what do you do with lentils

So lentils. I LOVE lentils. They’re so good and they’re extremely versatile.  They are one of my staple foods and one of the reasons that I just start laughing when concerned acquaintances query about whether I eat enough protein. They’re filling and healthy – if you google the nutrition facts on lentils, you’ll see that most varieties are packed with fiber and potassium too. There are maybe only about 30 different varieties at some of your good grocery shops, like the Indian grocery stores I go to here in Detroit. That’s not overwhelming or anything, right? So many possibilities.

But what do you do with lentils?

Well, over the next week or so, I plan to post three recipes with lentils. Each one will use a different kind of lentil. Today, I’m going to post my lentil taco recipe, using small, dark brown lentils.

So I made this recipe because I wanted to enjoy a dish that I haven’t had in ages, since I don’t eat ground beef. My mom used to make those classic ground beef tacos for dinner when I was a kid, and it was always one of my favorite dinners. But the funny thing about that recipe is that the flavor packet she would buy from the grocery store contributed to 99% of the taste and smell of the dish. I don’t really think that the beef had any flavor to it, apart from fattiness. So, if that is true, then shouldn’t it be possible to make those tacos with something beside ground beef?

My grown-up version is heavy on the spices, and uses warm corn tortillas, which I think make the dish. The smell of corn tortillas cooking on the stove is just intoxicating! For picky people like kiddos, you could use flour tortillas. It’s versatile too in that you can make it with whatever taco toppings you like.  I was in need of a grocery store run when I cooked and shot this recipe, but you could easily add onion, cilantro, salsa, black olives, or really anything you like to your taco toppings. 



TIME 45 mins
COOK TIME 20 mins
TOTAL TIME 1 hour 5 mins 
Vegetarian tacos made with small dark brown lentils.
Served with fresh corn tortillas, tomato, avocado, and cheese.
Delicious any time of the year!
Author: Lyndsey Crosbie
Serves : 8 servings


  • 2 cups dry brown lentils (I really like this kind)
  • 1 cup water or vegetable broth
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • pinch of red cayenne pepper
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 cup Mexican cheese (optional)


  1. Cook lentils in pot of plain, unsalted water until firm to the bite, like al dente pasta. This process may take up to 45 minutes. You can also cook the lentils the day before and refrigerate them, then take them out when ready to prepare the dish fully, if you are short on time.
  2. Place the olive oil and the lentils in a medium to large sized pan on the stove. Use medium or medium-high heat to begin cooking your lentil taco filling.
  3. Add all the spices into the pan with your 1 cup of water, and stir thoroughly to ensure that none of your spices clump together.
  4. When you lentils and spice sauce begin simmering, reduce heat to medium low and cover with a lid. Allow your lentils to cook approximately 10 minutes so that your spice flavors meld and your water reduces into a sauce. Check occasionally to make sure that the lentils don’t get too mushy or dry out. Some lentils will break down a little and that’s ok, because it will give your taco filling a saucy texture.
  5. While the lentil filling simmers, cook or warm your tortillas in a dry pan or griddle.
  6. Dice the tomato and avocado for garnishing.
  7. Serve the taco filling in warmed tortillas topped with the avocado, tomato, and cheese (optional).


Nutrition facts are for one taco without cheese.


Serving size: 
1 taco 
Calories: 363 
Fat: 13.7 g – 21% 
Saturated fat: 2.2 g – 11% 
Trans fat: 0 g 
Carbohydrates: 49.2 g – 16% 
Sugar: 5.4 g 
Sodium: 487 mg – 20% 
Fiber: 12.5 g – 50% 
Protein: 14.5 g 
Cholesterol: 0 g


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A note on tortillas. I discovered that Kroger sells a fresh brand that you have to cook on the stove. They’re in the little fridge unit next to all the name brands. They are so much better that the ones that just sit on the shelf!

I love about this recipe is that it’s fresh and delicious, but if you do a little bit of prep work before hand, when you’re ready to cook your meal, the whole dish can be done in 20 minutes. It would be so great of a weeknight dinner. The trick is to cook the lentils the night before. I will do a separate post on saving time in the kitchen when cooking with lentils and beans, so stay tuned for that.

Peace and love!