June 18, 2021

Easy Vegan Recipes

Eat Vegan – Eat Well

Lentil Quinoa Tacos

5 min read

Need a reason to make tonight a vegan taco night? These hearty lentil quinoa tacos are easy, delicious, totally vegan and gluten-free!

Wooden Table Set with a Plate of Lentil Quinoa Tacos, Skillet and Water Glass

Making vegan “meat” out of quinoa seems to be a big thing in the vegan recipe world these days. And that’s great! Quinoa is hearty and stands well on its own in the protein department, but I’ll be honest: when I tried making plain old quinoa taco meat, I was unimpressed. Something was missing in terms of flavor and texture. How could I fix that?

Lentils were the answer. Aren’t they always? Whether you’re trying to make vegan burgers, meatballs, or even goulash, lentils have your back!

Vegan lentil quinoa tacos turned out to be pretty delicious, and easy to make! And you have the option of cooking your quinoa and lentils in advance, in which case, these tacos come together ridiculously quick.

Cooking Lentils

Open Jar of Lentils on a Wooden Surface

A lot of people seem to struggle with cooking lentils properly. Don’t overthink it! Perfectly cooked lentils are incredibly simple to make.

My method: cover the lentils with a few inches of water, bring it to a boil, lower the heat, and let them simmer uncovered until they’re done. That’s it!

Now for some troubleshooting tops if you’re doing this and finding your lentils aren’t cooking:

  • Replace your lentils. If they’re too old, they won’t cook.
  • Did you add anything to the pot? Certain ingredients (think acidic or salty ones) can slow the cooking process.
  • Try filtered water. Hard water might slow things down as well.

And remember, you always have the option of using canned lentils, which are already cooked for you!

Cooking Quinoa

Saucepan Filled with Cooked Red Quinoa

Quinoa requires a bit more work, but it’s also super simple. Simply place your quinoa into a saucepan with broth or water. Use anywhere from 1 1/2 to 2 times as much water as quinoa, by volume. More water will give you softer quinoa, while less will give you firmer quinoa.

Stir everything together, place it over heat, and bring the liquid to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until all of the liquid is absorbed.

Remove the pot from the burner and let it sit with the lid on for 5 or 10 minutes.

How to Make Quinoa Lentil Tacos

Five Lentil Quinoa Tacos on a Wooden Surface

Once you’ve got your quinoa and lentils cooked and ready to go, this recipe comes together in a cinch.

Heat up some olive oil in a skillet, then add an onion. Cook the onion for about 10 minutes, until it softens up and begins to brown. Now add some garlic and spices. Toast everything for about a minute, until it becomes very fragrant.

Stir in your quinoa and a can of diced tomatoes. Bring the juices up to a simmer and let them cook for just a few minutes to reduce. Now you can add the lentils. Stir everything up and let it cook for a minute or so longer, just to heat up the lentils.

Collage Showing Steps for Cooking Lentil Quinoa Taco Meat: Sweat Onion, Add Spices, Add Tomato and Quinoa, and Add Lentils

Take the skillet off of the burner and season the filling with some hot sauce (or vinegar, for a milder version), salt, pepper, and cilantro.

Skillet Filled with Vegan Lentil Quinoa Taco Meat

Stuff into shells and dress with your favorite taco toppings.

Lentil Quinoa Taco Tips & FAQ

  • The lentils and quinoa can both be prepared in advance. Store each in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for 3 months.
  • Got leftover quinoa or lentils from another recipe you made this week? Use it in these tacos!
  • Are these tacos gluten-free? They sure are!
  • Can these tacos be made with a different type of lentil? Green lentils should work just fine. I don’t recommend using red lentils, as they cook up super soft and can make your taco filling mushy.

Three Lentil Quinoa Tacos on a Plate

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Three Lentil Quinoa Tacos on a Plate

Quinoa Lentil Tacos

Need a reason to make tonight a vegan taco night? These hearty lentil quinoa tacos are easy, delicious, totally vegan and gluten-free!

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 25 minutes

Total Time 35 minutes

Servings 8 tacos

Calories 358 kcal

Author Alissa Saenz


  • 1/2 cup dried quinoa (I used red quinoa, but any color will do)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1 (14 ounce or 400 gram) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked brown lentils (or a 14 ounce/400 gram can)
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce (I used Cholula) or red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 8 taco shells or corn tortillas
  • Toppings of choice, such as lettuce, avocado, salsa, guacamole, or vegan cheese


  1. Stir the quinoa and broth together in a small saucepan, then place it over high heat.

  2. Bring the broth to a boil, stirring frequently. Once the broth boils, lower the heat to a very low simmer and cover the pan. Allow the quinoa to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

  3. Once the quinoa has finished simmering, remove the pot from heat and let it sit with the lid on for at least 5 minutes. You can begin working on the rest of the filling while the quinoa sits.

  4. Coat the bottom of a large skillet with the oil and place it over medium heat.

  5. Once the oil is hot, add the onion. Cook the onion for about 10 minutes, until it softens up and begins to brown, stirring frequently.

  6. Add the garlic, cumin, and chipotle chile powder to the skillet. Cook everything with the onion for about 1 minute, until very fragrant.

  7. Stir in the tomatoes and quinoa, then raise the heat and bring the liquid to a simmer. Lower the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, until most of the liquid from the tomatoes evaporates.

  8. Stir in the lentils and cook everything for about 1 minute more, just until heated throughout.

  9. Remove the skillet from heat and season the mixture with hot sauce or vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the cilantro.

  10. Divide the taco filling among the shells and top with toppings of choice. Serve.

Nutrition Facts

Quinoa Lentil Tacos

Amount Per Serving (2 tacos)

Calories 358 Calories from Fat 63

% Daily Value*

Fat 7g11%

Saturated Fat 1g5%

Sodium 831mg35%

Potassium 760mg22%

Carbohydrates 61.8g21%

Fiber 13.8g55%

Sugar 8.1g9%

Protein 13.9g28%

Calcium 127mg13%

Iron 6mg33%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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