about minimizing crap faux meat in our diets.  Seriously, eat REAL food, people!  These are my kinda vegetarian taco!

  • haha I knew you’d appreciate that =) High-five to my whole-foods loving buddy! <3 Hope you had a glorious weekend Julia!!!!

  • These sound delicious! I wonder if I could get my meat-loving man to accept them as a decent swap for traditional tacos…

  • ohmygoooosh your tacos look amazing! =) The blue corn taco shells are from the brand Garden of Eatin’ — I go to Harris Teeter to get them but I bet Whole foods and other healthy-ish grocery stores will have them! <3 xoxo

  • oh my gosh, these look AMAZING! What a great take on tacos!

  • I LOVE vegetarian tacos – and these look perfect!

  • yay!!! Let me know how it goes! <3 xoxo

  • Thanks Michelle!!!! So so so stoked you made it! I made nachos out of the leftovers the next day and loved them — the tacos are still my fav I think b/c of the rockin blue corn taco shells I found – def hunt those down!!! =) xoxo

  • Christine McCarthy

    Lentil tacos are my fave. want a super quick version? Green lentils + taco seasoning = done. πŸ˜‰

    Your tacos look wonderfully tasty!

  • so freaking yummy πŸ™‚
    i really love vegies.. and tacos are great!
    have fun!

  • 5 stars
    Yummy! I didn’t have any mushrooms but this still tasted great. I used blue corn tortilla chips, diced tomatoes and daiya shredded cheddar “cheese” and made nachos, then used the filling as a dip along with some homemade guacamole! I wish I had some tortilla shells as this WOULD made a fantastic taco. I love my tacos with diced tomatoes, onion, shredded lettuce, cheese, guacamole and salsa. YUM.

  • Courtney

    oh my goodness this looks so darn yummy!!

  • I think I will be hooked as well! I was also thinking about some sort of lentil-refried bean combo side dish…so many delicious options! Thanks so much for the recipe!:) 

  • Sumara Doescher

    Oh my goodness! I think I’ve discovered whats for dinner tonight πŸ™‚

  • Ohmygosh if you’re a lentil lover you should adore this then! The refried beans and veggies add something extra to them that I am absolutely hooked on! <3 Thanks Tara!

  • These look delicious!! I love lentils and definitely will be trying them this way!

  • I think tempeh is def one of the best out there! That and tofu strike me as more whole-foodie than the stuff that is “molded” into shapes and textures! lol

    Totally try these girl — oh my gawwwwsh they’re addictive! Love you almond joy! <3

  • Thanks schnookums! =) Hope you’re living up the blog birthday! — I keep forgetting when mine is!

  • Thanks Ashley! My mom got me hooked on dried cilantro and its crazy how it doesn’t quite taste like cilantro… or dried parsley… but this entirely new amazingness when its in a dish! Do you cook with it too?

  • Thanks Jen!!!! Its SO flipping good — I hope you fall in love with the dish too! Very filling <3 Those lentils are a powerhouse

  • So glad I saw this post! I’ve been looking for new recipes with lentils; definitely going to try this! 

  • Ashley Bridges

    These look A-MAZ-ING!!!! And dried cilantro, sounds like heaven!! 

  • bananas.

    um YUM!!! pinning this recipe now.

    thanks hun! xoxo.

  • i am the same way!!! I love the taste and texture of faux meat but look what’s in it. Tempeh is my go to. It’s good on my gut and now these!

  • Maria @ A life to Bragg about

    Omg these look so good. I love lentils (and you, duh. Just had to throw that in there of course) and this would be perfect for our next meatless Monday. P will thank you later!

  • Dianecidade

    5 stars
    I saw these tacos on Pinterest this morning and thought they looked SO yummy that I made them tonight for dinner, and they were a success! I’d like to say I followed the recipe to the letter, but I had to make my own refried beans and enchilada sauce from scratch so there was some straying from your guidelines; I just wanted to pop in and say thanks very much for sharing your  lovely recipe and for the inspiration! It’s such a good base that you can tweak it, like you’ve mentioned, to suit your own taste – and while tucking into them, I found out they were the first tacos my other half had ever eaten (Shocking, I know. Poor boy!). Anyway, thanks very much πŸ™‚

  • Oh lentil tacos are my favourite thing ever! Thanks for the recipe, I always love trying out different people’s takes on them πŸ™‚

  • I  love that you did this! The subs are such an easy go to, but if we’re eating for health it doesnt’ quite add up…I will be sure to give this a go!

  • Looks so healthy and delicious! I love any kind of tacos!

  • DianeCidade

    Yep, as far as he can remember, he’s never had a taco before! We live in a remote part of the UK, and he’s spent most of his life here. Mexican food, although not entirely unheard of (you can but fajita and taco kits – to be made with meat- from the tiny grocery store here) is not really not popular enough here! I’m originally from Canada, so I had my fair share of grease and meat laden tacos both at home and from a fast food chain that shall remain nameless (ding-dong) before becoming vegetarian and moving here, but even then it’s been years since I’ve had one! I’d say we’ve made a convert of him!
    I’ll be sure to have a snoop around to see what other goodies are waiting for me on your site πŸ˜€

    (Oh, and I said I found you through Pinterest, but I meant foodgawker – I pinned it from there!)


  • I’m SO EXCITED you tried them! and cheers to you for making the refried beans and sauce from scratch!! I haven’t in so long and I’m way way overdue to make a big batch and freeze the leftovers. Were those really his first tacos!? Ohmygosh I’m flattered… and also really curious how he managed to never try tacos before! Haha! Is he a fan now? =)

    Thanks so so so much for making them and stopping by to say hello! xoxo

  • These look great! I love chickpea tacos for a nice vegetarian option. πŸ™‚

  • YUMMY!!!  I use lentils quite often as the “meat” layer of my meals. I’m like you — I love the occassional veggie burger and I LOVE tempeh bacon (thanks to you my friend πŸ˜‰ but generally I keep those for treats!

  • These look beautiful!  I just made lentil tacos but I love the lentils mixed with the refried beans.  Sounds SO good! 

  • I make tacos alllll the time. This is a good spin to add to my rotation! Thanks for sharing!! I try to limit my consumption of all the fake veggie stuff too :/

  • Sprint2theTable

    Ohhh… I want those taco shells!  And you know I’m in for anything with lentils and cumin. πŸ™‚

    Pickled stuff has been a staple lately too.  I just discovered pickled okra and am in lurve.

  • I have never seen blue corn taco shells. Tacos are one of my husbands favorite meals which works out nicely since they are so quick. I love plain greek yogurt, avocado, lettuce, and cheese on mine! I am going to search for these shells too!

  • Kristin Walker

    These look delicious and easy!  D isn’t too much for beans compared to soy products (why, I have no clue?!).  I need to remember this for a solo meal!

  • These look great.  We try to keep our meat substitutes whole food most of the time too.  Love lentils.

  • These sound so increadibly good!  I have never seen lentil tacos, but it is a wonderful idea and I would love to devour a few!  What a great meat replacer, I am definately going to try this :)!

  • haha but the mess tastes so gooooood! =)

  • I would have to trick my husband with this one but I think they sound delicious.  I am the most messy taco eater. I can completely imagine the mess on my plate already.

  • Yes!!!!! and I loooooove it! With sweet potatoes on top! <3

  • hmmm my dad would probably dig these (and he’s not vegetarian)! I love lentils. Have you ever used them in a shepherd’s pie? SO GOOD. 

  • Yum this looks good!

  • I loooove lentils as taco/burrito filling. It’s cheaper than opening a can of refried beans if I didn’t get around to making a pot. It’s also quicker than cooking dry beans, and a lighter taste.

  • yayyy thanks Kaitlin!!! Enjoy!!! I made the leftovers into nachos today for lunch — freaking delicious! =)

  • Kaitlin @ TheGardenGrazer

    Ohhh yeah!! These are right up my alley. Love every ingredient – lentils are SO good! Pinned and ready to make πŸ™‚

  • Will he eat chili with beans in it? If so this is soooo close in taste/texture that you might be able to pull one over on him! — though this is a great solo dish too, considering that’s the only kind of food I eat lately. lol

  • These tacos look WAY better than any meat version!!!

  • j3nn

    OMG, those look scrumptious!!! I have bean tacos on my menu but I need to try lentils next time. Such a versatile little legume. YUMMY

  • Thanks Andrea!!! Let me know what you think when you try them! This is easily my new favorite — I’ve been eating the leftovers non-stop! <3

  • Yes!  I can’t wait to try these.. i think it’ll be on the menu this week! Thanks! πŸ™‚

  • This sounds so tasty, Jenn!  I grew up eating lentils because of my Grandmother.  I need to recreate one of her recipes soon.  Yum!

  • Glad you liked the soup!!!! I spent soooo much time developing and photographing that damn recipe — but its deeeelish so — worth it!!!! Did you try it in a BLT or some other way? lol I think i’d only ever like it in blt form… just b/c fake meats are soooo not my thing! Though I know people who eat it straight out of the pan *shudders!*

  • Yum, looks awesome!!  By the way, I made your potato soup over the weekend … pictures will be on the blog later this week, with links to you. πŸ™‚  It was super yummy.  I just finished the leftovers for lunch! πŸ™‚

    And P.S. I tried that maple tempeh bacon stuff.  Yeah.  Not a fan. πŸ˜‰  But that’s OK … there are plenty of other fun recipes to try on your blog and other veggie blogs that don’t include tempeh! πŸ™‚

  • oh my yum!

  • YES!!!! Its a morningstar garden veggie burger and its really really tasty with their guacamole! I have them every time we move so like — once or twice a year? haha they’re delish!

    The blue corn tortilla shells are Garden of Eatin’ brand — so whole foods… harris teeter… publix… and even little hippie grocery stores and co-ops should have them! does too I think =) They’re SO DELICIOUS!!!!!!!


  • Robyn :)

    okay, first of all, Burger King makes a vegetarian hamburger??????  I had no idea!  Second, where do you buy your blue corn taco shells?

  • Yayyyy def do! Love ya girly!

  • Thanks Julianna!!! =) I’m a lentil addict now too — they remind me of baby edamame for some reason πŸ˜‰

  • YUM these look so good! i am a huge fan of anything bean-related and mexican food is one of my favs! i recently fell in love with lentils so this recipe is definitely getting bookmarked!

  • Oh, I will try these!  Love that you added refried beans to the lentil mix.  Perfect!

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