Several years ago, my Mom, Dad, sister Jane, Colin Campbell, and I gave a one-day “Healthy You” seminar in Tucson, Arizona. The night before the event we were invited to Anne Minkus’s home to mingle with many of the plant-strong pillars of the community. We had an unforgettable weekend and dinner at Anne’s home, with these Spicy Lentil Tacos leading the charge.

By Rip Esselstyn,


  • 1 cup uncooked lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 2 large onions, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • ½ jalapeño, diced
  • One (1.25-ounce) package taco seasoning
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 10 (6-inch) corn tortillas


  • Tomatoes, diced
  • Lettuce, shredded
  • Guacamole
  • Jicama, peeled and shredded
  • Salsa


  • Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
  • Bring the lentils and 2½ cups of water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until lentils soften, around 20 minutes.
  • Saute the onions, garlic, and jalapeños in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the onions start to turn brown and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add water 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time as needed, to keep the vegetables from sticking to the pan.
  • Add the cooked lentils and taco seasoning to the saucepan.
  • Mix well, add the vegetable stock, and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Drape each corn tortilla over two bars of a vertical oven rack so that the tortilla’s two opposing sides hang down, evenly, facing each other.
  • Cook the tortillas until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Remove the tortillas from the rack and admire your new taco shells.
  • Spoon lentil mixture into the taco shells. Top with tomatoes, lettuce, guacamole, jicama, and salsa. Note, if you’d prefer, use romaine lettuce leaves as a wrap instead of the taco shells.

Comments (5)

(4 from 4 votes)

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Lisa Scroggins

I’ve yet to make these, because 2 cups of onions seems excessive compared to the quantity of lentils! Are they really onion tacos? I hope someone will confirm that this quantity is correct. Thanks so much!


These are delicious and one of my favorite things to make, but there is wayyyy too much liquid. I used one cup of vegetable broth instead, and that seems to help.


Several things prevent this recipe from succeeding. The lovely dried spices in taco seasoning are not water soluble and need oil to bloom. Without oil, it's almost like adding dust to the dish. Instead, try toasting whole spices (coriander and cumin seeds) in a dry pan, then grinding them in a spice grinder. It's still not great, but an improvement. As Krystal notes below, there was way too much liquid in the filling. (Was draining the lentils omitted from the instructions?) When filling the taco shells, all that liquid undid the baking of the tortillas, rendering them soggy. Either add much less broth or evaporate most of it, concentrating the flavor, by omitting the cover when simmering in step six and keeping the heat higher. Go one better in the umami department by draining the lentils and adding half a cup of tomato sauce to the pan with the spices and lentils. The best thing about this recipe is the method for creating the taco shells.


This were pretty tasty, but when I followed the directions the filling was more like soup, very liquidy. I had to increase the heat and cook pretty aggressively for about another 15 minutes to get it to more of a taco filling texture. I will make these again I'm sure and I might just skip the vegetable broth or use way less.


These are very very good. I make homemade salsa to go with them.

About the Author

Headshot of Rip Esselstyn

About the Author

Rip Esselstyn

Rip Esselstyn, son of Caldwell Esselstyn, MD, was a firefighter in the Austin Fire Department when he discovered dangerously high cholesterol levels among his firefighter comrades. He led a stationwide revolution of dietary change that resulted in markedly better health, which he detailed in his bestselling book, The Engine 2 Diet. Visit and follow him on Instagram and Facebook for updates.
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