Are you looking for a protein-packed vegetarian meal to add to your repertoire? Well then you need to check out this recipe for lentil tacos with cheese shells. This recipe is gluten free, vegetarian, egg free, and nut free.
The cheese taco shells we use in place of standard tortillas are a great option for anyone who is trying to cut back on carbs. We swap out standard taco meat with lentil taco ‘meat’ to keep this recipe vegetarian. However, if you are on a strict low carb diet or keto diet, you could always replace the lentils with your favorite ground beef recipe.
Tips for making cheese taco shells
If you have never made cheese taco shells before, you should check out our recipe for keto cheese taco shells. We provide an overview of all the steps for making cheese taco shells in this recipe for lentil tacos, but the recipe for keto cheese taco shells contains additional tips and tricks that will help you out along the way.
Choosing lentils for your lentil taco meat
Lentils are a great protein source for vegetarians! In addition to being high in protein, lentils are also high in iron. Iron deficiency is a common problem for vegetarians and incorporating more lentils into your diet is a great way to prevent it.
I am going to give you a little background on the different types of lentils. This way you will know what to expect if you can only find red lentils or green lentils and you need to make a substitution. There are three kinds of lentils that are common in American grocery stores – red lentils, brown lentils, and green lentils. For this recipe I use brown lentils but you could also use red lentils or green lentils.
Red lentils are the softest of the bunch and they have the most different texture from other types of lentils. Red lentils dissolve and partially integrate into the sauce they are cooked in. For this reason, they are commonly used in soups or saucy dishes. You can use red lentils to make your lentil taco meat, but you should expect the lentils to be on the mushy side. This might be a good option if you have young children.
Next up is brown lentils, which are in the middle of the spectrum. Brown lentils are firmer than red lentils but not quite as firm as green lentils. Brown lentils will hold their shape when you cook them, but they are tender enough that you can mash them. It is easier to mimic the texture of traditional taco meat with ground beef because you can mash some of the lentils and keep others whole.
Finally, there are green lentils. Green lentils are more firm than brown lentils. Green lentils are not easy to mash and they hold their shape well even if they are cooked for a long time. Green lentils would be my second choice to use for my lentil taco meat if I could not find brown lentils.
Meal prepping with lentil tacos
Lentil tacos are a great vegetarian meal prep option. There are two reasons for this. The first is that increasing the batch size for the lentil taco meat does not increase the amount of work that needs to be done. Making a double (or triple) batch of the lentil taco meat does not require any extra prep work or cook time. Simply double the measurements for the ingredients and throw them in a larger pot. There is some overhead associated with making extra cheese taco shells, but the amount of extra work required is relatively small.
The second reason that lentil tacos make a great vegetarian meal prep option is that they are made up of interchangeable components that can easily be swapped out to add variety throughout the week. Starting with just the taco shells themselves, you can rotate between using our standard cheese taco shells, cheese tostadas (flat cheese taco shells), and corn tortillas. You could also whip up a batch of rice and make lentil burrito bowls one night!
In addition to swapping out the taco shell for your lentil tacos, it is easy to swap out toppings and use different combinations every day of the week. Here is a list of toppings that would go well on lentil tacos and are easy to prepare ahead of time.
- sauces: salsa verde, pico de gallo, guacamole
- dairy: queso fresco, Mexican crema, sour cream
- fruits & vegetables (raw): white onion, green onion, lettuce, cabbage, tomato, cubed mango, cubed pineapple, cilantro, radish slices, jalapeños, habaneros, lime wedges
- fruits & vegetables (prepared): grilled bell peppers, grilled onions, pickled jalapeños
I will note that if you are meal prepping lentil taco shells, you should store the lentil taco meat and the cheese taco shells separately. This is because the different ingredients have different reheating requirements. We will go into more depth on this in the next section.
Reheating lentil tacos
Lentil tacos make great leftovers. If you are meal prepping lentil tacos with cheese shells using our recipe, there is only one ingredient that you will need to reheat. That is the lentil taco meat. You can reheat the lentil taco meat in the microwave on full power for 2 minutes. I advocate for reheating many foods on the stove, but lentils reheat very well in the microwave!
I do not recommend reheating the cheese taco shells. I take them out of the refrigerator 15 minutes before I am going to assemble the lentil tacos to let them warm to room temperature. If you try to microwave the cheese taco shells or reheat them in the oven, the cheese is going to melt and they will lose their shape. I do not generally reheat hard corn taco shells anyways, so eating the cheese taco shells without reheating them does not feel any different.
Lentil tacos with cheese shells
Lentil taco meat
- 1 cup dry brown lentils
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 tbsp cumin
- 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp hot sauce
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 8 slices provolone cheese
- 1 medium tomato
- 1/2 cup shredded lettuce
- 3 tbsp crumbled queso fresco
- 3 stalks green onion
Lentil taco meat
- Bring 3 cups of water to a boil then add all of the lentil taco meat ingredients
- Simmer the lentils for 30 minutes. You can make the cheese taco shells while the lentils are cooking
Cheese taco shells
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees then grab an object such as a book or a cutting board that is about 1 inch thick. Cover this object in tin foil or saran wrap and prop it up using a heavier object such as a large bag of flour or sugar. This is what you will use to shape your lentil tacos. If this is your first time making cheese taco shells, I highly suggest you check out our dedicated post on how to make cheese taco shells.
- Bake the cheese slices in the oven for 10 minutes or until they become golden brown in the middle and deeper brown along the edges
- Let the cheese slices sit for 1 minute after they come out of the oven so that they solidify a little
- Use tongs to drape the cheese slices over your taco shell mold then let them cool for a few minutes
Assembling the tacos
- Chop the tomatoes, lettuce, and green onion then assemble tacos
- If you do not want to go through the process of making the cheese shells, of course you can always make this recipe with standard taco shells. The cheese taco shells go brilliantly with the lentil taco meat, but the lentils are the real star of the show here.
- If you are on a strict low carb diet or a keto diet, you could easily swap out the lentil taco meat for ground beef.
Other recipes you might like
Are you looking for another fun way to use leftover slices of provolone cheese? Check out this recipe for keto cheese tostadas. These tostadas are made with one simple ingredient – cheese!
Are you looking for a way to use up some leftover lentil taco meat? Check out this recipe for lentil taco salads with spiced lentils, lettuce, tomato, avocado, green onion, lime sour cream, and salsa!
If you are looking for more cheesy vegetarian meals, you should check out our veggie quesadillas with caramelized pineapple. Caramelized pineapple is one of my absolute favorite foods! It goes so well with the cheese and black beans in this recipe.