Lentil Tacos

Contributor: Emily Paster

Turn to quick-cooking lentils for a super-flavorful vegetarian taco filling that has plenty of protein and even mimics the texture of ground beef!

I like to serve with 2 cups grated cheese, 1 pint cherry tomatoes, diced, and 1 head lettuce, shredded. Plus, any other favorite toppings like sour cream and avocado!

Listen to our editor, Christine Pittman, explain briefly about how to make these vegetarian tacos, with some great tips along the way, by clicking the play button below:

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  • Author: Emily Paster
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Entrée
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American


  • 2 Tbsp. neutral-flavored oil, such as canola or vegetable
  • 1 white or yellow onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. ground coriander
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. smoked paprika (optional)
  • 1 cup brown or green lentils, rinsed
  • 3 cups water or vegetable broth
  • ½ tsp. Mexican-style hot sauce, such as Cholula (optional)
  • 12 hard or soft taco shells


  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the tomato paste, salt, and spices and sauté an additional minute until fragrant.
  3. Add the lentils and water or broth and stir to combine. Raise the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, cover the pot and simmer until the lentils are tender, approximately 20 minutes.
  4. Remove the lid and add the hot sauce, if using. (If the lentils are tender but there is too much liquid remaining in the pot, simmer the lentils for a few minutes with the lid off to reduce the liquid.)
  5. Heat the taco shells according to package directions. Serve the warm lentils with the shells. Pass grated cheese, diced tomato, and lettuce, or any of your other favorite taco toppings, at the table.