Vegetarian Lentil Tacos

These vegetarian lentil tacos feature a homemade taco seasoning that makes for the most flavorful meal! Serve with black beans and rice for a full meal.

Vegetarian Lentil Tacos on plate

Growing up, it was always a treat when tacos were on the dinner menu. Seems like most kids can’t get enough of them! Since I’ve become an adult, I must admit I’ve tended more towards the enchilada or tostada when I’m in the mood for some Mexican-inspired fare. But when I was recently craving the spicy goodness that is the taco, I remembered a great recipe we tried out several years ago using lentils.

We dusted it off, made a few tweaks, and ended up with a marvelous and simple meatless meal! It’s surprising how satisfying the lentils are (even when expecting the traditional ground beef), and how much the homemade seasonings enhance the flavor. Alex actually admitted to liking these lentil tacos more than their meat-filled counterpart (which is saying something since though he eats mainly meatless these days, he’s still very much a meat-lover at heart).

Give them a try – they’re simple enough to prepare for a weeknight meal, but special enough to have everyone looking forward to Taco Night!

Tips for making these lentil tacos

These vegetarian tacos are easy to make as is, but there are a few things you can do to shorten the amount of hands-on prep time. To make the lentils cook faster, you can soak them in advance for an hour or so. This will cut their cooking time by almost 10 minutes and will give them the most incredible texture.

You’ll also want to have your taco seasoning prepped and ready to go before you start cooking this recipe. We have a great homemade taco seasoning we like to use, but you can certainly buy the store-bought stuff if that’s easier for you. I’d just recommend buying a spice blend that’s low in salt; you can always add in more salt, but there’s no turning back once you add too much in!

For the taco fixings, you can add whatever you’d like! Again, we have a homemade salsa we like to make, but going the store-bought route is probably easiest if you’re serving a crowd. You can also find pre-shredded lettuce and cheese at the store, and likely anything else you could want pre-made. To make these lentil tacos vegan, omit the cheese and sour cream, and substitute nutritional yeast, if desired.

Looking for more vegan Mexican recipes?

This lentil tacos recipe is...

Vegetarian. To make gluten-free, use corn tortillas. To make vegan, omit cheese and use Vegan Sour Cream.

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Lentil Tacos

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (4 votes, average: 4.50 out of 5)

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 27 minutes
  • Total Time: 37 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 1x


These vegetarian lentil tacos feature a homemade taco seasoning that makes for the most flavorful meal! Serve with black beans and rice for a full meal.  


  • 1 1/4 cups brown lentils (8 ounces)
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons homemade taco seasoning mix
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 8 to 12 whole grain or corn tortillas
  • Toppings of your choice: Lettuce, fresh tomatoes, shredded cheese, salsa, sour cream, or vegan sour cream


  1. In a medium sauce pan, bring 1 3/4 cups salted water to a boil. Add 1 1/4 cup lentils, cover, and reduce heat. Simmer covered for about 20 to 25 minutes, until most of the water has been absorbed.
  2. Mix the taco seasonings. Wash and chop the lettuce and fresh tomatoes, if using.
  3. Finely dice 1 red onion and 2 garlic cloves. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet; add red onion and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute more.
  4. Turn off the heat and add the lentils. Stir in 3 1/2 tablespoons of taco seasoning mix and 1 1/2 tablespoons ketchup. Add more seasoning if desired.
  5. Warm the tortillas. (See How to Warm Tortillas for more.)
  6. To serve, add lentils to a warmed tortilla and top with lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese, salsa, and sour cream. Fold and enjoy!
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Keywords: lentil tacos, vegetarian Mexican recipe

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.


  • Reply
    July 12, 2011 at 2:56 am

    *stuffs recipe into the “have-to-try-or-I-might-explode-pile* :D

  • Reply
    Lindsay @ Pinch of Yum
    July 12, 2011 at 7:46 am

    I’m not only excited about the lentil tacos here (as I have had some lentils sitting around for a LONG time with no ideas in mind), but I’m almost more excited about the homemade taco seasoning! Yess!

  • Reply
    July 12, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    I didn’t see the recipe for the homemade taco seasoning. Can you please post it or send it to me? Thanks.

  • Reply
    Heidi @ Food Doodles
    July 12, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    Yum! I’ve seen roasted chickpeas in tacos but these look awesome too! Love using lentils but I never would have thought to put them in tacos. Awesome!

  • Reply
    July 13, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    yummy looking tacos

  • Reply
    JD Schuyler
    July 13, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    This is awesome!! I was just telling Jason how lentils are my new food that I’m cooking with. I’m off to guy buy some corn tortillas now. Thanks guy

  • Reply
    sheila @ Elements
    July 16, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    What a great idea! They look scrumptious! I’ll definitely try it!!! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe! :)

  • Reply
    July 19, 2011 at 12:53 am

    I made these tacos tonight and they were DELISH! Using the lentils was such a wonderful change from the norm. My family loved it. It will be our go to filling for taco nights. A huge thank you from our family to yours for a great recipe.

    • Reply
      July 19, 2011 at 9:25 am

      You’re welcome! We’re so glad you enjoyed them. They really might be tastier than ground beef – who knew?

  • Reply
    July 19, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Love this! I’ve done something similar with chickpeas in a burrito.. yum!

  • Reply
    Alycia Freimund
    July 22, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    YUMMY. I made these and they were so good. I was out of taco seasoning so I used your receipe for that also. These were a little too spicy for the kids but my hubby and I loved them. I’m also linking this post within my menu monday blog. Thanks for a great recipe.

    • Reply
      July 23, 2011 at 8:11 pm

      I’m so glad you liked them! It’s great to know others enjoy a recipe too — thanks for sharing! :)

  • Reply
    July 25, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Yum! I made lentil sloppy joes a few months ago! They were really, really good!

  • Reply
    The Iowa Farmer's Wife
    August 9, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    Made these tonight! Was looking for a lentil taco recipe and yours came up! I had leftover lentils so I prepared them a bit differently, but so yummy!

  • Reply
    Emily Bradley
    February 6, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    I just made these, and although I was hopeful they’d be good, I wasn’t expecting that much. Wow was I surprised! These are really fantastic and quite honestly made my former weeknight chicken taco recipe pale in comparison.

    One thing I’m curious about: do you think the lentil mixture would freeze well? I’ve frozen lentil dishes of similar consistency (daal, stew-like soups, etc.) with great success, but I was wondering anyone had success freezing leftovers for this recipe.

    Thanks for the great recipe!

  • Reply
    February 20, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    I just made these in hard taco shells. They’re great that way, too!

  • Reply
    Sonja in Texas
    May 2, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Hi, from another Sonja! Had to write and tell you how much we enjoyed this dish. Made them this afternoon for lunch. My taco was on corn tortilla and hubby had his on flour ones. Both were delicious. We topped the tacos with some ranch dressing combined with salsa. Nice little bit of moisture that hit the spot. Thanks for your beautifull collection of recipes.

  • Reply
    Bekah @ Plenty
    June 25, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    We eat a lot of veggie tacos around here (2 Texans), but had never considered lentils. Can’t wait to try!

  • Reply
    August 1, 2012 at 8:22 am

    Just wanted to add that we made these yesterday and, like everyone else has said, they really were amazing! If my eyes had been closed I would have thought it was beef, only I don’t really like “taco meat” beef and I LOVED this! (probably because it wasn’t greasy) You guys have got a new fan!

    • Reply
      August 1, 2012 at 5:11 pm

      Glad you enjoyed them!

  • Reply
    March 8, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    I am excited to try these! Is it made using dried lentils??

    • Reply
      March 8, 2013 at 2:29 pm

      Yes! Hope you enjoy the recipe.

  • Reply
    March 19, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    I love your guys’ blog! I started looking through the recipes recently and knew I would love it. I made these lentil tacos last night and they were so tasty! I can’t wait to cook up some of your recipes.

    • Reply
      March 24, 2013 at 7:46 pm

      Thanks, Danielle! I’m so glad you enjoyed these tacos – they are one of our absolute favorites! Let us know if you happen to try anything else :)

  • Reply
    April 4, 2013 at 9:34 am


    I would like to make this tomorrow night, but I would like to know if it is not necessary to soak the lentils one night before. If you get a chance, I would love to know!

    Thanks in advance!

    • Reply
      April 4, 2013 at 9:37 am

      Hi Jennifer!

      It’s not necessary to soak the lentils — they cook really quickly! :)

      • Reply
        April 4, 2013 at 9:57 am

        Thank you for the quick response! I can’t wait to try this recipe!

  • Reply
    August 26, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    We tried these tonight and they were delicious! I’m always looking for new ideas for vegetarian dinners, and we really enjoyed this one. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    February 8, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    This has become one of my favorite convenience recipes. It’s simple, quick, uses few ingredients, and super affordable.

  • Reply
    Maya @ Maya - Kitchenette
    February 27, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    Yummy ! Tacos… this is added in recipes to try thank you so much :)

  • Reply
    Nina at
    May 3, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    Yum! As a vegetarian, I’m always looking for fun ways to spice up taco night….what a great idea to use lentils! Gonna try these Tuesday!

  • Reply
    May 25, 2019 at 7:49 pm

    I tried this recipe as soon as I saw it. It was awesome! My family loved them. They were great on soft and hard taco shells. They didn’t know the tacos were vegetarian until I told them.

  • Reply
    August 1, 2019 at 1:02 pm

    Yum! Had these last night. They were a hit!

    • Reply
      Sonja Overhiser
      August 1, 2019 at 2:11 pm

      Awesome! So glad you enjoyed them.

  • Reply
    January 1, 2021 at 4:42 pm

    I’m quite new to cooking with lentils and would like to know if I could use crimson or green lentils instead of brown. Do you know of a guide to lentils that I could check out? Starting a Daniel Fast with church in a few days and have been looking at tons of your recipes to try out! Excited to have so many great options!

    • Reply
      Sonja Overhiser
      January 2, 2021 at 3:36 pm

      Thanks for asking! We like it best with brown lentils, but you could try it with green if you like — the cooking times are similar. Green just has a more peppery flavor! We would not recommend trying with red because they become mushy. Here’s our guide to lentils!

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