These easy Vegan Lentil Tacos with a homemade Avocado Pico de Gallo make the absolute best healthy weeknight dinner when you that taco craving hits. I’ve been making these spicy lentil tacos for years and I can attest they are always a hit with vegetarians and carnivores alike!
*Recipe originally shared on May 1st, 2018 and updated January 24th, 2020*
How to make easy vegan lentil tacos
Making lentil tacos is one of the easiest plant-based dinner recipes full of protein, vegetables, and tons of flavor. Here is a breakdown of the easy steps needed to make these vegan tacos.
First, assemble the lentil taco ingredients:
- Brown lentils
- Vegetable broth
- Green or red peppers
- Garlic (can be subbed with garlic powder)
- Avocado oil (can be subbed with any other cooking oil)
- Taco seasoning
- Lime juice
- Salt & pepper
- Flour or corn tortillas
What type of lentils work best in tacos?
Believe it or not, there are more than 5 different varieties of lentils to choose from! In fact, the color and variety of lentil greatly affect cooking time.
For this recipe, please use brown lentils! Brown lentils hold their shape during cooking and are more likely to resemble a “taco meat” as the lentil taco filling. They take a little longer to cook than red lentil varieties (25-30 minutes), but still take on the flavor of whatever they are spices they are cooked with.
If you can only find red lentils, those will work, but they likely fall apart for a “mushier” lentil taco.
The cooking time varies by the type of lentil you choose, so make sure to review the package instructions for more concrete instructions if you venture outside of brown lentils!
What vegan taco seasoning works best?
For vegan tacos, I actually prefer to use a store-bought mix rather than making my own taco seasoning. There are usually 6-8 spices in most taco seasonings and, to be honest, sometimes I just don’t have them all on hand.
I have used Trader Joe’s taco seasoning and Simply Organic taco seasoning for this recipe so I can solidly recommend both. However, if you have a favorite taco seasoning it will likely work in this recipe too! If for any reason you can’t find taco seasoning near you, here is an easy taco seasoning recipe that also works well for these lentil tacos.
Next, cook lentils and vegetables:
Once you’ve assembled all the taco ingredients, add the lentils, vegetable broth, and 1/2 Tbsp of taco seasoning to a small saucepan. I like to start with 1 1/4 cup vegetable broth and add up to 1 1/2 cups if the lentils are sticking to the pan before they are done cooking.
Here are a few tips for cooking perfect lentils every time:
- Make sure to rinse lentils before cooking. They are notorious for having debris or rocks in them, so it’s worth that extra rinse! Lentils do not need to be soaked before being cooked.
- Cook lentils uncovered so they don’t turn mushy or soupy.
- Add spices to the lentils during cooking, but wait to add salt until after the lentils are cooked. If you add salt too early, the lentils usually don’t correctly.
- Bring the lentils to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Boiling the lentils will cook them too hard, too fast. Lentils cook best at a gentle simmer!
While the lentils are cooking you will also cook the vegetables in a cast-iron skillet with seasoning for about 5 minutes until cooked, but still crispy. Don’t overcook the vegetables until they are super soft- it just doesn’t taste as good in tacos!
Once the lentils are done cooking, add them to the skillet with the vegetables, add in some lime juice, and stir to combine.
Add on the avocado pico de gallo:
Now that we have the lentil taco filling ready to go, we can bring these tacos to the next level by adding in some homemade avocado pico de gallo! Making avocado pico de gallo literally takes 5-10 minutes and adds so much flavor to these tacos.
Simply dice the tomatoes, red onion, jalapeno, and avocado. Add them to a bowl with cilantro and lime juice and mix everything together. Then, season with salt as the last step. That’s truly all you need to know to make homemade pico de gallo!
This recipe calls for about 1-2 Tbsp jalapeno so it does have a spicy kick. If that’s not your thing, just omit the jalapeno or reduce it for a milder pico de gallo.
I really like to make my own pico because most store-bought brands add in sugar, which is honestly unnecessary as the tomatoes add so much sweetness already.
Finally- it’s now time to assemble the tacos and eat them!
Why you will love these easy lentil tacos
There’s a reason tacos have a whole day dedicated to them on #tacotuesday! Lentils really are the star of this recipe, as they soak up all the spices and leave you with a mouth-watering and flavorful filling.
Beyond just tasting amazing, lentils are a powerhouse food for anyone looking to eat healthier and feel full too. They are naturally low in calories and packed with protein, fiber, magnesium, and iron to name a few.
Lentils have 12 grams of protein in 1/2 cup and gram for gram they actually have more protein than meat. It can be hard to come up with ideas for what to cook with lentils, but I promise this is a vegan lentil recipe you will make time and time again!
These Vegan Lentil Tacos are truly my favorite Mexican-flavored taco dish to serve to my friends along with my Tequila Smash cocktail! They truly make the best excuse for any #tacotuesday and are easy to whip up for a healthy vegan and gluten-free dinner. Enjoy!
looking for more protein-filled vegetarian dinner ideas? check out these SGTO favorites:
If you’ve never had tacos with lentil meat, these are a delicious twist on a classic spicy taco. Top with avcoado pico de gallo for the best healthy dinner!
- 8 medium taco shells
- 1/2 cup dried red or brown lentils
- 1 1/4– 1 1/2 cups veggie broth
- 1 medium white onion (about 1 cup chopped)
- 1 large red/green pepper (about 1 cup chopped)
- 2 small garlic cloves (minced)
- 1 Tbsp avocado oil
- 1 1/2 Tbsp taco seasoning
- 1 tsp lime juice
- salt & pepper to taste
Avocado Pico de Gallo
- 2 roma tomatoes (diced)
- 1 small avocado (or 1/2 large, diced)
- 1/2 jalapeno pepper (about 1–2 Tbsp diced)
- 1 Tbsp lime juice (1–2 limes)
- 6–8 sprigs fresh cilantro (use the leaves only and discard stems, add more to taste if wanted)
- salt & pepper to taste
Make the Lentil Tacos:
- First, dice all the veggies and rinse the lentils to remove any debris. Then, add the veggie broth, lentils, and 1/2 Tbsp of the taco seasoning to a small saucepan. Cook the lentils uncovered for 25-30 minutes until they are soft. Check and stir periodically to make sure the lentils are not getting overcooked. Start with 1 1/4 cup vegetable broth and add up to 1/4 cup more broth if the lentils are sticking to the pan before cooked through. The lentils are done when they are slightly crunchy on the outside(not mushy!), soft and tender inside, and no liquid is left in the pan. As a final step, season the cooked lentils with salt and pepper to taste.
- While the lentils are cooking, add 1 Tbsp of oil to a large pan or cast iron skillet and turn the heat on. Once the oil is hot, add in the chopped onion, garlic, red/green pepper, and 1 Tbsp of taco seasoning. Saute for 5 minutes until the vegetables are cooked, but still crispy. Then, turn off the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the cooked lentils to the skillet with vegetables and 1 tsp of lime juice. Stir to mix everything together. Then, fill each taco shell with 1 scoop of the lentil taco filling!
Avocado Pico de Gallo:
- Begin by dicing all the vegetables. Then add the tomatoes, onions, jalapeno, and lime juice to a small bowl and mix until combined. Next, gently mix in your chopped cilantro and chopped avocado.
- Serve the avocado pico de gallo on top of any taco or enjoy alone with chips!
- Leftover lentil taco meat can be stored in a closed container in the fridge for 3-4 days and reheated before eating.
- Avocado pico de gallo does not store well and is best eaten on the day it is made. If you do have leftovers, make sure to store in a separate container from the lentil taco filling in the fridge.
Keywords: lentil taco filling, lentil taco meat, vegan lentil tacos, avocado pico de gallo