Lentil Tacos

$7.43 recipe / $0.93 serving

Pink slime got you down? Maybe you’re already a vegetarian? Or maybe you just don’t like paying $4/lb. for ground beef? Well, if you don’t already know, lentils make a fantastic substitute (or extender) for ground beef!

I used lentils to stretch out a pound of ground beef in my Sloppy Joe’s Plus recipe, but when one of my wonderful readers (Hi Emily!) sent me a link to this recipe on A Couple of Cooks, I knew I had to try lentil tacos. …and I love ‘em!

The taco seasoned lentils themselves are really easy to make (and cost only about $1.91) and then you can use whatever toppings or shells you want. I used small taco sized corn tortillas, homemade taco seasoning, homemade pico de gallo, fresh avocado (they were on sale), and some sour cream. The all-American lettuce, cheese, and tomato combo would also be great!

If your pantry isn’t well stocked enough to make your own taco seasoning, you can substitute a store bought packet of seasoning and you can always use a jar of salsa instead of fresh pico. The price breakdown below includes my selection of toppings, so be aware that your choices will affect your total cost.

Lentil Tacos

lentil tacos

5.0 from 4 reviews
lentil tacos
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Total Cost: $7.43
Cost Per Serving: $0.93
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 2 cups dry brown lentils $0.61
  • 1 small yellow onion $0.51
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.24
  • 1 recipe taco seasoning (with corn starch) $0.34
  • 1 tsp salt $0.05
  • 16 small corn tortillas $1.03
  • 1 recipe pico de gallo $1.91
  • 8 oz. sour cream $1.39
  • 2 small avocados $1.19
Instructions
  1. In a skillet over medium heat, lightly toast the corn tortillas on both sides. If you are using a non-stick or cast iron pan, no oil is needed. If you are using a stainless steel or other cooking surface, you may need a quick spritz of non-stick spray. The tortillas should be lightly browned in some spots but still pliable.
  2. Sort and rinse the lentils. Bring 3 cups of water to a rolling boil in a medium pot. Once it reaches a boil, add the lentils. Let the pot return to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, place a lid on top. Allow the lentils to simmer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, taste the lentils to test the texture. They should be tender but not mushy. Drain the lentils in a colander. (For a step by step picture tutorial on how to cook lentils, click here)
  3. While the lentils are simmering, prepare the pico de gallo (instructions here). Also mix together the taco seasoning, including the corn starch (instructions here).
  4. Dice the onion, mince the garlic and cook them with olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until tender. Once the onion is tender, add the drained lentils, the taco seasoning, and about a half cup of water. Stir and cook over medium heat until the mixture has thickened (about 3-5 minutes). Season to taste with salt – this will really bring out the flavors (I added one teaspoon).
  5. Build the tacos, using about ¼ cup of seasoned lentils per taco, one slice of avocado, a small amount of pico de gallo, and sour cream. If you have cilantro left over from the pico de gallo, it can also be used to top the tacos.

taco seasoned lentils

Step By Step Photos

toast tortillasI used to think that I hated corn tortillas, until someone told me that I was supposed to toast them first, duh. Toasting them really does bring out a nice corn flavor instead of the bland, rubbery flavor that they have right out of the package. Toast them just until they are lightly browned (on each side), but still pliable.

sort rinse lentilsNext, sort and rinse the lentils. You don’t want to bite into a small pebble while eating your tacos. It’s easiest to sort them if you spread them out on a flat surface, like a baking sheet. Then just rinse them a few times under cool water. Also, buying lentils from bulk bins is usually much less expensive than buying packaged lentils. Make sure you get brown lentils, as they cook in about half the time of green lentils. Red or yellow lentils will turn to mush when cooked, so you don’t want to use those either.

boil lentilsBring three cups of water to a rolling boil. Only after it reaches a full boil, add the lentils. Allow it to come back up to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, place a lid on top, and allow it to simmer for 20 minutes.

cooked lentilsAfter 20 minutes, test the texture of the lentils. They should be tender but not mushy. If they are still a bit hard, allow them to simmer five minutes more and check them again. Once again, green lentils will take closer to 45 minutes to cook, so make sure to buy brown lentils.

drain lentilsDrain the lentils in a colander and then set them aside unti you’re ready to use them.

pico de galloWhile the lentils are cooking, you can make the pico de gallo. The recipe is here, but basically all you do is chop an onion, tomato, and cilantro, and then stir them together with lime juice and salt. Super fast, easy, and delicious.

taco seasoningYou can also mix up the taco seasoning while the lentils cook. The recipe is here. Make sure to add the corn starch, which is listed as optional in the recipe.

onions and garlicNext, chop the onion and mince the garlic. Cook them in a large skillet with olive oil over medium heat until tender (about five minutes).

combine ingredientsOnce the onions are tender, add the drained lentils, the taco seasoning, and about a half cup of water.

taco seasoned lentilsCook and stir for about 5 minutes or until the mixture has thickened and is thoroughly mixed. Taste the mixture and add salt as needed. I added an extra teaspoon of salt, which made the flavors pop.

build tacosBuild the tacos with your desired toppings! Since taco sized tortillas are very small (about a 6″ diameter), I used only about 1/4 cup of lentils per taco and ate two tacos per serving. The seasoned lentils yielded about 4 cups.

taco seasoned lentilsThese lentils would also make an amazing burrito filling!!

link

35 Comments

  1. Just an FYI, these do turn out wonderful if using the lentils as the recipe suggests, I have made it with great results. Tonight, all I had was the lentil trio which is a mix and it was mostly mush because of the varied sizes of the lentils. So, if you stick to the recipe, you will have amazing tacos!

  2. I found a lentil taco recipe online a few years back, we liked them. Then I made up an idea for mexi-lentil-brown rice taco mix and we also liked them even better, but thought the mixture was best on nachos and for a great tasting taco soup. Then one day I was in a hurry to figure out some lunch, so I just cooked brown lentils, added a few of my ideas for taco type seasonings (some of which I found at a local mexican grocers: this totally did a huge up to the tacos) plus adding a bit of lime juice, sour cream, grated cheese, cilantro…….we LOVED them, even my meat-loving men loved them; now we have to make them once a month and the guys eat 10 each!! (I can eat 4 or 5 and be sooo full). We were just heating the corn tortillas, but then the guys wanted to cook each one in a bit of oil…..this was a win for the entire family except me, as I was fine with just heating the corn tortillas without oil.

  3. Olivia C. says:

    Looks amazing! I’m always on the lookout for new taco recipes – I’m obsessed :)
    I often use plain greek yogurt instead of sour cream in recipes. It’s cheaper, and I really like the extra tang!

  4. Rachel R. says:

    Another winner! I love the idea above of adding a potato – I will try that next time!

  5. Karen says:

    Very good! Makes a ton! The filling is awesome in a quesadilla too

  6. Rachel says:

    I made these and they were delicious! Even my meat eating family enjoyed them. My dad said they were better than tacos made with beef.

  7. Monica says:

    These are so good! Way better than ground tufu substitute and even better than ground beef. I just made ground beef tacos last weekend and we liked everything except the meat. The lentil “meat” was perfect!

  8. Kathy says:

    just made this dish, it was awesome! Used a can on lentils since that was all I had and for convenience and still turned out great. Highly recommend and will do it again!

  9. Erin says:

    I discovered this recipe on a different website and have made it for several years now because it is so awesome, so I was curious about your version.

    The one I use and yours are essentially identical in ingredients, but the cooking process is different.

    In mine, you saute the garlic and onions. After the onions are soft, you add the rinsed lentils and spices and cook for a couple of minutes. Then you add chicken or veggie stock and let it simmer with the lid on until lentils are to your desired texture (softer or firmer). Then cook with lid off to release a bit of moisture.

    just thought I would share!

    • I made these last night, and they were great (even the boyfriend enjoyed them). However, it really makes a LOT of lentils, so I may cut the recipe in half next time. I ended up turning the leftovers into lentil burgers tonight (just mashed them, added some breadcrumbs & scallions, and formed patties to cook on a skillet), and they were really good too!

    • I like the idea of the broth. Thanks!!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Wow! These were awesome! Even my three children (i.e. picky eaters) LOVED them. They were such a hit that we will definitely be having them again — and soon.

  11. Delicious! I also added diced zucchini, shaved carrots, and corn kernels.

  12. Sonja says:

    made this tonight for my chickatarian daughter. Big thumbs up from her and I. made lots, easy, tasty and ecomonical. It will be a few fav! thanks for sharing!

  13. Brittney says:

    Made these last night, and they were a hit! None of the stores around us had brown lentils, only green, but it all worked out (just cooked them longer and used more water). I don’t know if green lentils swell up more when they cook or what, but we had enough lentils for 22 BIG tacos, which means that my husband and I have leftovers for lunch and quite a few lentil and cheese burritos in the freezer. If you’re scared to try this recipe, don’t be. It is definitely a keeper.

  14. Anonymous says:

    My DH LOVED this recipe! One of the “top meals” ever, in his words.

  15. Sarah says:

    Wow, I cannot wait to try this! My friend and I used to make meatless tacos with TVP, so it will be fun to see how lentils taste as an alternative. I have been trying to trim my grocery budget so I am ecstatic to discover your blog. :) Thanks!

  16. Anonymous says:

    I loved this meal, as well as, my husband and kids! It was so good. I just cooked the lentils and then added a can of tomato sauce and a package of taco seasoning. This recipe is definitely going to be added into the mix!

  17. Made these tonight and they were fabulous. I also did make the pico de gallo, and it was a hit as well! Thanks for the recipe! Also…it makes a TON of lentils! Goodness! We’ll be eating them for days!

  18. Shannon Sparks says:

    I made these tonight for dinner and loved the flavor combinations. They would’ve been even better if I’d had time to break out the tortilla press and make my tortillas from scratch, but it’s Monday, so that just wasn’t going to happen.

    What really impressed me was the pico de gallo! Wow! I’ve had to sneak back to the fridge a few times for a spoonful.

    Thank you for bringing some flavor to my Meatless Mondays!

  19. YUMMY. I made these tonight because my fiance loves lentils. They turned out spectacular.. we even made homemade tortillas (these ones http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Homemade-Tortillas) to accompany them. Perfect recipes together to make a perfect dinner!

  20. These were so delicious! I threw in a potato as well, to give it more substance, it came out almost like a vegetarian Picadillo ( a Mexican dish of potatoes and meat.) It was soo good! Meat eating husband asked for it again this week, and I gladly obliged! :)

  21. sounds like a great way to make a veggie taco or stretch the beef a bit :)

  22. Oh my gosh, these look amazing! I am always on the lookout for tasty vegetarian meals and this one sounds great. Can’t wait to try it!!

  23. Marcy says:

    I made these for dinner today and they were absolutely delicious! I also love that you don’t get that heavy, nauseous feeling with these that you sometimes get after eating a beef taco.

    I created my own recipe for a rice and black bean salad on the side that complimented the tacos really well.

    Again, great recipe!

  24. janmaus says:

    Yum–lovely variation on beans. If you can find decent ground beef for $4 you are lucky. I only purchase ground beef from a shop that grinds it on the premises and have done so for the past 2 decades based on the advice of my father, a meat inspector for the state of Iowa. I’ve been paying more than $4. Anyway–looks absolutely delicious!~!!

  25. Ashley – Thanks for posting that link so that people can decide for themselves. I purposely did not comment on whether pink slime is good or bad because I have not researched the subject. I merely asked a rhetorical question to demonstrate that there are many reasons that people choose to eat less or no beef… and if that does happen to be your choice, then lentils make a great substitute OR extender for beef. I believe people should make their own choices about what to eat and I never intended to suggest someone should or should not eat beef.

  26. Ashley says:

    Before commenting on “pink slime” you should have a better understanding that there is not a single adverse health event associated with that product. Instead, one blogger’s use of the “pink slime” nomenclature will unnecessarily cost hundreds of people their jobs. Be informed for the sake of these people: http://www.beefisbeef.com

  27. Hi! I just nominated you for The Liebster Award. Congrats! For details, visit my page :)

  28. This couldn’t have come at a better time! Being a newly found vegetarian, & I had a bunch of lentils leftover from a vegan shephard’s pie. It’s like you read my mind, Beth! Looks yum! :)

  29. Anonymous says:

    These look so delicious…I’ll call it supper tonight!

  30. Veronica says:

    And of course I just scrolled down to see ‘Top 10 Freezer Meals’! Nevermind the above question.

  31. Veronica says:

    These look delicious! Planning on making them tomorrow. Does anyone know if cooked lentils freeze well? I’m cooking for one and want to save the leftovers for later in the week :)

  32. I’ve recently cut meat out of my diet simply for health reasons and have been focusing my meals around plant-based proteins like beans, legumes, whole grains, and lots of fresh fruits and veggies. I’ve honestly never felt better in my life. I really appreciate you sharing a new vegetarian recipe because I absolutely love your blog and don’t want to miss out on all the excitement of trying new recipes you post! I actually have a bag of lentils sitting in my cupboard and I didn’t have any plans for them until now :) I may also add some TVP (textured vegetable protein, it’s basically dried soy crumbles that you reconstitute with water that have a texture identical to ground meat) for a more “meaty” texture.

    P.S. since becoming vegetarian I have sliced my weekly grocery bill by about 30% (from around $80-90 to $50-60)! For those budget byters that are looking to stretch their dollars a bit further, adding a couple more meatless meals to your menu each week can certainly help save some cash.

    Thanks for the great ideas, Beth! Keep ‘em coming!

  33. Looks yummy! This would be a good recipe to make when my vegetarian friends come down to visit! I’ll let you know how they like them.

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