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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

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!)

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


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


  • 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


  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. 


*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

Keywords: Vegan taco meat, walnut taco meat

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

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you’ll want to make again and again.

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  1. This was so good and easy to make! We stuffed it in crunchy taco shells with mashed avo/lime and Siete foods queso. I doubled it so we could freeze a batch for another day. I did the food processor in 2 parts, which only took a couple extra minutes. Cooked it all in 1 pan together. YUM!

  2. Thanks for this recipe! I wanted to let you know that I recently stumbled into a similar recipe out of necessity while trying to make non-meat taco filling. Only thing I could think of that I had on hand was walnuts and cauliflower. I chopped them both to the desired size and cooked them in a pan on the stove with whatever oil I had until the cauliflower was soft, then added the taco seasonings and maybe a little water. Worked perfectly and the texture was actually decent. Love your recipies and ideas and your creativity…thanks for sharing them!

  3. Thank goodness my husband mistakenly bought two pounds of fresh mushrooms instead of a two cans of mushrooms or I may not have discovered this recipe. We love it! Definitely the best taco “meat” EVER! 🌮

    1. This recipe has my approval. It came out so good. I used coconut aminos in the recipe and the vegan tacos were amazing and so easy to make. Definitely going into my rotation. Thank you!

  4. Is there any other vegetable that could be substituted for mushrooms if I made this for someone who doesn’t like them? She doesn’t like mushrooms, cauliflower, artichokes–a challenge!

    I have become such a fan through your cookbook and the recipes on this site. My best friend lives on the other side of the country, but we make the recipes together and send pictures!

    1. That’s tough! I’d try peeled, diced eggplant — you’d probably want to saute it for several minutes by itself until lightly browned before adding in the rest of the food-processed ingredients. I love you that you make the recipes together!

  5. Very easy and very good. We have Taco Tuesday every week at our house and we are both vegan, so this is a good way to mix it up. Thanks for sharing.

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