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The secret to vegan taco meat that pleases everyone? This walnut taco meat is beyond delicious in tacos, salads, & more.

Vegan Taco Meat | Walnut taco meat
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Here’s a new trick for plant-based eating that will rock your world. Because it did for us! Meet this Walnut Vegan Taco Meat! It might sound odd, but the combination of mushrooms, walnuts, and spices makes a mixture that’s very similar in texture and flavor to real meat. We’ve had a few testers try this and everyone agrees: it’s so delicious! Use it in tacos, taco salad, and even in chili. It’s a great homemade alternative to processed veggie crumbles! Here are all the secrets.

Ingredients for vegan taco meat

What to expect with walnut taco meat? Well, here’s the thing: it’s not exactly like meat. It doesn’t quite have the same chewy texture. But it’s very close! In fact, it’s the closest thing we’ve ever had. And that’s saying something, since we’ve been writing vegetarian and vegan recipes for 10 years! Here’s what you’ll need for this kitchen magic trick:

  • Whole walnuts: make sure to measure them whole
  • Baby bella (cremini) mushrooms: you can also substitute white button mushrooms
  • Soy sauce or tamari: or coconut aminos for soy free
  • Ketchup: or use tomato paste for sugar free
  • Cumin, smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder
  • Kosher salt
  • Olive oil

Want more ideas for walnuts? Try these 10 Tasty Walnut Recipes.

Vegan Taco Meat

Why it works: the basic idea behind walnut taco meat

Here’s the main idea behind this vegan walnut taco meat. It might sound odd: until you try it for the first time! You’ll be sold, one bite in. (At least, we were.) Here are the main steps you’ll complete:

  • Chop walnuts and mushrooms very finely to the texture resembling ground beef.
  • Add savory seasonings to amp the “umami” flavor of these ingredients.
  • Saute the mixture until it is lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in a little olive oil to approximate the richness of ground beef.

Use a food processor (or knife)

You’ll need one special tool for this vegan taco meat: a food processor! But you can also make it with a knife. Here are a few notes on the chopping:

  • Use a large-sized food processor. If all you have is a small one, you can do it in batches.
  • Pulse, don’t process! The key here is to pulse until the texture resembles ground beef. Don’t even think turning on the food processor continuously! If you do that, it turns into a watery paste.
  • Alternatively, use a knife! It takes a little longer, but you can definitely chop the mushrooms and walnuts, then stir in the spices.

Vegan taco meat is a great alternative to purchased crumbles

This vegan taco meat is a great alternative to store-bought veggie crumbles. In fact, some brands are essentially just as much a processed food as ground beef itself (though some brands these days are more natural). You can also store it just like store-bought! Keep reading…

Vegan Taco Meat

Storage info for walnut taco meat: freeze it!

The nice thing about this vegan taco meat: you can freeze it just like purchased veggie crumbles! This makes it perfect for throwing crumbles into soups, salads, and more. Here’s what to do if you make these crumbles in advance:

  • Refrigerate 1 week. It lasts very well in the refrigerator: simply reheat it in a skillet for a minute or two.
  • Freeze for up to 3 months. To freeze it, place it on a baking sheet in a single layer for 1 hour. Then remove the crumbles from the tray and place them in a freezer safe container. Store for up to 3 months and reheat in a skillet before serving.
Vegan Tacos

Ways to serve vegan taco meat

The uses for these crumbles are endless! In fact, they’re so good we can’t help but use them on everything! Don’t limit yourself to only recipes with the word “taco”. Here are some vegan recipes where walnut taco meat shines:

Ways not use it? Avoid using this taco meat in chili (it gets soggy) or to make burgers (it doesn’t hold up.

This vegan taco meat recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, and gluten-free

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Vegan Taco Meat

Vegan Walnut Taco Meat (Fast & Easy!)


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4.9 from 17 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings (about 3 cups) 1x

Description

The secret to vegan taco meat that pleases everyone? This walnut taco meat is beyond delicious in tacos, salads, & more.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 cups whole walnuts* 
  • 8 ounces baby bella (cremini) mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari (or coconut aminos for soy free)
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • ½ tablespoon each smoked paprika**, onion powder, and garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Instructions

  1. Roughly chop the mushrooms. Place them in a large food processor, then add the walnuts and tamari, ketchup, cumin, spices, and salt. Pulse gently multiple times until everything is evenly chopped, being careful not to over process (or it will be too mushy). If you don’t have a food processor, use a chef’s knife to roughly chop everything and place in a bowl with the spices. 
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium low heat. Cook for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring until it releases all of its liquid then becomes dry and browned. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Taste and add more salt to taste if desired. Store refrigerated for 1 week or freeze on a sheet pan, then place in a sealed container and freeze up to 3 months. 

Notes

*It also works with 1 cup walnuts and same amount of mushrooms: reduce the kosher salt to ¼ teaspoon and then add more to taste. 

**If you can’t find smoked paprika, you can substitute chili powder here. 

  • Category: Essentials
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Vegan
  • Diet: Vegan

More vegan recipes

Here are a few more key vegan recipes that work as substitutes in a whole food plant-based diet:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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47 Comments

  1. Hannah Digges Elliott says:

    Non-vegan approved. We made this as part of our desire to include a few vegan dishes into our weekly menus and it was DELICIOUS. Made it exactly to the specifications – it reheats super well too!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad to hear that! Thank you for making it.

  2. Erika says:

    I don’t hate it! Which is high praise from this shameless carnivore! I like how much lighter it is than the typical ground beef.






  3. Carol says:

    Loved it. Easy to make. Tastes really good. Looking forward to trying some of your other recipes. Used as salad topping.






  4. Katie says:

    I’ve made this several times, and it bumped out my previous go-to walnut taco recipe. I love how easy and fast this is and the flavor and texture is great!






  5. Anonymous says:

    Made this but forgot mushrooms at the store! Used firm tofu instead. It was phenomenal!! I’ll be making this for my non-vegan family for sure!






  6. Jennifer Keller says:

    This was so good in a taco salad. I’ve tried several different meatless taco fillings over the last couple of years and this is definitely the ONE! Great texture, delicious and easy. Thanks for all the hard work you do for us.






  7. Julie says:

    Hi- I just finished prepping the taco ingredients to cook later for dinner. I usually freeze the leftovers and it got me thinking. Could the prepped mixture be frozen prior to cooking? Thank you for all your yummy recipes- especially this one! 🌮






    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      I think that would work! Great idea.

  8. Carol Anne Rouse says:

    It doesn’t list the sodium in the nutrition. Can anyone help me with that? I’m diabetic and on Weight Watchers and am trying to see if it will work for me.

    Thank you.

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Hi! Unfortunately our calculator doesn’t do sodium well.

  9. Sage says:

    This was awesome. I can’t say enough wonderful things about this recipe. I did hand chop everything, but was super easy…it honestly tastes like taco meat. I’m blown away. I stuffed it in some roasted bell peppers and my husband was none the wiser. This will definitely stay on my weekly rotation! THANK YOU!!!!






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