Using lentils as a substitute for meat in taco filling is a classic in our household. Lentils work beautifully as a meat substitute in taco meat, because you can leave the lentils just a little bit al dente when cooking for a good texture (mushy lentils, stay away!). The mild flavor of lentils makes them a great base to kick up the spice, and the dose of protein and fiber keeps these tacos nice and hearty.
Make sure you have a big stash of your favorite taco toppings to put on top! If you’re vegan, load up your tacos with your favorite vegan sour cream and vegan cheese for a killer batch of vegan tacos. Let’s make some meatless tacos!
How can I use lentils instead of ground beef?
When you cook them down, lentils take on a meaty texture, just like ground beef. Here, we cook green lentils with some sautéed onion, vegetable broth, and taco seasoning to give them the flavor you’d expect from a meat-based taco filling. Once you’ve realized how awesome lentils are in these tacos, you can also try them in our veggie lentil sloppy joes!
We love red lentils for lots of things, but you don’t want to use them for this taco filling. They don’t hold their shape and texture nearly as well as green or black lentils.
Are lentils healthier than beans?
Both lentils and beans are a wonderful addition to your plate if your body tolerates them well, you enjoy them, and they fit within your time and budget restraints.
From a nutrition standpoint, both lentils and beans have very similar health benefits. The big difference between the two is that lentils are lower in phytates than beans. Phytates are a compound that decreases the bioavailability of some nutrients in certain plant-based foods—some folks call phytates “antinutrients” because of this nutrient roadblock. Lentils are generally lower in phytates than beans, meaning their nutrients are more readily available for our bodies to use.
But don’t freak out and put your beans away for good! You can reduce the impact of phytates in all pulses and legumes by soaking them (and even fermenting them) and cooking them properly.
Why are lentils so filling?
Say hellloooo to the magic combination of fiber and protein! Any meal that combines these two important nutrients is going to do the trick to keep you feeling full and satisfied, but lentils do it magically in one little pulse package.
Research has indicated that this one-two punch of plant-based protein and fiber is more filling than meat-based counterparts, so don’t be surprised if you fill up after fewer tacos than you typically do (although maybe you won’t, satiety is an incredibly individualized thing—you are the only person who knows how many tacos your body and soul need!).
What should I top these lentil tacos with?
The world is your meatless oyster when it comes to vegetarian taco toppings! Some of our favorites are:
- Chopped tomatoes
- Cheese (regular or non-dairy)
- Sour cream (regular or non-dairy)
How do I make vegan lentil tacos?
Our lentil taco filling is totally vegan already, so it really comes down to the toppings you choose! Lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, and the like are obviously fair game. You can also use vegan cheese and cashew sour cream!