Of all the pantry inspired meals, these vegan tacos are one of my favorite. Lentils soak up flavors amazingly well. Then toss those spiced lentils in a warm tortilla and add your favorite toppings: it’s a great recipe for dinner. Beyond the flavor, these chipotle lentil tacos are fairly fast and most of the time is spent waiting for the lentils to cook.
Best of all, this recipe is ready in about 30 and most of the work is in the cooking of the lentils. It’s a perfect recipe to keep in your back pocket when you’re not sure what to cook for dinner.
Why Lentils for Vegan Tacos?
While black beans and pinto beans are the more traditional legume for vegan tacos, lentils are just as good. Lentils can go from a dry pantry ingredient to ready to eat in 30 minutes. A trait that beans just don’t have. No soaking and relatively fast cooking makes lentils the magical companion for 30 minute meals.
Also, lentils soak up flavors just as well as beans. I love cooking lentils with garlic, onions, peppers, and spices. The end result is full of flavor and could easily be eaten on their own or simply paired with cooked grains.
Picking the lentils
For lentil vegan tacos, go with the lentils that will hold their shape while cooking. Green, brown, and black lentils are my first choice. Le Puy (french lentils) can also work- I just rarely have those on hand. These lentils can easily be found in the bulk bin section or in the same aisle as beans.
Red lentils are the only ones you want to avoid. These lentils have been hulled and split which means that break down while cooking. This is great for soups and stews, not so good for taco filling.
Leftover lentils? It’s a good problem to have!
I recommend keeping a small stash of these hearty legumes on hand. You can make Mediterranean Wrap with Lentil Bites, Spicy Lentil Vegan Sloppy Joes, Curried Lentils and Rhubarb Chutney. All perfect dinners for the family!
Chipotle Peppers for flavor and heat
I love keeping chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. They are a nice way to spice up a dish and provide a bit of smoky depth. Look for a small can in the Mexican grocery store aisle. Also, if you’re like me and only use a pepper or two at a time, freezing is ideal. I like to freeze a pepper in a bit of sauce in ice cube trays. Then you can move them to a freezer-safe container to pull out as needed.
If you’re not into spicy, swap the chipotle peppers for a mix of smoked paprika and smoked salt. That combination adds the perfect depth that works wonderfully with the fresh greens.
Lentil Tacos: the variations
As with most tacos, there’s quite a few ways you can mix up this specific combination through changing flavors, swapping out toppings, or just ditching the taco plan all together.
FLAVORINGS: While I love the chipotle, it might not be for everyone. You could leave out the chipotle peppers and use a 1/2 teaspoon or so of smoked paprika. If you want to really make these lentils smoke, a pinch of smoked sea salt goes a long way too.
TOPPINGS: While I keep my toppings simple, you could easily do avocado, hot sauce, salsa, cheese, roasted vegetables, and/or onions. So many possibilities to dress up these tacos.
SALAD: Ditch the tortilla and serve these lentils over the lettuce for a delicious salad. Also nice when you add roasted vegetables (like sweet potatoes or sweet corn!)
Delicious pantry-inspired tacos featuring chipotle black lentils topped with a simple salad. A perfect base for roasted vegetables or your other favorite toppings.
½ cup uncooked black lentils
1 cup water
1 whole chipotle pepper with 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
Pinch of salt
1 cup torn butter lettuce
1 scallion, sliced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon lime juice
Pinch of salt
4 warm tortilla
- In a pot, combine the lentils, water, chipotle pepper, cumin, coriander, and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and let cook until the lentils are tender; 25 to 30 minutes.
- While the lentils are cooking, combine the lettuce, scallions, olive oil, lime juice, and salt. Toss until well combined.
- When the lentils are done, spoon in the lentils and salad into the warm tortillas. Serve with your favorite toppings like hot sauce, salsa, or cheese.
Tips + Tricks: This filling is fairly spicy. To tone it down, use less chipotle pepper or leave it out.
- Calories: 204
- Sugar: 2.7g
- Sodium: 730mg
- Fat: 3.1g
- Saturated Fat: .4g
- Carbohydrates: 34.1g
- Fiber: 6.4g
- Protein: 12.8g
- Cholesterol: 0
Keywords: vegan tacos, lentil tacos, chipotle lentil tacos