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VEGAN Beef and Pickle Tacos

VEGAN Beef and Pickle Tacos

What Are Beef and Pickle Tacos?

Vegan Beef and Pickle Tacos are the kind of thing you’d see on a handwritten menu on the side of a hip food truck and think…wait, what?

It sounds like a weird combination, pickles on tacos, but maybe good weird?

Still on the fence, you’d decide to give them a try because judging by the the line in front the totally-fictional-but-definitely-feasible food truck I’ve just described, they must be good!

And they are good. SO good in fact, that they have become my go-to taco recipe and I don’t see that changing any time soon. Better (and healthier) than fast food. Super easy to make. No standing in line required.

It might seem strange to put pickles on a taco, and it is, but it’s also delicious. Think of it this way, we know from another beloved comfort food, the cheeseburger, that savory “beef” pairs well with melty “cheese.” And the bright and briny acidity of a well placed pickle only adds to the yum. Culinarily speaking Salt + Fat + Acid = a winning trifecta, so try to keep an open mind.

With cheeseburgers, the ratio of “meat” to “cheese” to pickle is important and the same is true with these tacos. But when you nail that ratio (don’t worry, it isn’t hard to do) you’ll have yourself an especially delicious – though not at all traditional – taco that you’ll want to make again and again.

Ingredients to Make Vegan “Beef” and Pickle Tacos with Lentils

You Will Need:

  • 2 tbsp neutral oil
  • 1/2 of a large onion, deiced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp steak seasoning (I used + highly recommend this one. See notes for substitutes)
  • 1.5 tbsp mild taco seasoning
  • 1.25 cups water
  • 2.5 cups cooked lentils (rinse very well if using canned; see Notes below if cooking from dry like I did in the video)

For serving:

  • shredded vegan cheese (I used this one)
  • crunchy taco shells
  • Iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • sliced pickles
  • vegan sour cream or plain vegan yogurt (I love this one for sweet and savory dishes. Just make sure it’s unsweetened and plain)
  • Cholula hot sauce (optional)

How to Make Vegan Beef and Pickle Tacos

The full recipe is on the recipe card below, but here’s a quick overview to give you an idea!

Step One: Prep

I like to do all of the prep-work in the beginning, so everything is smooth sailing once we get cooking. To start, pre-heat the oven, chop up the lettuce and then finely chop the walnuts. Then set everything aside.

Step 2: Make the Lentil Taco Meat

Start by sautéing the onions and garlic. Then add both Steak Seasoning and Taco Seasoning, along with water, and canned lentils. Simmer for 5-7 minutes to infuse the lentils with flavor.

In the meantime, heat up your taco shells on a cookie sheet in a 375 degree ove. This should take around 2 minutes, but keep an eye on them.

Step 3: Assemble and Serve

Fill a warm taco shell 1/3 of the way with a generous helping of the Lentil Taco Meat. Top with a thin layer of cheese, then add the shredded lettuce. Place a few sliced pickles on top of that and finish with an extra sprinkle of cheese, a dollop of vegan sour cream, and a drizzle of hot sauce.

Recipe FAQs

Which vegan cheese is best for tacos? I really like using Diaya’s Farmhouse Cheddar Block and shredding it on a grater. Grating it at home makes for a much more melty vegan cheese. I also love VioLife and Whole Foods 365 Brand of Vegan Cheddar Shreds.

Can I free the leftover lentil taco meat? This recipe is very meal prep-friendly. Just allow the lentil mixture to cool completely and then store in an air-tight contour for up to 6 months in the freezer.

vegan lentil beef and pickle tacos being served at dinner

VEGAN Beef and Pickle Tacos

Nicole Vranjican
Learn how to make Vegan Beef and Pickle Tacos with homemade Lentil Taco Meat!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 4 servings


For the Lentil Taco Meat

  • 2 tbsp refined coconut oil
  • ½ large red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp steak seasoning
  • tbsp taco seasoning
  • cup water
  • cup cooked brown lentils

For Serving

  • cups shredded vegan cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup vegan sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 2 cups shredded ice burger lettuce
  • crunchy taco shells
  • dill pickle slices
  • hot sauce such as Cholula



  • Start by pre-heating the oven to 375 degrees. Then chop the onions, mince the garlic, and finely chop the lettuce. Then set everything aside seperately.

Make the Lentil Taco Meat or "Beef"

  • Add the oil to a large frying pan set to medium heat a sauté the onions for 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and continue to cook for 1 more minute.
  • Then add the steak seasoning and taco seasoning and cook for 2 minutes to bring the dried spices to life.
    Then add 1.25 cups of water and add in your cooked lentils. See Notes if you're cooking the lentils from dry. 
  • Simmer on medium low for 5-7 minutes until most of the water is absorbed and the mixture resembles taco meat. Taste and add a pinch of salt as needed.
    Tip: The flavor should really POP so if it doesn't, you need more salt. 
  • Remove from the heat and cover the pan to keep it warm while you heat up your taco shells on a cookie sheet in the oven. This should take around 2 minutes, but keep an eye on them. 


  • Bring the lettuce, vegan cheese, Lentil Taco Meat, and taco shells to the table along with the pickles, vegan sour cream/yogurt, and hot sauce. 
  • Fill a warm taco shell 1/3 of the way with a generous helping of the Lentil Taco Meat. Top with a thin layer of cheese, then add the shredded lettuce. Place a few sliced pickles on top of that and finish with an extra sprinkle of cheese, a dollop of vegan sour cream, and a drizzle of hot sauce. 


  1. To save time, you can use canned lentils. Using brown lentils will look more like ground beef, but you can also use green. Avoid split lentils, like red lentils, which will breakdown too much during cooking.
  2. If using canned or pre-cooked lentils, rinse very well in a colander to remove any excess salt. Then shake to dry.
  3. If you’re cooking your lentils from dry, you’ll also want to rinse them well. Then drain the water and then cook according to the package instructions. I recommend cooking until just al dente because they will continue to soften when cooked later on.
  4. If you’re cooking your own lentils like I did, avoid salting the lentils as they will be seasoned later on.
  5. If you don’t have steak rub or steak seasoning, you can season with few good pinches of salt and black pepper, red pepper flakes (optional) if desired and about a 1/2 tsp of dried oregano and 1/4 tsp of dried thyme.
  6. 1.25 cups of water is enough for the kind of lentils I used, but feel free to adjust and a touch more if you think it needs it. Taste and adjust the seasonings as/if needed.
Keyword beef and pickle tacos, lentil recipes, lentil taco meat recipe, lentil tacos, plant based mexican recipes, plant based taco recipe, taco recipe, taco recipe healthy, tacos, vegan meat for tacos, vegan mexican food, vegan tacos healthy, vegan tacos plant based

Hope you enjoy these tacos! Please get in touch if you have any questions. I’m happy to help!

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Happy cooking!


Nicole Vranjican

Hey! I’m Nicole and I make practical vegan recipes for REAL life. I cook with simple, easy to find ingredients and I’m passionate about creating delicious plant-based meals that everyone will love!

I hope you enjoy my recipes and videos :) Happy Cooking!

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  1. May 7, 2020 / 6:21 pm

    This recipe looks incredible! I’ve used premade vegan meat before, like gardein and beyond beef, but I’m excited to try this homemade version! Thank you for sharing!

    • Nicole
      July 5, 2020 / 6:33 pm

      Thanks Brittany! I LOVE this recipe and I hope you will to! 🙂 Happy cooking!

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