An easy and flavorful cilantro lime vegan taco meat made with walnuts. The perfect plant-based addition to homemade tacos, quesadillas or salads!
The Mother Juice vegan taco bowl was my first introduction to walnuts being made into a meat alternative and I was hooked after my first bite.
If you are near Boston, check out one of their locations ASAP! It's a women-owned business with a passion for using local, fresh ingredients. The menu is full of nutritious goodies, but the taco bowl is hands down my favorite (with the Vitamin C++ juice coming in at a close second).
Now let's get into this epic vegan walnut taco meat. It can be used in many different recipes as a veggie/vegan alternative to beef. Walnuts also add protein, healthy fats, fiber, iron, magnesium and more too!
Ingredients for walnut taco meat
This vegan walnut taco meat is nutty and smoky, with a bit of heat. Here are the ingredients you will need to make it:
- Raw walnuts
- Yellow onion
- Avocado oil
- Liquid aminos (coconut aminos or tamari also work)
- Spices: cumin, paprika, salt and chipotle or chili powder
- Fresh lime juice
- Fresh cilantro
How to make vegan taco meat with walnuts
Walnuts are perfect for seasoning due to how well they absorb flavors. This recipe takes just a few minutes to throw together and stores well so hooray for leftovers!
- First, place walnuts in a bowl and cover with water. Let soak for 20 minutes. This helps the walnuts soften, allowing them to easily be pulsed in step 3.
- Next, drain and rinse the walnuts.
- Add the walnuts to a food processor and pulse until a coarse sand-like texture is achieved (about 15 seconds).
- Warm a skillet over medium heat and add onions. Sauté for 3-4 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add the pulsed walnuts and the rest of the ingredients, except the lime and cilantro. Stir well and let simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- Remove from heat and add chopped cilantro and freshly squeezed lime juice.
For exact measurements and detailed step-by-step directions, scroll to the recipe card below.
Make this walnut taco meat suit your taste buds or your current mood by adding additional ingredients:
- Spice. Add fresh or pickled jalapeños, cayenne pepper, salsa, hot sauce, or sriracha.
- Protein. Add brown or green lentils, black beans, shredded tofu, or mushrooms for extra protein, flavors and textures.
- Cheese. Add vegan cheese or nutritional yeast.
The ways to customize this dish doesn't stop there. Here are some ideas of ways to serve and enjoy this vegan taco meat:
- Tacos: a healthy spin on taco night!
- Burritos or quesadillas: (gluten-free) tortillas stuffed with vegan cheese, a few veggies and this meat makes for a delicious and easy vegan quesadilla.
- Salad: create a delicious taco salad with fresh crisp greens, tomatoes, avocado, tortillas and a (large) sprinkle of walnut meat.
- Taco dip: add to a bowl and top with vegan cheese and melt. Add salsa, guacamole, fresh lettuce and scoop with your favorite tortilla chips.
- Grain bowls: black or brown rice, topped with your favorite veggies and this walnut taco meat is a great dish to meal prep!
Store this cilantro lime vegan walnut taco meat in an airtight container, in the fridge, for up to 5-7 days.
The taco meat is freezable (for up to a month), however I recommend storing in serving size freezer safe containers versus storing in one large container. To thaw: add to a skillet with a tiny bit of avocado oil or water. Cover for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
For the tastiest leftovers:
- Reheating via stovetop: add desired amount to a warm skillet with a small splash of water and cover for 2-4 minutes or until warmed.
- Reheating via microwave: add desired amount to a bowl with a tiny bit of water to prevent the walnuts from becoming dry. Warm for 20-30 seconds, or until desired temperature is achieved.
Cilantro Lime Vegan Walnut Taco Meat
- cutting board + knife
- measuring cup + spoons
- food processor
- cast iron pan (or large skillet)
- 1 heaping cup raw walnuts, soaked for 20 min then rinsed
- 1 small/medium yellow onion, diced (about 1 scant cup)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil*
- 1 tablespoon liquid aminos (sub coconut aminos or tamari)
- ½ teaspoon each of cumin, paprika, chipotle (or chili) powder
- ¼ teaspoon iodized salt (sub with salt of choice)
- ½ small lime
- ¼-½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Soak: first, soak walnuts in cool water.
- Chop and sauté: While the walnuts soak, dice onions and mince garlic. Warm a skillet over medium-low heat. Once warm, add a tablespoon of avocado oil and the onions. Stir occasionally and continue to cook until the onions are translucent and start to turn golden (about 4 minutes). Add garlic when the onions are close to being done and turn the heat down to low.
- Grind walnuts: rinse and drain walnuts and add to the food processor. Pulse into a coarse sand like texture (about 10-15 seconds). Add to the skillet.
- Season: add the liquid aminos, cumin, paprika, chipotle powder, and salt. Turn the heat back up slightly and stir until the ingredients are well combined and the walnuts have darkened in color (it takes about a minute or so) *if the "meat" begins to stick to the pan, add another small drizzle of avocado oil or a tiny splash of water.
- Garnish: Remove from heat and add fresh chopped cilantro and lime juice. Stir and enjoy!