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Vegan Taco Meat with Lentils (Instant Pot)

from 8 reader reviews

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This is the most simple, healthiest, and tasty vegan taco meat you will make! It is made with lentils, chopped pecans, and seasoned for a perfectly tasty oil-free taco “meat”. three tacos with vegan lentil taco meat on dark background

It’s easy enough to make vegan taco meat nowadays with the abundance of vegan/plant-based meats available. And there is nothing wrong with that if you are just looking for a “realistic” meat substitute. Sometimes though, you are looking for a healthier whole-food plant-based option.

This lentil taco meat is made with only wholesome whole-food ingredients. It is oil-free and is super easy to make! I use as few short-cuts such as dehydrated onion and packaged taco seasoning for a super easy quick and healthy vegan taco meat that is on my plate in less than thirty minutes from start to finish.

Use my Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix if you don’t want to use packaged mix. It will be fresher and tastier!

vegan taco meat with lentils and pecans on a spoon

For some other tasty quick and easy plant-based options, try my Easy Hearty Vegan Spaghetti, my Easy Lentil Shepherd’s Pie or my tasty Salsa Verde Mexican Casserole. They all cook up quick and will be a big hit with your crew!

To make this Vegan Taco Meat you will need:

ingredients for vegan taco meat including lentils, pecans, garlic, tomato paste, liquid aminos, minced onion, taco seasoning
These are all the ingredients you will need for Vegan Taco Meat.

Tips and tricks for making this best Instant Pot Lentil Taco Meat:

Please read through the tips and tricks section so that your tacos will taste as yummy as mine!

  • Use brown or green lentils – NOT red lentils. Red lentils will make this recipe too mushy and less “meat” like.
  • Rinse the lentils to get rid of any dust or odd bits and pieces. You do not need to presoak the lentils. Ever!
  • I use pecans. Walnuts would also work well. Unless you can find the nuts already finely chopped, you will want to chop them smaller. I use a mini food processor (affiliate link) that is small enough to leave on my counter-top and have readily accessible when needed.pecans being chopped in a mini food processor

A few shortcuts I take include:

  • using a 1-ounce package of prepared taco seasoning – just read the ingredients to ensure yours is vegan compliant. A 1-ounce package contains about 1/4 cup of seasoning.
  • using dehydrated onion. If you choose to cut your own, use 1/4 cup fresh minced onion
  • using jarred minced/chopped garlic. For a recipe such as this, you really can’t taste the difference. I always estimate a clove of garlic to one heaping teaspoonful of jarred minced garlic. I found this large lovely jar at my grocery store and use it all the time!minced garlic in a jar

Other ingredients used:

  • Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (affiliate link) is added for an umami (found in meat) flavor. If you don’t have any liquid aminos on hand, you can sub in some low sodium soy sauce.
  • This recipe calls for two Tablespoons of tomato paste. It always seemed so wasteful to use only two tablespoons out of the can…and then what? Throw it away? Let it get moldy in the fridge and then throw it away?
    • Here is a solution! Tomato paste freezes beautifully! I portion it out into single tablespoon servings and then freeze. That way, when I need only a tablespoon or two, I just pop it out of the freezer, thaw, and use.

The Seasonings:

I deliberately did not highly season this recipe so that you can add in a few extras to your family’s personal taste. After the lentil pecan “meat” has cooked, you should taste it and add in a little salt, some extra chili powder or hot sauce if desired.

Cooking the Vegan Lentil Taco Meat in the Instant Pot

three lentil vegan tacos with text overlay
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  • Ensure you understand how to use the features of your pressure cooker.
  • Add in all the ingredients, including the liquid.
  • Give it a little stir so that all dry ingredients are moistened and covered with the liquid.
  • Set your pressure cooker for 9 minutes on high pressure. It will take a few minutes to come to pressure and then start counting down from 9 minutes. instant pot set at 9 minutes high pressure
  • After the 9 minutes are up, safely do a quick release. I always use a long-handled spoon to turn the pressure valve and release the steam.
  • Carefully open the pot once the valve has popped down and stir to fluff the lentil taco meat.

Serving Suggestions:

three tacos with vegan lentil taco meat on wooden board

  • tacos
  • burritos
  • nachos
  • breakfast bowls
  • taco salad

Looking for some other easy Instant Pot recipes?

Try my nutritious and delicious Veggie Lentil Soup, highly flavorful African Peanut Stew, or my veggie-loaded cheese sauce for Mac and Cheese.

The Recipe for Vegan Taco Meat with Lentils (Instant Pot)

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three tacos with vegan lentil taco meat on wooden board

Vegan Taco Meat with Lentils (Instant Pot)

This oil-free vegan taco meat is made with lentils, pecans, and seasonings. It is made in the Instant Pot and is quick and easy to make.
from 8 reader reviews
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course, school lunch box
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Keyword: instant pot taco, lentil taco meat, vegan taco meat
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 145kcal
Author: Cindy Rainey


  • Pressure Cooker


  • 1 cup pecans chopped
  • cups dried lentils rinsed
  • 1 Tablespoon dehydrated onions
  • 1 clove garlic chopped (1 teaspoon)
  • 1 ounce package taco seasoning
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon Bragg's Liquid Aminos
  • 3 cups water


  • Chop pecans and set aside. Mince garlic (if not using prechopped) and set aside. Rinse lentils and drain well.
  • Add pecans, lentils, dehydrated onions, minced garlic, taco seasoning, tomato paste, liquid aminos, and water to the Instant Pot. Stir well.
  • Your Instant Pot will be cooking at high pressure. Press "manual" and set for 9 minutes.
  • After the Instant Pot comes to pressure, the countdown will start. After it counts down and beeps, carefully do a quick release according to manufacturer instructions.
  • After your pot has release all of the pressure, open carefully and give it a little stir.
  • Taste and add in extra seasonings if desired: salt, chili powder, hot sauce, etc.
  • Put leftovers in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to five days. If it gets dried out, add in a little water or veggie broth, stir and heat before serving.


Calories: 145kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 106mg | Potassium: 290mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 55IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 2mg

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By on December 26th, 2019

About Cindy Rainey

Veggie Fun Kitchen by Cindy Rainey
Welcome to Veggie Fun Kitchen where you will learn to recreate family favorites the plant-based/vegan way! Let me know if I can help. I'm here for you.

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6 thoughts on “Vegan Taco Meat with Lentils (Instant Pot)”

  1. 5 stars
    Omgosh , thank you for a great recipe! I saw it on FB today and made it for dinner. I used Thrive Market taco seasoning that is gluten free and vegan. It’s all a great combination! That could be served to people who are willing to try no meat!
    I’ve never seen your website. I will be browsing it now!
    Take care

    • And thank you for the great review! It really means the world to me. I used to order from Thrive Market all the time and will definitely look into this seasoning next time I order. Thanks again for letting me know how everything turned out! (another) Cindy

    • Hi thanks for asking! I would definitely use a sturdy lentil – brown or green. Anything but red lentils! I use red lentils when I’m hoping to add some texture to a mushy sauce like for sloppy joes. Black lentils might work as well if that’s what you have. They stay a little too firm though in my opinion for a recipe like this. So bottom line – green or brown. Hope this helps! Cindy

    • Oh good luck! The first time can be scary. If you have someone to walk you through it step-by-step that’s best. This recipe is pretty straight forward though and will be a good one for a first try.


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