Easy Instant Pot basmati rice & lentil taco meat is a soy-free and gluten-free vegan alternative with no added oil for the best vegan tacos and wraps ever.
This vegan taco meat recipe is so easy that you don’t even need to touch the Sauté button on your Instant Pot! No food processor or large skillet is necessary. Seriously, this is a 'toss everything in' and cook recipe. This gives you just enough time to prep any taco or burrito fixings so you can get to the fun part in a quick, fuss-free fashion.
The combination of French (Puy) lentils, chopped walnuts, brown basmati rice, tomato paste, and homemade taco seasoning is a deliciously satisfying alternative for tacos, wraps, burritos bowls, or other Mexican-inspired dishes.
This post contains helpful tips and tricks to make sure you're successful in your first attempt. Below, you'll find a handy table of contents with links. But if you're in a rush, please use the link at the top to jump to the recipe card at the end!
⭐Why this recipe works
Making rice and lentils in the Instant Pot is such a simple endeavor. With simple ingredients with just a few seasoning adjustments, you can take them anywhere. And if you’re thinking taco Tuesday, then we’ve got the plan for you.
This vegan taco filling represents everything healthy about a vegan diet. It’s not only soy-free but is gluten-free. And with no added oil, it's a low-fat option. We're supplying you with super-easy taco seasoning. If you have a pre-packaged favorite, you can save a few steps by using it.
📋 Key ingredients & notes
French lentils – French (Puy) lentils retain their shape after pressure cooking. You can also use the same amount of green or brown lentils, black (beluga) lentils, or mung beans. Red lentils aren't as sturdy, and the texture will be creamier. This might work for burritos, but not taco stuffing.
Walnuts – This recipe grabs the texture of walnut taco meat with just ⅓ of a cup of walnuts for healthy fats in moderation. Use raw, unsalted walnuts for this purpose.
Brown basmati rice – Our go-to brown rice is always brown basmati. It cooks in the Instant Pot with the lentils to make a crumbly taco meat texture. The flavor of brown basmati is slightly nutty and savory. It cooks perfectly in the time it takes to cook the lentils. Other kinds of brown rice will yield similar results.
Taco seasoning – This recipe includes homemade taco seasoning. I use homemade chili powder for this purpose as well. You can use a pre-packaged taco seasoning mix (2 ½ tablespoons), the kind you find at grocery stores if you have one. Be sure to check the ingredients. You may want to use salt-free vegetable broth if yours contains a lot of salt.
🔪 Pro tips & notes
1:2:16:16 – This is what to remember when making this easy vegan meat substitute. 1 cup of rice and lentils, 2 cups of veggie broth, 16 minutes at high pressure, and 16 minutes of natural pressure release. It’s that simple!
Mix up the taco seasoning in a separate dish, jar, or container before adding it to the rest of the ingredients. This is the easiest way to evenly distribute the spices.
Stir the ingredients thoroughly after adding the veggie stock. You don’t want any spices or ingredients sticking to the bottom of the Instant Pot. This is how you avoid the ‘Burning Food’ notice and goes for any recipe.
It’s handy to use a separate timer set to 16 minutes for the natural pressure release. This helps remind you to open the steam handle and not overcook the rice.
Our recipes and instructions never include added oil in the preparation or cooking processes. Oil is highly processed and adds extra saturated fat we choose to avoid. Feel free to add oil to the cooking process if you desire.
💭 Common Questions
Walnuts add flavor and crunch, so the best nut-free substitutions are sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds. You could also add 2 tablespoons of whole flax or chia seeds to add texture and nutrition.
If you decide to use black beans rather than lentils, be sure to soak the beans first. This ensures they will be fully cooked in the Instant Pot when the rice is done. Use ¾ a cup of beans as they will increase more than lentils when cooked.
Because the cooking time for white basmati is much shorter than for brown, it is not recommended when cooking it with lentils in the Instant Pot. White rice may get overcooked, causing the result to be mushy. Brown rice is highly nutritious and has a great texture for taco meat which is why we recommend it.
We purposely keep the primary ingredients simple for this foundation recipe, but you can always start with chopped onion or a few chipotle peppers. For a deeper flavor, consider adding adobo sauce, soy sauce, or for a cheesy flavor, a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast. You can also freshen it up with a squeeze of lime juice.
🍽 Serving & storage
Versatile vegan taco meat more certainly makes the best lentil tacos ever. You can go all-in and make your own healthy corn tortillas for crispy tacos or tortilla chips.
The best thing about this (or any) vegan taco recipe is that you can stuff taco shells with anything you fancy and make the best vegan tacos ever. Traditional taco fixings can be simple or elaborate. Set out your favs and serve up a meal the whole family will love.
Other than crispy lettuce, sliced tomatoes, or other fresh vegetables, we love vegan sour cream, avocados, and guasacaca sauce (yummy!). Consider chopped fresh cilantro, pickled red onions, salsa, pico de gallo, or that yummy mango salsa that we like with tempeh taco meat.
Beyond tacos, you can treat this recipe like Mexican-style vegan ground beef. Make a batch of refried black beans and enjoy loaded burritos. Try mashed sweet potatoes or small pieces roasted for enchiladas extraordinaire. You'll want more taco meat because this list is endless!
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This recipe will keep for up to 5 days. This is also the perfect filling for freezing. Use freezer containers or heavy freezer bags. Thaw in the refrigerator for the best vegan taco meat anytime.
How to reheat
The best way to reheat is with a steamer basket over boiling water. This ensures that the rice reaches a safe heat. You can also place leftovers in a pan or skillet over medium heat and add a little broth or water. Stir as it heats so that the rice doesn’t stick.
📖 Related recipes
👩🏻🍳 Recipe: Easy Instant Pot basmati rice & lentil taco meat
Easy Instant Pot basmati rice & lentil taco meat is a soy-free, gluten-free, vegan meat alternative with no added oil for the best vegan tacos ever.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 10 1x
- Category: Tacos and Wraps
- Method: Instant Pot
- Cuisine: Mexican
- Diet: Vegan
Homemade taco seasoning
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ - 1 teaspoon crushed red chili
- ⅓ cup chopped walnuts
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup French lentils (Puy lentils)
- 1 cup brown basmati rice (or another brown rice)
- 2 cups vegetable broth (or vegetable stock)
- Make the taco seasoning. Mix the ingredients for the taco seasoning in a separate jar or container.
- Add ingredients to the Instant Pot. Add all the ingredients to the Instant Pot, including the vegetable broth. Stir the ingredients.
- Cook the taco meat. Place the lid on the Instant Pot and move the steam handle to the Sealing position. Cook the lentils on High Pressure for 16 minutes. Turn off the warming button.
- Natural pressure release. After the pressure cooking is done, leave the Instant Pot alone for 16 minutes. This lets the steam naturally release (NPR). Once the time is up, carefully open the steam handle. When the silver steam valve sinks down, carefully open the lid.
- Stir and serve. Gently stir to fluff up the rice. You’re ready to stuff tacos.
- This recipe works best with lentils that hold their shape after cooking. If you want a substitute for French lentils, consider green, brown, black lentils, or mung beans. If you decide to use black beans instead, be sure to soak them first.
- This recipe is made using brown basmati. The time required for the lentils will overcook white rice. This can impact the texture.
- If you want to skip the walnuts, 2 tablespoons of sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds will give you a bit of crunch.
Keywords: vegan taco meat, Instapot, Instant Pot brown basmati & lentil taco meat, soy-free, gluten-free, no added oil