Perhaps you are already a vegetarian and don’t want to pay $4/lb. for ground beef? Or perhaps you don’t want to pay $4/lb. for ground beef for some absurd reason? Well, if you never knew it, lentils make a fantastic substitute for ground beef (or at least an extender for)!

Earlier this year, I used lentils as a way to stretch out ground beef for 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 give lentil tacos a try. …and I love them so much!

This taco-seasoned lentil dish is easy to make, and it only costs about $1.91, but then you can use whatever toppings or shells you desire.

My taco sized corn tortillas were filled with homemade taco seasoning, homemade pico de gallo, fresh avocados (which were on sale), and some sour cream. I also used the classic lettuce, cheese, and tomato combination, which would also be a great combination for this dish!

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. Read carefully what Apronese shares and follow it.

Lentil Tacos

In these amazing lentil tacos, you will not know that meat is missing as they are incredibly flavorful and filling. Get the step-by-step instructions here.

Prep Time: 20 mins/ Cook Time: 30 mins/ Total Time: 50 mins

Servings: 8


  • 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)


  • The corn tortillas should be lightly toasted on both sides on medium heat in a skillet. If you are using a non-stick or cast iron pan, you will not need any oil. If you are using a stainless steel or any other cooking surface, you might need to spray some non-stick spray. There should be some browning in spots on the tortillas but still a lot of flexibility.
  • Firstly, you will have to sort and rinse the lentils before bringing them to a rolling boil. When the water reaches a boiling point, add the lentils to the pot. Let it boil again after the lentils have been added, then turn the heat down to low, and cover the pot with a lid. The lentils should be tender but not mushy. After the lentils have simmered for 20 minutes, taste them to check their texture. Place them in a colander to drain.
  • Mix together the taco seasoning, including the corn starch, and the pico de gallo while the lenses simmer.
  • When the onions and garlic have been diced and minced, and they have been cooked in olive oil for about a few minutes, add the taco seasoning to the onions once they are cooked in a large skillet. Once the onions are cooked, add the drained lentils, the taco seasoning, and half a cup of water to the mixture, stir it, and cook it over medium heat until it is thickening (about three to five minutes). Salt can be added to the dish to help bring out the flavors (I added one teaspoon).
  • Using about 1/4 cup of seasoned lentils for each taco, small slices of avocado, pico de gallo, sour cream, and a small amount of cilantro, top the tacos with seasoned lentils, avocado, pico de gallo, and sour cream. If there is any cilantro left over from the pico de gallo, it can also be used to top the tacos.


Serving: 1 Serving ・ Calories: 391.83 kcal ・ Carbohydrates: 54.09 g ・ Protein: 15.71 g ・ Fat: 14.31 g ・ Sodium: 639.84 mg ・ Fiber: 10.13 g

The nutritional values shown here are only estimates. Please see our nutrition disclaimer.

taco seasoned lentils in skillet

Step By Step Photos

toasting tortilla in skillet

It used to be that I hated corn tortillas, but then someone told me that I should toast them first. Toasting these corn tortillas really helps them come out with a nice corn flavor instead of their bland, rubbery taste right out of the package.

I recommend toasting them until they are just barely browned (on both sides), but still pliable on the inside.

sorted and rinsed lentils in bowl

The next step is to sort out and rinse the lentils so that they are sorted into small pebbles when you are eating them. To sort them out, it is easiest if you spread them out on a flat surface, like a baking sheet. Rinse them several times in cool water. It is also usually cheaper to purchase lentils in bulk than to buy them packaged.

When you buy lentils in bulk, make sure you choose brown ones, as they cook in about half the amount of time that green lentils take to cook. In the same way, red lentils and yellow lentils will become mushy when cooked, so you won’t want to use them either.

lentils in boiling water in pot

After three cups of water have been brought to a rolling boil, add the lentils. Allow the lentils to come back up to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid, and simmer for twenty minutes. Watch the lentils closely and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

cooked lentils in pot of water

It is important to make sure that the lentils are soft but not mushy after boiling them for 20 minutes. If they are still hard after cooking them, let them simmer five minutes more and check them once again.

Green lentils will take closer to 45 minutes to cook, so if you buy brown lentils, then buy them to make sure that they have a tender texture.

draining lentils in colander

If you’re not ready to use the lentils right away, drain them in a colander and set them aside until you’re ready to use them again.

pico de Gallo in small bowl

During the cooking of the lentils, you can create the pico de gallo. The recipe is included below, but basically all you need to do is chop an onion, tomato, and cilantro, and then stir them together with lime juice and salt. This is so easy, fast, and delicious!

taco seasoning in small bowl with fork

In addition, you can also mix up the taco seasoning while the lentils are cooking. The recipe can be found here, just be sure to include the corn starch, which is listed in the recipe as an option.

onions and garlic in skillet

On the next step, chop the onion and mince the garlic, and cook them together in a large skillet with olive oil over medium heat for about five minutes or until they are tender.

all ingredients combined in skillet

In a small bowl, mix the lentils, taco seasoning, and 1/2 cup of water. Once onions are soft, add the lentils, taco seasoning, and 1/2 cup water.Once the onions are tender, add the drained lentils, the taco seasoning, and about a half cup of water.

taco seasoned lentils in skillet cooking

This recipe makes a large amount of mixture so that it will thicken and be thoroughly mixed after it has been cooked for about five minutes.

Taste the mixture and add salt if needed. I added an extra teaspoon of salt, which made the flavors pop.

top view of built tacos on plate with avocado and pico on the side

Taking into account that taco sized tortillas have a very small diameter (about a 6″), I used only 1/4 cup of lentils for each taco, eating two tacos per serving.

The spiced lentils yielded about 4 cups. Since taco sized tortillas are quite small (about a 6″), you must use less lentils for each taco.

close up of taco seasoned lentils in skillet

There is also the possibility that these lentils could be used as an amazing burrito filling.

Apronese hopes you enjoy simple and healthy food. Share with many people who know and eat this delicious dish.