This Vegan Walnut Taco Meat is super quick & easy to prepare and makes for the perfect protein source for burrito bowls and tacos! It's also gluten-free!
If you're just getting started with a plant-based diet, vegan burrito bowls are quickly going to become your best friend! Vegan fajitas, burritos and tacos are such a delicious and easy way to transition to meatless meals as they are packed with flavor and everyone can mix and match different ingredients to suit their tastes.
Today I'm sharing the perfect protein source for your next burrito bowl night: Vegan Walnut Taco Meat! Pair this hearty, simple vegan taco meat with some Cilantro Lime Sauce and/or Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce, 3 ingredient guacamole and Chipotle Roasted Cauliflower for a flavor-packed, plant-based meal!
Why You'll Love This Recipe!
- This recipe doesn't require any strange ingredients and comes together in a flash. You're basically letting your food processor and oven do all the work.
- Vegan Walnut Taco Meat is such a versatile protein source that pairs well with so many dishes. We love to use it as the protein for burrito bowls, tacos, buddha bowls, salads and wraps.
- Almost all of the ingredients in this recipe are pantry staples for me and I'm guessing they are for you too!
- Walnuts - Walnuts are the perfect nut for this vegan taco meat. They are hearty and hold their shape, but they are not to hard. I always buy my walnuts in bulk and store them in the freezer so they don't go rancid.
- Black Beans - I love black beans in any kind of Mexican-inspired dish and they pair beautifully with the walnuts to create the bulk of this taco "meat."
- Tomato Paste - Adding in a little tomato paste adds some color and richness to this walnut taco meat. I love to buy the tubes of tomato paste as they keep for ages in the fridge.
- Soy Sauce - Just a touch of soy sauce add the perfect salty, umami flavor. I always use less-sodium soy sauce.
- Liquid Smoke - I always have liquid smoke on hand in my pantry. Even just a little bit adds a meaty, smokey flavor that turns simple walnuts and black beans into the perfect meat substitute for tacos.
- Onion - I love to use fresh onion in this recipe.
- Garlic - Use fresh garlic over pre-minced/jarred garlic if you can!
- Spices - You'll be use traditional taco spices in this recipe, including chili powder (the American spice blend, not ground up chilis!) and cumin.
See recipe card for full list of ingredients and quantities.
Substitutions & Variations
- Walnuts - I haven't tried this recipe with any other nut other than walnuts. I think other nuts might be too hard and crunchy, while walnuts are that perfect, in-between-texture. If you try using a different nut, let me know!
- Black Beans - If you don't have black beans on hand, my best substitute suggestion would be kidney beans.
- Soy Sauce - If you have gluten or soy allergies, try gluten-free soy sauce (or Tamari) or coconut aminos.
- Liquid Smoke - Whenever I run out of liquid smoke, I try to add in some smoked paprika. The smoked paprika provides that smokey flavor that you're looking for!
- Food Processor - The main piece of equipment that you'll need to make this vegan walnut taco meat is a food processor. You definitely can make this "meat" without one, but it makes this recipe so much easier to prepare. If you don't have one, be sure to finely mince your onion and garlic, finely chop your walnuts and mash your black beans before combining everything in a bowl.
- Baking Sheet - You'll definitely need a baking sheet and an oven to help dry out the walnut, black bean mixture once you've mixed it all together. I like to either grease my baking dish well or use a silicone baking mat. Using oil adds crispiness, while using a silicone baking mat cuts down on the oil.
How to Make Vegan Walnut Taco Meat
Step 1: Process the onion and garlic in a food processor until finely minced.
Step 2: Add in the remaining ingredients and pulse until combined, but quite a bit of texture remains. You want to retain some of the shape of the walnuts and black beans.
Step 3: Spread the mixture out on a greased baking dish, keeping everything mostly touching and together, but not too thick.
Step 4: Bake the "meat" for about 30 minutes at 375F, carefully flipping everything over half way through.
Step 5: Use this walnut taco meat with steamed white rice, Cilantro Lime Sauce, homemade salsa and roasted veggies (we love this chipotle roasted cauliflower!)
Store any leftover walnut taco meat in an airtight container in the fridge. If it dries out while sitting in the fridge, simple add a few drops of water to it before microwaving it. It revives beautifully!
Tips for Success
- Don't over mix all of the ingredients in your food processor. I love to leave some of the walnuts and black beans semi-intact so that this vegan "meat" has lots of texture and isn't too mushy.
- The more you stir the walnut and black bean mixture half-way through baking, the more crumbly it will be and you'll end up with a lot of small, dry pieces. Try to refrain from over stirring the mixture and instead, flip larger sections of the "meat" at a time so that you end up with bigger pieces.
- If you like spicy food, I think swapping out some of the tomato paste for a chipotle pepper in adobe sauce would be amazing!
Walnuts make a delicious and nutritious meat substitute and can either be eaten raw or cooked. When you chop up some walnuts with the right spices, ingredients and salt, you'll end up with a hearty, plant-based meat substitute that is perfect for summer salads or any Mexican inspired meal.
Because walnuts can be eaten raw or roasted, you can either leave your walnut meat raw or cook it. I've enjoyed both raw walnut meat and cooked walnut meat and both were delicious. If I'm adding more ingredients, such as beans or mushrooms to my walnut meat, I prefer to bake it in the oven to remove some of the extra moisture.
Vegan walnut meat should last for 3-4 days in the fridge. Simply store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge and reheat it with a little water before enjoying it. Alternatively, you can enjoy it cold and raw!
This recipe for walnut taco meat calls for both walnuts and black beans. When divided into 4 servings, you'll get 12 grams of protein per serving. Not bad!
I love including walnuts in my diet, because they are high in unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins and iron. They also have amazing antioxidant properties. Adding some walnuts to your diet is a great to way to add in some extra nutrition.
How to Serve it!
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Vegan Walnut Taco Meat
- 1 food processor
- Preheat your oven to 375F and lightly grease a baking sheet or line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat. Set it aside.
- Place the onion and garlic in your food processor and process until well chopped/minced.
- Add in the remaining ingredients and pulse to combine, being careful not to over-process and turn everything to mush.
- Spread the wet mixture over your baking sheet in a thin, even layer.
- Bake the "meat" for about 30 minutes, flipping everything over in sections half way through baking.
- Allow the meat to cool a little bit so that it sticks together.